Thank you for alerting me to the Tortuga LDR preamp and the Job 225 amp. I have the analog portion of my system solved and for a universal player I am buying the Oppo BPD105. My hole is the transport/dac. I want to be able to use iTunes or Pure Music and stream to a player that does DSD as well as PCM. I also want something in the same league of performance as the Tortuga and the Job. I also have a lot of CDs and I would consider a better transport than the Oppo if you cared to suggest one.
Thank you very much,
I'm not sure I fully understand the question. The Oppo is a transport/DAC with USB input for a Mac and the ability to stream DSD from a memory stick. You can thus spin discs or import them to hard drive and stream them. There's nothing wrong with using iTunes set to error correction to rip CDs. We've made the comparisons. Keep it simple. Why get a 'better' transport? To spin discs? I've gotten out of that racket years ago to not really have an up-to-date reco. The small belt-driven C.E.C. is popular and not expensive. My favorite do-it-all DAC (32/384 PCM, 64/128 DSD) is the AURALiC Vega.
|Hello Srajan -
nice review on the Job, however they appear to not even have an e-mail address for contact. Have you noticed that? Makes it difficult to ask any questions about the amp. Plus when I try to order one from Canada, Amazon rejects my order as I am outside of the USA. If this thing is as good as you indicate for the $$, it may be worth pursuing. I have availability to a local First Watt J2. Do you feel there are any areas where the J2 may be superior or not (speakers are Coincident model, fairly efficient, i.e. low 90s)? Also do you think the Job can be left on 24/7?
Their email is [email protected]. At the sell price they probably don't have margins for phone or email assistance. If you buy one, the owner's manual contains the email address should you have issues. Sales presently are restricted to the US as my review explained so even being in Canada isn't good enough -:)
Re: 24/7, why would you?
I guess you could, this isn't a toasty class A circuit.
Re: J2, that would have similar lucidity but a less crystalline somewhat softer overall character. It wouldn't match the Job's bass control but it also wouldn't suffer its high gain (which with your speakers could be an issue depending on your preamp's volume taper, overall gain structure and noise floor).
Lastly if you're using a valve preamp or plan to in the future - even my very costly Nagra Jazz makes the occasional little 'fart' or 'crinkling noise' as I discovered with prolonged use. This must be minimal DC leakage. With any of my transistor preamps this doesn't happen nor does it with the Nagra on any other amp where it's shockingly quiet. Since the Job is a DC-coupled design without DC protection, tube preamps could be an issue.
|Dear Mr. Ebaen,
At first sorry for disturb to you.
I read your review about Job 225 amplifier. As I have 230V power, is it possible to order
an amplifier with 230V
I am very interested in buying such a good amp for that price.
Was your review amp 230V or 120V?
Many thx. in advance.
All the best to you and more successful years at 6moons
As the intro of that review explained quite clearly, presently the company only sells 115V units in America. To accommodate my review, they simply made a special 230V unit for Switzerland where I live. Until Job changes their marketing strategy however, you won't be able to buy a 230V model. Perhaps if you contact them directly, it could signal that there is interest in global sales to accelerate such a change in their policies?
thank you for the excellent review of the Job 225 (loved your reference to your socks). I've seen their on-line adverts on various audio sites and one always wonders if this is the real deal. I am always on the quest to find the biggest bang for the buck. I have Monitor Audio PL200 speakers that are very resolving but also a bit bright in the upper frequencies. I don't consider them robotic as described in your article but I have been considering something tube based to tame these tendencies while having something more powerful than my current 80watt hybrid. Given that I value resolution and detail, what would be a reasonable preamp to mate this amp with to achieve the euphonic attributes that tubes imbue? I know you mentioned Octave. Any other ideas on the budget end of the spectrum?
Keep in mind the high gain of the Job (35dB) and its high input sensitivity (0.75V). If you go tube preamp, you'll want something with low gain (say 6dB) or a low-gain switch and be certain that it doesn't leak DC. The Eastern Electric MiniMax would be priced to suit but its gain is far too excessive for this application. I don't have personal experience with Rogue Audio and doubt they voice for euphony in the first place but they ought to have a preamp that's priced just right. Since you find your current speakers slightly bright—could be the tweeter, could be your amp—also remember that the Job is a wide bandwidth design. There's no HF roll-off or usual phase shift which could emphasize your speaker's voicing if, indeed, it's its tweeter you're objecting to rather than how your present amp interacts with it. One other related thing is perception. Better lower bass influences how we perceive the high end. With the Job's amazing LF control, there's a good chance your Monitors will sound more grown up than you know them to be down low. And that could shift how you perceive their overall tonal balance.
|Good morning Srajan,
thank you for the exciting review of the Job 225. I went directly to Amazon and got all the way to the credit card screen before I paused my purchase.
I would be replacing my Modwright KWA150 which has upgraded input boards of the SE version.
My question is, do you feel the Job 225 pushes the sonics forward over this confident Modwright amp?
I just received the very excellent Zu Message speakers which are Definitions without the inbuilt subs. Instead I opted for the outboard Undertone. I certainly don't need all the power or gain in the system I have. Quite good sound is available right from 2 on the dial of the Wyred4Sound STP SE preamp. In this context I also am concerned the gain on the Job 225 may be too high.
With my 4V Metrum Hex and the Esoteric C-03 set to 0dB gain, my 91dB Rhapsody 200 at low levels have me sit below 10 on the dial. So yes, gain is mondo. What forum commentators overlook with the hi-Z Zus (I published the plot on the Druid V) is that at 16 ohms, a transistor amp will deliver half its 8-watt rated power. And with the V's impedance hitting 50 ohms in the bass, that means very little power actually makes it to the driver where it matters. Now a more robust amp is a very solid idea. But I don't know whether the Message is 8 or 16 ohms. Your Wyred pre acts as a passive over most its range so unless you've got a hi-output source, you should be fine.
The big question really is sonics. Funny you should write in today. I'm contemplating putting my Modwright 100SE up for sale. The Job is even more lit up and direct and the only amp in inventory to grip my unruly speakers like a vise. That makes the ModWright somewhat redundant and I dislike having boxes around I don't use. I've not heard the big 150 in too long though. I only remember that I preferred the smaller SE to buy it and shipped the big boy back. The big SE I never heard. There I can't help much except to reiterate that compared to the 100SE, I'm thinking of doing a swap.
|The puns are getting worse. "...are closer to our Job description…".
Had to bite my lip at that one -:)
Trying to have some fun whilst being on the same job for 10+ years -:)
It is fun for me to read.
|Dear Mr. Soo In Chae,
In a response to Mr. Ebaen's review of your HPA-21 headphone amplifier you strangely remarked that you did not imagine owners of high-efficiency low-impedance headphones would be interested in your product. Yet excellent headphones of exactly that type are widespread from many manufacturers: Sony SA5000 - 70 ohm, 102dB; Sony 7520 - 24 ohm, 108dB; AKG 702 - 62 ohm, 105dB; Audio Technica ATH 1000x - 42 ohm, 100dB; ATH W5000 - 40 ohm, 102 dB; Denon AHD-7000 - 25 ohm, 110dB; Fostex TH-900 - 25ohm, 100dB; Beyerdynamic T1 - 60 ohm, 102 dB etc. The Audeze LCD-2 which you seem to favor is in my opinion a very colored inaccurate headphone which no one who has internalized the sound of actual unamplified acoustic instruments would find satisfactory (I play the violin and piano). You need to do some homework and optimize the low-gain setting of the current mode output to the real world.
On page 3 of that review it clearly states at the bottom that "a few days after my email about the gain, he (Soo In Chae) had this: "I just wanted to update you that we made a quick fix which has lowered the low-gain level of the current output. With my Grado SR225 for example—not the most sensitive design but quite so at 98dB/32Ω—my 'normal' listening level with a standard 2V source now is around 12:00 to 1:00. This falls into the gradual range of the Tokyo Ko On and I believe clears your concern about the T5P or similarly sensitive 'phones. The fix was applied to all units we sent off today and I hope we've met more customer demands/situations with it"." The issue I talked of in that review thus seems to have been fixed already. And yes, with a broader inventory of various headphone loads on hand Bakoon could have saved themselves this quick fix altogether as it would have been obvious during final R&D -:)
It was great meeting you at the Munich HighEnd show. Talked to Vincent from TotalDAC and it seems I will get electronics from him. Marcin from JPlay who is a friend of mine also recommended the TotalDac DAC and reclocker. We both were at the Kaiser room for most of the time taking care of their servers. Marcin recommends the Ncore 1200 Mola-Mola amps. He said they are the best-sounding amps ever. He checked them with Kaiser Classics and the Totaldac DAC + reclocker in Regensburg with Rainer. I wanted to know your opinion about the Ncore amps. I see you reviewed most of the OEMs based on the Ncore 1200. Which one is best in your opinion?
Krzysztof Bartus, MD, Ph.D, Assoc. Prof.
I've in fact only reviewed the Acoustic Imagery Atsah monos. I've mentioned the Merrill Audio Veritas as alternatives but not heard them. Marja & Henk have commented on the Ncore 1200 OEM demo samplers but not heard the Atsah or Veritas. None of us have heard the Mola-Mola in our own rooms but M&H are scheduled for a review from the first production run. One assumes Bruno saved some tricks for his own version and his website indicates a few things. I personally plan to buy a pair this year and definitely want his as he is the designer. As a reviewer whatever I use becomes a quasi endorsement by default. I'd rather promote the inventor than OEMs who buy off the shelf and stick his stock modules into bling cases. In any case it's fun to see more and more endorsements about this technology come from various sources now. Bel Canto's new Black monos are the latest I've heard of. In Munich Bruno mentioned that Jeff Rowland is working on his own but with a different SMPS which squeezes the most power from his NC1200 board, i.e. more than his own versions.
I have recently purchased a second-hand of HifiMan HE6 and am stunned by the speed and transparency of these cans. I wish I had speakers with similar qualities! I like(d) my Gallos 3.5 a lot before I bought these headphones... I'm not really thinking of changing the 3.5 now but do wonder if perhaps you know speakers that paired with the right amp would get closer to the HE6 (Magnepans, Quads). I think the Gallos and other speakers I know are much closer to conventional dynamic cans such as Beyerdynamic or Grado.
Thanks in advance for any feedback.
Well, the HE6 are kinda Magnepans on your ears so you might check out panel speakers both magneto- and electrostatic to approach the HifiMan signature, particularly Sanders. But once you move the Maggies off your ears into the far larger cubic air volume of your listening room, they tend to get less dynamic and definitely less bass extended than what you're hearing now. The only way to overcome that is with size. Either your room is small and you sit close - or you need large panels. It'll also depend on your amps of course. The Gallos to my ears already have much of the speed of electrostats but they tend to like a powerful very quick amp to really show off that quality. And Maggies are even more power hungry.
the end of the day you've discovered what I've said all along. Superior headphones go places most speaker systems can't if you subtract physical impact and overall scale of the soundstage to focus purely on the quality of the sound. Now you're in the position the followers of Gurdjieff were said to have found themselves in when their master died. He's rumored to have said "and now you're all screwed" -:)
I enjoyed your show report and thanks for the mention on the Avantgarde page. You've got to hand it to those guys, they work really hard. On Sunday evening they drove back from Munich with the Trio/Basshorn system in tow. Because of traffic they didn't get back to HQ until 1 in the morning. The next day they had to set up the system at their showrooms so all of us distributors would be able to listen to it the following day. Due to a truck break down the Trio system arrived back late and Armin together with some of the other guys had to work until past midnight on Monday after taking us site-seeing all day and entertaining us at dinner. They had it ready for Tuesday as planned so we could hear it in their fabulous new showroom. Anyway the factory tour and showroom visit was definitely worth it for all of us. It's a very impressive operation especially for such a relatively small company. I took a Lumix camera as well with some old Nikon glass via an adapter. Just a suggestion - why don't you shoot in RAW, then you could correct the white balance after the fact and avoid the blues -:)
Just wanted to say thanks for the masterful review of the Astell & Kern
player. Delightful writing and most informative.
For me the AIFF interface issues are a concern. My leaning is to put a
portable player purchase on hold for now and see what develops in this area
over the next 6 to 12 months. In the meantime an International DAC/amp is
calling out to me and my Audeze LCD-2.
you may recall me mentioning that a customer of mine has leant me his Ncore NC400 based amp. He wanted me to try it on a variety of speakers and see what I thought. The results have all been very positive. I was not prepared for what I heard on the Saadhanas though. In fact they were the one speaker I wasn't intending to try the Ncore on, given Jacob's near insistence that only tubes be used. However my customer wanted to hear the Saadhanas with his amp. Guess what? I believe the Ncore on the Saadhanas seems to banish the few problems you mentioned. Most notably it's now possible to listen on axis without any trouble at all. Not that you'd want to listen on axis. It is an indication though of the very smooth top to bottom coherence obtained using the Ncore technology with Saadhanas. Of course top-to-bottom coherence is exactly what we expect from a widebander, though in practice there have always been some anomalies. The NCore seems to have the linearity to finally realise what these speakers are truly capable of.
Marja and Henk are definitely on to something. I don't know if you still have some Rethm speakers in your inventory. If you do, I'd really like to hear your opinion of them with some Ncore-based amps. I've urged Jacob to try to get hold of some Ncore as well. I think he should really hear what it can do for his speakers. Perhaps those problems don't lie with the speakers at all but are rather the result of speaker/amp interactions?
All the best,
I'm Rethm and Ncore less. Bruno Putzeys' Mola Mola website still isn't live but I'd expect that by next week it finally should be to coincide with the Munich HighEnd 2013 show. Once his Ncore monos are commercially available, I want to get a pair. Seeing we've now reviewed all Rethm speaker models made, it's unlikely I'll get one through again anytime soon. But if I get some other widebanders, I'd certainly try them on the Ncores whenever my budget can swing a pair.
Just purchased a pair of SIT1s and could not be happier
However I need a new set of high-efficiency speakers.
As you have considerable experience with Nelson's amps, can you recommend speakers?
In my space I can run down to 88dB speakers and not have any issues. The only exceptions are underdamped low-tuned ported bass alignments where the SITs don't have the control some muscle amp would have. From the Aries Cerat Gladius and Stentor to the Sonus faber Venere 3.0 to the soundkaos Wave 40 and Zu Druid V, there are many speakers that'll work just fine. At 11.5 x 5.5 meters my room isn't vast but it's not small either. I listen at around 3 to 3.5 meters from the speakers (lots of space behind me) and 95dB at the ear on peaks is plenty loud for me.
Have you heard any of the Audio Note speakers with the hemp woofers?
A friend of mine has a $70.000 Kondo integrated and I swear the SIT holds its own to it. I was bloody shocked.
Audio Note is a brand I have zero personal experience with, sorry. But I'm happy to hear you find the SIT to punch way above its price. That's my assessment too and I don't miss my former valve amps one bit.
I have read your website for years now and just wanted to say thanks for all your group does. I have learned more from your site than any other I have read. Your writing style in particular is always interesting and engaging. Keep up the good work!
|Kia ora Srajan.
I much enjoyed your review of the Aries Cerat. All we need now is a review of a well-crafted transmission line design. Is such a speaker still manufactured?
PMC specializes in TLs as one company that comes to mind.
In the widebander genre there are many which use hybrids that combine rear-horn and TL aspects. Sven Boenicke makes a very trick TL in his W10 model you can see here. I'm certain there are a lot more but I haven't tracked the breed to have a full list on hand.
just wanted to let you know that the Saadhanas are on my delivery van today. I enjoyed the review and read it a couple of times over. It elucidated for me what I've always appreciated about Rethms. They provide such great insight into musical performance. Jacob may be correct when he says people are generally more used to a speaker that provides the kind of reinforcement you get from amplification and/or room reverberation. This is what our discussion revolved around. In addition to enjoying music in the usual sense, those listeners who simultaneously enjoy unravelling how the music is being put together in real time are obviously the kind of people who really get the Rethm sound. This has been born out by the auditions I've given so far. There is a particular type of listener who gets that sound. And it's hard to see how this kind of listener could really live without a Rethm. Other speakers such as the Wave 40 may give a similar insight into the performance. Obviously though that would be at around double the price with the necessary sub addition(s). So the Rethms remain bargains for this kind of listener and at their price levels really the only game in town.
I'd agree all the way around. I also think that your Audiopax amps will ultimately be more ideal than my SIT1s.
I have been following you and 6moons for several years and I just love
that you focus on all those small cool brands that are a step—or five—away from the mainstream. Keep it up! My reason for writing is to thank you for reviewing the Zu subwoofer and to discuss and reflect on subs in 2-channel high-end systems. Too many hifi geeks will not even consider subs because they are not for 2-channel use and using them is turning a wonderful system into a boom box blah blah blah blah... Well, hearing is believing and some of us have heard something else. I write to tell how I use a sub in my system and that is slightly different from what you have been doing with the Zu. You keep the low pass f3 low, I keep it high(er). Why? Well, here goes. The first picture below is an older one just to give an idea about the room. This is an old house from 1889 that used to be a bakery. The top floor was the storage area for flour etc. Now it's turned into a nice living/listening room. It's not easy to see in these pics but the ceiling is an acoustical type meaning that even if the room is quite bare with minimal furniture, no carpets etc there is an atmosphere like if you are in one of those library rooms with books all around, thick carpets and so on. Maybe the room is even slightly on the overdamped side. I have restored this old house myself.
The downside of the acoustical ceiling is that the room does not really build up room gain. The ceiling is basically transparent at lower frequencies meaning that in the bass it's like a room with no ceiling or roof. Also, in the left side of the picture you see an opening to the floor below so there are plenty of places for bass to escape. My setup is diagonal as the picture tells, this was the only way I could get decent even sound in the room. Any other setup had way too much bass from my very full range and powerful Eggleston Works - Andra III speakers.So far, so good. I will write some more in between each of the pictures below
This is the frequency response at my listening position (no sub). The listening position is basically rotating that brown chair in the picture above. The red, gray and green curves are 3 measurements made in 3 slightly different positions at the listening position, minimum smoothing is used hence the 'rough' curves. But if you imagine them smoothed a bit more you will notice an impressively flat response. The main problem is a room mode at around 70Zz and that the deep bass below 50Hz is missing. Even if the speakers are very capable down to 20Hz, the sub octave simply and literally vanishes into thin air out of this room mainly because of the acoustical ceiling and the big opening to the floor below. What I have done is to build a sub not to get more bass but to use the sub as an acoustical room correction device. More to come
I use a Velodyne SMS-1 as the DSP-brain, and the measurement below made with the Velodyne mic and software confirms the measurement seen above. The Velodyne smoothes things over a lot, but you can still see the room mode at around 70hz and that the low end drops of.
Okay, to my solution! Let's discuss subs! Most of the commercially available subs are not really suited for two channel high-end systems. They are designed to go low in tiny small cabinets meaning that the drivers are very heavy, have relatively small cone area and long excursion. Then a huge amp is used to make them come alive. This is the Sunfire approach seen to at least some degree in many subs. The bass we get from these system has poor transient response because the heavy drivers can't really start and stop fast. Also distortion is relatively high because of the long excursion of the driver(s). Another problem with this approach is that the cabinets are often made very thin and with very little bracing. Again this is done to get the external volume as small as possible. The problem here is that the cabinets ring like a bell at resonance frequencies and these are well into the lower midrange. So imagine that the driver is fed a 50Hz tone, the cabinet will sing along' at maybe 300Hz - 600Hz. And in that region you can bet that the sub will be heard as directional and that the sound will be smeared! I have tried several of the ''high-end subs'' but not found any of them good enough so designed and built my own.
I use two Ciare 15" studio drivers. They have ideal data for the job and can be used in relatively small volumes. I have 120L net volume for two drivers. The drivers are placed in a so-called ''impulse compensated configuration'. Translated into plain English this means that there is a driver on each side playing in the same phase. This way the drivers cancel each other's vibrations and the cabinet is far more quiet. With this massive cone area the movement of the drivers is a few mm even at high levels meaning low distortion and since these drivers are designed to start and stop on a dime, the transient response is amazing.
The cabinet is made of MDF with an 'inner cabinet' of 19mm MDF with lots of bracing and assembled with a ton of screws. On top of the inner cabinet is glued a layer of 16mm MDF that is routed to size giving a nice finish and a good sandwich construction. I have used Class H amp + PS from a local company here in Denmark: Ground Sound. I feel that for high-end use the sound of a good quality class A/B or H amp with a strong linear PS is better than class D amps. The class H amp runs relatively cool so the big heat sink is not really needed. I just use it because it's a nice platform to build the amp + PS onto. Mind you the finish is still 'rough', some day I will get around to take it all apart again and have it professionally painted.
Okay, finally I'm getting to the point. Here you have my in room response at the listening position as my system is now. I have used the Velodyne software to 'pull down' the room mode at 70Hz and to fill in the low end. Amazing response and equally amazing sound. The Eggleston Works speakers run full range of course. The sub is connected from the preamp into the Velodyne SMS-1 DSP preamp. Signal from the output of the Velodyne feeds the amp inside the sub.
I use a low-pass at 85Hz/6th-order with the Velodyne doing the crossover work. I have also tried lower crossover points as you did with the Zu. This means the sub is used to 'fill in' below 40Hz or so and that also works but with the low crossover point the sub can't be used as acoustical room correction and that is where the hugh sonic improvement comes in. Getting rid of that room mode at 7Hhz makes a profound improvement of the sound from my system. When listening with the sub there is actually slightly less bass than with the sub muted because the peak at 70Hz is gone. So this is not to get more bass. This is to get rid of the smearing made by room modes and of course to fill in the sub octave. In my opinion getting rid of the room mode has a much bigger sonic impact than filling in the low end but of course a DSP brain is needed and it takes some skill to get an even response.
What I hear with the sub running as an acoustical room correcting system is a transient response I never had in this system before and not just in the bass. The improvement is across the range all the way to the top. Why? As a metaphor the bass is the foundation for the music and the better the foundation, the better the house will stand on top of that foundation. Hence improvements in transient response across the range. Similar improvements in both micro- and macro dynamics. Especially the improvements in micro dynamics make the music come so much more alive and make such a strong emotional connection. And the clarity and details. Where bass can easily become one-note there is so much detail with the sub taking away the smearing made by the room mode. Last night a friend of mine was here to listen to my system with the sub. He is one of those guys who has strong beliefs that subs are not to be used in two-channel high-end systems. I asked him to bring some of his CDs and LPs and he listened for hours. One one of his jazz trio LPs there is a solo with standup acoustical bass. When he heard that he could not help start laughing. He was so surprised that his reaction was to laugh and shake his head. What the hell is going on he asked me? He had never heard this transient response on that LP, so many details and so much 'life'. And he even has a system 2-3 times more expensive than mine. I think this is the biggest sonic improvement I ever made in my system and I have been a diehard geek for 30 years. Taking away the room modes with a killer sub with optimum drivers in a good configuration with a strong cabinet and high-end amp with a DSP brain in front is a turning point. I urge you to try it for yourself. If you can find such a bass system that is.
Thank you reviewing something I have considered buying but have not pulled the trigger on because I was not sure of the sound quality. Things that I want to see in a wireless speaker with DAC is 1/, number of inputs so can I run an optical cable into it from Apple TV or Apple airport or PS3? 2/ does it have a good DAC i.e. would I be better off buying an outboard DAC? 3/ if using a computer to get audio, can I get audio and video at the same time without any lag from audio? All in all I am trying to see if this an end-all solution to our audio problems. Can we can forget about system matching, tube replacement, training family members about a year to use audio products, isolation racks for multiple separate products and have a rack system for preamp/amp/DAC along with a TV stand? The contenders include Dynaudio Xeo which seems to offer similar benefits but might not sound as good. Thank you again for taking the time to explain these things in detail.
Yashaswi Belvadi. M.D.
A remarkable pair of wireless active speakers will make life simpler for the entire family indeed. To answer your questions: 1/ Number of wireless inputs on the Opal-air4 is governed by the NuForce Air DAC which accepts up to four signal wireless sources from iTX or uTX transmitters. For wired connection it accepts only one RCA source and no optical digital. 2/ The NuForce Air DAC is CD-quality bit rate. 3/ I have not tried streaming movies yet. I will certainly include that in Part II of my review. I suppose even if you do have lip-sync problem that you should be able to adjust that with the movie player software.
I have not tried the Dynaudio Xeo and cannot compare. Judging from specs and price it's very competitive. Looking at the features especially the detached wireless transmitter that accepts three wired inputs (analog/optical/USB), it's a matter of what suits you better.
I've enjoyed your walk through the Opal-Air4 thus far. I'm further intrigued as having read most of your contributions, I believe our listening biases are aligned. Despite a perfectly healthy real estate practice, I began an audio business last year. We have since spoken to Loren about coming aboard
as a dealer. All the requisite paper work is in place, I've just to make an order yet as we're leasing a space and waiting for some permit issues to be resolved before launching. The question that comes to my mind about the OA4 is whether or not it would serve well in a capacity for 'whole house' applications. For instance, if you had two digital outs on your dac or receiver, could you stream your digital signal to two sets of four speakers thereby creating zones? I suppose relative effective distance may be an issue. The other thought would simply be using a number of Apple Air Dacs and creating zones that way. Of course the most interesting point to me thus far is the increase of fidelity based on being strapped to purpose-made chip amps. The only retail impediment I see is being left out of the number's game where scaling to hi-def heights is concerned. CD quality is almost frowned
upon in some circles despite it being what we listen to more often than not.
Thank you for your review thus far and I'm looking forward to the latter half.
It's a relief to know that at least two biased minds think alike.
I have to admit that the Opal-air4 as a wired analog active speaker is the best of its kind. I believe it's the wireless part that constitutes your retail impediment. The Air DAC is CD-quality bit rate. That's a major drawback in the hi-res world. The transmission range is governed by the line-of-sight rule. Out of sight, out of range. I've tried moving the MacBook Pro with uTX to a different floor and the interference noise was unacceptable. It has to be on the same floor in the same room within line of sight. Then I get perfect reception. Creating multiple zones is possible as long as you move your signal source to that zone. Sharing the same signal between two zones will be challenging. I'm only just scratching the surface of wireless fidelity. It appears to me they are two different concepts. The Opal-air4 and NuForce Air DAC are basically catering to an active speaker system serving up to four wireless sources whereas other wireless streaming solutions aim at one signal source serving multiple zones.
Thanks for clarifying your last point. As per our listening biases, before I ever read your reviews I had your Apogees, Loth-X monitors, Trends and Virtue amps (lost the chip amps to the family). Now I'm just short your grand piano and some M&D speakers. It would be interesting if M+D offered the Opal with or without streaming. I would love the option of just going balanced out of my Hex or Wadia DACs into the back of a simply active non-dac Opal. Another interesting option might be using the Sonos format. Stream music to the Sonos Connect amp and use the coax out to the Opal Dac - but it has no digital input so you'd have to go line level out of the Connect which kinda defeats the purpose. Just thoughts.
I'm sure Daniel has given serious thought to his marketing strategy before he decided to go with what he put in the product. To choose between give and take must have been difficult. The Opal-air4 is designed for those who want something simple and beautiful: a computer or iPad and a pair of speakers. That's it. Once you start thinking about hi-res, you're back to the old audiophile route. Until NuForce comes up with something more powerful in transmission range and bit rate, I am addicted to the simplicity of the Opal-air4. Having said that, it did cross my mind that what if there were an Opal-air4 sans Air DAC but with two or more analog inputs, RCA and XLR?
Been a reader since you started 6Moons. Live in Seattle. In May will be buying Gallo Reference 3.5 speakers. Putting them in 125-year old former church that was converted to a residence 20 years ago. Large open plan 1500 sq ft main floor with 25 foot ceilings. Will use as 2-channel audio and 2-channel output for tv. No 5.1 or 7.1 home theatre planned for.
Music types: jazz 70%, classical 20%, pop rock 10%. Sources I will be buying: Oppo 95 or 105;
Apple TV for Pandora streaming and movie; satellite TV receiver for tv. I have Melody KT88 integrated with Evolution MMMicroOne speakers for my primary residence in the den which my wife does not use for listening to music. For the church/house my wife will be using the main stereo a lot so looking for easy-to-use setup that I can plug the above sources into and she can easily switch between sources and have the system work. Plus want the integrated to be good enough for Gallo. Budget is max is $3,000 retail for integrated with digital inputs or integrated amp plus dac. You reviewed both of following and appreciate getting your comments on which may be better: Bel Canto 5, Wyred4Sound mINT.
Given your 8m ceilings which compound the cubic volume the speakers will have to energize, I'd be thinking about more power than the mINT puts out (which is better than the equivalent BCD). I'd look into the W4S mTRIO I recently reviewed. It comes in right at your budget, gives you two powerful mono amps and a fully balanced preamp with an upgraded front-end version of what's in the mINT. If you need an integrated, the Peachtree Audio Grand X would be equivalent but cost you $1000 more.
|Reading the recent review of the M&D Opal-air4 reminded me of the early days of Tripath, D amps and even computer music servers. What a great idea. Why aren't we seeing more of these little T+D active speakers? Okay, not enough power for the big-boy towers yet. And I'd want an easy bypass switch so I could use my existing rig. But not only does it make for greater flexibility, it allows the designer to fine-tune the speaker's voice to get the best possible sound out of it. If I was a cable maker this would scare the shit out of me if it became a trend. Who wouldn't like to stop buying funny twisted wires for 100s & 1000s of £¥$. And what about amp makers? Maybe they should be getting into the speaker business? I have noticed a number of speaker makers adding amps & DACs to their lineup. If the Internet era has been all about disintermediation—cutting out the middle man—the future is a computer + wireless DAC + wireless active speakers. Oh, and some room correction software like in your Emerald Physics review (hum, any similar products popping up in 2013?) to eliminate room distortions and the need for bass traps. Maybe we will have to wait for Apple to package something like this to create enough demand from all those iPod babies who are old enough now to afford better-sounding audio. That would shake up high-end audio.
Kevin Teixeira (long-time Srajan & 6moons fan)
I think this could be a bit like the right to wear arms. Whilst most folks are probably better off not owning a gun, US legislature insists that you can. Audiophiles insist on the right to pick 'n' choose though most would get better results if passive speakers were outlawed and active speakers with electronic crossovers, built-in linearization compensation and some basic adjustments the only game in town. Whenever audiophile reviewers cross paths with active speakers (mostly from the pro realm), they're invariably shocked by the performance gains. Yet the market at large doesn't respond. Will Dynaudio be successful with their new wireless active boxes? It remains to be seen. As a concept it's eminently practical but if we've learnt anything about audiophiles, they don't value practicality very highly if at all. If inroads are made, it'll probably happen in the 'lifestyle' sector -:)
Very much enjoyed reading the various installments in the Zu Submission review. I may be wrong but your comments represent the first positive endorsement of The Subwoofer as a hifi genus that I can recall coming across in all my years of trawling through reviews, in print and now online. Typically outside Home Theatre and Car Audio magazines, the poor beasts seldom get more than faint praise of the 'well, I suppose if you must...' variety. So very interesting to hear you firstly talking up the main speaker + sub combination in principle and not just as a compromise or lesser of two evils; and secondly for stating the widespread suitability of a sub of this quality with many speakers, not just those from the House of Zu or those obviously lacking in bass.
If I read you correctly, your positive comments are probably restricted to 'true' subwoofers that don't try to cover too great a frequency range. In that regard, how low do the main speakers need to be able to go by themselves to work well with a single Submission? Most of your review dealt with it just filling in the bottom octave with speakers that are by themselves comfortable down to 50hz, but presumably with a different filter setting and more bass-challenged mains it could attempt to do more. Would it still be anything like as successful with something like say the Acuhorns? Lastly, when I read sentences like 'With this active and flexible giant I hands-down had the very best bass I've ever enjoyed in 10 years on the job' I rather thought the review might have a Blue Moon conclusion. Maybe you are waiting till you've heard it with more partners or maybe I just misread the positivity of your comments.
I've deliberately avoided the usual 80Hz THX-style sub/monitor combo because my own experience suggests that the vital upper-bass range should be reproduced in full stereo and from the mains. And that requires ~55Hz reach from the mains which leaves the sub more or less only the first octave since none of their filters are steep enough to be more surgical. When used like that, mono bass in a room my size (5.5 x 12m) works exceptionally well. So yes, this requires a true subwoofer and speakers which are merely short the bottom octave. And we don't give out awards for unfinished reviews which this still is...
|It seems Wojciech has found the virtues of widebanders but I agree with your publisher's comments in his Acuhorn review. So much praise for a speaker without useful output below 100Hz seems a little over the top especially at that price. My 25-year old Rogers do a solid 70Hz (and drop like a stone below that) and cost half. Or the new baby Kef at a third of the price as well and its midrange performance is far from lacking. I was puzzled by the lack of reference to his Harbeth standard too. This is as far removed from the widebander sound as can be. And no SET either to really get extreme. As you know, a P/P circuit even with tubes may or may not be a good fit for speakers like these - it's really hit or miss. My own experience with bass boost on tube P/P says that what you gain in dB you lose in resolution through quickly increasing distortion. At least that was the case on my McIntosh and every time I tested the feature on Leben amps during demos. Anyway, I am glad he tried but this leaves me no wiser on what to expect from the Acuhorn with the exception of no bass to speak of :-).
Didn't you review a former model of theirs and weren't too impressed?
I did and affirmative too on my opinion. It's admirable that Acuhorn pursue their own driver development. I appreciated their attempts in this project at 'violin making' but was surprised to then see the use of laminated woods. Who'd make a violin out of Plywood? The tonewoods Ocellia and soundkaos use actually complete the 'musical instrument' approach and work just as one would expect. I also think Acuhorn's current insistence on a single driver will eventually give way to what others are already doing - augmenting their widebander of choice with either a tweeter or bass driver to overcome bandwidth limitations modern music won't tolerate.
|Srajan, there is an ambiguity with this review. I assume the sound of the AURALiC Vega in this review is based on the addition of the Nagra Jazz preamp, which isn't explicitly explained. In fact you say the sound of the Vega direct..."sounded stripped, stark and flat. Audible space and all its connective tissue had collapsed and all prior tonal and textural elegance abandoned." From what I can see, this rave review is based on the inclusion of a $10K+ preamplifier.
That quote is out of context and culled from the paragraph on running the Vega as a preamp at very low volumes. I clearly stated that normal room volumes meant the display sat between 50 and 60 to imply -40 to -50dB of signal cut. Your quote now pertains to listening well below that. That's when adding an expensive preamp was significantly better just as AURALiC themselves predicted. I don't think there's anything ambiguous about that. Steep digital attenuation to the tune of -70dB or -80dB just doesn't sound as good as doing it in the analog domain regardless of whether with a cheap or expensive analog preamp.