SoundStage! Feedback: February 1999

February 23, 1999

To the Editor:

I believe in giving credit where it's due. In the case of high-end audio
it's far too easy to drop big bucks on expensive equipment only to discover
the dealer or manufacturer is nowhere to be found when trouble arises. They
wine you, dine you, and drop you off at the door without a hint of something

That's why I'm pleased to report the astounding level of service I've
received from Roger Sanders the designer of the new InnerSound Eros
electrostatic loudspeaker. This is the same 'stat that Frank Alles rightly
praised in a recent review in SoundStage!. In all honesty, these babies will
play louder, cleaner and more accurately than any other electrostat I've had
the pleasure to own. Also, the ability to locate instruments within the
soundstage is unrivalled in what I've heard in speakers under $5k. (I
admit, I'm addicted to the openness and quickness of the 'stat sound and
find it nigh impossible to get the same performance out of a box).

The Eros made my former Martin-Logan Aerius sound like toy speakers by
comparison. In particular, the midrange on the Aerius, though remarkably
natural, seemed hopelessly colored by comparison to the InnerSound. Kick in the bass amp and active crossover unit included with the Eros and you begin to wonder how Sanders and company can make any money on these things.

Yet all was not well in audiophile heaven. Turns out I had an early production model that exhibited some unwanted resonances in the transmission line bass modules. Nothing serious, and InnerSound reports the problem has been entirely ironed out. Still, it was nothing I wanted to put up with long-term.

Enter Roger Sanders. This is the electrostat guru who is literally one of
the pioneers of modern electrostatic speaker design. Roger worked with me
directly and painstakingly to help deal with my cranky Eros. (Sort of like
Walter Chrysler calling you on the phone with instructions on how to fix
your minivan). The level of time, care and commitment that Sanders
displayed in making the Eros right is unparalled in the 20 years I've been
fooling with the high-end. Sure, it's expected by the consumer at this
level that you'll received dedicated service. But in my experience it's no

This made my time working with InnerSound on my Eros speakers beyond
professional; it was personal. The kind of service that wins loyal converts
for a long time. In a world of throwaway objects, b-stock and gray-market
goods, it's reassuring to know some people stand fully behind what they
build. Sanders and InnerSound are just that. If you're in the market for
speakers, I unhesitatingly recommend them to you.

...Paul A. Basinski

February 20, 1999

How about reviewing (in order of priority):

1. Acurus Act3

2. Proceed AVP

3. Sunfire Grand Cinema amplifier

4. Marantz MA-500 and MA-700 Amplifiers

5. HSU subwoofers

6. Legacy speakers.

A great online magazine!


...Danny Dalal

February 12, 1999

To: Marc Mickelson

Knowing that you are a fan of "the master," Bob Dylan, I was surprised to read your thoughts on Time Out of Mind; A record to die from? Admittedly, some of the hype was somewhat overdone on this one, but there
are a few cuts that are truly excellent, in fact, some of his best work in recent years. "Trying to Get to Heaven" and "Not Dark Yet" are extraordinary, rich in metaphor and symbolism.

So...why were you so negative on this one? Yes, Daniel Lanois is heavy-handed, but despite him, this album is uniformly good. I, too, go way back with Dylan; I first saw him in the coffee houses in the Village; since then, he has been a part of our family; my two sons were weaned on Dylan. Let's hope he continues to be vital.

...Lawrence Rodkin

Hi Larry: First, I'm glad to hear from someone who also admires Dylan the way I do. I picked Time Out of Mind for a R2D4 not because it's awful but because it's way overrated in my opinion. I still dislike Daniel Lanois' heavy-handed production (he was much more unobtrusive on Oh Mercy).

I think there were two ways to handle the material on Time Out of Mind, which I agree is good at its core: Let people like Tchad Blake/Mitchell Froom caress it into a world of its own (with DYLAN at the center) or minimalize it to just good playing in the service of great music. I bet this would have happened if Dylan hadn't recorded his back-to-back "unplugged" discs (Good As I Been to You, World Gone Wrong). In any case, although Time Out of Mind doesn't belong with Dylan's masterpieces (Highway 61 Revisited, Blonde on Blonde, and Blood on the Tracks) or near masterpieces (including John Wesley Harding, Nashville Skyline, Infidels, The Basement Tapes, and others), it's still better than almost anything by anyone else--which is why we call him "the master."

...Marc Mickelson

February 12, 1999

I am very interested in the Shun Mook Belle Voce speakers, but as you  probably know they are difficult to find. I've actually listened to them and found they were the most beautiful sounding speakers I've ever heard - from the midrange up.

Since some of your SoundStage! crew heard both the Signature and the Reference version of the Belle Voces, could you tell me what, if any,  difference you heard between the two?

Also, in my brief session with the Belle Voces I felt the bass region  sounded somewhat boxy and over-emphasized? Did you percieve this in hearing them at the show? (Someone I know who heard them said just the opposite - that he'd rarely heard such control and pitch definition before from a speaker).

I spoke to the Shun Mook fellows. They said they were going to send you a pair to review. Is this true?

Much Thanks.

...Rich Harkness

Thanks for writing. I was very impressed with the Bella Voce Signature and Reference speakers at the CES, and yes, Shun Mook is sending the Reference speakers for review in SoundStage!

In all honesty, the differences between the Signature and Reference speakers were hard to discern--too many unknown components in use, including the speakers themselves. The Reference speakers sounded very good down low driven by Lamm ML2 monoblocks. The Signatures, driven by Wavelength amps, were played at a lower level, but I detected nothing out of the ordinary from what I heard.

If it seems plausible, we will look into a follow-up review of the Signature model of the speakers too...Marc Mickelson

February 11, 1999

Is there an approximate date we can expect the Totem Arro review?

I've heard 'em, I like 'em.

I'm hedging on the purchase of a pair at a very reasonable price and would like a second opinion before I make the plunge.

Cheers, and keep up the awesome work guys!


We expect the Totem Arro review by Todd Warnke to be online either in March or April 1 at the very latest...DAS 

February 10, 1999

To: Doug Schneider

I am aware from some prior correspondence, as well as reading and seeing comments from other sources, how helpful and unselfish you are; and that you are indeed a rare gentleman in every sense of the word.

In much that same spirit, I find your Dealers Online classifieds to be high in potential; and, at least at this point in time, below par in actual delivery. And the fault is not yours; rather it lies with the failure of the participating dealers to maintain the timeliness of their information. There are far too many ad postings that are 6 to 10 months old. If some of the dealers do not take this resource seriously, then it only hurts those dealers who are motivated because it undermines the usefulness of the overall effort.

I read and patronize your website continually; and as a gesture of support and respect, follow the links to many of your advertisers. I admire you for what you are attempting to do and I would suggest that your less "mature" dealers be encouraged to treat their potential customers with the same attitude of caring and concern that is so evident in your personal actions and behavior.


February 8, 1999

Did you post the date and location of the Montreal Festival du son...? Is their web site up again this year?

...Rich Becker

The date of  the annual show in Montreal is March 19 through 21, 1999.  Once again it will be held downtown at the Delta Montreal and we will have  a full team covering it.  Their web-site is up at Schneider

February 4, 1999

I think I speak for most of the guys (any gals?) posting to this board that a  discussion group dedicated to all things analog/vinyl was a long time coming, and who better to implement it than SoundStage!? My hope is that a group like those currently involved who seem interested in sharing ideas, opinions and experiences relating to vinyl doesn't somehow degenerate into another Audio Review-type flamefest, where one has to search long and hard for a relevant and topical exchange of info between the name calling and incessant digressions. My fingers remain crossed. (BTW -- 2 months in a row with no
Vinyl Word submission from you guys? You definitely picked the right time to start up a vinyl discussion group, if anything just to hold us over!)

...Stephen May
from Talk Online - Vinyl Forum

February 2, 1999

To: Doug Blackburn

I just LOVE your reviews and column on SoundStage! as well as your Talk Online posts and articles in Positive Feedback magazine - a lot of what you've written has really "turned my head around." I'm reminded of that old Firesign Theater title, "Everything You Know is Wrong" (meaning, uh, ME).

One problem this month, though - I can't seem to PRINT OUT your column here at the Public Library as I was successfully able to do in the past, and with this month's excellent "Synergizing" column. Could you or the SoundStage! webmaster fix this, please? Reading it off the screen takes a rather large chunk of the 1/2 hr. increments I get here at the library, and I want to be able to refer back, too.

...Bob Casner

You are likely having trouble printing the page because it is now presented in an HTML 'frame.'  The way to overcome this is to use a browser that supports printing from a specific 'frame' window...Doug Schneider