Saving for Sub 2

February 28, 2010


I just wanted to thank you for a great review of the Paradigm Reference Signature Sub 2. This is one of the clearest reviews of audio equipment I’ve ever read. Excuse me while I go save up $7499 for my next subwoofer. Thank you.

Jesse Goodier

Setting up a computer-based music system from A to Z

February 25, 2010

To Doug Schneider,

I have been an avid SoundStage! reader for, well, since you began. Here is my situation, which is being described for your consideration as a possible future SoundStage! article.

I have a system that includes a Wadia CD player (brand not important) with digital inputs. (No USB input, but I think a converter will be available if it isn’t already.) What I would like to do is:

  • Move to a server-based music system (laptop) that utilizes the Wadia’s (or any brand) digital inputs.
  • Understand the best way to rip existing CDs to the laptop (best meaning the the best fidelity, not ease of ripping).
  • Be able to also import high-resolution files up to 24/96 for playback.
  • Run an app on the laptop that provides access to the entire library (including user-friendly interface to the library).
  • Possibly utilize an app that provides the user interface via a Bluetooth link to something like an older HP iPAQ (dime a dozen and would make a great remote control!). This way the laptop (server) could stay out of sight, and the iPAQ would be on the coffee table ready to queue up anything in the library.

What I would like to know before I start the journey: Would the CD-quality playback be better than my Wadia 681SE spinning the same disc ripped to the computer? If not better, would it be at least equivalent? Would playback of a top-quality 24/96 file be better than anything I have heard from the Wadia spinning a CD?

I must admit that I have not relentlessly pursued a solution, or done extensive research, as my other audiophile buddies tell me that there are just too many options, and there are decisions that must be made. I would assume that there are many audiophiles out there who are in the same boat as I am. So, I stay content in loading a CD into the Wadia and pressing Play.

I might also add that if I will get no jump in audio quality, then the journey is not worth it to me right now. Well, that’s my 2 cents for a future article, or possibly a series of articles.

Keep up the good work!



Your suggestion is a good one. Since I wrote the article, I’ve received numerous e-mails from readers wanting far more detail about how to set up a computer-based digital front end. Unlike a CD player, or even a transport and a DAC, it’s far trickier to get a system like you propose set up and ensure you’re getting the best performance from it. Rest assured, you will see more articles about this coming. . . . Doug Schneider

Belles Statement SA-30 versus . . .

February 19, 2010

To Vade Forrester,

How would you compare the Belles Statement SA-30 amplifier against another 30Wpc class-A amplifier, the Accuphase A30?

Brian Breslin 

I've been curious about the same thing: how the Belles SA-30 compares to other class-A amps. Unfortunately, I've never heard the Accuphase A30, so I couldn't venture a guess as to how it sounds. I'm scheduled to get a 35Wpc Musical Fidelity AMS 35i to review. It was just reviewed in Stereophile, but until I hear it in my system, I can't say how it sounds. We’ve inquired about a Luxman M600A, a 30Wpc amp, but haven't heard anything from them. . . . Vade Forrester

Benchmark better than Audio Note?

February 15, 2010

To Colin Smith,

I just read your December 2008 review of the Audio Note Kits DAC 2.1 on SoundStage! and you mentioned the Benchmark DAC1 Pre in it. What I am wondering is whether or not you think the Benchmark is the better DAC. I already have a Kit 1 300B amp which is great and an Audio Note preamp that still needs to be built. Any thoughts would be appreciated. Currently I am listening to digital via a Raysonic CD128 player.



I've listened to an Audio Note Kits DAC and a Kit 1 pairing dozens of times and was never less than enthralled with the sound. But there are some fundamental differences between the DAC Kit and the Benchmark DAC1 Pre I reviewed that bear consideration. Foremost is a completely divergent design philosophy. The DAC Kit is about as minimalist as a DAC can be, with the last couple of design enhancements being the elimination of circuitry and parts judged unnecessary upon further reflection. Audio Note is at its core an analog company and so the DAC Kit has always been designed to sound as vinyl-like as possible. The Benchmark is at the opposite pole: it embraces the latest in DAC chip technology and upsampling and proceeds on the belief that digital audio doesn't have to sound like something else to be worthwhile. I am confident that you would find either DAC to be more than satisfying, but if you already like what the Kit 1 is doing for you, the DAC Kit is a can't-go-wrong proposition. . . . Colin Smith

Thiel and B&W

February 10, 2010

To Randall Smith,

I read and enjoyed your review of the B&W 684s and I liked how you compared your perception of the 684s to my client’s product, the Thiel CS1.6. I remember well that Jim Thiel would often speak favorably about B&W’s designs and I know there was a general level of respect there. If I could have found any detail that you might have overlooked, it would have been to mention that the 684’s three-year warranty is just a bit shy of the Thiel’s ten-year coverage. Beyond that, the write-up is a gem. Thiel will have some new products in the not-too-distant future -- can’t wait to share with everyone at SoundStage!

Best wishes,

Micah Sheveloff

Thanks for the kind words concerning the review. I only met Jim once, at the Consumer Electronics Show a few years back, but he was a very nice man. He and his work will be greatly missed. I also had the opportunity to review a pair of Thiel CS1.6 speakers a few years back. The speakers sounded great and were extremely well built and designed. . . . Randall Smith

Besides Dynaudio

February 5, 2010

To Doug Schneider,

I've been a Dynaudio fan for as long as I've been in audio. I started with the lowly Audience series and worked my way up to the higher models like the Confidence series. I absolutely love the brand and don't ever plan on being without my Dynaudio Confidence C2 speakers.

However, ten years is a pretty long time and lately I've been wondering what else is out there. More specifically, what other sound is out there. Can you recommend a few speakers with a different house sound than Dynaudio that you appreciate as well?


Terrence Yu

I, too, like the Dynaudio sound, at least of the models I've heard. In general, I found all I've listened to quite neutral sounding and without any significant flaws. I've found other speakers I like better for other reasons, but I can't point to any one thing that the Dynaudio models I've listened to have done wrong. This translates to long-term listening enjoyment, which is why I suspect you've owned their speakers for so long and will continue to do so.

As far as recommending speakers that don't have the same sound, that includes basically every other brand. Speakers, more than any other components, vary the most from model to model and brand to brand. They all sound at least a little bit different. What I will recommend are the brands I particularly like and think are worth looking into: Revel, Paradigm, Aperion, PSB, Magico, Verity, Mirage, Ascendo, Axiom, Focus, Rockport Technologies, Anthony Gallo Acoustics, and Reference 3A. I've probably left some out, but that should give you a good start. . . . Doug Schneider

NAD C 565BEE versus Oppo BDP-83

February 3, 2010

To Doug Schneider,

Thanks Doug for the enthusiastic review of the NAD C 565BEE CD player. What a nice surprise!

Your comparison of the NAD to the Simaudio player demonstrated the unexpected quality level of the NAD. However, since the Simaudio, or anything near its price range, isn't in the cards for many of us, I wonder how the NAD would compare to the Oppo Digital BDP-83 Blu-ray Disc player for two-channel playback? I noticed it was reviewed in SoundStage!'s sister site, Home Theater & Sound, but that review mostly focused on its video playback.

I already have a BDP-83 that is tied up in my TV arrangement, and not my dedicated two-channel music system. I'm looking for a new CD player, and was considering buying another Oppo BDP-83, just to play CDs from my large collection. I don't own a single SACD, which it will play, but it is $300 cheaper. All things being equal, including cost, I'm guessing you'd rank the NAD ahead of the Oppo for CD playback. Would you?


Bill Thomas

I don't have a BDP-83 here, so I wouldn't want to even guess how it would perform, even though some reviewers might be tempted to do that. In my opinion, you need to have it in your system and listen very carefully with familiar material to really know. However, if I were to do that, I'd probably compare the NAD to Oppo's new BDP-83 SE, which purports to have the same video section, but improved audio circuitry. From the sounds of it, it seems that Oppo knew that they could improve upon the base BDP-83's audio performance. Its price is $899, which makes it a touch more expensive than the NAD C 565BEE, but it plays every kind of disc, including SACD and DVD-A, and has 5.1- and 7.1-channel analog outputs. Unfortunately, I don't have that one here, nor am I slated to get it -- another reviewer is. The best I can do is point you in that direction and invite you to write me back if you have the chance to listen to the NAD and Oppo together in your own system to tell me how it turned out. . . . Doug Schneider