[SoundStage!]Archived Letters
April 2006


"It’s the sound that we love"

April 26, 2006


Regarding this month's editorial, "Millions of iPod Owners," well said for the most part. One bone of contention: that Saturn owners are less appreciative of the "driving experience" than Mercedes owners. Don’t forget, there are thousands of Saturn owners who would love to drive a Mercedes but can’t afford one. When their ships come in, they probably will. However, they will also still listen to an iPod rather than buy Wilsons. If I could have built a Jaguar piece by piece, over several years like I did my stereo, instead of dropping $60,000 all at once, I might have one. But I can only have one or the other, so I drive a Volkswagen. Do wine connoisseurs believe that the wine industry will benefit from people being educated on the pleasures of Chateau Margaux over Sutter Home? Maybe some Sutter Home drinkers will switch when they get rich, especially when company comes over. But most will never understand the reasons for fine wine no matter how much they drink.

The fact that so many rich musicians listen to music on mid-fi equipment should say something to the high end. But they have refused to listen to this for years. Also, the fact that the hobby is 99% male is very, very important. Women like music, too. But what we’ve got is an equipment fetish (quite male), no matter how much we like to talk about our love of music. Music can be enjoyed on anything. It’s the sound that we love.

Sal D'Agostino

VPI, Linn, Thorens, or...?

April 24, 2006

To Vade Forrester,

I want to get back into analog (I’m 46) and I’ve read great things about the VPI turntable family. Then I saw your review of the Thorens TD 2010. If it sounds as good as the comparable VPIs or the Linn LP12, I think I’ll get it because it looks way cool.

What do you think of the Thorens TD 2010 compared to the VPI Scout or Scoutmaster, or the Linn LP12?

David Rabalais

It's good to hear you've renewed your interest in vinyl. I haven't personally tried the VPI turntables, but I thought my Linn LP12 was better-sounding than the Thorens TD 2010. That's hardly fair, though; the Linn and Graham tonearm I use cost over $8400 compared to the Thorens' $2500. VPI has received good reviews for almost all its turntables, including rave reviews for several models, so I suspect they would merit further investigation. A friend has a VPI Scoutmaster, which he really likes. Some VPI models are priced at or below the Thorens' price. At its price, the Thorens TD 2010 is a good value; however, I'd also want to hear the latest Pro-Ject 'tables and tonearms before I bought the Thorens. They have several models with acrylic plinths (bases) like the Thorens, and some of the top models have a carbon-fiber tonearm that is quite nice at the price. I think the most expensive Pro-Ject turntable is around $1500, so the savings over the Thorens would pay for a nice cartridge. We've reviewed a couple of Pro-Ject turntables, including the Xperience recently....Vade Forrester

"'Premium' power cords"

April 19, 2006


There is no question that "premium" power cords like those from Shunyata Research change the sound of components. In my experience, the changes are consistently positive if listening is limited only to a few audiophile selections. Furthermore, coupling complex power cords with AC-line conditioners (such as the Hydras, which functionally consist of a couple of noise-reduction caps across AC outlets installed in a mostly empty box) further complicates the picture.

You have the privilege of using some of the finest audio equipment available. It's highly unlikely that the talented designers of the circuits optimized their performance for Shunyata, Nordost, DH Labs, etc. AC cords. Do yourself, and the readers of your e-mag, a favor and listen to your system with the power cords that the manufacturers used in designing the equipment. I think you will find yourself finally listening to music rather than to the system.

And by the way, Shunyata is not the first to use the braided power-cord design. Kimber used braided conductors in AC cords that they marketed more than a decade ago.

Ken Adams

I have listened to all of my equipment with its stock power cords. Audio Research, for instance, sends along a power cord with its products that it considers to offer very good sound, so it would be poor reviewing methodology to ignore this.

I do think you overlook one important point in your message. While it is the case the electronics manufacturers don't design their products for use with AC cords (or interconnects and speaker cables) from any one company, they do design their equipment to sound its best with good clean AC, and this is what good after-market power cords provide. I don't find that my system sounds better with power cords from, say, Shunyata Research only with "audiophile" recordings. The improvements are not dependent on the recording. If they were, I would mention this....Marc Mickelson

Aurum Acoustics review?

April 17, 2006

To Doug Schneider,

I had heard that you will be doing a review of the complete Aurum Acoustics system. I am currently considering the purchase of the Integris CDP and was wondering if you had any quick impressions of the unit. I understand that you may not even have the system yet, but I had to ask.

Troy Richards

You heard right! I do have the system -- it was brought to my house right after the Montreal Son & Image show -- and I’ll be doing reviews of the various components of it, the Integris CDP, which is a CD player-preamplifier, and the Integris Active 300B speaker system.

It’s too early to say too much other than that their performance is certainly at a high level. One thing I can point out has to do with the CDP. Most people think of this as a CD player only, or, perhaps, a CD player with some preamplifier functionality. In fact, I did until I got the unit. As well, that’s more or less what you’ll glean from Mike Silverton’s otherwise good review on Ultra Audio. Mike only uses a single source: the Integris CDP straight into his amps, with nothing else connected to the CDP. I now think of the Integris CDP as a full-fledged preamplifier that also happens to be a fine CD player. It’s a well-thought-out front-end component that you can use with your other components. I am in the middle of comparing the CDP’s playback capability to other digital sources connected to the Integris CDP, either through its single-ended or balanced inputs; you can fine-tune the level of each input separately to level-match sources. Therefore, anyone using the CDP will want to exploit its capabilities, using it as the complete front-end and not, say, running it as a CD player only through another company’s preamplifier....Doug Schneider

Sonus Faber review?

April 11, 2006


Thank you for the fabulous in-depth review of the Audio Research Reference 3. People like you are a blessing to guys like me. May I ask you, any chance of a Sonus Faber Stradivari Homage, Amati Anniversario or Guarneri Memento review in the near future?

Keep up the good work.

Jocy Varkey

Here in the US, Sonus Faber speakers are distributed by Sumiko, a company with which we have no relationship. This doesn't mean that we'll never review a Sonus Faber speaker. However, in the near future, we probably won't....Marc Mickelson

Ascend or Energy?

April 10, 2006

To Doug Schneider,

I enjoyed your review of the Ascend CBM-170. Before reading it I was very close to purchasing a pair of Energy Connoisseur C-3s. These speakers will be used for 100% music and will be accompanied by a subwoofer. Which would you recommend?

Brandon Haight

Both are outstanding speakers, but there’s a hitch: both are not available in the form I reviewed them. Ascend’s CBM-170 has been upgraded to the CBM-170 SE, and the Connoisseur line has been discontinued in favor of two new Energy lines: Reference Connoisseur and C-Series. I’ve heard the new RC-10 from Energy, and found it outstanding, but I haven’t yet reviewed anything in the C-Series or Ascend’s new CBM-170 SE. Therefore, the most help I can give is to say that the original speakers I reviewed were both excellent, and I can’t recommend one or the other since it’s going to have to be your ears that decide. However, what I would also like to say is to seek out these new speakers if you can because I have yet to hear a bad speaker from either of these companies, and undoubtedly one or both of them will likely suit you well....Doug Schneider

"Would a new turntable really make that much of a difference?"

April 6, 2006

To Jason Thorpe,

I have a great old SLP-10 linear-tracking turntable from Technics that I purchased years ago. I have a good Ortofon moving-magnet cartridge. I have never stopped listening to my record collection. However, not to take up more of your valuable time, my question is: Would a new turntable really make that much of a difference? Say, something like the Pro-Ject Xperience? Some folks in the local audio stores seem to think so. I am skeptical. I have a BAT VK3i with phono section and some Magnepan MG1.6/QRs pushed by a Musical Fidelity 120Wpc amp. My records sound great -- dare I say, as good or better than some of my CDs. In your opinion, has technology changed so much that replacing my faithful companion with a new 'table would be worth the effort?

Thanks for your time. I really enjoy the pages from SoundStage! Keep up the great work.

Charles Rumpf

I'm not familiar with the SLP-10, but if it's a linear tracker and not the SP-10 (which is a really good 'table), then you really should upgrade, as the Pro-Ject Xperience, for instance, will simply smoke that thing. If it's the SL-10, then that goes double.

I can pretty much guarantee that any decent new 'table will make a dramatic difference. Considering the high quality of the rest of your system, changing 'tables will give you astonishing bang for the buck....Jason Thorpe

"...I'll look up your opinions with alacrity."

April 2, 2006

To Doug Schneider,

Your review of the Axiom Audio Millennia M3Ti put me over the top. I recently purchased a pair to replace my aging Bose 301s. My final three choices were the Axioms, B&Ws (DM303) and Celestions (F15); my price range (unfortunately) was limited to $300; still have to replace the brakes on my son's car.

When I go to upgrade my receiver, DVD/CD player and amp I'll look up your opinions with alacrity.

Rich DeVries


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