I enjoy your site a great deal, thank you for publishing it. Judging by the pipeline of upcoming reviews that you are showing, it looks like there will be lots of interesting reading in the future also.
I have just finished reading Jeff Day’s review of the Cardas Golden Reference cables and he identifies some characteristics that I too have found but have never seen anyone comment upon. I use the balanced interconnects and speaker cable in a system very different from Jeff’s Rowland Model 10, Revel Studio, Theta. I also couldn’t get over how long they took to break in. In my system, I thought these were the worst sounding cables I had ever heard for quite a few weeks.
As to their overall sound, I laugh whenever I read old stereotypes of Cardas cables repeated (mindlessly?) on various online forums. These cables are a long way from the old reputation of warm and fuzzy, as Jeff has noted. In fact, I heard very little difference between the Golden Reference interconnects and Nordost Quattro Fil a comparison that stereotypes would claim to be night and day different.
Thanks again for a great magazine,
Think or Swim, Inc.
I really appreciate your ears. I tend to find that your reviews exactly mirror my experiences. Right now, I've got Duos with a Kronzilla and some other goodies, notably the BPT 3.5 signature and Exactpower 15a. But I've got a very serious question.....
where do you get a listening chair like that? I've done some searches on the web and can't find any sources.
Joe, the chair in question used to be available through the World Market/Cost Plus but seems discontinued now. It is very comfortable though and, like a beack chair, allows three different degrees of lean.
I just realized that one of your sponsors is Underwood HiFi and that you did a review of their mod on the Unico. Don't you feel it's a conflict of interest, as if you did a negative review, you'd lose the sponsorship and needed revenue?
Joseph Collins, Vancouver
In an ideal world, we perhaps wouldn't have any advertising at all but subsist on inheritances, wealthy relatives or generous mates. In the real world, a magazine or site has to bring in revenue somehow to keep functioning, especially when access to readers is free. Hence, ad space is sold. Granted, there is potential for unsavory shenanigans and I can't comment on how other sites and print mags might operate. Perhaps Srajan is better equipped to answer your question.
As a writer for 6moons, I am under absolutely no pressure from the manufacturer or the editor/publisher to write a positive review - or even review any specific equipment to begin with. If Underwood HiFi asks me to review a piece and I don't like it, I'll say so. Our writers have complete control over the review process. As a result, most of the chaff gets weeded out a priori and won't ever make it into the review process. At most other audio sites and mags, the editor calls all the shots and assigns equipment to each writer. Not at 6moons. As long as Srajan is kept in the loop, we're encouraged to pursue what interests us. That's why I'm here and the same is true of the other writers. Freedom is a wonderful thing. Plus, 6moons writers at present have zero financial interest in whatever revenues are generated. Srajan is still building this little business and has to live off it since that's what he does full-time.
Our "reward" outside of the fun we have is access to equipment and the privilege to purchase what speaks to us at discounts, albeit always at the respective manufacturers' discretion. Should an ad sponsor bail because he didn't like my review, I'm not affected one wit. Srajan might be, but he never second-guesses his writers' findings. We're under strict orders to call it as we see and hear it. Never once has my editor changed one iota of meaning in anything I've submitted. Srajan occasionally does massage language and grammar as he sees fit - but never meaning. For my part, I appreciate seeing the end result a little more polished than I sometimes manage on my own.
As for the Unico, I asked to do the review because I was impressed with the stock Unico when I heard it briefly in a retail store. Plus, I was curious about the mod market in general. As it turned out, I really liked the piece and I think it's good value. Then again, some people might disagree and believe l I'm full of shit - but that's the way it is with such a subjective enterprise. C'est la vie.
Ultimately, you are the final judge of a product's merit as you have to live with and pay for it. My job is to point out products that may warrant further investigation by readers, providing that their listening bias is similar to mine - which is why we have our bios in a prominent, easy-to-find place. Based on what you've told me in previous emails, I think you'll be happy with your modded Unico.
Well put, Paul, and thanks for your vote of confidence regarding my minor edits for language. I can't think of anything useful to ad to what you already covered very well. Srajan.
I've been watching 6moons for a few months now and must say, this is one impressive site. Everything from the diversity of interests to the scope of the individual pieces leaves me feeling quite encouraged for our little hobby/obsession. Best of luck in all ways!
Not sure if you post 'em but I've taken the liberty of attaching a press release detailing the unusual and highly effective Slinkylinks cables from New Zealand. An impressive technology and a group of wonderful people; we're greatly encouraged at the prospects this terrific little company has Over Here. By the way, you may recall that you'd helped me acquire a pair of Soliloquy 6.3 cabinets when I was with Perpetual. Thanks again for that lead - I have one final rebuild on them planned...
At any rate, congratulations and looking forward to your take on these nicewires. Visit our site if you have a spare moment.
Jon Lane, Partner, The Audio Insider, LLC
I wish to give sincere thanks for your careful and considered attention to recent albums by Pearl Django and Neil Andersson. This music is deserving of increased listenership and the reviews are right on target. What amazing talent these musicians demonstrate! Thanks for noticing.
David Stevenson, Pearl Django fan
Many thanks for this e-mail. I have been traveling this entire month, minus a few days home to wash clothes. But now I have found a few moments to look over your show report. I wanted to thank you for thanking me for being a representative for high end audio at the CES keynote. It is my pleasure and responsibility to carry this message to anyone who will hear it. I am grateful for the opportunity and I hope in some small way it helps our industry grow.
You are quite the poet, and you capture so well what makes us all stay in this industry. It certainly isn't the money!
I hope you're doing well.
Thanks again for your kind comments, the great review on the CS2.4, and all your support for our industry.
Kathy Gornik, Thiel
I hope your vacation is going splendidly.
I've recently discovered 6moons and have been thoroughly enjoying the archives. It's refreshing to see actual comparisons between products being made. That's what makes reviews useful for readers. That leads me to the reason I'm writing: since it's difficult for most of us to make comparisons with many of the products available, I was curious if there's been any consideration to review the latest version of the Shunyata Hydra. It seems like a logical competitor for the Walker Audio and the BPT units that you've reviewed.
Say hi to all my friends at Avantegarde and HMS (feeble attempt at humor.)
Could you maybe put together an article that highlights good combinations of components that are reasonably priced? I ask this because you have had the opportunity to listen to a wide range of components, both reasonable and expensive, that most of us can never do. Certainly it is interesting to read about $20,000 amps, but most of us would never buy something like this. However, we are very much interested in listening to good music and I know I would appreciate some reasonable alternatives when shopping for components. It would also be informative if you could put together an article or two or three addressing the strengths and weaknesses of tube vs SS amps, of ultra-linear vs triode vs SET; active vs passive preamps; horns vs conventional speakers and a reasonable speaker efficiency in matching amp to speaker. If you have already done this somewhere, could you please direct me to the appropriate place.
Thanks so much
I look forward to the Sennheiser portion of your Chazz headphone amp review. I am a 100%-of-the-time headphone listener, outfitted with Senn 600's w/Cardas cable (though I am likely to trade up to the newish 650's). I just sold my marvelously transparent Berning MicroZotl tubed headphone amp in the quest for an amp with more balls, especially since most of my listening fare is of the rock variety. I have also considered the Unico as a headphone amp for the Sennheisers, using a device called the U.H.C. Signature (available through Antique Sound Labs) which allows for headphone hook-up to the amp's speaker outputs. I know you may be comparing the Unico to the Chazz with the AKG K-1000's, but it might be interesting (and I would certainly be interested), if you were to try the Unico driving the Sennheisers via the U.H. C. Signature compared to the Chazz. The Unico would constitute the only hybrid headphone amp I know of, and I was hopeful that the tube/SS combo could provide the combination of grunt and gossamer that I am after. Please consider.
Otherwise, enjoy your time off. Those of us in the head-fi.org community await your findings.
I know that you're on vacation which I hope is going very well. I write to report that, as you suggested, Vivid and SST are a smashing success. My usual volume setting on my Wadia before the treatments was 85-95. Now it is 73-83. I don't know what that translates to in dB, but it is a significant difference.
Duke LeJune, a dealer and a friend who sold me many pieces of my system, was by and impressed. "Merlins aren't supposed to do that," Duke said referring to the bass energy and mass of my system coming from a ported 2-way box. (I don't use the BAM by the way, so some might say I have one hand tied behind my back. I've found that proper placement, some minimal room treatments and the right interconnect makes all the difference.)
Vivid improves every disk that I try. I am not sure if there is better separation, less digital highs, more bottom or what, but I can say that the illusion of the live event is heightened after treating the disk. SST stunned me. My non-audiophile, but good sport wife agreed immediately that SST improved the sound. It's not just more volume. It's more of everything that my system does well at a lower volume.
As you said, not a lot of money made a very audible difference.
All the best,
I would like to get your permission to add a link at our web site to the sixmoons CS2.4 review. Is it also possible to use your logo in our News section where we would announce the review and use an excerpt or two?
As a graphic designer, I have to tell you how attractive your logo and navigation graphics look. Nice job!
I was kind of hoping that you were out there somewhere in that wonderful group of people at the Alexis. Your review in 6moons was so favorable toward our music and really helped us a lot! We posted it on our website! Thank you again.
That was certainly a special evening, Friday at the Alexis. After the courtyard set, we went inside Bob Crump's room #1302 and gave a "house concert" set and it was equally magic. I do hope that we can find some companies that can hire us for next year as we'd love to return. We will have a new CD as well! We're recording soon on our 3rd and it will be out by June of 2004! If you know of any companies that might be interested in hiring us for next year - please let me know as I would be so so grateful!
There was an interesting phenomenon that happened during our week at both T.H.E. Show and CES. When we do acoustic gigs (not very often because there are too many people to try and reach) we love it when a room has what we call "good acoustics", meaning that there is some flavor that is added to the sound as it leaves our lips - either wood all around to warm the sound, or concrete (as in the Alexis) or high ceilings that sound bounces off of etc. And, we generally like the EQ effect that we get on our sound. We also don't have to strain or push our voices as hard either.
But at the High-End audio shows, the rooms are all set up to be "dead" and have no acoustics so the sound that comes out of the speakers is pure with no added EQ or echo or whatever. Therefore, it took a bit of getting used to because we had to really sing hard to get the sound out of us and back to the people sitting anywhere from 10 -40 feet away. To us, it seemed kind of strange that the rooms were all so dead.
Nevertheless, people really seemed to enjoy it when we sang acoustically with no added effects, just the colors of the sounds as they left our mouths, joined and dispersed to the audience. Albert Von Schweikert had us sing every day from 5 - 6PM while he had someone record us and then play back through his big speakers. It left no room for error on our part and we did not have the luxury of being able to hear each other to change our timbre and therefore "blend" better because we were a bit separated and miked individually. So it sounded weird to us.
But others seemed to enjoy the songs as they were recorded without any effects or EQ of any kind. It just made me realize how the recording process really does change the sound of live music. Maybe the recording process tries to duplicate the effect that sound has as it blends with other sounds (our voices and instruments) before it gets to its destination (the ears of the audience).
Our "Live..." CD was recorded on a small soundstage with great acoustics that flavored our voices into the sound you hear without the use of effects or EQ. Anyway, I just thought I'd give you my take on the things I learned about sound at the conferences. I certainly appreciate your time and efforts and all that you and all the other audiophiles and music lovers at the Alexis and at THE Show have done! I learned a lot and had a great time.
I hope we can be back next year! Take care!
Carol Harley, Misty River
I didn't get to attend CES. Your daily comprehensive reports were most enjoyable!
Robert Hart, Audio Tweakers, Inc
You have the best CES report I have ever seen - last year's was very informative too and Father & Son Audio will have a good one also (coming soon). I like both because you are not afraid to tell it like it is. I can't wait for the Acoustic Reality review.
Guy la Rue
It was a pleasure to see you and Ivette at the show. I want to thank both of you for your kind words about our room. I'm especially thankful for your description of the "important attributes that accompanied (your) top three rooms". This should be engraved in granite at the entrance to the R&D rooms of all High-End manufacturers, so that we don't loose sight of what the true goal of audio is.
Joe Cohen, Prana Wire
Very nice site. It seems very human for the Internet. Good luck with it. I have a new CD coming out at CES. Call Lisa H. at my office in New York ( 212-586 -7799 ) or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org and she will send one out to one of your writers in the USA.
Best of luck.
Congrats on all your success with the site. It has grown nicely. I assume you wrote the review of the TP80? I just got one today and find it excellent and exactly as you describe. I'm loath to try these things usually but this one did just as you said. Mellowed out my slightly edgy Audio Note system. It is a top of the line AN system for vinyl only! I'm a friend of Peter's - otherwise, who would pay those prices. It retails for well over $100K. The AN sound is very articulate and live-sounding, with lots of emotion showing. These resolving systems take patience. I recently installed several RPG panels in my room which took away the bouncing around.
The Furutech is still breaking in so I'll see in a few days how I like.
Thanks for the review. Regards and Happy New Year... On second thought you're right! Too slow!!!
At New York's Kennedy airport today, an individual later discovered to be a public school teacher was arrested trying to board a flight while in possession of a ruler, a protractor, a setsquare, a slide rule and a calculator.
At a morning press conference, Attorney General John Ashcroft said he believes the man is a member of the notorious "al-gebra" movement. He is being charged by the FBI with carrying weapons of math instruction. "Al-gebra is a fearsome cult,",Ashcroft said. "They desire average solutions by means and extremes, and sometimes go off on tangents in a search of absolute value. They use secret code names like "x" and "y" and refer to themselves as "unknowns". However, we have determined that they belong to a common denominator of the axis of medieval with coordinates in every country.
"As the Greek philanderer Isosceles used to say, there are 3 sides to every triangle," Ashcroft declared. When asked to comment on the arrest, President Bush said, "If God had wanted us to have better weapons of math instruction, He would have given us more fingers and toes!"
"I am gratified that our government has given us a sine that it is intent on protracting us from these math-dogs who are willing to disintegrate us with calculus disregard. Murky statisticians love to inflict plane on every sphere of influence," the President said, adding: "Under the circumferences, we must differentiate their root, make our point, and draw the line. It is clearly nucular."
President Bush warned, "These weapons of math instruction have the potential to decimal everything in their math on a scalene never before seen unless we become exponents of a Higher Power and begin to factor-in random facts of vertex." Attorney General Ashcroft said, "As our Great Leader would say, read my ellipse. Here is one principle he is uncertainty of: though they continue to multiply, their days are numbered as the hypotenuse tightens around their necks."
However, according to our Secretary of Defense, there are still things that are known but yet unknown to those not in the know. But, if there are unknown things that are known to those who are in the know, then we may not be able to discern the unknown people from the known people with any degree of certainty. Go figure.
In your review of the BPT 3.5 Ultra, you wrote, "You might be unexpectedly bawling your head off, with nothing to be sad or upset about - safe to be at a loss how else to embrace such emotive force. Great. Wonderful. So the BP-3.5 makes you "sick". Anything else of import to report before we consign our wacky scribe to solitary confinement?"
You are not insane but rather dead on. Once, I stood within spitting distance of a master piper -- bag pipes, that is -- as he blew a tune. Without any thought or control, I unexpectedly bawled my head off. Emotive force was inflicted upon me in such an immediate and visceral way that I was taken completely by surprise. I want my system to do that to me, but I've never had the expectation that it could. Until now. That sets a pretty high bar for a piece of equipment. With a 30-day trial period, what's to lose? Thanks for the review.
The standard practice in audio review land is to swap out an individual device or cable or power cord to study the difference it brings to the owner's system. This makes sense since it mimics the behavior most readers follow when tweaking their systems. But power conditions are not a single link in a linear chain, they are octopuses which touch every link in the chain (equipment racks and isolation stands are comparable, imagine only isolating one component). In a way, power conditions like the BPT 3.5 strike me as giant hydra-headed power cords, which present an interesting possibility. If a unit like the BPT 3.5 does such a great job cleaning up the power coming out of the wall, how much can that power get re-polluted between the BPT and the component? In other words, does this new generation of power conditioners reduce or even eliminate the need for additional expensive power cords between the conditioner and our components?
Now, I don't have the bucks or the cords to put this question to a test, but perhaps there is some reader/reviewer out there who does; someone can A/B a system with a BPT unit (or other) in place and go from an all basic power cord set up to an all high-end power cord set up and give us a report on what they hear. Any takers out there?
From an avid reader
I wanted to thank you for your review of the Continuum Unison integrated amp. I own one, and I had the chance to compare the 100w version against the 300w version in a direct A/B in my home (in fact, it was the very same unit you used in your first review).
I found the difference between the 100-watt and 300-watt versions remarkable and undeniable. The 100-watt version was very rich and real, and I promptly had the Coda guys change my unit into a 100-watt version.
Anyway, I did want to tell you that I agreed with your assessment of the merits of high bias. I happen to know Mark Ward, and he shared with me the fact that some audiophiles and dealers are a hard sell when it comes to this issue. I believe that Coda's roots are in high-bias amps, and it seems something of a philosophical disconnect for them to do OEM work on 300 or 400-watt amps that slide early into Class A/B.
Have a good day, Srajan, and keep the excellent reviews coming. I will probably own a Coda S class shortly after they come out. I think you do the audiophile community a favor by publishing reviews of Coda gear. They're regular great guys over there.
Thanks, Mark Sloan
Your recent review of the Odyssey Lorelei speaker contained a rather vauge reference to an issue with Coincident's I. Blume. I did not see on your site who wrote the review, but as a Coincident owner, I'm left a little curious as to the details of the issue. Just curious. Thanks
Douglas A. Milch
I wrote a review of a Coincident speaker as a result of Israel Blume insisting that it'd blow away my Avantgardes - though I had expressed reservations about the assignment if for no other reason than -- as the Lorelei review explained -- I'm very finicky about accepting speaker reviews and tend to only go after product I have very good reason to believe will be up my alley.
With Coincident, I had no negative feelings but no positive ones either - it was a more or less unknown quantity to me as far as sonics went, and I wasn't particularly interested. Israel talked me into it and I've learned my lesson since.
Incidentally, I heard his speakers at CES right before the review published and noticed the same treble prominence, making me secure that it wasn't a function of my setup or room and thus proceeded to publish my findings.
Needless to say, Israel wasn't too happy but I had to call a spade a spade - and it doesn't at all invalidate his design choices, merely means that I didn't agree with them...
Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I think that 6moons is doing a great job overall. I will echo something that a couple of my friends have been mulling over - the need for someone in the audiophile press to do a classic component colum. This will not only praise what has been, but help insulate many of the reviews from a lot of the recent criticisms of cronyism etc.
As for the Coincidents, I did not read your review prior to purchasing my Partial Eclipses. I have been trying to eliminate a slight treble forwardness for close to a year. I was beginning to think it was my room and/or sources. Your review-- if the models keep the same house sound -- has affirmed that I was not hearing things. In any event, I will continue to experiement with the speaker and sell them if I can't reduce the treble dominance. Glad to see at least one reviewer telling it like it is -without free trips to Italy...
Douglas A. Milch
It took me awhile to read all of it, but it was worth reading. Fantastic job on the VSAC show coverage. I was so smitten that I bought the Abby show pair with the nearfield drivers. Terry is shipping them off to me next week.
Buy a turntable yet?
We've corresponded before about a variety of audiophile issues. Today I write to report that influenced by your review of Balanced Power Technology's maxed out BP-2 model, I replaced my Richard Gray 400s with Chris Hoff's product.
I was fortunate to sell my Richard Gray as soon as I listed it on audiogon. This left me running my system (Wadia 860, Atma Sphere M-60's, Merlin VSMs, Quattro Fil, Cardas Golden Reference speaker cables and Magnan Signature power cord) out of the wall for the first time in about a year and a half. I was surprised and disappointed to find that dynamics significantly increased without the 400s. I also worried that I wasted a lot of money on a new BPT power product that might not improve the sound as I had hoped.
Richard Gray is a local and a member of our audio club. I discussed my system with him and he told me that I used his 400s as it was intended. I thought I had carefully auditioned and set up my components well, but I was wrong. The 400s was subtractive. That said, I decided to buy the BPT before I removed the 400s because I thought I could take a step forward. I've found upgraded power cables to be significant improvements. A friend of mine who has an ear I trust bought the BPT and believes in it, so when I told him I was considering a change he reminded me of your review.
I am pleased to report that the BPT BP-2 maxed out with all upgrades is performing as advertised. Relief! I am a jazz listener and as such Kind of Blue is a recording I know very well, so this is what I played first. The improvement was immediate. The first notes of the opening track "So What" are piano vamp then joined by bass, drums and of course the trumpet, all leading to a cymbal crash and we're off. I am less than impressed by the sound quality of Columbia's reissues as compared to Bluenote or Impulse/Verve. I play a Japanese import (doing the best I can.) With the BPT I first noticed what I perceived to be more volume, but I've come to believe that to be increased clarity. I also hear a hiss that wasn't there reminding me of the sound of the microphones in a club before the players start to play (this sound is in the recording because when the disk starts to track, it is dead quiet.) The bass pluck is distinct like never before and I envisioned a string and finger. The band fills in and each instrument is set believably in place. My soundstage is not wider or deeper. It already had volume, but the players exist better in it. I love this song.
Further listening results are in kind. Cymbals, horns and drums are more lifelike and involving. Vocals, Johnny Cash in particular, live again with me in my room. Nicholas Payton is a local too and I've heard Sonic Trance (the current band) twice. I also have the CD, but like it less than the current review. Different strokes. However, I strongly recommend a different New Orleans trumpeter who has a new release,Terence Blanchard. Bounce is Blanchard's debut on Blue Note and to my ear it is stunning. He is not searching like Payton. Instead, this is the voice of a seasoned musician accompanied by some talented-as-hell young bucks. For my money, this is the best jazz recording of 2003.
To sum up, thank you for your review. Not only did I buy the BP-2, but I picked up a copy of the Reference Recordings Ravel you described. I keep some doubt of reviews and reviewers and I think that is a good thing, but in this case the product improvement is at least as advertised. Maybe it's better. You run an excellent site and are helping me further enjoy my leisure time.
New Orleans, LA
Dear 6 moons,
I hope you have won an award for your web site, it is an outstanding work of art by itself!
I'm an audiophile of tender years. With all the different ways of describing such a subjective thing as sound, it's really easy for a newbie to get lost. It's frustrating to love music so much but be incapable of describing exactly what you like in a way that also describes the characteristics of components. Until now. You, Sir, have given me a simple way of describing what I'm searching for. So thank you for the following line from your review of the BPT-2+. "I'm an adrenaline junkie." Me too. Like you say, it's the leading edges, dynamics and immediacy that give me "wood."
To be honest, someone tampered with the measurement protocol to make this box behave differently than it would in real life...
Thanks for your interesting website.
Love your website! I would like to post this letter to Mr. Cohen in your letters section. Could you please post it directly under Mr. Cohens letter accusing Von Schweikert of fraudulently doctoring his impedance graph? This is relevant information and will really create some good controversy, as I see you love. Good Luck!
Dear Mr. Cohen,
As you state, you are an "amateur" speaker builder. This, I don't doubt, after reading your silly letter stating that you believe that someone tampered with the VR-2's impedance measurement. If you have a measurement system and have built any type of speaker, then experimented with the stuffing density, you would have more sense than to make a fool of yourself in public. On the other hand, let's say you don't have any measurement equipment, you could still find books to read that indicate what happens when you stuff a pipe at 100% density, as is done with the VR-2: the impedance peaks are greatly damped. Duh!
OK, you've made a fool of yourself, that's to be expected from an "amateur." However, I think you owe Mr. Von Schweikert an apology -- your accusation of fraud is actionable in court. If you own anything or value your job (if you have one), your best bet is to avoid a lawsuit, unless you're damn certain the measurement is a fraud and can prove it. Bet you can't !
Hi Fi Guy 24-7
6moons replies: As our article on TLs showed, there seems to be more than one way to skin the cat if a designer's goal is to minimize the impedance peaks typical for vented alignments. Mr. Cohen's letter appears to simply express surprise that, in the above graph, the lower peak for the port resonance disappeared entirely rather than just be minimized. Apparently, this is quite a rarity for loudspeakers that aren't completely sealed. Perhaps he couldn't understand how that's done? While, as HiFi guy has it, controversy does seem a good thing to provoke discussion and contrary viewpoints, I doubt that "lawsuit" claims are in order. Controversy, after all, allows for challenging interactions. Should Mr. Cohen follow this exchange and respond to HiFi guy, his reply will be posted here.
Dear Mr. Srajan,
I had intended to stay out of this argument as I have friends on both sides of the fence. But I must say that, for several reasons, I take offense at "HiFi Guy's" response to Mr. Cohen's letter. His opinion was expressed in a most ungentlemanly manner, but the assertion that I am going to address here is that a "stuffed pipe at 100% density" would yield a "greatly damped" impedance peak. That is true enough as far as it goes, but for it to be true two conditions must prevail: 1) that the VR2 be a pipe and 2) that it has "100% stuffing density". Neither of these conditions prevail.
First of all, the plot shows NO peak at the F1, not a damped one. Secondly, the internals of the speaker look just like the box on the letters page, except that the VR2 is nowhere near as densely stuffed. I would estimate a stuffing of about, maybe, 10%. A box of that shape and depth is no way, no how, a pipe. It is, and shall forever remain, a damped bass-reflex speaker. It doesn't matter if a "genius" proclaims it a new type of line, it is observably a bass-reflex. However efficaciously tuned it might be, it is still a bass-reflex speaker and obeys the math of such. Unless the port is not working, either from the insertion of a foreign object or by being covered, it will always have a F1 impedance peak, however well-damped it may be.
I must say that I am totally nonplussed at the number of postings by people that HAVE NEVER LOOKED INSIDE THE SPEAKER! For god's sake, look at the thing before posting. The stuffing is nowhere near dense enough to work as a short pipe in a box of that size and shape, nor can it in any way be construed as a "triple chamber". (Unless you consider the various densities of the shirts hanging in your closet to represent "chambers".) However, the stuffing is very well applied and arranged to absorb midrange as well as can be done in an open box, and the resulting sound is quite good.
I am the original poster on this thread (check the return address). After my friend was calmed down (after all, he bought the speaker for its sound, which is very good) my first concern was for the people that bought the speaker thinking that they were getting a labyrinth design; otherwise, why would the words "transmission line" be used on the website when Mr Schweikert's own response indicated that he knew how (ordinary) people associated the phrase with the labyrinth? I, then, now, and always will, consider this to be misleading and dishonest marketing, and a cheat against the people that do go to the effort to build a true pipe or line. However, as sins go, considering the overall quality of the product, it is forgivable.
Over time, I realized that most people where buying the speaker almost purely on the basis of its sound. So, in essence, no one was actually being cheated, they bought a certain sound and quality and they got it. I am of the old school though and consider the attempt to mislead the customer to still be a "bad thing". Especially for one of Mr Schweikert's stature; his products have no need to be marketed in a misleading manner, they have always been able to distinguish themselves on the showroom floor by their much better than average performance. (As long as the company he was working for didn't screw with his design.) I also stopped worrying about the other speaker builders, as they seemed to take no offense or pursue any kind of legal action. So, it would seem that the average customer, and the other manufacturers, simply don't have a need to care.
I know the "G.A.I.N." thing bothered you; this was, to me, a much more egregious example of...er...excessive marketing zeal. But, I am sure, we both can get over it! Just put it down to excessive zeal.
An excellent and interesting article you have produced [Terminus Longus, the August Industry Features] - one of the very best in describing all the different ways one can explain what a TL is.
To expand on what I said in my last email (but not very clearly) is that in most good designs, the upper bass is transmission line loaded in the true TL sense (ie. all absorbed) and the lower bass is essentially a column of air chosen in length to reverse the phase of the rear output of the driver. In other words, it is two distinct forms of loading which historically have been lumped together in the "transmission line" description.
Seperating the upper and lower bass analysis then makes sense of why it has so many advantages over reflex. Your article reinforces my view that most people, including manufacturing companies, really do not know how it works and use pseudo science to make their own version "special".
This arises from the fact that organ pipes, horns, 1/4 wavelength systems etc. are all part of the same family and as one adds damping, tapering and changes to the line's cross-section, one evolves into the other. All are correct in a small way, but can be missleading in their desription.
Also, if you take a simple reflex design of a cabinet with a port and then lengthen the port and then some more ...and more... and more, eventually the port will become long enough to set up a 1/4 wave resonance and evolves into a TL mode of operation. However the fundamental mode of a traditional reflex operates in a completely different way and cannot be confused with TLs.
(As a demonstration piece, In the early years of PMC we constructed a TL, reflex and IB in identically sized cabinets to demonstrate that there was no comparison between the TL and the others)
As you know, a reflex resonates the mass of the air in the port with the compliance of the air in the cabinet. There is no significant 1/4 wave resonance due to the length of the port unless it becomes overly long as suggested above. In a TL, the primary undamped resonance is due to the 1/4 wavelength of the acoustic length of the line or duct (not the 1/2 or 1/8th...this is incorrect)). Anyone who suggests that reflex loading is similar to a TL has not done the math!
The biggest advantage when you compare reflex to TL is the slow rate of low requency roll-off. The best test is to look at the -6dB point and then the -12dB point and then you'll see how unextended a reflex is compared to a TL.
You could of course just use your ears!
Peter Thomas, Managing Director, PMC
This area of acoustics [referring to the "Operation Audio Mist" query] already has decades of prior study. The group interested in it? Pro sound reinforcement.
Air dissipates sound energy in a nearly linear frequency line, sloping down as frequency increases. As relative humidity increases, the dissipation of sound energy also increases, again in a very straight line and increasing as the frequency rises. As the distance from a sound source increases, sound attenuation increases with frequency and in a geometric slope.
Example: A 10kHz note will be down -9dB at 100 ft, and down -45dB at 500 feet. Note: The above obviously is of interest to outdoor (free field) sound reinforcement. The distances involved in a home listening room are miniscule.
The velocity of sound in air increases as temperature rises. Air density decreases as temp rises. Altitude has very little effect on the velocity of sound, for a given temp.
Refraction of sound occurs as sound passes through different temp strata. That's why on a cold, sunny day, you can hear tiny sounds at a great distance. And that's why at an outdoor concert with a breeze or wind blowing, the sound from the stage appears to vary in loudness. The common assumption is that the wind is "blowing the sound around." That is false, since the sound is moving at 770 MPH (@ sea level, 72.5F) and even a stiff wind has no effect on the sound. The changing temp layers -- ground temp vs. air temps -- cause the sound to bend up or down.
You either inadvertently or intentionally didn't mention what "effect" that misting the air resulted in. This is a good thing, and encourages experimentation. My guess is that what is being done by air misting is reducing the temp differential from top to bottom in the room. This may result in a more even dispersion of the sound source, since normally, the sound in the upper, hotter part of the room is traveling faster than in the lower, cooler part of the room; again, refraction.
This intrigues me as to what effect a ceiling fan in a listening room would have. Run it for 10 minutes before a listening session to "blend" the air. Even try running it at slowest speed while listening. Have it "pull up" during the summer, and "blow down" during the winter. As for me, I always have windows and doors cracked open, so I usually have a good blend ontemperate days.
Source: "Sound System Engineering, 2nd ed. Don & Carolyn Davis 1987, 650pgs. Howard Sams Co. (The authors are owners of Syn-Aud-Con.) They also refer to the following, which may be worth digging up:
Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, June 1997 "Review of Noise Propagation In the Atmosphere."
I read your recent Speaker Physics I & II installments with interest and just came across an Audio Asylum post, by a Von Schweikert VR-2 owner, who had dismounted the woofers to discover no signs of the "triple-chambered transmission line" which the advertising for the speaker promoted. I thought you'd find this a relevant piece to the puzzle. I have pasted the post below.
Posted by email@example.com (A) on August 02, 2003 at 22:51:04
I was at a friend's house for a listening session on the VR2's there. We tried my (backup) amp, the Bryston 4BSST. We got beautiful, tuneful sound that was just as engaging as his Diavolo, only ...different. As he put it "It would just be a case of which sound I had heard first. I love them both." So, wonderful and all that. The crux of this post is that he got a bug in him and wanted to see how a transmission line is laid out (the Schweikert website says that the VR2 has a "three-chambered transmission line design"). We removed that woofers and - imagine my shock when I discovered that the speaker has NO transmission line but is simply a tuned port speaker with lots of stuffing. It is just a big, open box lined with a felt of some type and stuffed with what feels and looks like a poly-fil of some sort. He was somewhat angry (and I was embarassed because I recommended the speaker to him) at being lied to by both the dealer and the website (we double-checked to be sure that the Von Schweikirt did indeen claim that the design is a transmission line design. He did and does on the site).
First, let me congratulate you on creating such a great website. Yours is the first site I check when I want to get up with the latest in the audio world. I'm planning a major upgrade to my current system and will be checking into some of the recent gear you've reviewed. That's a major discussion right there, but not the reason I'm writing.
You've really got me (and others I'm sure) curious about the mystery amp that has you contemplating a switch from glass to sand, from retro to avant garde? . . .
Having been a raving, slightly irrational, go-for-broke audiophile for several years now, I am amazed that it took this long for me to discover your site. Congratulations on an excellent job. Your writing is intelligent, interesting, informative, and very unique. Like you, I have been a meditator for many years (TM-Sidhi), so I have also found some of your more distant ramblings on spirit, sound, and music to be a refreshing change from a lot of stuff in the audiophile press. I would be more than happy to contribute $15 to the cause. $25 or $35 wouldn't bother me either. Best of luck on your venture. You're off to a great start.
Gary L. Wilbert
Count me in. In a free market economy everything has its price. The price is more than fair for expert opinions of equipment many of us would not be exposed to and as such never purchase. I purchased my modded Shanling T-100 based on your review and haven't regretted it one bit. Now all you have to do is convince people who spend more on dry cleaning every week to open up the purse strings.
I think the subscription proposal is fair given the amount of work that goes into your well written reviews, but I think personally I would probably pass on the site if I had to pay to look. There are so many other sites that are out there that are free that I would probably tend to just go there instead.
My comment isn't that I don't think you should consider a subscription based approach, it is just that I wouldn't subscribe because from what I have read, while some has been interesting, I haven't seen enough of value to provide you with my $15USD subscription fee.
Just a brief note (well, NOT so brief then) to congratulate you on your review of the Amp-1, and to offer my support for the decision you made to publish this review, which I believe was well justified. A version (whether slightly better or slightly worse) of the 47 Labs Gaincard for a price more people can afford is quite a laudable achievement that I would expect to be of interest to MOST music lovers (not to mention its gorgeous aesthetics).
I believe your position to be both clear and tenable; the product already exists whether Yoshi wishes it to or not (of course it is understandable that he doesn't LIKE that it exists as he stands to lose the most via the competition), and it is available for legal consumer purchase on the open (rather than "black") market. As Yoshi himself states "There is nothing wrong legally in any aspect of the way it's done" - yet he then states that he wishes you had handled it "with a little more sensitivity rather than openly rave about it and give an award to it".
There is no "maybe" about it. Yoshi IS wishing for far too much as what he's wishing for is wrong ... he seems to expect you to circumvent your own journalistic integrity by being "sensitive" enough to bestow no award and to not rave about this product ... regardless of whether its sound and build quality (not to mention its pricing!) clearly ensure that a rave is quite justified.
Furthermore, I thought you were VERY explicit and clear during the review about this product being an almost direct clone of another product (even supplying a picture of the original product and mentioning that IT had received a fair few rave reviews). Maybe you should go back and write a review of how appalling the Audiopax monoblocks are as they attempt to clone the "perfect" tube - you should have been far more sensitive to makers of the PX25, 45, 2A3 and 300B tubes ...
However, to be perfectly fair, Yoshi raises a couple of examples of why the original Gaincard will sound better than the clone (mainly BECAUSE it does not use such expensive parts - which is certainly not beyond the realms of possibility - though I'm not sure I believe that ALL of the parts used in the Amp-1 were also tried in the Gaincard as per Yoshi's suggestion - including the Plitron transformers), and you have not yet heard the original Gaincard in your system.
Maybe Yoshi would be happy to supply one of these for a direct comparison to be made (which would make HIGHLY interesting reading) as well as allowing Yoshi to feel less "hard done by". Let me guess this will never happen.
PS. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
To start with, let me send you my warmest congratulations for your work, which I've been following for years, since the times of Soundstage!, Goodsound and Enjoy the Music. And of course, since the very beginning of 6Moons as well. The wisdom, the knowledge - in the broadest sense of the word - and the wit that you place in your prose makes your reviews utterly interesting, its interest reaching far beyond the "mere" sphere of audio.
Another aspect that I enjoy a lot in your writing is the way it is impregnated with a "citizen of the world" perspective of the world, of life and of all things audio. And this goes without even referring to your obvious taste for "world music" (what a lousy, pretentious, anglo-saxon self-centered expression). Intended or not, your reviews appear to me as true literary pieces. The downside is that, despite my fluency in English, I must confess that every now and then, I have to call for the help of a dictionary...
Your reviews and the 3D, pictionary descriptions that you make of the gear under review, have had me lusting for a lot of stuff that you have reviewed, even if a good part of it is not available here - Bel Canto, Cairn, Zanden, Analysis Plus, Audio Pax, to name just those that are part of your own systems.
I share your enthusiasm for valves, but I wonder how can it be that you don't enjoy an analog front-end (turntable). In my experience, despite its flaws, good analog is so much better than the best digital (CD / PCM; I've found SACD very good, but my experience with it is still too limited to be conclusive). Anyway, I must confess that what triggered this letter didn't have anything to do with audio. Surprised? Read on.
In your review of the Shanling T-100, while comparing it to the Zanden Model 5000 Mk II DAC, you say : "Call it the difference between a $45 and $70 bottle of fine Spanish Port". Please note that Port Wine is Portuguese and not Spanish. The same way Champagne is French and not British, or Sherry is Spanish and not Italian.There may be imitations of these, but none will be or taste like the real thing.
Port Wine is one of the world's greatest wines. It is produced in Northern Portugal, in the slopes of the mountains that surround the river Douro, over an area that spreads for more than 150 km, not far from the coast of the Atlantic -- where lies the city of Porto, that lent its name to the wine -- to the border with Spain. Port wine is the result of the mix of: The type of grapes that have been selectioned and perfectioned by the winemakers over the centuries; the special winemaking procedures; the fierceness of man, who has sculpted the hard rock and the steep mountain slopes into gentle steps, as if giant stairways, allowing for plantation and harvesting; the regions's micro climate (very hot and dry summers, cool and rainy winters). The place's outstanding beauty and the way man has changed the landscape led it to be classified as a World Heritage site.
There's dozens of types of Port wine, but basically you will find the velvet-rich reds (medium sweet to very sweet) and the whites (very sweet to very dry). They're all very good, people tending to pick dry whites as aperitifs and sweet reds as dessert wines or digestifs. When shopping for the best, look for a Vintage. The price will be considerably higher than the average Port, oh, but the quality... and, unlikely other Port wines, it is recommended that you drink a Vintage the same day you open it. Only the best years produce Vintages (on average, 2 or 3 per decade).
For more information, on the wine or the region, do a search on the Internet under "Port Wine" or "Douro Valley" and you'll be spoiled for choice on information about it. A good place to start can be the website of the Port Wine Institute, the official body that controls the quality of the wine, supervising and certifying the "Porto" and "Port" denominations of origin, and is also responsible for the wine's promotion. Another interesting site is the "Into Wine" website.
Well, Srajan, this is all for today. I've been wanting to contact you for other reasons -- i.e., concerning audio -- but that'll have to wait for another day.
All the best,
João Carlos Anselmo, Lisbon, Portugal
Hi there, Srajan -
Just wanted to update you with respect to our correspondence from March. I ordered up a pair of Bright Star's "Big Rock 4" isolation platforms (here's a link to the product description) and placed 'em under my Linn Espeks. To cut to the chase, you're a genius! Isolating the speakers from the floor just totally cleaned up and tightened the bass - my wife also noticed it immediately! The Big Rocks eliminated probably 95% of the bass vibrations I was previously able to feel through my bare feet at the listening position; simply amazing. I was also very pleased that the Big Rocks turned out to be such an effective yet inexpensive solution.
Thanks again for spreading this idea - it's really made a tangible improvement in our listening enjoyment. (Upon reflection, it would seem to make perfect common sense, as well. Audiophiles go to great lengths to isolate their components from vibration, then spike their speakers to the floor, vibrating the entire room.) So, please keep those good ideas comin'!
Dear Mr. Ebaen,
With great interest, I read your Auroville 15 on Patents and White Papers. Please allow some comments. You are writing:
Trouble is, the ones granting the patents are mostly not engineers specialized in the particular field of the incoming requests. In many cases, they're attorneys whose job it is to validate the novelty of claims, not to test their actual veracity. Hence many patents are awarded for uncontested claims, not laboratory measurement confirmation of their virtues.
The fact is that this (unfortunately) is true for most examiners of the USPTO. I am a patent examiner myself at the European Patent Office. In our office, there is no single patent attorny doing examiners' work, all examiners have a degree in engineering disciplines or natural science, physics, chemistry, medicine, pharmacy etc. In other offices such as the ones of Japan, Germany, Netherlands the situation is the same as with EPO.
It is true that we don't, because we can't, check whether or not an invention really works als claimed. This is, however, not necessary. The consumer on the market will decide whether or not a granted patent is worth its money. If, however, the claimed effects seem unrealistic or in conflict with engineering or scientific knowledge, the examiner will raise appropriate objections. You are further writing :
The other interesting thing about patents? Many nowadays are application patents. They transfer pre-existing solutions to new uses. An example in audio? Rollerblock isolation bearings. They were originally developed and patented in industrial construction and as part of seismic protocol. Now they're patented for audio use. That makes the principle employed neither novel nor necessarily superior to other approaches for the same application.
The claims of the Symposium patents read: "A platform for interposition between an electronic component and a support structure to absorb unwanted vibrational energy originating in the electronic component, the platform comprising... a coupling device for interposition between a component of a sound reproduction system and a supporting structure for the transmission and dissipation of vibratory energy generated within the component while isolating the component from vibratory energy emanating from the support structure, the coupling device comprising..."
This type of claim includes what we call features of intended use and would therefore have been rejected at the EPO for lack of novelty, provided that the device as such is already known from a different technical application, which seems to be the case here. The philosophy at the USPTO apparently allows such claims despite the fact that the prior art shows identical devices. Coincidently the devices are patented only in USA.
You are further writing:
A cable manufacturer owns a patent on their sandwich-layer cable geometry,which can be traced back to engineering textbooks from the 50s. He repeatedly and successfully sues copycats to retain his exclusive use rights. One day he picks the wrong party. Its engineer went to school and remembers his textbooks, down to the very page where said invention was first mentioned. He's prepared to counter-sue and indeed double-dares the first threat: The patent had been erroneously granted, was, in fact, public-domain data accessible to anyone with the smarts to know where to look. Faced with the prospect of losing a patent that served him well with less-informed parties of smaller resources, the patent-holder backs off.Both makers continue their respective business as usual to today.
The fact is that the patent examiner has access to a great amount of published information but the degree of coverage is not 100%. At EPO the search quality is estimated at about 95% in terms of coverage. For the missing percentage, a control mechanism exists which allows third parties to object to a granted patent within 9 months after publication of the grant. You are further writing:
This leaves one to suspect that the primary value of many modern patents is in the marketing rather than performance or protection domains.
This is true for only a minority of patents. Most applicants are serious about their inventions and want the exclusive right to commercialize the product. Some companies do file applications in order to build up obstacles for competitors. Obtaining patent proction is, at least in Europe, a costly adventure. At EPO this can quickly amount to $50,000. I don't think that there are many companies who are willing to invest such amounts just for marketing reasons.
I hope that the above could be helpful to clarify things.
Klaus Rampelmann (EPO, The Hague, Netherlands)
I have found your new site. I asked Soundstage sometime back for your new E-mail or other contact. No real reply. In their 2001 archives for "Earmarked: Lunatic Fringe - Omega Micro Cables" you show some elevators that you made. Do you have a description of these? What they are made from? Also, I envy you. I was in service in New Mexico at White Sands Proving Ground in 1954-56 [Damn, that is really a long time ago]. I loved it out there. Indiana is just a little bit different -but it's home. I have always thought of Taos as an artist's mecca, not an audiophile's.
Thank you for all of your writing, listening, reviewing, and sharing your love of audio.
Dudley Miller, Indianapolis
I love your reviews and your site. Excellent descriptions that really help to put different products in perspective.
I especially have been enjoying the Digital Source reviews -- the DACs, CD players and transports -- as I feel this is one of the most difficult aspects of a system to get right; especially if working "backwards" from the speakers, through the amp, and pre, instead of starting at the Source.
So, I was curious if you'd ever considered reviewing the Channel Island DAC and putting it in perspective with some of the pricier DACs you've reviewed - maybe a shootout with the Scott Nixon TubeDAC+ ? Oh man. That would be soooo very helpful. The sooner the better of course, but I can be patient.
One last thing. I thought I saw a pending review of the Odyssey speakers. I am very curious about them, as they evidently have Symphonic Line crossovers & design, and since I've been very impressed with my Odyssey Stratos (and especially the Tempest) I thought I'd see what happened - is that review still in the pipeline?
I see you like world music. Let me tell you that if you haven't heard any of the Shpongle discs, you really need to, and immediately!
Yours is one of a very small handful of sites I, against your advice, truly trust. Although our musical tastes may be 180 out, (is that 2nd or 3rd order?) where else to find such enlightening and wonderfully entertaining reviews? That extends to your new-found cohorts as well! Too cool.
I lost count of the hrs. on the Shanling T200, kinda just been beboppin' too much. I've probably listened to about 40-50 real hrs. though, and perhaps 80-100 or so at night in SACD repeat. It just doesn't matter anymore. In a word, glorious (think I told the Underworld Prince: Glorious with a capital G). Took your advice on the glass and found a nice used Wright Sound pre with NOS Sylvania chrome domes (gotta love the buzz words, used to call my boss that!) which seems quite capable of keeping me happy 'til... Between the two I've done some real speaker movement, ie if my toe-in was about 15 degrees, I've now been able to use 5 with the same or better center fill. Stage depth? Ahhh, finally i'm able to start understanding. I'm finding a whole new world in my redbooks!!! I think the increase in 'clarity' in what strikes me the most so far. Very very impressive indeed. Again, thank you so much for your help, patience and integrity, Peace, Gordy
PS: 15 chingozels a year? For all this? What's your fax #?