I just place some Auditorium 23 speaker cable in the system between the Leben Mullard-based integrated and some Omega Max Hemp speakers. The cable replaced some very nice DNM cables. There was a small drop off in bass depth and punch, however, the Auditorium is so much more natural and open as to make the DNM sound very artificial. Note the DNM has blown away most other speaker cables in the system.
Hence, I must say that it appears that the Auditorium is virtually essential in the right set up. I would concur with your finding wholeheartedly, though I have been to others who absolutely hate the cable.
I really enjoyed reading your Sig 70 review - they sound amazing! I have the Horns and am dying to try the Sig 70s/30s and some of Vinnie's other mods. One thing I can do now is the iMod. Your review of it made me a little hesitant however. I've read that they have a really long (200-hr ) break-in period. Was the iMod you tried in your review fully broken in?
I believe the iMod was broken in before it was shipped but I ran it for at least 200 hrs before any critical listening just to be sure. The protracted break-in is most likely due to the Back Gate caps Vinnie uses. Just about everything requires some sort of break in so I wouldn't worry about it. Let me put it this way - I'll probably buy an iMod when I can afford it. It isn't perfect but it is damn good for the money and certainly convenient.
Have to say I enjoyed your review of the Red Wine 70s, especially the "Robin Hood" references. Can't comment otherwise except that I enjoyed the review and continue to think ever more positively about his amps. Why the h*** tho can't he allow me two inputs so I can hook up my antique Scott tuner that's in use hours every day?
Just have to make a quick comment about the iPod. Buy one. Whether a Vinnie-modified or a current 5th generation I can't say though I keep meaning to get one modified by him as soon as I find a NOS 4th gen version. In the meantime I survive with my 5th Gen 80GB version.
iPods. They've changed the way I listen to music. I stayed away from them thinking I don't need a portable device and hated the sounds of MP3s. Then I put a new Alpine deck in my truck that can control an iPod and learned about Apple Lossless and thought, "hey I'll try it, I can carry 250 CDs with me and have a better chance of having the music I want to hear while I drive" and anyway they were on sale at the FutureShop.
Revelation! Good sound! Then read about EAC. Better sound. Hmmmmmm. Let's try this in the house. Hooked it up with a mini-to-RCA adapter I had kicking around. Showed potential but veiled and missing detail. Better cable? Readily available Monster improved the sound. Zu Pivot improved it again dramatically. This was worth listening to to now. Now I'm using a custom Bis Audio Carere mini to Eichman RCA cable and it's better again. Two others on order will show up one of these days. Grumbling, I've decided to get the Crystal Cable version. We'll see.
What am I listening thru? My stuff is old Mac tube pre/power and B&Ws or Linns or old Meridian pre/power with the Linns - good but not quite state-of-the-art for 20-40 years. A friend with an elderly Onkyo receiver and B&Ws has never had her stereo sound so good even with my old Monster cable. And the Zu made it sound even better. So, what am I doing referring something to you when my stuff other equipment is out of date? Well yesterday I had a chance to connect it to a modern Levinson/Magnepan system and conveniently the owner had the Shirley Eikhard CD Going Home that I have on the iPod (I'd used Apple Lossless/EAC). We compared. With his dCS transport and DAC, his sounded better. But if we hadn't been able to compare, the iPod was good. He was amazed!
How's this end? To be fair the iPod isn't as good as his system or even mine when I use my Roksan Kandy3 CDP but, with good cables and good source material, it's close ... very close. I look forward to hearing and likely buying a Red Wine modified one. My 2nd system now is reduced to the tuner and iPod as sources.
At any rate, good review and one day, based on your other writing, I'll hear a set of the Green Mountain speakers you own.
I couldn't agree more with your review. I've had the Sig 30 paired with Ed's Horns for about 8 months now and couldn't be happier. In fact, I have no intention of ever looking elsewhere to upgrade. For the modest buy in cost, you get to dip more than your toes in the water of high end audio. I'm up to my armpits and treading water just fine, thank you. I can never get enough out of any recording as there is so much more to listen to.
Again, a fine review.
|Good Sunday Morning, Srajan.
I bet that I'm no different than many of your readers that have had their imagination and curiosity powerfully stoked with your reports on the Acoustic System's resonators.
I was reading your last piece on them last night, at at time when an old friend was visiting. She works in a store that retails crafts and clothes from around the world. When asked what I was reading, I replied feebly. At this point I'll salute you for writing so well on a challenging subject. After my description, she told of a time in her store when someone was playing the newewst addition to the place...a Tibetan singing bowl made of rose quartz. She said the effect of it made her feel quite ill, and that a customer actually dropped to the floor!
Perhaps part of the appeal of your reports of the resonators for me has been the affirmation that some of the phenomena that greatly affect us aren't quantifiable or easily explained.
Keep up the good work.
Thanks, Al. This indeed has been one of the more challenging assignments to put to bed. If it prompts curiosity but also rings a small warning bell -- as in, this stuff used in numbers is potent and unless you're respectful, could make you feel pretty weird -- then we've done our job. Ivette and I are still fine-tuning things. It's positively bizarre how, once the overall setup has stabilized, changes in position of just one resonator get magnified manifold by the ones not touched. I don't think even Franck understands exactly what he has created. Sure, he knows if he does this, that will happen -- more or less -- but exactly why and how? That's why I wanted it understood that this is a novel field and prospective participants (owners) will want to be comfortable experimenting and relying on their own senses rather than expecting a straight-ahead 1-2-3 scenario of linear instructions. This stuff behaves anything but linear.
I wanted to mail you and congratulate you on your review for the Kondo amplifier. I had previously read your Avatar review and also enjoyed it. I have read a lot of comments on Living Voice speakers, I bought the Auditorium based on those reviews but you communicated the essential elements of Living Voice speakers best in your review.
Well, the point of this email was that reading the Kondo review convinced me to sling some stuff on eBay and get out the credit card. I have been sitting on the fence as regards upgrading to the Avatars but no more. Your Kondo article helped me get off that fence. On Friday, some Avatar OBXR2s arrive part exchanged for my Auditoriums. I had a great conversation with Kevin. He invited me up to hear the setup and I would love to go but given your experiences, I don't want to be in the position of trying to convince the wife that we don't need the extension and should remortgage for a silver box instead.
I will be using them with a homemade Tripath amp and then a Gainclone which is being made for me.
I think the Gainclone will be a good match for them, I also use a Behringer room correction device on the digial signal only (it certainly helped the Auditorium/Tripath amps a lot).
If it doesn't work out, I may ask your opinion on some "real world" valve amplifiers. I have had a few and liked the smoothness/midrange stuff but also didn't find them particularly "lively".
Anyway thanks for the review, keep up the good work.
I read your article on the error correction and effect on CDs with Nespa Pro and EAC with great interest. I did feel that there was a testing area which was missed. As you state (and I have heard myself). there is an audible difference between nespaed and non-nespaed CDs. Did you do any comparison measurements of the analogue audio wave transmitted by the transport/player for each of these methods?
A lack of time and equipment has prevented me carrying out this test myself, but as it has been a bone of contention with many "audiophiles" I wondered if anyone had tried getting solid physical evidence of the sound change that is caused by these techniques.
thank you for your reaction. Just like you, we cannot carry out a measurement of the analog output. On the other hand, as audible changes are so clearly noticeable, who needs graphs with some sort of line going up or down? It would just 'prove' what we hear. Human hearing is one of the most sophisticated spectrum analyzers and readily available for free. Sure, if someone with access to a scope would be willing to do some measurements, we would be interested.
I enjoyed your preamble for the Ocellias, and your approach to 6moons is both fresh and educational. Your reference to others around the globe who pursue controlled resonance philosophy unfortunately omitted the only Yankee-based designer doing important work in this area: Tonian Acoustics in Glendale, California. I think what is important about Tonian is that, although this boutique produces the finest loudspeaker to which I've had the pleausre to listen -- the TL-M1 with the 12-in Phy + ribbon supertweeter -- he has accomplished a much more difficult feat in designing a $1,750 speaker (TL-D1) abiding by the same design principles, yet has captured more than just the essence of his statement speaker.
I suspect a review of his more affordable option would be quite interesting, as I find the TL-D1 to offer a more natural presentation with greater texture and dimensionaity (particularly with percussion) than say compared to the Zu Druid.
I am also a fan of the DHT straight wire with gain approach: tda1541 NOS > S&B MKIII > DRD 300B > Tonian Acoustics TL-D1, 2 caps and a resistor in the signal path after leaving the source.Pic of TL-D1:
I enjoy your Webzine immensely and look forward to future reviews.
I did know of Tonian as the former PHY distributor/importer and also that since then, he's incorporated PHY drivers. I did not, however, know that he also follows the low-mas controlled resonance recipe of cabinet design. Just goes to show how little I know -;)
Bravo on the Music Lover's series. I've known for 20 years that I'm not an audiophile so it's nice to finally have a fitting label. "Music Lover". I definitely approve.
I must admit, however, that the solution to my equipment needs has been filled by vintage Japanese equipment. My speakers and turntable are 25 years old; amp/phono stage 15 years, preamp and CD player 10 years. The only recent equipment is cables (primarily Goertz).
But I do enjoy reading about current equipment, particularly music servers. The Nova Memory Player, in particular, really intrigues me. Srajan informed me that M&H might be reviewing it. While I would never spend that amount of money on any audio equipment, I'm sure that if the Nova technology is valid, the Chinese will copy it and bring out a unit for 1/10th the price.
So please persevere with this project. My experience is that there are propably more music lovers than audiophiles out here and we have been largely neglected.
Over the past year, I've completely renewed my stereo system, with Gallo 3.1s and BelCanto amps, often with advice from John Potis. I've been playing with cables recently, and use a Zu Varials between pre and CDP. Once broken in, the detail retrieved was extraordinary!...and it had replaced a Gede. I temper dreaded digititis from CDs with a tube output Eastern Electric CDP and a JPS Labs digital cord.
I enjoyed reading your introduction and couldn't help think of a category that I'd include...if I could sit down to dinner with anyone, it would likely be Bernard Hinault. I raced bicycles for years and always admired *le blareau* for his intelligence and tenacity...perhaps *he* would easily be compared to Zu for the Breton qualities of strength and honesty. If I were a wine? tougher... certainly not an austere Bordeaux, more likely a simple Minervois...good-natured and (hopefully) unpretentious. By the way, I live in Ontario, Canada, actually very near the tiny town where Blue Circle is located. Blue Circle coupled with JM Reynaud speakers have remained one of the most synergistic combinations that I've heard....and I know JM Reynaud is located quite close to Montbrison, the small town where good friends that are respectively a transplanted Parisian and Canadian live and where I've been during the vendange and learned to refill bottles with wine bought en vrac.
Welcome to the world of 6moons from an avid reader,
a la prochaine,
Thank you Alan for your welcoming mail. It is my first experience as a reviewer and I have to admit throwing onseself on the open web is a little intimidating so I really appreciate your warm welcome. John Potis has helped me a lot too building my system as well as moving ahead with my reviewing ambitions; I'll try to be as accessible and helpful as he is but he's leagues ahead in his knowledge of everything hifi.
I have to applaud your choice of wine and hifi gear, quality and value but most importantly fully and readily enjoyable. I've never heard the Blue Circle gear but am a long fan of JM Reynaud speakers - maybe one day I'll be lucky enough to review a pair. If you ever get a chance, try a Cayrane one of these days, less "rocky" than the Minervois and a little more on the plums but some can be incredible (even the COOP has good stuff, their "cuvee antique" is a long time favorite of mine) - it can at times approach a good Chateau-Neuf du Pape but without the hype and over-inflated prices and they have been working on quality for the past 20 years and it is really paying now.
Thanks again for reading and have a great Sunday.
It's been awhile since we last spoke, you remember me asking about an amp to run my 5-20 ohm Avantgarde Trios, Joe Fratus was over during CES, I live in Vegas so we spent evening listening to the new mono Jotas, we found 4-ohm tap into Zero transformers x 2 going to speaker was revelation, the big 36-inch bass horn came on strong, we were dumb-founded, for five years I ran off 8 ohm tap, Paul Spelts doesn't tell user to go 4 ohms into Zero, my first set of Jotas had 8-ohm tap only so it took all this time before I could even try this. Live and learn or should I say, suffer.
Srajan, I trust your judgement you've been through it all, I'm looking for a second speaker to equal my love that I have for my Trios, your Zu Definition Pros may work but for one serious concern, your feedback will help me decide. History has taught us not to put earth-shaking bass in same box with tweeters and midrange drivers, you will always lose some focus because bass resonance will shake all the drivers, like moving the camera before a picture is taken. To test for this, one can simply feel with the hand to the cabinet this bad energy transfer. Wilson with his X and M composite materials sonically does seem to over come this problem. To what degree is this occuring in the Zu Definition pPos? Is constuction on the level with the Wilsons, am I nuts, are we really hearing the Definitions in total purity? Or do you think some bad resonant enery is in the cake?
Well, the Zu Definition Pros combine 4 x 100dB woofers per side which, per spec, are still 96dB at 20Hz so exceedingly little physical motion is required to do the job at least in the size room I'm in. It's anything but earth-shaking in the cabinet. Is the construction Wilson level? No, it's plain MDF with phenolic skins. But then you're also not being charged Wilson coin for what you're getting. Would the speaker sound even cleaner and clearer were the woofers relegated to a separate tower? I'd only know in a direct A/B. What I can tell you is that I'm not the first to have shifted from Avantgarde Duos to this model. I feel it's a lateral trade. The Definition Pros have better bass (better integrated, far smoother since the mandatory equalizer as low-pass filter allows room correction in the band it's used in), more tone and better overall coherence in a far smaller footprint. The Duos do better treble, are even more efficient, couple to the air differently because of horn-loading and will seem more resolved by comparison.
Which one is more fun to listen to? That'll be a personal judgment call. Nothing is perfect but at $10K, the Zus, to my ears, offer a spectacular combination of virtues. No matter how isolated your bass array is, if you can't notch-filter and boost to create a linear response in the seat, it'll be for naught since your room will invariably interfere. Equalizers have gotten a bad rap but used solely in the bass (in the case of the Definitions, below 60Hz or even 40Hz depending on where you set the low pass), there's simply no way to achieve these results without electronic compensation shy of some massive Rives-level room treatments which perform bass linearization mechanically, with tuned Helmholz resonators; or TacT-style addresses in the DSP domain. As usual, just my opinion. Seeing that you already have "Avantgarde style" sound, the Def Pros would give you a different presentation instead of duplicating what you already have. I'm not missing my Duos at all even though the Zus are different.
So in my book, they're as good but a different flavor of good. Most importantly, the bass integrates far better. Granted, this comment applies to my old Duos. The Avantgarde line has since been completely revised. I'm told that significant advances have been made especially in their bass systems so the old bass integration issue could be a mute argument now. Of course pricing has gone up too. Regardless, Avantgarde treble is more advanced than what Zu has done so far. That's one element you'll want to investigate since your ears have been tuned now to the Avantgarde presentation ...
I probably am the 78th person to point out that the Isol pads are common machine mounting pads easily available through industrial suppliers such as mcmaster.com. Browsing at mcmaster.com will give any any audiophile with the urge to fiddle a thousand ideas such as copper foil to wrap power cords in, attach a drain wire and a cheap pseudo Faraday cage.
Actually, you were the first. Of course all parts have suppliers unless they're on-up custom. Those interested to roll their own in this case thank you for the reference.
|Looking forward to your Ocellia review! Very interesting. I really like your storyteller approach, makes it so much more interesting to read than most other audiophile magazines.
Thanks for another informative and interesting review, Jeff. Your balanced approach and real-life inquiry is greatly appreciated, too. As I wrote to Michael Lavorgna, the direction that the two of you are taking the reviews and narrative is much needed and has a "two-thumbs way up" approval from this reader. Thanks for staying focused on the art (and craftsmanship) and not placing the medium (gear) before the message (music).
Thanks for the response and links to the current articles in the music lovers series. Your description of a music lovers system is so on target with what many of us have lost over the years. I mean, in the 70's, we'd be up all damn night with little Kenwood integrateds, Garrard turntables with $30 cartridges and A/R or JBL speakers and never tire of playing album after album until the sun came up. That doesn't happen anymore and usually because the system is often too revealing and draws the attention away from what matters. (Age is a factor that I will choose to ignore.)
Unfortunately, I am at a point where I am ready to try to whip my system in this direction, funds in hand, now. I do not have any dealers short of 100 miles or so, which means if I am going to venture over to the SF Bay area to have a listen, I kind of need to have an idea, in advance, of what I'm aiming for. (You profiled Pitch Perfect and I have talked to Matt, but his point of entry may be beyond me and I'm not overly comfortable with the idea of 12 WPC and lower tube amps just yet.)
If you have any suggestions as where I might find some full system recommendations or of West Coast dealers that have a talent in this regard, could you please let me know?
For reference, I have a Michell Gyrodec and Techno arm (keepers), JLTI phono pre-amp, Audio Aero Prima CD player (keeper 2), Naim Nait 5i (definitely a goner) and Gibbon 8 speakers. I suspect that an amp, cartridge and cable change might be enough, but I really need guidance.
Any thoughts would be appreciated.
I enjoyed your comparison of the two Art Audio pieces. I think I would reach the same conclusion as you if I were to choose between those two amps. I'd go for greater power. I'm somewhat new to the high efficiency - low power SET world. And after 6 months or so of listening to 101.5 dB efficient speakers (Lamhorn 1.8 with AER drivers) and 45, 50, 2A3 and 300B tubes as implemented in typical SET designs (Yamamoto and Tektron), I've concluded that I'd like more power.
I listen mostly to jazz, classical, and blues. While I perhaps could live with low power SETs for jazz, I find that they don't do justice to most classical music. While I'm not necessarily into bombastic music, and I don't tend to turn up the volume, large dynamic swings seem to be part and parcel of most classical pieces. And while I am not a bass hound, 1.8 watts can only do so much bass. Bottom line, after recently hearing a powerful 211 SET (20 watt monos) in my system, I'm about ready to kiss my flea-powered SETs goodbye.
You invited your U.S. readers to request a copy of Ultimate Cheese. I'd like to take you up on that.
Just wanted to wish you and Srajan best wishes for the new year. Also to let you know that thanks to you bastards at 6moons (and in no short part might I add) that I'm now proud owner of Zu Druids!
Keep up the great work.
Knoxville - transplanted New Mexican
I am anxiously awaiting the results of your listening to the Ocelias. I am so enamored of mine, the SAG 30 co-ax in the Musical Affairs (Rondo-like) cabinets. I have never, ever, ever been so drawn in to reproduced music as when listening to these. I replaced my Avantgardes with these. They are so very refined and fast and full and rich and, well, musical. They bring out the best in my Kondo gear and the pairing is perfect. You are in for a special treat. Have fun.
I would like to thank you for the thought-provoking and thorough review on the Esoteric trio on 6moons. Over the past 2 years I have moved up the Esoteric line from DV-50s to UX-1 to (through a mod by Esoteric) the UX-1 LE. At each step I enjoyed great performance for my dollar and rock-solid build quality, customer service, etc....which is the hallmark of Esoteric as I've come to know them. During this time I heard many lesser, equal and greater priced systems and still was quite satisfied with my purchase.
Approximately 3-4 months ago I had the good financial fortune to be in a position of upgrading my digital front-end one more time to a stack of choice; the only caveat being that I wanted to move further towards the goal of reproduction of actual music occurring in my room while retaining solid imaging and the precision that I had come to enjoy with the UX-1 post-LE mod.
Your review allowed me to weigh my options in a well-informed fashion on a transport+DAC combo that would be bought blind due to lack of dealer showroom samples for the P-03U/D-03 against other high-end combinations that were accessible to me for audition in the various cities to which I travel. Two months later, I was also able to add the G-0s master clock to the system to complete my purchase. My deep relationship with my dealer of the past 3 years also contributed very positively to this confidence level.
When all is said and done, thanks in great part to your review on 6moons, I am extremely happy and fortunate to be the proud owner of this trio; all of my expectations were vastly exceeded. The level of musicality of my system with these components has achieved 'to die for' musical status over an extremely wide variety of material.
Thank you for all of the time you put into this review project; it is greatly appreciated!
BTW: Audioquest SKY XLR, RAVEN XLR and EagleEye (both RCA for digi-coax, and BNC for clock output) proved to be great cables for this gear.
I'm an audio enthusiast of headphones and have read several of your reviews and always admire and trust your findings on them. I'm currently looking for a hi-end headphone amp for the K701s so hereby request you to review Jan meier's latest offering, the Corda Opera and compare its performance with the high-end equipment you have already tested from Ray Samuels and PS Audio, HeadRoom and others. Since nowadays more and more poeple have their music libraries in computers, also include the computer as source especially with built in USB DAC.
Your request exhibits a fundamental misunderstanding about how we operate. First off, review equipment returns to the manufacturers right after their review publishes. Second, we don't all work in a common office to listen to the same things. So when you read reviews and assume that comparisons between certain pieces should be a simple matter of plugging them all in, the fact is that different reviewers in different states or countries wrote those reviews at different times. There simply is no practical way we could accommodate your particular request. All the pieces you'd like us to compare to are no longer with us. As far as Jan Meier's new piece goes, that will depend on his interest in the first place. What that piece can get compared to then would depend on what is in the given reviewer's possession at the time. And if the reviewer doesn't have your headphones, he'll review the amp with a very different headphone most likely. See what I mean?
Like Michael Lavorgna, I too bought the SoloVox before reviewing the speaker (for a now defunct publication). In fact, I think Michael and I first heard the SoloVox at the same time and formed a very similar initial impression. Having lived with the SoloVox for about a year now, and having used it in both a mid-sized and a large room, I concur completely with Michael's assessment. I have owned many speakers of all varieties and many full range driver speakers (including Lowther, Fostex and AER based designs -- front and rear loaded horns, what have you), and the SoloVox is unique in my experience. I know that there is information at the frequency extremes that the SoloVox does not reproduce, but when I listen to music through the SoloVox, I never feel like I am missing anything -- in part because the SoloVox does what too few other speakers do, it recreates music as a part of the natural world and not as an artifact. Everything it does sounds and feels right, so I never find myself concerned with what it doesn't do. It would take a conscious effort to do so, and that would be distracting from the enjoyment of just listening.
Michael is right that the speaker is not for everybody, but if you are among those who are moved by what it offers you will know it immediately and thereafter find yourself smiling rather than analyzing every time you spin a record or an aluminum disk. In my experience, the SoloVox touches the soul and brings a smile of satisfaction to one's face in the same way that music does.
Keep up the good work Michael and Srajan,
Kudos to M. Lavorgna on another nice review (Solovox). Well written as always. But what happened to this?: "While this of course means that Michael won't formally review brands Jonathan handles, I have no issue whatsoever with today's informal report. Or with any formal 2nd opinion sidebars in the future if and when Michael's physical proximity to Halpern's showroom allows us to put together such very desirable double-team support to main reviews handled by a different writer. This is otherwise mostly cost-prohibitive for manufacturers or their agents from the compounded shipping perspective - Ed.]"
Michael purchased these speakers for personal use and placed his order with a firm commitment, no review implied. I've tried to obtain a review loaner in Cyprus but due to the micro nature of Auditorium 23 and some slowness with suppliers they rely on, this proved impossible. Seeing that Michael already owned a pair, I asked him to do the review to get a well-considered opinion on it published. It's a rare beast, this speaker, a limited production item. Michael in fact was quite surprised when I approached him. He never planned on writing about it.
Simply put, the whole PHY-based thin-wall speaker subject is rare and I was very keen on covering it. And still I haven't given up on the general topic for personal consumption either. I just made arrangements with Samuel Furon of Ocellia to review one of his Calliope models. This unique opportunity arose only because of my present proximity to France. So we'll have a second view on the PHY topic. The SoloVox review was my personal idea and call and I'm happy Michael agreed to make it happen. And I concur with you, Michael did an excellent job sussing out the strong points and also pointing out who the speaker wouldn't be for.
I have read your e-zine from its inception. I have read some of your reviews from previous e-zines. Thank you. I have really learned a lot and enjoyed the education.
I have seen reviews of all ranges of equipment, cables, tweeks, and acoustical treatment in the "pages" of 6moons. I have also enjoyed the systems reviews that you have been featuring lately.
I would be interested in a new review idea - the listening seat. If we are spending hours on our butts, the ideal listen seat is another "component" to be considered. The nicest chair I have encountered is the Interactive Health Zero Gravity Perfect Chair. It is a recliner that maybe puts the ear at an unusual angle for stereo listening however. Then there is the Dutalier AvantGlide glide rockers and ottomans (gentle movement feels good and they are silent, they also recline).
Now I am a trained massage therapist and I think music in the treatment room is complementary therapy. But again the listening position is unusual (except for people who listen to their stereo from bed). Face-down and face-up orientations may change the perspective as well.
Finally, there are dancers among us. Some stereo set-ups are very specific to the sweet spot listening seat. Others are far less sensitive. (Edward Barker spoke to this regarding the Living Voice OBX-RW and David Kan made a reference to hearing the Mark and Daniel Maximus-Ruby from the next room. The review of the Ohm MicroWalsh also addressed this issue). Perhaps a mention of systems that are less position specific versus those that are is worthwhile (from headphone privacy to listener seat to social event).
Thank you again for your excellent e-zine. The photography is particularly noteworthy.
A very interesting article on the phase/polarity subject which has given me much aggravation over the years. I count five different aspects:
1) Speaker phase -
I have heard absolute phase difference from many different speakers (full range electrostats to multi driver dynamic) in many different rooms when reversing the indicated L-R connections at the speakers (I can only assume that none of my components reversed phase)...The difference always sounded as you described: duller, less dynamic, less "alive"...Your assessment of leading edge diminution would appear to be valid...Solution: experiment...
2) Component phase -
I've never had a way of measuring this...All I ever had to go on was the absence of phase reversal messages in my manuals and the fact that the speakers always sounded best when connected with indicated L-R orientation...Solution: again, experiment with final speaker phase...
2) Recording phase -
This is the most aggravating of all, since there is essentially nothing you can do about it unless you have a phase reversal switch on the preamp and are willing to make lengthy notes and then manually reverse phase for each faulty track...Even that doesn't always work, since I have "popular" albums in which the two channels are out of phase with each other!!...Solution: unfortunately none that are practical...
3) Wall AC supply polarity -
My experience is that this rarely happens, but when it does the solution is to simply rewire the AC receptacle...
4) Component AC input polarity -
This is a tough one since there is no easy way to directly determine which AC polarity is correct...And it does make a noticeable difference...Oddly enough even turntable sound is affected (given that the AC only drives the motor, this is a real puzzler)...Solution: Use a two prong "cheater" plug (USA) to reverse polarity and then (a) choose the one which sounds best; or (b) measure the voltage between the negative (-) leg of the AC input to chassis ground and choose the one which reads the lowest voltage...
So, in conclusion, I would have to say that in my experience polarity and phase do make more of a difference than you have indicated...Of course, your observation that they will depend largely on the room, the equipment and personal hearing preferences is entirely valid...As with all things in this "hobby" beauty is in the ear (and mind) of the listener...
I just read Mr Wayne Zufall's review of the Dussun V8i. I bought one of these amps and in my system (Spendor S5e, Consonance 120 CD player), it sounds nothing like he describes - and that's from someone who just switched from a tube integrated (Cayin TA-30). I believe from my experience and others from what I read that 100 hours break-in is far to little for this amp (mine is a year old). Also, the metal jumpers that come with the amp don't help the sound at all. The other reviews of this amp state that the preamp is the weakest part and the amp is better. Mr Zufall says the opposite. So why does this bother me? It's just that if I had read this review before my purchase, I might have passed on buying it and missed what I (and a lot of other people) find to be an excellent piece of equipment. I believe Mr. Zufall missed the boat on this one.
I would be grateful if you could email me a copy of the 301 manual. I bought a 301 (for a few pounds) about 15 years ago as a project but it's been under the bed ever since. I stumbled across them again on Ebay going for stupid money and thought I might pass it on. Then I found your 6moons articles and I'm afraid I'm hooked again.
I've dug out a spare Rega RB 250 I had and started Googling plinth designs. Time to dust off the router...
I got a pair of the Melody M2A3 monoblocks. I'm telling you, I've never heard anything to touch them! They are the best sounding amps I've heard. They beat my single-ended amps and my Gainclone amps by a large margin!
I've only heard the integrated version I reviewed but yes, I'd expect the monos to be quite special. I think Melody will soon be catching on with more people. If not, it's certainly not because of the product. I can't keep asking these guys to send stuff to Cyprus, otherwise I'd work my way through the line. Plus, other publications will want to discover certain models. Glad to hear you're enjoying your new acquisitions.
Just to let you know I have had some very positive and productive email discussions with Michael and Jonathan Halpern and plan to speak with Jonathan after he returns from the CES - thanks for your help and support, you 6moons guys are very approachable and helpful. I note that you have an interest in Harbeth. I still have some old Harbeths in the den. What do you think of Harbeth with respect to the Music Lovers road less traveled?
|Thank you Srajan, for writing about the Raysonic CD wonder! I have had it now for 8 weeks and really think it's a keeper.I only use the inner pair of tubes for single-ended use. The outer pair is for true balanced drive. The two halves of the 6922 are used for the "hot" and "cold" signal respectively. At the single-ended output the two halves are probably driven in series. That explains your question about balanced drive.
If you only use the balanced output you can put out the inner pair and save them for future use. Handy, eh? The Raysonic works very well and I have only some quibbles with the ability to read some of my CDs.
Just used some eye drops, the tell-tale sign of reading more about audio than listening to it...in my own defense there was a 2 hour session last night - Jimmy Rowles and Ray Brown, then Bill Henderson and Oscar Peterson.
After reading about the S this and that vs. the S/PDIF turbo hard-wired to the rooster egg triggered pressure plate, which when the egg falls unveils YoYo Ma in short pants asking for a chocolate cream and a ukulele...well, it is to your credit that I actually did understand it. I have been waiting, as I've watched positive reviews come out on server after server, for the new beginning. With 2500 CDs on my shelf and the 2 - 3 tweaks I need to employ before I make the golden upload, it does call for the personal assistant your friend alluded to...that said, should we care to look we might find that the neighborhood kid who used to cut lawns 25 years ago, could probably download the tunes for us and in half the time we'd spend on it...might actually hear some new music too.
(I placed an ad on Craig's List for someone to download my CDs to iTunes, before I dreamt of iPods as viable hi-res instruments and had twelve emails the first day...if I'd only gone loss-less). Soon will come the day when I won't have to leave the listening chair to climb a ladder to get down 'Armstrong'. Hoping you'll do a review of the Spoiler as a follow-up given its one box advantage.
Stay on 17 and double down with face cards,
PS: The HDTTs look like a labor of love and well worth the price.
I have just read your review of the Mark & Daniel Maximus Ruby. All I can do is agree with you. I have been using the Ruby for some time with our Chapter Precis integrated amplifier and prototype CD player, and must conclude that this loudspeaker does everything that I want from a loudspeaker and more.
Having owned ESL63s, Wilson Benesch ACT Ones, Tannoy TD10s and a host of other speakers, the Ruby represents a design milestone. Guests to my place simply cannot comprehend the sound quality and quantity of tight bass coming from the little Rubys - astonishing!
You are right though, you need a good amplifier and source to extract the significant best from these little wonders.....
Now, can I fit a pair of Apollo 2s into our listening rooms...? :-)
All the best for 2007.
Chapter Electronics Limited
The main reason for writing you on this New Year's Day is to express my sincere appreciation for your superb website, and the many excellent reviews you personally have crafted over the past couple of years. As a member of Audio Circles, it has been especially gratifying to see the spotlight you have shone on Vinnie Rossi's RWA Sig 30, and soon the Sig 70 amps, which helped motivate my best friend and college roommate to plunge whole hog for the Sig. 70s. I have always found your reporting to be very helpful in comparing and contrasting components, so that we are not just left parsing abstract, subjective adjectives (as one must with TAS).
Undoubtedly the longer, unrestricted online format allows you to elaborate more thoroughly and expansively on the issues, good and bad, in a way the print mags just can't for cost reasons. I especially value your experienced ear, good humor and engaging writing style (even if it takes a long read sometimes to get to the "payoff" conclusions). Most of all, I am grateful for your examining off-the-beaten path components and accessories from small companies, mainly because you personally think they have merit, regardless of the name recognition or advertising clout they can't possibly wield. It is also hugely refreshing to see you review and assemble very affordable components that can go toe-to-toe sonically with the much more costly prestige "trophy" brands.
Just today I was fascinated reading your further account of the Acoustic System resonators in your studio/home, building on the fine in-depth reportage of your compadres, the Henks. Like so many timid aspiring audio-lovers with a female to please, I hate the idea of polluting my home with those hideous wall treatments that all the "pros" and serious audiophiles insist are necessary to "tame the room". If these resonators can fulfill essentially the same task, or better, without the decor blight, that would indeed be an exciting alternative for our tool kit.
I understand you are trying out Franck's ultimate, cost-is-no-object array of resonators, just to see what his ultimate package can accomplish. I would humbly request that you also experiment with a much more limited, affordable array of resonators, in smallish room, just to see what the entry-level solution might accomplish, and what is the incremental value added of going "whole hog". For example, could you see what a minimal collection of four basic bowls could do (an accessible $1K investment) and then proceed with say, six or seven to see what the next advance would accomplish in improved sound? I think this would also help Franck get his message out, that even a few "basic" bowls strategically placed can still accomplish a surprisingly effective room correction treatment, sans bass traps and wall panels. And if the entry investment is only $1-1.5 K, this would be fairly accessible for most people. Of course, Franck also needs a dealer who can hold people's hands and advise on the best placements, and ideally offer a liberal return policy. I don't know if Darren Consullo at Avatar Acoustics in Miami, the US Distrib., is able, or willing, to do this, even though he professes to be an expert.
As you mention, many of us Audio Circle types are reluctant to buy a Tact-type system, with all the A-D and D-A, and heavy processing in the chain, not to mention the cost. The more I read and learn, the simpler the system the better, particularly if one has SACD, vinyl, or already good DACs in the chain.
I was especially excited today to read your fascinating intro to the WLM speaker system. This is a perfect example of the obscure, wonderful, cool stuff you keep uncovering for us audio crack heads. I love your enthusiasm and your iconoclastic point of view. How refreshing to read that often the most expensive drivers are the worst sounding, I presume due to their hyper-detailed, overly clinical, analytical presentation. I also appreciated your philosophy that the big, expensive floorstander is not always a better solution, especially for smaller rooms. I personally am looking to assemble a new listening system in a smallish basement room (11ft x 17ft, 8-ft. ceiling), and would be inclined to get a pair of monitors and a powered sub, ideally with some EQ abilities to help smooth out the bass non-linearities.
The whole approach the WLM wunderkinds are pursuing sounds right up my alley. I am left wondering how the WLM Signature monitors, with the external tweeter, would compare with the more affordable Diva, with their point-source coaxial drivers. I am interested in a speaker with good, rich sound even at low listening levels, and one that also has decent off-axis dispersion - two tough demands. Perhaps you could do a follow-up comparison soon between the coaxial WJM Divas and the more elaborate Signature monitors, with the wide dispersion tweeter. I also hope you could convince the WLM owners to exhibit their wares at this fall's RMAF - a very affordable way to exhibit in this country. I'll also be interested to see if these WLM speakers sound as good with a RWA Sig 30 or 70 as they do with a 45 or 300B tube amp.
I just happened to read some glowing comments this holiday on another coaxial speaker design - the Carolina Audio JTM/2 speaker (and its monitor brother, the JSM), using the metal Jordan coaxial driver. This floorstander uses a three-fold transmission line design to be fairly linear from about 40Hz to 20KHz, and was compared very favarably with the Meadowlark Kestrel 2, which I am sure you know intimately. As you probably know, the Jordan driver is a medium eff. design, in this case offering a sensitivity of about 88-89 db., so it is not as suitable for flea amps. But I see this as an interesting alternative for Vinnie's Sig 70 amps. I wonder if you have any personal experience with the Carolina Audio speaker line? The paper-based drivers of the WLM line would intuitively seem more warm and organic than the metal Jordan drivers -perhaps more like the venerable Tannoy coax drivers.
Thanks for taking the time to read this long missive. I just wanted to thank you for adding so much richness and excitement to the audiophile community. I will be looking forward this winter to your further writings on the AS Resonators and the WJM speakers, among the many other exciting finds you keep unearthing.
Happy New Year, Srajan, from a grateful reader.
A "deconstructionist" approach with the resonators indeed is planned, i.e. learning what can be achieved, ultimately, with unlimited hardware and the master's own placement magic observed, then reducing the cost layout by eliminating more and more strategic devices to see how much performance can be retained for a far lesser investment. I'm sure that having Franck Tchang here should allow me to find this out quickly since he knows more about this approach than anyone else alive. I'm certain he can demonstrate right away what an optimized mini application will look and sound like by comparison. Re: WLM, I'm indeed hoping that I'll have the opportunity to compare the new Grand Viola Signature monitor to the Diva monitor since that seems the closest apples-to-apples comparison in the line that would isolate the Super-PAC tweeter module as the primary difference to report on what it brings to the table. It'll naturally depend on WLM's interest and whether a loaner will be available in the necessary time frame while I still have the Diva. Re: Carolina Audio, I'm familiar with them only through their website and have never heard their speakers for myself. One model is very similar to the speaker from Bosnia which 47lab championed for a while and which I reviewed.
Firstly I wanted so say that I always enjoy your articles for 6moons and am delighted that you will be writing the Music Lovers series. I very much agree with your observations re: music lovers and their attitudes to music. I am listening to a simple system based on an Accuphase DP 57, Leben 300SX and Cian & Cain Abbys all connected with NBS King Serpent cables. It is highly musical and capable of producing the essence of music whether that be Pergolesi's Stabat Mater which I am currently listening to as I am writing this, or Johnny Ray Vaughn's choppy blues.
Roderick Bowers PhD
Grass Dance Audio
that new MiniMax integrated is unbelievable value for money. I have it at home for a week now, equipped with Electro-Harmonix tubes. Naturally, coming from something much more expensive, I expected all kinds of shortcomings. There are very few that matter to me. It is really well balanced and most importantly, your awareness is always drawn towards the flow and message of the music itself and not to the way it is presented. I tried the M520 at home too, but honestly, in the (many) cases where 8 watts are enough, I like the MiniMax much better. This thing is so much fun to listen to and so nice to look at ! That's why it stays right here.
Yesterday I discovered Postive Feedback Online (and subsequently 6moons.com) and have been going through your Auroville columns with great dellight. You have the most cogent, commen-sense approach to audio I have yet read. The one I have just finished reading especially (no. 19) is ... *perfect* for want of a better word. I'm no writer!!
I started reading the PFO issues in their entirety, but after being enthralled by "auroville" I quickly settled on your columns exclusively. I can't wait to see how the story ends. I'll get back to the rest later. :-)
|Hi Srajan -
First off, I love 6moons. Thank you, thank you - it's wonderful. I recently bought Ed's Horns and currently have them paired with a Sonic T amp and ASL preamp. It's good. I have a Scott 222 EL84-based amp getting restored. To get the most out of the Horns etc, I'm thinking a lot about a Fi X or possibly a Red Wine Audio Sig 30. How would you characterize the differences? I don't know if you want or feel comfortable answering this-- I just know you've heard so many variations of equipment and I like your point of view.
Many thanks in advance.
The Sig 30 is a no-maintenance amp for tube lovers who can't have tubes. It's not identical -- tubes still do soundstaging and vocal lock differently -- but it aces so many of the same values that unless you know what the remaining differences are and care enough about 'em to pay the piper (tube aging and replacement, lower power, less drive, often higher noise), I'd call it Sig 30 and a day. I have not personally heard the Fi X so I can't comment on exactly how the two amps would compare but based on the tube amp I have heard, I feel very comfortable saying that unless you enter the exalted leagues of valve amps (translated: lotsa dough), there's little compelling reason to bother now that the Sig 30 exists. Paul Candy is another tube head on staff currently spending sack time with the Sig 70s. We'll see how he feels about the remaining differences. I already know that he considers the Sig 70s the best transistor amps next to his Peter Daniel chip amps he's heard and there too, differences remain...
|"We shall not cease exploration
and at the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
and know the place for the first time."
Thanks for having faith in your criterions of truth and beauty. Evidently, you were not alone. Paper and wood...sounds so unlikely but then, not too far from the simple pleasures that have been in front of us lo these many years; a long walk; a good book; an ass you could bounce a quarter on, wait no, I mean a pretty smile, a pretty smile, shit...A fine glass of wine and some music, to give us the third dimension of existance -exaltation.
It need not be anything less organic, as natural as Mother's milk.
Wishing you, Ivette and your writing staff a Merry Christmas and all the best in the New Year.
It's been quite a while since I dropped you a line...suppose that means "all is well on the audio front", which of course it is! The Wyetech Sapphires with the Duo Omegas...oh yea!
Your 6moons site is also a source of enjoyment and entertainment. Great staff of writers with some very interesting ventures, projects and interpretations of what us audio buffs enjoy and possibly are in search of.
Thanks for this enlightening venture you personally pursued, and continued success!
Langley, B.C., Canada
you have a wonderful site, simply amazing. The images in particular are stunning. Having been peripherally involved in this crazy business for many years (I remember Loricraft's Terry Sullivan when he was selling hifi in a store in Oxford, and have known the ever, um, interesting Peter Qvortrop for, well, ever), I'm delighted that you are helping keep this strange hobby alive and well.
Just a note to wish you a merry christmas and a happy new year and to thank you for responding to my requests for information in the past. I'm now in possession of a Yamamoto kit to go between my Audio Aero Capitole and Avantgarde speakers.
A quick thank you for the new series of reviews you have started; a splendid idea! I was very taken with the feature on Matt and his family, the Shindo gear etc. In fact, I am now planning a road trip to visit Matt with the intent of moving into a Shindo and DeVore or Living Voice system from my McCormack and Maggies. I love these dearly but am completely smitten by the possibilities given the words shared by you, Jules, Michael Lavorgna, et al, and phone visits with Jonathan Halpern and Matt Rotunda.
Also eager to hear more about John DeVore's Gibbon Nines. Anyway, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. Again, thanks for sharing your discoveries and thoughts with such verve and generosity.
I just wanted to email you after reading your review of the Kondo M77 preamp. I too am a Kevin groupie, having first heard the Airscouts at a Heathrow show some years ago. As soon as I heard them, I knew it was the sound I had been looking for, and luckily Kevin had a used pair. Despite their being in a tiny (9x10 foot) bedroom, they sound wonderful. Since then, I've pestered Kevin many times over the years and been guided by him to improve my system. I haven't yet managed to reach the dizzy heights of Kondo, except for the SFz transformer, but I have my dreams! My system is: SME 20/2A with VHd Colibri, Kondo SFz, Audio Innovations P2 phono stage (tweaked by Border Patrol), SJS Arcadia preamp and 2A3 amp, Airscouts, all Living Voice cables.
I was very inspired by your review. It really captured the reason why Kondo and Kevin are so important. It's not about the equipment, the bass, the soundstaging, any of that. It's about the music, the emotion, the communication, the grace, the joy, the beauty, all of that. And, as you say, you can't put that into words; you have to experience it. I'm going to ask my wife to read your review, so that she can understand why I'm so obsessed.
Thank you for the best review I've ever read.
Nice introduction to the WLM speaker range. It will be very interesting to see if the little Yamamoto A-08S can drive the 98dB/W/m efficient WLMs to acceptable levels. I know that many industry "experts" have often questioned the true efficiency of the Zu Definitions, hypothesising that they are likely closer to 96dB/W/m, so it might just work in this case. Of course something like the Melody 2A3 monoblocks would absolutely romp it in - could also be an interesting combination; nudge, nudge, wink, wink.
I look forward as always to the next update of the moons.
Keep up the great work.
|Dear Mr. Barker,
I am the fortunate owner of a KSL M7 Silver Mark II. It is to me, exactly as you have described the M77. I know how difficult it is to capture the essence of this gear in words. You have done an incredible job. To those that have not heard this for themselves, it will be difficult to completely understand, but if and when they hear it, it becomes instantly clear.
I use the preamp with one of Kondo's original Neiro amps. It is also infused with the same talent. Together they are simply (and complexly) music!
|Dear Mr. Barker,
I don't know whether you receive much feedback from your reviews in 6moons, but I thought you would like to know how enjoyable I have found your recent contributions: Living Voice OBX-RW, Kondo KSL M-77 plus the Industry Feature article about your visit to Def Audio. I have also recently had the opportunity of hearing Kevin's Kondo (I'm looking for another word beginning with "K"!) on several occasions and can concur you have encapsulated my feelings about the system exactly and recaptured in your words the emotional impact it had on me at the time.
I look forward to reading of your further discoveries, especially the Kondo Cabling which I see is in the pipeline.
With all good wishes
Just wanted to thank you for and congratulate you on your recent reviews and articles and say that I look forward to your upcoming Music Lover's stuff. As you may remember, my 2006 was also brightened by my introduction to Shindo gear and Matt Rotunda of Pitch Perfect Audio. And along those lines, I want to recommend a product for possible review that seems, to me at least, to fit in with the Music Lover's theme and which is very synergistic with the Shindo gear (and my PHY based speakers): the Nottingham Analogue Space 294 with new AceSpace 294 12-incharm.
I know that the vintage tables are the rage right now but for those who find the Shindo table's price tag to steep and aren't inclined to go the route of assembling a deck for themselves, this might be a very satisfying and worthy alternative. It seems to be unlike just about anything else out there, it is a breeze to use and it sounds great. It is already about to put my DCS digital front-end into premature retirement.
And the best part is that it retails for only $4,000. I have included a picture because, frankly, its appearance plays no small role in its appeal. might be something your fellow moonie Stephaen Harrell would want to check out. t is a much more engaging performer than the regular Spacedeck, which I ,too, used to have).
Cheers and Happy Holidays,
|I was reading your review of the Raysonic CD player and I found it to be very helpful. I do have one question however. You mentioned that it is necessary to press the stop/open button on the remote to let the unit know when a CD has been inserted or removed. Is this function only on the remote, or is it also on the player itself?
Trying to find the remote every time I want to listen to another CD seems like it would get old quick, and would be a problem if the remote were to break.
Otherwise, it looks like a great little player that I think would be at home in my current system.
Fair question and concern and one Raysonic must have anticipated because, yes indeed, that vital function is copied with a hard button on the unit itself. As of today, this player is my top recommendation in this price range.
Just wanted to say how much enjoyment I derive from your website, which is the first one I visit each time my computer goes on. Many thanks for sharing your passion, and for picking such like-minded colleagues to assist you. Best wishes for your continued success into 2007 and beyond.
I don't know, if 6moons had the opportunity to review any of the products at Woo Audio. The products appear very competitively priced, but I who knows about the quality. They claim to manufacture all components in the US and have more than 40 years of experience.
Personally, as a DIY for the same length of time, the construction pictures of their products appear sanitary and well-thought out. The SET OTL, and SET transformer Class A headphone amps looked interesting.
I am an old friend of Srajan's and I love poking around his website. And I have a question that has come up regarding the various CD treatments that you and the other reviewers have been experimenting with. Since I use a laptop computer and external hard drive to listen to WAVs of my music, is there a benefit to applying any of these treatments (nespa, furutech demag, various liquid CD treatments) to a commercial CD before copying it with EAC to my hard drive? Or does EAC do such a good job by itself that any treatments would be unnecessary?
Thanks for any perspective you can offer.
you are listening to EAC'd WAV files from a hard disk. Okay, that means that the files are as good as possible with affordable techniques. Next you use no doubt player software like Microsoft's or even better FooBar to send the music out. And at this stage there is some room for improvements.
Are you going USB out to an external DAC or are you using the built-in sound card? Any of the tools you mention are beneficial for creating burned copies or improving CD play back. Once you have the WAV on disc, its fine.
A few thoughts:
- try to keep the HDD only for music files
- while play back is at hand, have nothing else running on your system - Windows runs a zillion processes/threads under the hood. That's why we prefer a MAC, using EAC'd files with a Windows machine, from an external HDD. Hardware galore!
|Hi "M & H" :
Not too long ago, you told me (in an e-mail) that the CD transport has to be "as perfect as possible" in order to properly read-in music files to a hard drive. I rejected your claims - after hearing certain hard drives via Exact Copy, they sounded better than any transport I had heard up to that point. In other words, it worked.
Well, it turns out you were right all along - there were errors going into the unit. And as good as EAC does its job, the read-in process can still do better, maybe a lot better. Case in point - The Memory Player, built here in The States by Nova Physics. Revolutionary ? Looks that way...but...I want you to hear it for yourselves, maybe even do a review. The concept of extreme accuracy in the read-in process is proving you right, to all of our benefit!
I let you know that I really enjoyed my 'tour' of mainland China, courtesy of 6moons and Mr. Warwick Freemantle. The text too is informative and much to think about. Looking forward to Mr. Freemantle's next trip!
With best regards and a Merry Christmas and a superlative 2007 to all at 6moons.
|Congratulations on a wonderful internet site - I've spent hours there reading the reviews, tracking down the music recommendations, thinking about your (and my) philosophy of audio. A mutual friend, Larry Cloetta near Jackson Hole, Wyoming, turned me on to your website. Though I do not presume to put words into your mouth, it seems to me our personal journeys might well be on convergent paths. Over the last five years I've been trying to reduce the complexity and cost of my investment in audio equipment while maximizing its performance. As well, it seems some of our core values or priorities for equipment performance are very similar - tonal and timbral accuracy, dynamic swing, emotional impact.
To this end I've built where I could, "finish them yourself" Edgarhorns and Seismic horn subwoofer, using Dr. E's shells and saladbowls, supplying my own drivers and providing my own cabinetry and wood finishing skills; Teres turntable from the DIY origins of the project (I was one of the original seven hobbyists who made up the group credited with designing the first Teres tables. . .); Cyrus Brenneman Cavalier Plus integrated and his newly developed phono stage. My one extravagance has been picking up a slightly used Esoteric X-03 player on Audiogon for half the list price. This last based partially on your excellent reviews. Oh, I bought a BPT system after talking to Chris at RMAF year before last, and listening to Keith Herron's system. Seems I read about Chris' BPT power conditioners on 6moons, too.
I've no complaints with the Cavalier Plus integrated amp - Cy develops with and listens for pleasure to Edgarhorns himself, so there is an undeniable synergy at work between the horn speakers and his electronics. The Cavalier Plus replaced Manley NeoClassic 300B amplifiers, and really betters the outstanding Manleys in some significant ways - more dynamic, better frequency extension at both ends of the spectrum (including some really deep and articulate bass), and much quieter operation. This last is fairly significant with 106dB efficient speakers.
However, the Cavalier Plus does not possess that seductive DHT lit from within sort of glow and life that seems to be the particular province of 300Bs. Seductive and addictive, I find I miss having a touch of that magic illuminating my music. Call me a SET junkie. I don't want to submerge myself in the 300B psychedelic midrange - but a taste would be very nice!
Which brings me in a roundabout way to my second point. I read with great interest your review of the Melody I2A3 integrated. You really have a wonderfully descriptive way of writing about sound and equipment and your emotional reactions to the music reproduced - I was quite captivated and intrigued with the possibilities the Melody might present in my system. I know you have many, many demands on your time and I hesitate to ask, but you are the only person I know of who has heard both the Manley NeoClassics (my reference point) and the Melody I2A3 integrated. If you would be able to favor me with a few words of comparison I would be very grateful. I hope I've given you some idea of my priorities and desires for my musical experience.
Frankly, the Esoteric was a real stretch to justify, though the reality of its performance has more than proven its value and cemented the credibility of your observations in my book. I don't normally cycle equipment though my system looking for musical nirvana - I don't have the budget nor the inclination to listen to equipment past the point that it recreates emotionally moving music. So I'm hoping you can give me some bearings relative to the Melody I2A3 and its place in the scheme of things.
Thank you for your time in reading this. I hope I haven't been an imposition or presumed too much.
Very best regards,
near Libby, Montana USA
I'll put it to you this way. The owner of the mondo system shown at the end of the Melody review bought an I2A3 after a 5-minute audition - for his Avantgarde Duo Omegas. He's very experienced with state-of-the-art valve amps, owning some of the finest made. He right away said, "this doesn't sound like a 2A3 amp". He was right. It sounds like a 45 SET though it is a 2A3 push/pull. And it runs off affordable Sovteks which do not perform at the same elevated level into something like the Fi monos which are 2A3 SETs. This truly is world-class stuff and our upcoming factory tour will document it. Melody winds its own transformers in-house, uses authentic (not cloned) Jensen PIO caps, relies on original circuits and is the 2nd largest valve amp manufacturer in China today. They're in a brand-new factory with an attached dormitory and kitchen for the workers and presently run a staff of about 80, with another 10-strong management staff. They're presently being solicited for OEM work from companies that would surprise you but would instantly prove the point and exactly at what level Melody manufacturers these days. Considering your listening tastes and what you're trying to accomplish -- realsization -- the Melody I2A3 gets my highest recommendation indeed. It's a world-class integrated amplifier built to the highest standards and sounds like it.
loved your piece on the Argento mains lead. An honest reviewer for a change. Nothing wrong in thanking someone for a gift as long as the reader gets full disclosure. Just for the record, that piece of wire costs one tenth of my new Nagra CD player. Which would you rather have, one Nagra and its garden variety lead or ten cords? My, that's a stumper.
And merry xmas,
I own a Leben Mullard EL84 integrated amplifier, which I am enjoying with Omega Max Hemp speakers. For sources, I am using a Pioneer Elite 59AVi multi format DVD player as well as a Rega Saturn CD player. It's all sitting on a Mapleshade rack and Skylan speaker stands in my living room so this should qualify me as a "music lover." Perhaps you remember the line from Tombstone as uttered by Doc Holiday?
I am interested in seeing your review of Leben's EL34 integrated amplifier and perhaps your feelings as to how it compares with the EL84 model.
I believe that it is incorrect to characterize solid state as more accurate than tubes. I would suggest that tubes are clearly more accurate than solid state in general, unless the tube product is poor. I believe this to be more the case with amplifiers than preamplifiers and I know several designers who basically agree with this proposal.
Tubes, no matter the type, are more accurate with respect to tone than solid state. Tubes suffer from higher noise issues and poorer performance at the extremes for sure,but not so much into more benign loads. Using a single driver speaker makes this type of comparison easier, since just about every amp can work within its optimal operating condition into the load, except perhaps for some high powered solid state monsters and frankly who cares about those.
I also might add that many CD players I have heard have sounded smoother and fuller than many turntable setups, though not necessarily better. I think that CD players ultimately fail in comparison to vinyl in what I would call "tunefulness." Unless, of course the turntable is equipped with a moving coil cartridge. Digital removes a certain lightness inherent in live playing that turntables seem to hold onto a bit better.
I look forward to the series. Thanks, Joe.
Unrelated to audio, I see you have an Eames leg splint on your wall. I love the Eames work, although some may think you are quite morbid for hanging a leg splint on your wall. These two were a brilliant pairing whose work I think defined the entire 20th century. Virtually every modern piece of furniture I see has roots in their work.
Being an architect, sometimes I am embarrassed at the way some audiophile's listening rooms look. They spend all of this money on equipment, and then the room is a hideous space that I wouldn't want to spend 2 seconds in. I think your room looks very nice. I like the wall color, and having a nice piece of artwork to stare at as you listen is way better than acoustic panels.
Oh, and the system looks pretty good too.
I read your Yamamoto headphone amp test with great interest as we are the Hungarian Yamamoto (and Zu, Leben, Flying Mole and the 8th wonder Altmann DAC/ADC /BYOB and few others) distributors and got our sample HA-02 just a day before the HiFi show in Budapest in November. Please find few photos of our rooms here:
In the last few years we have made videos of different hifi shows worldwide as well, you can find some at Youtube (the latest films were shot and edited in High Definition using my Sony HDV camcorder). I got few hours unedited HD footage of the 2006 CES and the last Heathrow show in London as well. Hope to edit and publish it some time end of this year. Sometimes it is really educational to re-listen of the show sounds at home through the HDV and DV video, shows completely well the sound of the different rooms in my memory, it is a kind of sound fingertip:-)
At home I am using a computer-based system with the Altmann BYOB amp and Attraction Dac and Tcelectronic Konnekt24D Firewire-to-SPDIF converter on a Macbook with Avantgarde Trios. I sold my Accuphase DP-100/DC-101 and Audio Note original Kondo made Kageki, when I got the Altmann for home audition. It was from a different dimension musically. Soon I will change the Trio to a Zu Definition Pro system actively driven with the Altmann amp and a not decided yet amp for the sub section with a DEQX digital crossover. Volume setting will be a challenge but a dual stereo TVC-based volume pot would be sufficient. Please find the attached drawing.
Just a little update on my CD player adventures. I am the one who sang the praises of the Original CD-2008 mk2 - which I still find to be one of the best one box players under $1500 that I had heard...and I had heard and used plenty in the last 3 - 5 years.
After reading your review of the Consonance CD Reference 2.2 Linear, I recently took the plunge and picked up the Consonance CD Reference 2.2 Linear's little bro' - the CD120 Linear (based partially on your mention of it in the review). To cut to the chase and take all pretense of suspense out of the conclusion, I am absolutely astonished at the performance of this little wonder. It took less than 2 songs to realize that as good as the CD-2008 mk2 was, this was a whole 'nuther ballgame. The CD120 Linear has a sense of musical scale, balance, proportion....but putting the sound in terms like this doesn't begin to convey the message of how I FEEL when I listen to any CD in my collection. I now feel I know what it was like to be there when the music was being recorded - it is spooky in it's sense of realism. The sense of timing and plain musical rightness is addictive. It does the audiophile things extremely well when I force myself to listen in that manner, but I'd hardly care if it didn't - just because of the way it serves the music first and foremost.
Now......back to the music!
I really enjoyed your 6moons.com Best Of 2006 article. It's clear that you've enjoyed your audio journey and made some personal discoveries over the years of what you enjoy most. It never ends, does it! But we get closer.
I've been around the merry-go-round and ended up satisfied with some good quality tube gear. Then a baby decoded to show up and shake things up. I've since sold off all of my tube gear and come home to a simple system that allows me to focus on the music while managing an extremely active 10-month old and his curiosities.
Where you are today is where I'd like to be in the future, after we move to a larger house and I can dedicate a room to a home office and music room. I've been to Pitch Perfect Audio and I've heard the Shindo gear. I'm very curious to hear the Solovox speakers or any of the Phy speakers. I've heard a lot about the Pagode and understand it to be the real deal. I already own the Signature 30, though I'm not using it.
Anyway, it was a pleasure to read your article and I'm living vicariously through it. I'm happy where I am (and having a ball with my son), but I'm an audiophile by birth and someday I want to get back to that better system. I salute you on your own journey.
|Sir, you've done it to me again.
Some time ago while looking for some different headphones (I mainly use RS1s), I chanced on your review of the ATW1000s and promptly ordered a pair. While I have enjoyed these phones they've never really blossomed with my current system and I mainly use my Mapletree HD100 headamp and the Grados. Despite what seems to be the prevailing opinion of the W1000s on Headfi (poor/rubbish etc) I have always thought they were worth holding onto and now I see why. Once again one of your reviews has caused damage to my credit card and will hopefully bring immense enjoyment to myself as I've ordered a Yamamoto HA-02 to mate with the ATs.
That picture in your review of the 2 together was the clincher.
As there is no agent in my part of the planet( New Zealand) and I needed a 240V unit I contacted Mr Yamamoto direct. He was very prompt with his replies and despite sometimes hilarious translations we have managed to get my order complete. Now I must wait for around 7 weeks for the amp to be made and in that time will have worn out several printed copies of your review and observed the photos with something akin to lust. :).
It is always an extra pleasure to have something that not only carries out its intended function to the highest degree but is designed and built by an artisan. I will be very interested to see how the Japanese combo matches the North American duo of Grado/Mapletree. Thanks for not only the Yamamoto review but all the others of what to me are obscure and always interesting gear, most of which never gets near this country.
Firstly, thanks a ton! I went for a Raysonic CD128 and have to say I am loving it! I have not played so much music in ages! So thanks for the review!!
Secondly .... have not seen these amps anywhere else and think they are beautiful ! Have no idea what they sound like but do they look the part or what - http://www.vacuumtube.com/trijapan.html
Keep up the great work in your lunar world ! All the very best for the new year.
Just finished looking at your personal faves for the year and felt inclined to tell you how very pleased I've been with components heartily endorsed by 6moons this year. I've bought the BelCanto Ref 1000s and PRe3, the Gallo 3.1s and most recently, acquired a used Eastern Electric CDP. The last component was met with great enthusiasm. I'd felt that I wasn't hearing the speakers nor the amps at their best with the CDP that I'd been using. (I found the old player revealing, detailed and ultimately not particularly musical). I'm sure you know too well that good components must play well in concert with each other. All of the aforementioned ones seem to just be performing at their best now. Lastly, I heartily endorse your realsizing discoveries and articles. Some of my most interesting friends really aren't willing to buy more expensive gear, though they dearly love music.
Recently, one such friend dropped in unexpectedly. His work involves shooting documentaries, and he showed me one that was a few years old now about a musician caste from Rajasthan, the Manganiyars. Illuminating. I particularly enjoyed seeing the rhythym of three men effortlessly sawing away at their stringed instruments while sitting cross legged. They seemed in remarkable harmony with each other.
Regards, Al Luke
PS: One audio surprise for me this year was auditioning the Zu Druids and not finding them to my liking. After so much positive press, I was convinced that I would. I still imagine that their particular charms were lost on me on a given day, and that familarity would create a more favourable impression.
Here are some photos of my full Zu 5.1 Home Theater Sytem. There are some custom Zu speakers that were made specifically for my system. A while back, Les Turoczi was at my home and was able to listen.
Not to be a bother, but now with about eight hours of listening, I feel safe to say that the Melody I2A3 is indeed one fine sounding kit. By far the best amplifier I have ever owned; Unison, Almaro, Jolida,VTL, McIntosh, Redgum, even the Amp 1, which I will keep. This piece must have what one would consider but can usually never afford, that true "hi-end "sound that is so hard to define but you know it when you hear it. And this is after only a few hours, she is still a "virgin". Listening to Chris Botti with Paula Cole last evening and I must say ,some tunes were almost a religious experience. My Klipsch Belles have certainly never sound better. Mr. Paul would be a proud man hearing what his 50 year plus design can be made to sound like and even he may have been brought to tears listening to Ms. Cole.
I think I have a keeper and may have found the nirvana we all look for. I would not know where to look for something better at anywhere near this price range. Thank you for your review that has guided me to uber amp ownership.
All the Best
I want to thank you for reviewing the Consonance Droplet 5.0 CD player. After reading the review I was intrigued to know if it would sound better in my system than my existing CD player which retails for $3500, close to the Droplet's $3200. Knowing I can always sell my current CDP, I purchased a Droplet and anxiously awaited its arrival.
The Droplet's design is indeed unique, much larger in person than any pictures would have you believe, even when I knew the measurements in advance. I can see how some Westerners could find the shape odd and uncomfortable since it's so different from the normal rectangular box. I, on the other hand, find it refreshing that an electrical engineer would treat his creation with so much artistic flair. It is quite a statement piece.
Upon first listen, granted no warm up, I was not sure I heard anything dfferent than my current CDP. More into the listening and I realized there's something missing in the sound: the digital grunge, the grating mids, the lean bass - they were all MIA! CD quality dependent of course, can't make a bad recording great no matter what one does, but with even with average CDs, I was able to enjoy listening to the music, rather than cringe and pop the CD out. Vocals are startlingly real, almost like they're in the room or when listening from outside the room, the feeling of hearing a live performance happening is almost there. The vocals are that good. The bass is much closer to that of vinyl than any CD player I have ever heard. It's not mushy or boomy, it's clean, tight, and deep when the source contains the information. I found myself listening longer to each track before moving on when I was comparing, sometimes the song finished and I'm sitting there dumbfounded at what I just heard. I know I shouldn't be listening to equipment but to the reproduced music but in the past, that was harder to do since there was always something that did not sound right. There's a rightness to The Droplet. The bloom around instruments and singers is more distinct and fuller than what I have heard before. The soundstage is closer though than what I have been listening to which in this case is good because I was getting tired of hearing performers from ten rows back. My Nola Viper II's throw a big stage well beyond the front wall, therefore are not forward speakers; the Droplet's slightly closer soundstage work better to my ears in this system.
Aside from it not being able to play one very deeply gouged CD without skipping, I have had no operational problems with it. Overall, I'm very happy with the Droplet (and so's my wife who can listen to piano CDs once again without her ears bleeding), and I am off the CD player merry-go-round.
I read some ridiculous comments by a few Audio Asylum inmates who disliked the Droplet because they thought the unit's shape was "gimmicky" (talk about idiotic to dismiss a player soley because it looks different); then there's the guy who said some nice things about its sound, but then throws in that he needed more than two hands to put a CD into the machine! That he had nowhere to put the lid and the puck! He has no shelf or is his floor that dirty he can't set them down gently? I set them down on my hardwood floor without any problems with dust. Oh and the guy who's pissed off over the fact that the play button has to be hit twice to engage play! Yes it does and to avoid that you simply press the top panel's forward button once and instantly track one starts. Couldn't be simpler. With people like this, the Chinese hi-end maufacturers are going to have a hard time making it over here in the U.S. - they're already known for making cheap, crappy stuff, then throw in a different shaped chassis and it's going to be pretty hard to attract that American buyer.
Maybe since Chinese hi-end is still in its relative infancy in the U.S., their equipment devalue faster than American, European and even Japanese competitors, and to recoup some of the money spent, it's better to sell now than later; perhaps this is a reason why there are a few of these on Audiogon of late, all selling for nearly half retail, and the player's only one and half years old. This would never happen to a Levinson. It's a double-edge sword because I probably would not have been able to purchase a new Droplet but a used one for $1600 I couldn't pass up. Hopefully one day, Consonance and other hi-end Chinese products will get the respect they deserve.his CDP would work well.
Thanks for 6moons,
I have been waiting patiently for your review of the Promitheus TVC preamplifier for weeks. It seems you are content to leave the "in the works" reviews dangling out in cyberspace for nearly endless periods of time. My suggestion is that you not post your intention to publish a product review until it is very nearly ready. Your current policy is far too frustrating!
I suggest patience, Mike. My reviewers have real lives with families and jobs. They review in their spare time and offer their efforts free of charge to read.. Especially with an item as affordably priced as the $350 Promitheus, waiting for a review to tell you whether to buy it or not seems a bit desparate, don't you think? Whatever is listed as "coming up from these writers next" is what's next in line. Items listed as "also in the works" are further removed.
I took the Fi plunge at the beginning of this year. Strongly influenced by you (thank you). A Y preamp for my wife's studio. It is paired with a Decware Taboo. It has been a very good combination and my wife will not part with it, even though she was not taken with the retro look at first. But the music!
We use the Yph with our music system. It certainly has a way of painting pictures, you were quite right about that. It gets the body of the music right. Even though we are very happy, a question comes to mind. Have you rolled tubes with the Yph? Or know anyone who has?
PS: Don's work really is art ...superb. We feel lucky to own a couple of pieces.
Just read your Esoteric P-03/D-03 review. It's so comprehensive! Thank you for the hard work.
Three weeks ago, I attended a demo organized by a hifi magazine in Hong Kong and had a chance of comparing the P-03/D-03 against the EMMLabs CDSD/DCC2 (not the Signature version). Accompanying components were Rockport Grand Mira speakers, Boulder 2010 preamp, Edge Reference monoblock poweramps and Siltech cables/powercords. IMO, both P-03/D-03 & CDSD/DCC2 are the best digital front-ends that I have ever heard. I like both of them. The EMM labs sounded more detailed, more dynamical and upfront while the Esoterics sounded smoother/rounder.
Hope that you may give us a review on the Signature version of EMM Labs in future. Also, may I ask whether you will do reviews on the Wadia 581 and the upcoming Esoteric X-01 D2? They are not cheap but at least a bit more affordable to audiophiles.
BTW, why is that P-03/D-03/G-0s not receiving a Blue Moon Award?
Thank you again!
I'm gratified that your own listening came to a similar conclusion with regard to the arbitrary two classes of sound mentioned in the review. Whether we'll review Wadia or EMM Labs will depend on those companies contacting us with a review request. We're so busy keeping up with existing requests that we tend to not solicit manufacturers from our end. Why no Blue Moon Award? Make no mistake, it probably deserves it. The thing is, I don't have any comparative experience at this level except for the Zanden. And there's Meitner and the new Orpheus Anniversay and Accuphase and Burmester and Horning and Accustic Arts and other top-echelon efforts.
When I bestow an award, I try to do it fully confident that the performance at a particular price point (in conjunction with certain features, build quality, appearance or unique technological implementations) is unique. The more expensive things get, the harder the value portion of the equation becomes to quantify - and the more "miserly" I feel about handing out special awards. That doesn't mean the product under review isn't exceptional. It better be for the money asked and the review itself should give sufficient anecdotal evidence of just how good the performance is. But would the G-025 at 1/4 the cost of the G-0S have done just as good a job ? I really don't know but would have to for award purposes.
Still, yours is a fair question. If machines and test equipment were in charge of awards, one could program in certain parameters and walk away. With human beings of limited exposure where hard A/B comparisons against the current competitors are at best restricted to a two-some (rather than a comprehensive shootout), it's a whole lot less scientific. That's my honest and best answer. In certain categories and at certain price levels, I feel very confident about my ability to identify break-out products. In others, I'm still learning about what's possible. Super digital is one of the latter. Ditto for expensive cables. The Crystal Cable Ultra is the best one-brand cable loom I've ever heard in my system. How good is it by comparison to other "ultra" efforts? Until I compared it directly to Siltech, Argento, Jorma and others like them, I won't know. Hence no award for the Crystal Cable Ultra either even though it's the best I've heard yet. See the logic in the madness?
A few months ago you volunteered some advice to me on selecting my new system. One of your pieces of advice was to contact Kevin Scott at Definitive Audio.
I did. I also spoke to a number of other audio dealers and listened to lots of goodies. But at the end of the day it was no contest. Kevin created the sound I had always wanted to hear.
Of course, I ended up spending a lot more than I planned: but, the sound is wonderful.
Many thanks Srajan, without your advice I might never have chanced on Definitive Audio!
Kevin's da bomb, isn't he? Charming to boot and he sure likes the primo stuff. But all is forgiven because he does, truly, have phenomenal ears and knows how to make systems sing. Glad to hear he's made another happy customer. Just so you know, he'll take care of you no matter what. Now you're part of his family and he's fiercely protective of every single member and will go rather out of his way to insure their ongoing satisfaction. That's why I like to recommend him. He's good karma, bespoke service and all. They don't make 'em like that anymore -:)
Sorry to say that but do you know that the Lyon-based Europe representative of Melody gave me following answer:
Thank you for your mail and your interest in our Melody products.
First I have to say that we sold all amps of the last generation this summer. So, there are no occasion products left.
The new 2A3 integrated amplifier is called ASTRO BLACK 22 and costs 3.580 €. Shipping should be 50€ I think.
For any further information, contact us.
Melody - Europe .com
I am shocked regarding price difference!
Regards from Latvia,
I'm not at all. Living in Cyprus, one Cyprus pound costs me $2.25 depending on which day I go to the bank. Add 15% VAT and up to 18% import tarrifs for non-EU product entering an EU country and this is simply a function of global currency imbalances. Plus, do we know that the Astro Black 22 is identical to the I2A3 sold in the US? I do know that the I2A3 is only available in 117V and won't be sold outside the US and Canadian markets so importing one to Europe to beat currency conversions won't work. Unless you run a quality step-down. In which case you gotta add that to the bill and a return trip ticket to the US. Living in Europe is expensive, period.