[SoundStage!]Archived Letters
April 1997


April 20, 1997

Hey Doug,

I've been a reader/viewer (whaddaya call the patron of a web-zine?) since the inception of your collective efforts. I have generally found it to be the most faithful (both in terms of publishing schedule and committment to 'high-end' equipment and ancillaries). You're all to be commended for what you've accomplished, including the introduction of new and/or unknown manufacturers (at least to me, i.e., Blue Circle and Clayton) and a wealth of other helpful information and opinions.

I do, however, have a comment on the recent development of the 'co-mingling' of articles and reviews between your publication and Positive Feedback magazine. I suppose to non-subscribers of the latter it would be considered a bonus of sorts. I also understand that from a marketing standpoint it provides increased exposure for both and the potential for a wider audiences.....But, to a subscriber of Positive Feedback, it looks like this cross-pollenation effort is leading to diluted access to infomation/reviews/opinion.

Sure, your web-zine is 'free' and anything via that avenue might be considered a 'bouns'; then again, with more 'bees' traveling between the two 'flowers', why bother with the subscription to PF? (okay, I'm done with the pollen thing now). It just seems to me that I'm getting less new content via SoundStage! since the collaboration, than before.......for what it's worth.

Also, I understand your position of more or less providing primarily favorable comments/reviews from the equipment that is sumbmitted or requested for review and your desire to steer people toward 'high-end' audio, not from it. It would, however, be good to know when you review equipment that fails to meet the criteria generally associated with speciality audio equipment. A published review may not be in order but perhaps a listing/section like "Reviewed but not Approved" might work. Then the reader will at least have that information and can investivate/listen for themselves should they wish.Just a thought.

Otherwise, you guys are performing admirably, and provide an excellent resource for audio addicts everywhere

Warmest Regards,

Ray S.

Hello Ray and thank you for your letter. You bring up some very valid and interesting points that I will try to address here. First off, the Positive Feedback "cross-pollenation." Since you are a subscriber to PF I can see where you fear a "dilution" of material in each magazine. I do not intend for this to be the case whatsoever. Actually, starting next month we will have three new contributors (two of them contribute for PF) that will be supplying new material to SoundStage! We are, by far, the largest Internet based high-end audio web-zine in terms of content and we intend to push it further. Our association with PF is to try and provide each of the magazine's readers (those of SS and PF) with a 'taste' of what they can expect in the other journal. I hope that readers will see in the months to come that our content will grow and will not be affected by our relationship with PF.

Your next point regarding "providing primarily favorable comments/reviews" is one I take seriously and I am glad you have brought it up. A past teacher of mine always said, "if you have a question, no doubt there are many more who do too, but they just are not asking." I have no doubt that there are many skeptics observing us and doubting our intentions. I don't blame them either. After all, trust is very hard and difficult to build, but it is the foundation for long-term survival. Unfortunately, some have labelled us as not 'critical' enough. I gather that to mean that they would like to see us 'slam' some products -- and slam them good too. Would that make us critical? Perhaps, and negative too. I risk sounding like a broken CD when I say that it has always been my intention to find and report on great equipment. And to do that we normally do our homework and research it beforehand. Therefore, when a reader sees a product reviewed in SoundStage!, they can assume it has passed some base criteria.

If anyone wishes to dispute me on this, I set the following as the only guideline -- if you can find a product in SoundStage! that you do not feel is worth any sort of recommendation and that the reviewer was obviously biased on, then please write me and tell me all about it. Feel free to use any language that you feel is suitable. You have my guarantee that I will reprint ALL e-mail that comes with the subject line THE READERS RESPOND without exception (it always has and always will be that way). However, I do not reprint 'personal' e-mail (that is the way 99% of the e-mail to me arrives) unless I ask the sender for permission and it is granted. So please indicate that you want it reprinted.

In closing, thanks for your comments Ray. It is feedback from readers such as yourself that allows us to communicate openly and helps us grow.....DAS

April 20, 1997

Hi Doug,

Just read your report of the Montreal Hi Fi Show. I spotted that both you and John Stafford had good experience with the Focus Audio speakers. As you have mentioned in your report, Focus Audio are very popular in Far East and here in Hong Kong they are highly regarded by almost every magazine that reviews them. I also used Focus Audio speakers myself and fortunately I got a good deal as they were not that famous when I brought mine.

I am interested in knowing which models you had seen at the show. If the 7S is a floor standing mini-tower in piano black, I bet it is a FS-78. Did you hear there flagtank model FS88 before? (FYI, I am using FS-77, a predesesor of the FS-78).

I am very interested to know why they didn't draw attention in North America at all. They have never been mentioned and nobody is carrying them. I believe their FS88 is one of the finest speakers available (if you can solve the placement problem).

Will SoundStage! conduct a review on their speakers in the future?

Thanks for your attention.

...A. Kong

John and I were very impressed with the Focus Audio speakers. This is the third show I have seen (and heard) Focus at and they have always sounded great. Each time they were being shown by Canorus, who I believe is their distributor. There is always great care and attention in their setups. Forgive me, though, because I do not know their model names well enough. Although Focus appear to be speakers of exceptional quality, they do not seem to promote extensively in North America (despite being shown at some major shows), hence my lack of knowledge. From what I understand they are actually a Canadian company. I would love the opportunity to bring them in for SoundStage! review should the opportunity arise...DAS

April 18, 1997

Dear Mr. Schneider,

Just wanted to drop you a note to let you know how totally baffled I am with your VR3 review. Your review makes these speakers "sound" like the next best thing since sliced bread. I've had a pair now for going on 3 weeks and I can't understand all the hype. Being over 500 miles from the nearest dealer (round trip), I accepted an offer to listen with the option of returning. After a 100 hour breakin, wrestling them around my living room, and wrestling with "why don't I enjoy music on these babies like Doug Schneider and the rest of the world" I decided to wave the white flag and trust my ears. This is hard for me because I'm such a conformist. (Call me crazy but most of the gear I've bought over the years has been because of overwhelming good reviews. I've had good success until now.) I keep thinking I'm missing something. Anyway, just can't understand why you would trade in the B&W 803s for the VR3s. In a recent A/B comparison with a friend's 804s I found the B&Ws more enjoyable. And, if it takes a $10k system to make the VRs sing, then they ain't for me.

I love the Stage but for what it's worth, I simply don't agree with you on the VR3s.

...J. Dudley

Thank you for your response. I feel what you did was very important -- you went out and made arrangements to listen to the equipment for yourself. Too many people make the common mistake of reading a review and assuming 'well that's the product for me.' This is a sure-fire method to misery (sonically and financially). I stand behind the VR-3 review. Personally, I like very much was that loudspeaker does and I feel it is tremendous value for the money. However, the fact that you did not like it does not surprise me. People have different systems, different rooms, different component interactions, and ultimately, different tastes. I don't believe there is only ONE right component in a price range that will satisfy everyone and this is a case in point....Thanks....DAS

April 5, 1997

Dear Dave Duvall:

I was just checking over the back reviews on SoundStage! and came across yours on the Audible Illusions L-1 linestage, which I also own. I had some thoughts on tweaking the unit and wondered what your experiences with it might have been since your original article.

I found that changing tubes from the Sovtek 6922 to Amperex Bugle Boy 6DJ8s was a marked improvement. I paid less than thirty dollars for two used BBs and have a new preamp. I have now decided to do some tube rolling with this unit. It seems worth the trouble.

I've gone to the gold pin Seimens 7308, and they also have stepped up the performance level considerably. A much smoother, refined sound with an improvement to air and dimensionality within the soundstage. $40.00 a tube, but worth it. Maybe I'll try those Amperex tubes next go around.

Next I found that vibration control devices helped enomously. I sandwiched the unit between Little Rock and Big Rock on top of a Seismic Sink (better made than the Brightstar Air Mass counterparts). Actually I started with the Little Rock and then added the other items as the effectiveness of the vibration control movement proved itself. The effects were cumulative and nothing but good: easily a component upgrade.

I tried a home brew sand box under mine, but it seemed to dull the overall sound. I've been long term happy with three Iso-bearings under the L-1. Haven't had the scratch to check out any of the Seismic Sinks and whatnot, though I can say I didn't have much personal success with various combinations of innertubes, MDF, cones, or the previously mentioned sandbox. The Iso-bearings seem to provide that neutral sound I'm looking for.

I found the same improvement when I did the same add-ons to my AA DDS Pro transport. I have not tried the vibration control on the DAC or the power supplies of other units, although the turntable and power amps did benefit.

I have home brew sandboxes (with MDF lids, except the amp box which uses a 1/4" tempered glass lid) under the DDS PRO (which then sits on Mod Squad tiptoes), DTI-PRO.32 and V3.0, the Power Purifier (love this box-even for the amp!), and the McCormack DNA-1.

Have you tried the various tube dampers and coolers? What about Marigo dots on the boards, Shakti stones, new power cord? Why not do a followup article and show folks how much better their equipment can be with some add-ons.

It's up to the manufacturers to throw some of that stuff our way for review. Until then I'm probably not going to spend much dough in that direction, as I'm getting a very good level of musicality now. Believe me though, we're getting more and more cooperation from the manufacturers all the time, so you never know?
Doug Blackburn has some of the new tube dampers from 3-M, and I may be getting some to do a follow up with.

Maybe compare a fully tweaked L-1 with preamps selling for the L-1 plus tweaks price. Is it worth spending the money on these tweaks or would the money be better spent on an initially higher priced unit?

Good suggestions.

Anyway, thanks for the original review. Hope you're still enjoying the L-1

Best wishes...Steve

Man, am I ever. Only when one of these expensive tubes starts that crackling, noisy thing do I ever think about anything different. I'm not shopping for anything better, as the L-1 really delivers the goods. Of course, if somehow the brand new Whizbang 9000 shows up from out of the blue, and exclipses the L-1, than one would have to reconsider. Until then, me and the L-1 are making beautiful music together.
Thanks for your letter, and for reading Soundstage!. I'll be reviewing the NEAR 50me II speaker in June, and doing my part for coverage at Hi-Fi '97 in San Francisco. Stay tuned!

...See Ya. Dave

April 2, 1997

Hello Doug,

In my many years as an audiophile I have had subscriptions to almost every audio rag there is, and most only for the one year term, due in large to a lack of good content. I have only known about the SoundStage! for a few months and I am happy to say that you and your team of writers have put together what has become my favorite audio publication. If you guys will keep up the good work I will tell all of my customers, friends, business associates and complete strangers to check out the SoundStage! on the Web.


Steve Lyde
The Music Shop

PS The articles about Paradise are fantastic, maybe I can write one foryou about "Life as an Audio Dealer in the Middle of Nowhere!!!"


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