|Good morning Srajan:
I have enjoyed your website and reviews for a number of days. I like your reviewers' writing styles for being human, funny, dry-witted and yet extremely informative. This is opposed the the sterile reviews we usually have in the audio marketplace.
I will be ordered the Music in the Bottle CD and I am excited that you will be working with others. The CD, SACD, DVD, DVD-A recoding marketplace unfortunately is not moving forward as fast as those of us living music would like. The kids are driving our marktplace with MP3 players and cell phones. If it does not come that way it will take time.
I think with the thousands of people around the world that love music there are plenty of people who will purchase great music if they can find it. I own about 600 albums, many of master quality, about as many CDs i.e. not quite as good. I was hoping for the SACD CD but with Sony giving up the effort?
Your section on reviews of new music is also enjoyable. You might consider offering these thru your website?
Thank you again for a great place to visit.
Thanks once more for the honest discourse regarding reviewers and expected reviewing protocol. I think it is just retarded to expect relationships not to affect some part of the reviewing process. This does not meant that reviews are fatally tainted by a relationship. It might just mean that a product is selected for review because a friend made the reviewer aware of the product or its potential merits. I think it is disingenuous to suggest that reviewers closet themselves from human nature. Expecting this is more dishonest than the resulting review put forth with the notion that it is completely devoid of any outside influence. I think we need to accept reviews for what they are; opinions. The merit of those opinions is entirely up to the reader to weigh and accept. I weigh a reviewer's work by how consistent they are in hearing things and also by their personal taste in products. This may not mean anything to another reader but is quite relevant to me. Anyway, I am continually impressed with the subjects you choose for comment. I am also grateful for your fair and open writing style. Thanks for a Monday morning hobby/brain exercise.
|Hi Srajan -
Greetings from Boston on a beautiful Patriots' Day, a wonderful day to watch the Boston Marathon but a tad to hot to run well. I am writing in response to your short piece: " A Sick Patient".
I -- and I cannot believe anyone else - -believes that audio reviewers, upon picking up the professional pen, shed their former friends, social associations etc and take a figurative vow of poverty, chastity and obediance; that is to abstain from living a full live. In this sense, you begin your analysis by positing a false assumption.
Similarly, the people who consume audio reviews and buy audio cannot expect that professional reviewers set up a "Chinese" wall between themselves and the people who run the companies whose products they review.
That being said, good audio costs a not insignificant sum of money for most people, regardless that it is money spent for the pleasures that it yields. At the same time, we -- out in the community -- must explicitly and implicitly trust that the reviewer's work product reflects honest, truthful independent judgement; that the reviews findings reflect the reviewers experience with the product as well as this/her accumulated knowledge. And that reviewer independence has not been fatally compromised by his relationship with the product producer.
The problem arises when the boundaries between reviewers and suppliers of products become overly fuzzy or nonexistent. No doubt a reviewer can partake in all the fun activities that you set out, but at some point -- where that point is I don't know (outside of taking products or cash as vigerish) -- wherever that point comes, the interests of the product supplier and the reviewer begin to merge. How can it not. As you assert, reviewers are humans. They love music. They do not make scads of money as scrivners; they have the same sets of needs as anyone else. At the same moment, there is an incontrovertable duty to the readers,who will assume that the reviewer is being "straight" and may very well go out and based on that review spend a packet on a piece of equipment.
Clearly, you as the publisher set out clear rules of "engagement" that a reviewer who produces writing for 6moons abides by. Similarly, I expect that you trust that your potential reviewer has internalized and can articulate for your how he/she will negotiate the potential for conflict of interest that must emerge when a reviewer is fully engaged in the world of audio. We the consumers must believe that both publisher and review have mutually accepted their responsibilities to their readers. That is the only way to develop and maintain a trusting relationship between all parties. Otherwise you, for example, might as well fold up your tent and the 6 moons that shine above it.
There will always be reviewers "on the take". Nothing new here. We read about this sort of stuff every day in the newspapers. Singleton dishonesty will not kill a field or perhaps a zine, but let there be a pattern or practice and all hell will break loose. And it should. You read the forums and the vitriol flows over matters far less meaningful, even trivial, than reviewer bias or perceived corruption.
We have no need of cloistered isolated reviewers, muttering to themselves in their listening rooms (should any even exist). We need honest and responsible lovers of sound who have access to the products, who know how to write and are able through print or digital communication to spread the news of the industry products and innovation that are not available to the mass of consumers. Finally and perhaps most importantly, we need help, assistance and guidance in finding our way over and through what seems to be the limitless choices of audio products.
One more thoughtful piece of writing. It is what I have come to expect.
John from Boston
I've been following your comments on "simple" components with great interest. I've recently decided to get off the "hifi" merry-go round myself. I'm testing the Keep It Simple Stuipd (KISS) theory by systematically purchasing and A/Bing simpler components throughout my signal chain.
I'll use amplifiers as an example. I started off with Antique Sound Labs Hurricanes driving Vandersteen Model Fives; a total of 22 tubes, lots of transformers etc. I then purchased a pair of ASL 1009 845 monoblocks (12 tubes) and really thought they did a much better job of presenting music as opposed to the usual hifi parameters. Recently, I purchased a pair of Audio Zone AMP-2 monos based on the reviews at 6moons (0 tubes, simple circuitry) and couldn't be happier. Information retrieval, soundstage, low frequency definition all improved without any noticeable loss of midrange "glow". I have a stereo version of the JJAZ arriving in a week and I've recently spent some time with Gordon Burkhart-Schultz listening to "what's next" from Audiopax. These truly are interesting times... By the way, any insights you would care to share on your experience with some or all of these amplifier "topologies" would be greatly appreciated.
I'm tackling speakers next. I've just purchased a pair of Almarro M33As (2 drivers, no crossover). They don't have the weight (both sonically and physically) of my Vandy 5s, but they make wonderful music in my 14. 5 x 13.5 x 8 listening room. In fact, I prefer the attenuation in the last 1/2 octave; the midrange is more present and I'm not stressing over low frequency issues. Next up will be either the Devore Super 8s or the Reference Silverbacks. Not exactly simple in terms of componentry, but consistent with the simple goal of producing music rather than generating hifi parameters that are easy to check off a list.
Several other points of interest. Audioqest Kilimanjaro DBS speaker cables have been replaced with Auditorium 23s. Audiquest Cheetah DBS interconnects have been replaced by Soundstrings, soon to be replaced by PHY-HPs and/or Steve Eddy's Taos (arriving next week). My Thor TA-2000 will soon be replaced by a Shindo Monbrison or an AudioPax 5. So far, each step taken has made my system more muscial.
Interestingly, my sources seem to be increasing in complexity. I've upgraded from a simple hung-suspension Avid Diva turntable with an Origin Illustrious arm to an Amazon Model 1 table and TriPlanar arm, both of which are much more highly engineered than the Avid or the Diva. My digital source will soon be a VRS Audio Systems computer-based music server. I feel this unit offers both great convenience and state of the art digital playback.
At the end of the day, the common thread in all of this appears to be that I am increasingly drawn to artisans who can take that which is fiendishly complex and produce components that simply produce music.
I look forward to more reports on this new generation of "audio artisans" and their creations!
|How about some information on Meadowlark Audio? You used to work for them, didn't you?
I did work for Meadowlark but have no information on the present status of the company except for certain postings on AA and associated rumors. I've tried to contact the company by phone and e-mail and haven't heard back. Neither have others I've talked to. If reliable information becomes available and Pat McGinty makes himself available for commentary, we might have something useful to report. Until then, readers will absorb the little that's presently floating around in the ethers and come to their own conclusions. Should the company truly have failed, it would be sad news. I can say that the present rumors don't at all match up with the people I used to work for. Hence I'm very worried that something drastic must have happened but again, I have no information whatsoever on what that might be.
(As I'm sure you don't need to be told) your site is awesome and aside even from your considerable skill in reviewing audio equipment, you're also a very talented journalist. Keep up the good work!
|You are doing something fantastic with 6moons.com! The variety and quality of your material is outstanding and your web site offers what few others do. Besides the reviews themselves your articles include a wealth of audio history and a true spirit of audio as hobby. I just read the Auditorium 23 review and it reminds me of Jeff's Fi 2A3 review. Both tell the story of the path of discovery that we all follow as we learn more about audio and about ourselves.
It is also nice to discover that there are many other people who are searching for the musical truth and an emotional reaction to the music instead of pyrotecnic hifi. My own quest continues to pull me toward (or back to) the feeling I had when listening to my grandfather's system. It was not analytically detailed, tremendously dynamic nor pinpointedly soundstaged. There was simply the music and its emotional pull. SET amps and efficient speakers have taken me a long way there. But through exposure to hidden treasures via 6moons.com, I feel there is further I can go.
|SACDs vs DVDAs
It's very gratifying and somewhat ironic when a respected reviewer can actually "hear" the unexploited potential of analogue recording in a digital age, and the possibilities of the recording art which in general hasn't improved since the 1960s...
Referenced to the following quote from the Bel Canto PLayer review:
"How about SACD? What if you had bought into a sizeable DSD library? I had the CD-only and hybrid SACD versions of Chesky's Cantos de Agua Dulce by Marta Gomez [JD281 and SACD285] on hand to explore what kind of performance delta might separate a superior recording in either format. The first surprise? The SACD was mastered at a considerably lower medium level than the CD. Second surprise? While the spatial aspects of the SACD -- what I think of as "audible space" -- were superior, the firmer incisiveness of the CD versus the less distinct softness of the SACD had me ultimately prefer the CD. I didn't have separate CD covers for Chesky's Remembrances [Jon Faddis, SACD256] and Swing Live [Bucky Pizzarelli, SACD223] SACDs and again noted the far lower than RedBook-usual median recording level. However, the tangible realism of especially the Bucky session was truly awesome. This kind of in-the-booth immediacy is something I only hear on that rare -- often French -- CD from abroad. Perhaps chalk one up for DirectStream though I'm undecided yet on whether I don't honestly prefer superior CDs.
However, things hi-rez got really cracking when I finally unwrapped three AIX DVD-As that I had collected a long time ago in anticipation of this review. Besides the live vibe already clearly present on the Chesky SACDs, the soundstage per se grew positively huge now, not by mushrooming instrumental sizes into something grotesque but by sounding big, unfettered, present, potent and uncannily real, with cubits of real air and space. First up was Guitar Noir by Laurence Juber [Aix 80018] followed by David Garfield's Retro Jazz Quintet [Aix 80022] and Calamari's Looking Up [Aix 80023]. Then I progressed to Kostas Metaxas' DVD-Rs sent to me by Kiwi Peter Ball of Kirrabilli Acoustics Ltd in Christchurch. One of these combines 48 tracks from 47 concerts while another is a 60-minutes concert of Sultan Khan playing his sarangi at Panton Hill.
The scariest one of the four Metaxas titles I have simply says Adam Simmons - and its scary because it's so alive. With aliveness comes the willfullness of sentient beings, their unpredictability and the challenge to be present with them, engaged, on edge and fully interactive. This was full-contact energetic listening in the trenches, not homogenized, sterilized and compressed sleep-walking in the aisles..."
I just wanted to drop you a note to say how much I enjoyed your review of the Audio Aero Prima DAC. I have recently replaced my old CD player with the AA Capitole player and I was blown away by how great it sounded.
I also found your discussion of overall volume and how to get there fascinating. I started off running the Capitole into my Avantgarde Model 5 integrated using the AV-direct input and controlling volume with the Capitole's attenuator. Most of the time this meant for my normal listening that the volume on the Capitole was around the -32dB mark. Run this wa,y the sound was good but there was a lack of heft and fleshiness to the mid/upper bass. So I thought I would try the player through another input routed through the Model 5 volume control and with the Capitole set to -7dB. I wasn't expecting a huge difference but was I wrong. The sound this way was way more solid and yet at the same time more revealing of the timbre of the different instruments. I really can't explain why this would be so with my limited electronic knowledge.
I just thought you would like to know that it was your discussion of this phenomenon that made me investigate it further. Thanks for all the fun you've given me reading your entertaining reviews and keep up the good work.
|What a relief to see such an elegant website. I'm so tired of seeing old technology constantly recycled with minor tweaks and major price tags. That's why I was so excited by ICEpower and your review of JJaz amps.
When do you expect to have a deeper JJaz evaluation on the site? Can't wait.
Many thanks for what you do and for doing it so well.
I just wanted to let you know that your Moon Beams news section works. Because of it, I now have a Bladelius Freja CD/SACD/DVDA player on its way. I fully expect the Freja will end my search for a proper multiformat player. Two channel audio only, no video circuitry. What a concept!
Thanks a lot for the link to your PHY-HP speaker cable review. Again I must say it pretty much coincides with my own findings. The PHY-HP speaker cables are a bit bass shy alright. However, I am a bit surprised to learn that they would render the music with "subtle uneasiness" compared to the Auditorium 23 cables. I guess I will try the Auditorium 23 someday.
Being a PHY-HP and Verdier user myself, I have visited Auditorium 23's site before but I have never realized they also make speaker cables with cotton sheathing; looks like they are also trying to reduce MDI with natural fiber insulation. Jeff Day's report on Auditorium 23 cables along with the history on German SET progression surely was delightful to read. Jeff's observation on synergistic combination was definitely the key point. I have tried all PHY-HP cables with solid-state electronics driving conventional three-way speakers. They sounded way too thick in the midrange as though someone had boosted the midrange frequency all the way up with an equalizer.
I look forward to reading more of your reviews in future; perhaps you can do an article on either the Auditorium 23 or Ocellia speakers. They both utilize PHY-HP drive units and I am interested in learning how well they would sound.
I've been meaning to thank you for some time about 6moons. What a wonderful site, simply the best in audio (print and internet). The writers are knowledable and skilled in their craft, and the reviews are in-depth and complete. You also add new articles very, very regularly - most appreciated.
Just finished reading your Para's Dime piece. While I've enjoyed reading many of your other pieces, this is the first one that caused me to actually sit up and say "YESSSSSSSS!" out loud. :)
Most notably this portion: "Just consider how attempting to sonically duplicate the original event as closely as possible invites endless subliminal comparisons. The closer you get, the more maddening those remaining differences do become. What if you removed that entire anguish and tension by focusing on the gestalt and feel of the thing instead? If it felt real enough to be compelling and emotionally persuasive, wouldn't the listening experience become so much more easeful, the stress of perfect duplication relinquished?"
I got "into" audio some years before I'd ever seen any of the magazines or met an "audiophile." For me it was always the gestalt. The experience. Perhaps because I did a lot of my listening in those days while stoned. :)
When I first became exposed to "audiophiles" back in the early 80s, it was something of a culture shock. Their fly speck analysis and the obsessing and anguishing over each and every one of those specks both nearly and to the point of being neurotic was totally alien to me. Still is really. Anyway, while you've nibbled around the edges of this in some of your other pieces I've read (I rather liked the last paragraph in your Mayan Factor piece), this one paragraph just nailed my sentiments exactly.
I might also add that a similar obsession/aguish over fly specks is manifest in the other side of the equation as well. While many an audiophile has uttered the catch phrase "trust your ears," my observation has been that very few audiophiles take that to heart and instead put their trust not in their ears but in the numbers. Particularly in the wire and cable side of things. It's rather like the old Spec Wars in the 70s where everyone was looking for the best THD numbers, the best IM numbers, the best S/N numbers, etc. Instead it's just a different set of numbers. Gotta get that dielectric constant as close to 1 as possible. Gotta get that wire purity as close to 100% as possible (the Nines Race). Gotta get the number of crystals as close to 1 as possible or better still, zero.
I guess on one level I'm glad the numbers seem to work for some people. I mean, it makes things much easier in that as long as you're able to improve the numbers, you're virtually guaranteed success. You never have to waste any time trying all those things which don't have the numbers on their side. On another level, I find it a bit disturbing. I mean, for the numbers to so unerringly work, it implies that what's at the end of all those numbers is little more than an objective, emotionless machine rather than a subjective, emotional being.
Of course I don't actually believe that audiophiles are objective, emotionless machines. I believe that they are very much subjective, emotional beings. And that's precisely why I think the numbers seem to work so unerringly for some people. I think the numbers tend to play to our insecurities. To the point that I believe they may actually subconsciously influence our experience. Numbers provide a means of justification. A certain comfort and security for some superiority. This was driven home to me recently when I sent an e-mail to a fellow cable manufacturer.
He was using cotton sleeving in his cables and justified it by saying that cotton has a dielectric constant of 1.3-1.4, saying it was even lower than that of Teflon. I explained to him that the 1.3-1.4 the figures were misleading. That they were only for raw, loose cotton where there's more air than cotton. That in textile form, i.e. when it's been spun into thread and woven into cloth or sheathing, the dielectric constant is much higher owing to the fact that there's much less air involved for a given volume. He rightfully asked me for a source for the higher figures and I pointed him to a page by a large textile company which had some information regarding cotton's properties.
He couldn't accept the figures (which were in the 3-7 range). They had to be wrong. He trusted his ears. I explained that this is just on example of how the best sound doesn't always come from the best numbers. I also tried to reason with him that cotton is essentially pure cellulose. And that the dielectric constant for cellulose is much higher than 1.3-1.4 and that in order to get those figures, you'd need to have a lot more air for a given volume than cellulose. He still couldn't accept the figures. He simply couldn't conceive that cotton could sound so good to him, better than Teflon, without also having numbers better than Teflon. I ultimately just gave up and left him to his numbers, misleading to his customers as they may be.
Anyway, I think I've run on long enough. Oh, and just so's you don't think I'm trying to heap praise on you just to butter you up, I do have one quibble with the Para's Dime piece. I don't think that the chip amps (which includes the class-D stuff) should be included in the "simple" group along with such things as SET amps and fullrange speakers. While they're "simple" from the standpoint that the manufacturer just has to add a few components to the chips to produce a working amplifier, the actual circuitry (which is really what the simplicity movement has been about) is far from simple. It's complexity that's just been minaturized, giving an illusion of simplicity.
In spite of that, I gotta say that that Vinnie Rossi Lotus amp is absolutely gorgeous! :)
Have a great remainder of the weekend!
|Dear Marja and Henk,
If you want to check out some really good Internet radio, try Los Angeles' NPR station broadcasting from Santa Monica Community College, KCRW. The shows in the morning and the evening and particularly Saturday from 12:00-2:00 are great. I hope you like it. Let me ask you this - have you found a good way to record Internet radio? Right now I am using QCD which is okay but not great. Any suggestions? Thank you for all of your work at 6moons.
we are going to look into your recommendation. Just have to find a way around the 9 hour time difference...
A good way to record anything off the Internet is the very affordable Xitel Pro HiFi Link. List price is $99. It is a USB DAC so you can hook your PC's or Mac's USB port to your Hifi set or recorder. The Xitel comes with an incredible 30 feet of coax, 30 feet of Toslink both for digital output and another 30 feet of analogue (RCA plugs) interconnect. The signal on the USB bus is the best you can get from your PC/Mac; no sound card in the way to mess things up. On top of that, USB is by-directional which means there's an ACK-NACK protocol running. A bit that is missing is sent again. Compare that to S/PDIF.
Hey, now that we mentioned this little thingy, we might as well do a review on it. By the way, using a USB DAC lets you copy your protected iTunes.
Marja & Henk
Thanks for your excellent review of Auditorium cable and Shindo gear on the 6moons site. You and Jules Coleman have done a fantastic job to bring attention to this equipment, so much so I am hoping to audition them with DeVore speakers when in New York. I have e-mailed Jonathan Halpern to arrange for a trial with Auditorium 23 speaker cables.
Currently I have a Thor 2000 II (upgraded) preamp, VAC 70-70MkIIIS amp, Verity Parsifal Encore speakers, Linn TT and Benz cartridge, Audiomeca transport and Dodson 217 MkII DAC. Excellent sound. Interconnects are Cardas Golden Cross and JPS digital. Speaker cables are Cardas Golden Reference. Power cables are Acoustin Zen Krakatoa, ESP and Silent Source. This is all run through a Hydra 8.
I am also from Seattle. I wish you the best and again, thanks for your critique.
I am a new reader of your pages (2 months now) and I have to thank you because I live in Venezuela far away from the HiFi world and you keep me updated. I await your reviews every day when I open my e-mails . I am planning to change my Classe CAM 200s for the new Nagra Pyramids, please let me know if you have plans for a future review or have any insights about them.
Excuse my English, and thanks again for your care and love of music.
Dr. Daniel Lustgarten
Based on your review of the Walker Velocitor S, I took a chance and bought one. I also got the recommended Maple base and a Silent Source power cord. The Velocitor S and Silent Source cord replaced a daisy-chained PS Audio Ultimate Outlet and Blue Circle Music Ring in my system.
Wow! Right out of the box, cold, the Velocitor S/Silent Source cord combo made a dramatic improvement. Immediately noticeable were an apparent increase in detail, more extended and crystalline highs and a more sustained decay on notes. I suppose that all relates to a lowered noise floor. The system also sounds more dynamic and lively. It's as if it "breathes" easier.
Your review was very timely. I was about to go for a BPT Signature when your Velocitor S review published. I thought that you did a wonderful job describing the differences you heard between the BPT Signature and the Velocitor S. The Velocitor S-type improvements were more important to me and, frankly, more of what my system needed.
While not inexpensive, the money spent on the Velocitor S and Silent Source cord were very good value in terms of the improvement wrought. Thanks very much for review.
By the way, I recently purchased a Modwright SWL 9.0 linestage. I got the "SE" version and had it further modded with a Gold-Point attenuator and a cap upgrade. At its "retail" of $2000 (SE) or $2400 for the SE with the Gold-Point and cap mod, I think it's a really good value. To my ears, it outperformed some substantially more expensive units. Perhaps you'll consider doing a review of the piece.
Thanks again for the review of the Velocitor S.
Your "Para's Dime" is an extremely well-written piece considering it was a sketch, put up two days after the Montreal show. I am impressed, greatly. And I am in part, a writer. One thing I wish to bring to your attention is the little Clari-T amp from Red Wine: Vini Rosso, Vinnie Rossi. What a cool twist on branding nomenclature!
It is an exceedingly musical amplifier and as mine breaks in, I suspect it might be one of the most musically accurate, sweet, delicate, ballsy, cool amps out there. I write this because of your recent publication of the Abby/Bailey review and the piece on the double Baby Ben Fostex horns. This amp with single drivers is insanely good, and in my humble opinion you need to get your hands on one.
Putting One's Money Where One's Mouth Is:
I have fallen so in love with this sound, I have ordered a full-on assault of this less = more paradigm in a Clari-T with non-oversampling DAC with an expensive re-clock circuit on the output which is directly wired to the Tripath chip. Both source and amp are battery-driven, with a cost no object approach to all components. It could be the living end. My point is this: I think you need to get together with this amp and whatever high-end high-sensitivity wide-band unit you plan to indulge yourself in next. This Stuff Is New And Important.
I just read your review on Louis' Omega Super 3s. I have a pair of Super 3Rs that I bought from Louis about a year ago and I am one of the happiest guys you could ever meet. You see, I am not an audiophile and thankfully I ran into Louis as I started to get a little nuts with buying audio equipment. My web- and store-surfing days are over and now I just enjoy music. I have an old Scott 222A integrated, the Super 3Rs with the Skylan stands, a Rotel 1070 CD player and a Music Hall MMF-5 turntable. All that and speaker cables through Louis and Clarity Foxfire interconnects. If only I had learned more from Louis and you prior to spending about 5K on a Rotel AV receiver and B&W CM speakers all around for our movie/tvs. They are nice but if I could do it all over again... alas.
Anyway, I was glad to see you give Louis such a great review. Beyond his wonderful speakers, he seems like a total class act and a super nice guy.
An excellent overview of the Walker Velocitor "S". You really put into words what I was hearing. I am actually plugging my BP-3 into my Velocitor and getting very good results, although time will tell if it is a genuine improvement.
Thank you for such a great article on the "Less is More Revolution"... I didn't even know I was on the cutting edge or part of an underground revolution. The article hits all the big concepts behind what I believe to be the most intriguing vein of this hobby. You have me yearning to know more about the roots of how some of these ideas came to be, and the family tree of where things are today.
Many thanks and best regards,
Marc C. DeSmet
Welcome to Nashville. I am an Eighth Nerve customer and an Eastern Electric system owner including the new modded MiniMax preamp. Two of my favorite audio people include Nathan Loyer and Bill O'Connell. In fact, I have many of the tubes you used in your MiniMax tube-rolling article last year. Bill sent many of the less expensive tubes that you returned from your review.
My listening room has been extensively tuned using Nathan's products plus some similar products from others. Since I have been able to control my room, I have downgraded to less expensive audio components because my tuned room here in Nashville sounds much better. I do love tubes so the Eastern Electric system with many NOS tubes is a daily pleasure that I cannot live without.
Anyway, welcome to Nashville. I am happy Nathan helped you find more listening pleasure.
|Srajan and David,
Just a quick note to tell you how much I enjoyed the review of the Eighth Nerve room treatments. I enjoy Mr. Abramson's writing style and was grateful to see a reviewer emphasize the need to pay attention to our rooms and their acoustics. While not a user of the Eighth Nerve products myself, I am a happy customer of Rives Audio room design.
Please, let us have more of David Abramson's fine writing! Good show!
|Nice article (Para's Dime). As a new and fervent convert of the new way, I thank you for both paying such attention and giving it time and space. For me, the simple, low-powered thing (RedWine Audio Clari-T/ZuCable Druid) isn't just another way to get there but the only way. You recently wrote something wondering how many audioheads are truly happy with their systems. From the level of angst out there, I'd say not too many. I am, for the first time. Am I going to continue to tinker? You bet. I've got a battery-powered Scott Nixon/RedWine Audio DAC on order that I'm gonna plug into my hopped up Music Hall CD-25 (thanks ModWright). The Druids will never leave my home and show me the many ways of living on 6 watts.
The anxiety is gone though. I don't feel like I'm missing anything anymore. The emotional connection to the music this way is just so much more powerful than I've felt. The snaps of drumsticks and nuance of voices are carried so faithfully this way that I can't imagine going back. Your Omega/Red Wine Audio arrangement will be very, very good. However, the Omegas (which are cheaper) will not touch the Druids. The Fostex line is great and an excellent introduction (not that you need one), but the Druids are in a different galaxy.
Make sure you plug the Druids into the battery-powered rig. Also, don't let them fool you into thinking the Clari-T is an integrated amp. It isn't in the conventional sense at all. It has a volume control but it's a simple resistor unit and does no impedance matching to the source. Listening to the Clari-T straight from the source builds the bones of the skeleton with sharp and concise focus while plugging it into a good (quiet) preamp fills out the body and life (I can write a little too!). I would very much like you to try the Audio Zone PRE-T1 with this arrangement as it seems like a match made in heaven.
I'm using a ModWright SWL 9.0 SE for pre duties now and it needs to be sent back for further mods to play nicer with my rig. It has way too much gain for this setup and is a touch noisy. 101dB speakers are punishing for system noise. It ain't bad at all though and everything from here on out is just gravy!
Anyway, thanks again. I look forward to your continuing down this road and reporting your impressions.
I find myself refreshed again by your choice of topics and your thoroughly enjoyable way of conversing (Para's Dime). I couldn't agree with you more about the wonderful opportunities that are there for the (audiophile) pickin's if we keep an open mind about materials, circuits, philosophies etc. My current system is a bit of a hybrid anomaly since I use a Shigaraki DAC which does not break the bank, but I run it through a Kondo Neiro amp, which theoretically does! The combination through the Avantgardes is sublime and I have tried the Sonic Impact amp in place of the Neiro, and it is certainly acceptable and actually much better that many others that I've heard through the years that cost far far more. There is no "one true path" or single solution to achieving sonic bliss. I don't want to recreate the sound of the master tape, I would simply like to participate in the performance. I want the intent of the performers to translate through the system regardless of the components or topologies chosen. Your suggestions regarding component pairings most likely would do just that.
Thanks for a very entertaining observation.
Michael Lavorgna suggested that I pass on the comments below for your ‘letters’ section. Gordon Ranking (of Wavelength Audio as I’m sure you know) sent me Brick No. 1. I am so impressed with the gizmo that I want to help him by passing on my thoughts (general and unsophisticated as they may be). No doubt one of your reviewers will get one soon enough. Until then....
Last Friday, Gordon’s first production Brick arrived. It’s about the size of a new Mac mini I think. Aesthetically, it fits my design taste like perfectly; it’s small and simple, with clean lines. Getting it up and going is easy enough. Plug it in (USB to a Powerbook and Nirvana cables to a WAVAC MD 811); away you go. Follow the simple and direct instructions and voila, via iTunes, music sounding lovely.
The USB DAC concept came to me from Terry Cain of Cain & Cain. I’d just bought Abbys from him (he also has a MD 811) and I’d asked him for suggestions on how I might change out this and that (especially my Naim CDX) for ‘something else.’ He explained the theory of a USB-based DAC and pointed me to Gordon. I was (still am) intrigued by the concept of having all of my music on a hard drive (a LaCie 250 MB Extreme not anywhere close to full with CDs imported using Apple’s lossless encoding). Hope was that playback would equal or better the CDX. (Note that I wasn’t dissatisfied with the CDX at all.)
So, expectations and hopes were high for this thing. And I’m pleased to say that my hopes were met and my expectations exceeded. Right off I noticed quite a bit more detail in everything I listened to - without exception. Bass is tighter, instruments more distinct with more clarity. Soundstage is much better as well. Surprisingly so. (I went back and forth between the CDX and the Brick to confirm that the sound was indeed different and, to my ear, improved. Confirmed.)
Summing up, if the USB DAC concept interests you, buy a Brick. If you have to wait to get one, wait. It is a very fine product. If you want more, step up to the Cosecant.
First, I would like to say I thoroughly enjoy the 6moons site. Secondly, a quick note regarding your follow-up review of the Benchmark DAC. While reading your follow-up, I thought to myself, the Benchmark would probably be a perfect candidate for the Musical Fidelity tube buffer stage. The tubes in the MF unit might work very well at taming the slightly incisive nature of transients that you mentioned in your review. Also, you state that,"the balancing force needed is additional body on the notes". Again, the MF tube buffer would probably do just that. The combination may then be a true "giant killer".
Another option is, one of the companies out there that does mods could build a tubed output stage for the Benchmark DAC. As I said, this possibly could be just what this unit needs to make it less -- perhaps clinical is an appropriate term -- and more musical.
...just looked into your news room, where I saw what is amplifying signals in my system right now here in Germany: That new Eastern Electric integrated!
I feel the M520 is one truly fantastic amp. Thanks so much for introducing me to those Eastern Electrical pieces of aural (and visual) art through your site. Oh, your site...I simply love it. To me, just as UK's printed HIFI Plus, your publication is vibrating with enthusiasm. Great!
All the best,
I just wanted to write and say thank you for putting together a great group of writers and keeping a wonderful review site up and running. Keep up the good work, I really enjoy my visits to your site and actually have faith in your reviewers.
Hope you’ve survived the blanketing here in Taos. My T-bird doesn’t enjoy it as much as my dogs. I wanted to thank you for your hospitality on Sunday evening. Rebekah and I had wonderful time, and I’m still reeling a bit from the mix of wine, conversation and audio. I suppose I was juiced up from your rig. Driving home I thought to myself “...that’s all for $120,000? Yeah, it ripped my heart out but still…”. Since then I’ve been listening to my system and the shop’s system and tinkering with both. More and more I’m noticing what these systems don’t do, as opposed to the sound I remember your Duos producing. It’s odd. Like unto Camus’ un-realizing what you’ve realized.
Speaking of which, I’ve come to realize just how terrific those little nOrhs are. Who’d thunk little blue spaceships could sound so swell? I’ve spent the last few nights putting them through their paces, a testament to their terrificness. They’ve inspired me to dig through my inevitably error-corrected CD collection. Well, they are revealing. From Raekwon’s Only for Cuban Lynx to Modest Mouse’s The Moon and Antarctica, the 4.0s offered a great deal of detail. Then I put on Music in a Bottle and whoa Nellie - there’s the envelope.
The nOrhs do the holographic thing well, but this something I’ve sort of come to expect from mini-monitors, especially those with fairly flush drivers. What was impressive was the depth of field the little guys created, the front-to-back soundstage. On Van Morrisson’s Astral Weeks, cut 5, Van was locked 15ft. behind the speakers. The sound of his voice faint in a way that you strain to hear more; while at the same time the distance leant the emotional earnestness of his singing a certain authenticity by isolating him in recessed space. Nice. I suspect the porting/cabinet shape fosters this effect. The tweeters are crossed over quite high, so much of the upper frequencies spill from the port.
I can’t thank you enough for the nOrhs. I doubt they’ll spend time in my garage anytime soon. Also, let me thank you for sharing such wonderful music with us. My next paycheck will be going to Thierry Robin and Barrio Chino for starters. Music in a Bottle is incredible. It’s somewhat stupefying what a difference recording quality makes. To my neophyte ears, this is probably the best recording quality I’ve ever heard. The difference between the sonics on this disc and my usual “reference” CDs is night and day. Cheers to MA recordings. I’m particularily partial to Buenos Aires Madrigal "Naranjo en Flor", La Segunda "Cuando Silba el Viento" and the Handel. Lovely.
I hope we can see you and Ivette again sometime and I’d love to share some of my favorite music with you, such as Lightenin’ Hopkins, Big Willie Dixon and Mississippi John Hurt. Give Blues a chance. The nice thing is it doesn’t matter how good your system is, most of it will still sound like shit anyways. In a good way, methinks.
Jeremy and Rebekah
|Recently I have been contemplating the purchase of a highly touted, barely obtainable CD player @ about $4K. I was all set to order one and wait an unspecified period of time for delivery from Europe. It turns out that a good friend has this player and I listened to it at his home. I was familiar with his speakers, electronics etc. I was very impressed. However, another friend who I really trust said that I should A/B my humble NAD C521 BEE against the leviathan.
The NAD does not have a detachable power cord and I used a pair of Silver Sonic cables of a previous vintage. Volume levels were carefully adjusted. Player "Z" had the top name power cord and very expensive interconnects. I did not say a word and my friend immediately came out with "wow does that NAD sounds good". After 2 hours of listening, it was almost imposssible to tell which unit was playing if we went from one unit to the next with the push of a button on the remote! Nora Jones was used on both players and started simultaneously. I just saved $4K and we were wondering if the NAD could be modified to take a replaceable cord?
My lesson is, don't be fooled by the hype. I think that I will divert my funds to a better speaker system which I think will have the most impact on the quality of sound in my system. I think that significant changes can be made in vinyl reproduction but not with CD players. Even the most humble players have made giant steps forward.
|6moons' contribution to the Intelligent Chip industry, compliments of our M&H division and available soon between your ears. Be aware though that a certain rewiring may be mandatory for best effects.
Okay - some comments on your recent rambling. I, too, read the recent thread on AA to which you refer in "Zero-Sum Game". The audiophile world was a far smaller, inbred and perhaps demographically more limited world when print zines started publication; and there was no other venue to secure "professional" opinions. Therefore, starting with a far smaller fan base and limited information sources, print writers had a 'captured' public to read their reviews; they had the time, motive and opportunity to become known as the 'go-to' writers when audiophiles sought professional opinions and industry news; print had a veritable monopoly on information.
With the rise/explosion of e-zine journalism, opportunites for cheap publishing and accessing the audiophile community opened exponentially. You accurately describe how easy access can be. Concomitant with the ease of publication came an increasing number of e- reviewers. A few were known from print, most are unknown quantities to the audiophile community. How are these 'newbies" - the progeny of the print generation writers - to "make their bones", to gain star power and most importantly, to gain respect in a far larger and more diffuse information culture?
Where once a reader's choices were severely constrainted by what was published, there are now almost limitless options. Is this a zero sum game? I think not. I do believe that there is a community for each venue with some overlap, but the print world has lost its hegemony over the audiophile community. Audiosites on-line will do best when they find an approach that meets the needs of a particular readership; essentially, the e-world promotes a boutique approach to zines. To the extent zines differentiate themselves in a real way from their comrades in arms, zines will survive if not thrive.
I do believe that the extension/expansion of the audio world is within a chronologically younger and less financially well-off demographic who are developing a high interest in audio but who may not have the financial means to indulge audiophile tastes, which you know tend toward expensive gear. These 'kids' may tend toward the e-world rather than the print world. After all, e-information is plentiful, available and basically free as contrasted with the very much less easily accessed, procured and expensive print world. So, the audio universe expands but with I think a distinct movement towards e-zines. Print journals should be able to maintain their base though it will shrink over time, due to natural causes and shifts towards on-line and perhaps more democratic information sources.
Now, a more interesting question is whether this new audiophile population will either have the financial means or desire to continually dip their fingers into the high-end and often exotic equipment world. Does the trend toward a younger base (and away from a smaller and maybe more financially ripe print base) portend a change in audio acquisition habits? What will this mean for the audio industry and their relationships with the e-zines? Will there be a shakeout over time in the audio industry?
Srajan, why the high level of acrimony in the audiophile world, whether it be over tweaks, dbt, tubes, e-zines and prints? People are at each other's throats. I read the forum in mute disbelief at the petty and mean-spirited postings. Yet, audio people (not just self-described audiophiles), can be enormously generous with advice and understanding of other's lack of knowledge. From this I take heart.
These knock-down and drag-out fights have a surreal if not deja vu feeling of a very old and primitive struggle. In this case, the struggle is to create a unitary audio(phile) orthodoxy free from contradictions and ambiguity.
Thanks again for your 'rambling'. It certainly got me thinking.
John from Boston
First off, I would like to take this opportunity to tell you how much I enjoy your website and e-zine. The purpose for me writing is to share with you my thoughts on the industry article you published today (Zero-Sun Game). As someone who makes turntables, I have thought a lot about the best way to expose my product to the audio community. I believe there will always be a market for quality. I believe in the philosophy from the movie Field of Dreams: "Make it and they will come". But they won't come if they don't know about the quality and craftsmanship behind the product.
So when I thought about gaining media exposure, I came to the conclusion that I wanted to leverage on-line publications like yours. For the reasons you write about, the print media lives and dies by their advertising revenue; and because of that, the (advertising) tail wags the (magazine) dog. If an on-line publication like 6moons reviewed my turntable, I would feel confident that I would get a fair review and my check book (or lack of one) wouldn't affect the review. When I read the reviews of your staff, I know they tell it as they see it and that's all anybody can ask for.
The audiophile e-magazine is the media venue of the 21st century. If you reviewed my turntable, you could publish the results in days, not months. Compare three or four turntable, cables or speakers, call it as you see it. Low overhead allows you to think outside the box and to develop a business model that provides jounalistic control of editorial matters and content. Best of all, it will allow you to look yourself in the mirror everyday and like what you see and still make a good living.
Being lucky is being in the right place at the right time - and realizing it. 6moons is very lucky and I'm sure you realize that!
All the best,
Sound Engineering, LLP
Amen, Bob. We're very fortunate and we definitely know it. I'm grateful every day that I get to work on something I really enjoy rather than dragging my ass to some 9-to-5 that just so happens to pay the bills. The Internet has liberated a lot of folks to work from home, live where they want to and become directors of their own destiny. I was lucky that others gave me a break to learn the ropes and that HTML-writing technology had been simplified enough by the time I needed it to no longer require code-writing skills (which likely would have counted me out). Add a great staff that miraculously came out of the wood works to join me; manufacturers who like to work with us; and readers that tell us they enjoy what we're up to - what more could a silly German ask for? Now it's all about respecting our good fortunes and living up to them and the responsibilities that come with it -:)
I took a fly on the purchase of a Minimax amp and preamp and CD player in part due to your excellent, informative review. Thank you! I liked the sound quality so much, I purchased a second Minimax amp and using the two preouts on the preamp, vertically bi-amped my system. Wow.
The vertically bi-amped Minimax system sounded so good with my PSB Stratus minis that I started researching speakers within a budget of $3K. Reading a review of Audio Note's Zero ECL82 based monoblocks, the reviewer kept coming back to the sound with Focus Audio 688s (list $3190/pr). I did a little more research and took a fly on the just- released Focus 68SEs - very new, very competitive at $2100 list (I could have had a display pair of 688SEs for $2300 but went with the 68SEs as I decided that the 68SE would be more musical for my purpose - explanation omitted for the purpose of this communication).
Long story short, the sound of the 68SEs bi-amped Minimax system is not to be believed. (I was Thiel's #1 salesman once upon a time and I have heard my share of reference systems.) I cannot believe what I am hearing with this combination and the Minimax CDP as source. The last time I experienced chills in audio was listening to vinyl through electrostatics. This system is that good on transients.
The vertically bi-amped Minimax creates an ambient bubble and image above and outside the speakers, female voice typically just forward of the speakers and the back of the sounstage well behind the back wall. No midbass hump with the Focus 68SE either; bass is fast and articulate, with solid, clearly audible in-room bass down to 40Hz - not to be believed. The system achieves clean sound pressure levels well above the theoretical volume limits of the combination and above volumes that the room can support. The listening room is 13' x 16' with a large opening into a larger space and has a gently vaulted ceiling that comes to a 9' 6" peak. It's a small room but I am confident that this system could load a room with double the volume (500sq foot easily, which was the room size of the Audio Note Zero/focus 688 reference.
I think there is a world class story here. I have no association with any of the above equipment. I suspect the Focus Audio 68SE will be a very hot speaker.
Incidentally, my Minimax amps are rectified with Amperex GZ34 brown base. The preamp is rectified with Tungsol 6X4WA with Amperex 12AU7a in the middle socket and RCA 5814 blackplate in the end socket. It doesn't make too much difference on the ECL82 in the amps (relatively speaking) as long as they are reasonably fresh. Interconnects and speaker cables are carefully selected from TARA Labs best offerings of a few years ago and terminated with Cardas. Chang 9600 line filter. My Minimax system is dead quiet at idle. It is only when I place my ear within 1 foot of the drivers that I can detect any noise but it was necessary to eliminate the ground pin on the amplifiers and CDP to eliminate hum.
Again, at $1600 for the pair, I doubt that any amplifier at any price can outperform two Minimax amplifiers bi-amplifed into a pair of good two-way speakers.
6moons is a great read and you may be the best reviewer out there. I haven't been able to put my finger on exactly what makes you different from all the rest - but whatever it is, please don't stop. I own the Caravelle speakers and have loved them now for well over a year. I have the full Starsound System with all the cables, platforms, rack system, amps and all of these parts as soon as they had been introduced.
I am now a dealer for Starsound products. I had been selling audio for other dealers for over 30 years until the last 18 months. I am a believer in resonance transfer function, so much so that I have an end pin for cello and bass adapted to these principles. You spoke of musical instrument break-in in your preview of the Caravelle so I figured you may understand what I am about to tell you - my reaction to this experience was a great rush of excitement.
The new pin makes the cello more reactive, louder, more dynamic, tuneful, extended, coherent and distinct.You hear this right away but after 20 minutes, the whole front face of the cello suddenly lights up into this much larger instrument. Everything is much more focused and all the vibrational patterns come into order, no longer random and confused.
This was all brought to an even brighter spot light when we switched the new pin back for the old one. Instead of sounding slow, fat and ill-defined, it sounded much like my new pin. How could the old pin which suffered much in comparison to the new pin now sound very much the same? The cellist played on with the old pin. As he played on, you could hear the cello slowly change back to its old character. The wood seems to have vibrational characteristics or patterns that are greatly influenced by the pin. These patterns seem to have a life of their own until they are guided in a new direction. What I heard suggests that the wood has a memory and that the pin can fire all the synapses in random disorder or better yet, a pin can guide the synapse to focus and fire in unison. The wood seemed to have a mind of a young child that could be molded and influenced by its most direct environment, in this case the end pin... and it could remember, for at least awhile. That's the short end to my story. So again thanks for the great reads and continued success.
I have to tell ya how much I appreciate your website, your writing style and the whole 6moons concept. I rave to non-audiophiles quite often about checking out the site and especially your reviews and commentary.
Keep up the fantastic work!
New Orleans, La.
|Hi. Please forgive me if this question is ridiculous but I'll ask anyway. I was so impressed with your review of the Minimax/ATH W1000 combo that I bought it. In fact, I even upgraded the Minimax at Underwood HiFi and a special upgrade was also performed on the headphone jack. In addition, I bought some old rare and incredible 7308 tubes for 220 USD.
I am happy with the results with the exception of one area - the lack of soundstage. I was considering adding the MPX from SinglePower to the Minimax to complete my headphone system based on your review of it. Do you tink there would be a worthwhile change for the better over just the Minimax with the ATH W1000s or do you think the improvemen would be minimal?
I would appreciate your advice.
First off, there are no ridiculous questions. Asking is the only way to learn! Okay - soundstaging and headphone listening are an oxymoron if you expect speaker-type results. The reason is simple. With speakers, both ears hear both speakers. Headphones shield one ear from the other and thus undermine parts of the process that creates soundstaging. HeadRoom's cross-feed processor attempts to electronically compensate for that by deliberately leaking a predetermined portion of left-channel info into the right channel and vice versa but it's still nowhere near speaker-based soundstaging. My AKG K-1000, especially when their panels are "winged out" to stick away from your head, provide some natural left-right exchanges, hence they're perhaps the champions of headphone soundstaging but it's still not the same as speaker-based listening. There's nothing you can do about that. It's intrinsic to the headphone experience and one aspect that's distinctly different about it. The only solution if it really bugs you is to concentrate on binaural recordings which are made with a dummy head wherein the microphones are embedded into that head's "ears". This will naturally limit your musical choices but if soundstaging from headphones is a top priority for you, it's the only way I know of -:) Of course, you could also concentrate on what headphones do better than speakers (generally speaking) and you might feel that you're actually coming out well "ahead"...
|Thanks for your excellent online publication. I was wondering what happened to your planned review of Harmonic Precision's Caravelle and the the second opinion on the Gallo Reference 3? I've been patiently waiting for both these. Today I saw they had both disappeared from the upcoming reviews and not turned up in the recent reviews. Did you decide not to publishe the reviews after all?
Not at all. We've simply been delayed on taking possession of the Caravelle review loaner while Gallo's Reference 3 subwoofer amp is awaiting delivery of the final whisper fans and we want to make sure Ken reviews these speakers together with the bass amp. Hence both reviews have been delayed and "to make room", I've temporary taken their announcements down to insert reviews which will launch sooner.
|Dr. Marja and Dr. Henk,
Thank you so much for the kind words about our room in Las Vegas. I really do appreciate it. Since your visit and upon your recommendation, I too have discovered Renaud Garcia-Fons. I picked up his CD Entremundo which my son and I enjoy enormously. I will have to also get Navigatore soon.
All best wishes to you,
|Bravo and thank you to Steve Marsh for posting a review where everything is not golden and both the highlights and liabilities of the product are illuminated. Furthermore, product packaging is a topic that is both undercovered and truly appreciated. Lack of adequate packaging is a serious issue with many products. I have seen several Gallo Reference 3s with a bend in the upper grille brace. This happens when Joe Shipper dutifully stacks on end as the box print demands and then they are knocked over forward the heavy suspended speaker has too much inertia for the brace not to deform. An eighty-pound amplifer or power conditioner requires more than one inch of EPS to avoid intrusion damage.
Keep up the good work and innovative website.