[SoundStage!]Archived Letters
December 2006


More integrateds for review

December 29, 2006

To Philip Beaudette,

Having just read your review of the Flying Mole CA-S10 integrated amp, I would like to nominate some others for review in this high-performance-to-cost category. I have been trying to locate a review of the Bel Canto S300i. Also how about the NuForce IA7?

Jon Morstad

Thanks for your suggestion regarding the Bel Canto S300i and NuForce IA7. I've not heard either of these integrated amps, but I would certainly enjoy hearing and writing about them. We will look into getting both of them and with any luck you may see reviews sometime in 2007.

The Flying Mole CA-S10 was a bit of a revelation for me in that it did some things so well that I imagine it would be difficult to better it at any price. Specifically I am referring to the refinement and poise of its sound in conjunction with the fact it produced the tightest, most disciplined bass I've encountered yet. Bel Canto and NuForce are both highly respected manufacturers as well, and I would love to hear how their designs compare with Flying Mole's. When I know you'll know....Philip Beaudette

NAD C372 a match?

December 22, 2006

To Philip Beaudette,

I recently bought a pair of JBL 4311B monitor speakers. I am a music lover, but I cannot describe myself as an audiophile, so I don't have the necessary audio equipment to enjoy these speakers. I have read your review of NAD C372 integrated amp, and I was wondering if this amplifier would match with the speakers or if there is another integrated amplifier below $1000 that would do a better job.

Victor Gago

First off, I have no experience with the JBL 4311B monitors you own. However, I searched online and found that JBL reports their sensitivity as 91dB and their impedance as 8 ohms. In combination with the fact they are designed to be used with a continuous 75Wpc, I would say the NAD C372 would be a suitable match in the sense that you will easily have enough power (by our measurements, the C372 puts out over 180Wpc into both an 8-ohm and 4-ohm load). In fact, unless your listening room is huge, I think the NAD C352 (80Wpc) should easily drive your JBLs to louder SPLs than you'll ever listen. The point is that the JBL speakers provide an easy load, so I don't think you'll need to worry about powering them with a massive amplifier. The money you save on a slightly less powerful amp could then be used on a CD player (NAD makes nice CD players as well). If it's big, powerful sound you're after, I think the NAD C372 will work for you....Philip Beaudette

"Sounds like a heck of a good Christmas present"

December 18, 2006

To Doug Schneider,

I've been a longtime lurker of SoundStage!, and I would like to thank you personally for the quality and content you've put into audio reviews. As a result, I was able to pick up a Stello DA220 DAC about two months ago for a great price. I was unaware that a Mk II version is out, but I wanted to ask if you listened to the original and the Mk II side by side. I am planning on buying a DA220 for my father for Christmas, and I would like to know if the original DA220 is a sufficient upgrade over the original in regard to sound quality.

Matthew Williams

I’ve not been able to listen to both DACs side by side as critically as I would have liked to yet -- too many other reviews in the queue. That, though, will come soon. However, I have listened to both some and they’re very similar sonically, as one might expect given that the Mk II is just a version upgrade of the same model. Therefore, any differences I doubt will be vast. The biggest difference I see right now is the Mk II’s inclusion of a USB port, which may or may not be important to you. Therefore, key decisions will come down to price and availability. If they’re roughly the same price and you can get either unit, I’d go with the Mk II simply because it’s newer and, presumably, improved to some degree. On the other hand, I still use the original DA220 daily, and it’s a fabulous DAC. I can’t imagine your father being unhappy with it if you go that way. Sounds like a heck of a good Christmas present….Doug Schneider

Amphion Argon2 advice

December 12, 2006

To Doug Schneider,

I read your review of Amphion's Argon2. I found it very helpful. I am looking for some advice on my next minimonitor purchase. Like you, I am a huge fan of minimonitor loudspeakers. With so many manufacturers making them and most of them well done, I am at a loss as to what to chose. I am leaning toward the aforementioned Argon2, but I have not ruled out B&W 805s or Legacy's new Studio i. Can I impose on you to give me some advice in choosing?

Mike Brown

It’s been some time since I reviewed the Argon2 (early 2002), but I still get a lot of e-mail about it. The reason for this is that it’s a darned good little speaker, although I’m told by the company that the Argon2 models being sold today differ from the ones I reviewed. Supposedly, they’ve been tweaked a tad bit and are even better; however, I’ve never heard the newest ones, though, so I don’t know for sure. Still, I’d certainly recommend checking the Argon2 out. I have a lot of admiration for what Amphion is doing.

I haven’t heard the B&W or Legacy speakers you mention. However, I have heard plenty of other good small speakers. Other similarly priced speakers I’d recommend listening to are the ACI Sapphire XL, Focus Audio FS68SE, and, especially, the Paradigm Reference Signature S2. These are all quite special in their own ways, and very reasonably priced given the performance they offer...Doug Schneider

"Yes, it may be impossible to overload the PH5, but not the preamp that comes next."

December 8, 2006

To Vade Forrester,

Being an owner of an Audio Research PH5, I can say from extensive experience that I agree with your assessment of its performance. It replaced a modified, and tube-rolled EAR 834p, and the PH5 is in a different league. However, there is something in your review that can be misleading, as it leaves something important unsaid. You quote from ARC:

"It is impossible to overload the PH5 with any MM cartridge on the market today. The output of MMs at the higher-output end of the scale (like some Grados, Shures, and Sumikos) is 4-5mV, whereas the maximum input of the PH5 is 70mV RMS (at 1kHz)! So, overload of the PH5 is simply not going to happen with a high-output MM cartridge."

Yes, it may be impossible to overload the PH5, but not the preamp that comes next. I have a Dynavector 20XH cartridge, which puts out about 2.8mV. That value is only for a standard modulation velocity, and records are typically cut so that this and similar high-output cartridges can put out signals in the 10-20 mV range for loud signals. That means the PH5 will put out signals over 10 volts in loud passages, which will overload just about any preamp on the market. Nowhere on ARC's website do they warn you of this, and I found out the hard way; my system just sounded poor on loud passages. When I called them up, they quickly admitted that the PH5 had too much gain for high-output cartridges with respect to preamp overload, and sold me a mod kit to drop the gain to about 45dB. This mod required the removing and soldering of resistors in a way that wasn't very simple, and if I hadn't been experienced in these matters, I would have found it extremely challenging.

My point is that the PH5 cannot be used as is with high output cartridges unless you have a preamp than can accept very high input voltages. I feel that either ARC should warn you of this on their website or at least in the manual, or they should provide adjustable gain. If they provide adjustable load by remote control, I would think a provision for adjustable gain shouldn't be too hard.

Once adjusted, the PH5's performance is wonderful. But since I purchased mine, I have heard of two other people who ran into the same problem. Both of them purchased a new low-output cartridge as the solution.

Joe Miller

Thanks for sharing your experiences with the PH5. I did mention that when I hooked up an MM cartridge, the PH5's output was quite loud, though I didn't speculate on possible overloading of the line stage or integrated amp. My line stage didn't have an overload problem, but I'm not surprised that some will. I wish I had thought of that when I wrote the review. Oh, well, I must be human. Thanks for calling this potential problem to my attention....Vade Forrester

Audio Research Reference reviews?

December 4, 2006


Are you ever going to review the Audio Research Reference CD7 CD player? And when can we expect a review of the ARC Reference 110 stereo power amp?

Ian Shaw

You won't see a Reference CD7 review from me. I bought the unit I have, and up-front ownership has the potential to skew one's perspective. However, you very well may see a Reference CD7 review from another writer, either on SoundStage! or Ultra Audio. I may even write a sidebar to that review.

Regarding the Reference 110, we will be publishing a review of it sometime in early 2007, likely with measurements....Marc Mickelson


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