SoundStage! Feedback: April 2000

April 27, 2000

To Doug Schneider,

Would you consider the Wyetech Topaz as a Reviewers' Choice amp? If not, why and what would you consider to be a Reviewers' Choice amp? What speakers would you recommend using with the Topaz? Do you have a recommendation on cables? Thanks  for your help.

...Mark Badia

The Topaz was indeed considered for a Reviewers' Choice designation. Before I explain exactly why, first let me explain the selection criteria. A Reviewers' Choice product is one that exhibits true state-of-the-art performance regardless of price and/or exhibits outstanding price/performance value. With a price of around $10,000, the Topaz, like many other very expensive products, is tough to declare as high value. This is particularly true of amplifiers with restricted power output capability. On the other hand, the Topaz is, most certainly, a truly outstanding amplifier. If it is not the best amplifier of its type, it sits among what can be considered the best. In my system, using Nirvana Audio cables (which work splendidly with most single-ended tube amps) and the Cliffhanger Audio CHS-2/W-2 speakers, I had achieved some of the best sound ever in my room. That said, I could not still say with full confidence that this is simply the best amplifier in its class, as Marc Mickelson declared with the much more expensive Lamm ML2 mono amplifiers. That should not dissuade you from considering this amplifier, mind you. In my experience it is outstanding and many will find it worth every penny.

As well, it is worth noting that Marc Mickelson is scheduled to receive the 23Wpc version of the Topaz later this year and will be able to give a more direct comparison, not only with the Lamms, but with other amplifiers he has on hand as well....Doug Schneider

April 26, 2000

To Doug Schneider,

First off, thanks for all your informative reviews. I find your content to be far more accurate (i.e., less biased) than the like in Stereophile. I find that, along with, SoundStage! is the only place I look for equipment reports.

I remember reading that you (or one of your colleagues) was particularly fond of the ACI Sapphires (I assume it's you as you are Mr. Monitor!). I am wondering if you've reviewed the ACI Jaguars or Jaguar 2000s, or if you have any published reviews for these three ACI products.

Needless to say I am looking for a monitor to match with my Conrad-Johnson separates (PF2L preamp feeding an MF 2100 amp -- 100Wpc) that I love (first step into high end!). I'd like to know what is best for the speaker for the money and if a sub (REL?) is required to fill it out.

ACI evidently has a great reputation among those who own their products, but for those of us who like to audition before we buy, we are dependent upon reviews, such as those on SoundStage!, to guide our purchases. Mail-order (or e-commerce) companies such as Outlaw and ACI are beyond consideration for consumers like myself unless detailed reviews are available prior to our purchase.

Thanks for any input and recommendations you can provide.

...Ryan Coleman

Like you, I have heard much of ACI's fine reputation, but I have not personally heard their speakers. At this point, we do not have reviews online of the models you mention, but we will contact the company and hopefully get the opportunity to review them. Our last ACI review was done by John Potis in the equipment portion of our Video Online section, and that was on the Opal and Emerald loudspeaker system. Besides those speakers, you will be glad to hear that we have many more monitors in our queue, including products from Paradigm, Cliffhanger Audio, JMlab, Dynaudio and many more....Doug Schneider

April 24, 2000


I have been reading your E-Mag for almost a year now, and I am very impressed with the job you guys are doing.

What I wanted to ask is for a review of the Plinius integrated amplifiers. I want to compare the 2100i and 8150 to each other and to other competing products such as those from Simaudio and Krell.

Not to criticize, but just a suggestion: I think more pictures of the product under review would be appreciated by a lot of the readers. I like to view the interior of a product to see the workmanship and circuit design as well as the back of the product. Some Japanese mags will even take apart the electronics or speakers and photograph everything. I know this is extreme, but it is a preference that I have.

Other products not reviewed much ( I know these manufactures are often difficult to get products from): Spectral, Goldmund, Siltech, VTL, Rowland, Krell, Accuphase, AudioQuest, Cardas, Transparent, NBS.


...Troy Richards

We are supposed to get a Plinius 2100i for review at some point. We've been in touch with a few of the other companies you name, and have written about AudioQuest and Cardas cables in the past....Marc Mickelson

April 19, 2000


When is the long-awaited review of Simaudio's Eclipse CD player due? I have been putting off other CD-player purchases (such as the Sony SCD-1) until I check out your review. Also, has your magazine ever reviewed the Gershman GAP 520-X speakers? If yes, when was it? If possible, can you point me to the place where I can check it out for myself?

By the way, you guys have a great website, perhaps the best online. My audiophile buddies and I have regularly enjoyed reading your site. Keep up the great work!


...Tom Pho

Doug Schneider is doing the final listening on the Simaudio CD player, and the review is scheduled for June or July publication. We haven't reviewed the Gershman GAP 520-X speakers, but we have heard them at many shows, including the latest in Montreal, and the sound was very good....Marc Mickelson

April 18, 2000


Does there appear be be a meeting of minds on the latest silver products? Several of the companies -- Silver Audio, Silversmith, Nordost, Siltech, and Analysis Plus -- all seem to have similar products that are all well received. I use the old reliable van den Hul The First and Second, but I really like the power of the Nordost Red Dawn. Now I've been listening to the Analysis Plus silver interconnects, and frankly I think this is the best I've had a chance to listen to in my system. It will be interesting to see what you think of them when you review them. They don't sound bright at all, but simply aren't there, replaced by just the music. I've never heard Kimmie Rhodes singing "Be Mine" with such realism. This is pretty serious cable.

...Lloyd Smith

We should publish our review of Analysis Plus cables on June 1....Marc Mickelson

April 14, 2000


I just wanted to say that as far as daily-visit sites go, AudioVideoNews is among the best. I go to many sites daily to get industry updates. Lately, though, it seems that big sites (Stereophile especially) only update weekly. What is the point if it is not informative?

Keep up the good work.

...Jim Thompson
Director Sales and Marketing

April 13, 2000


I liked your latest editorial -- keep up the good work and don't worry about apologies for the inclusion of some negative reviews. First, they naturally build your credibility/integrity since the ads are more obviously "in your face" on your site than in a print mag; and more importantly, they give us a much clearer sense of the sonic personae of the writers (which used to be the strongest suit of Stereophile). If there is one thing lacking at SoundStage! is that there isn't yet the "brand name" identification of a Dick Oshler (for tubes and his unfortunate wife!); a Sam Tellig/Tom Gillett for SET, cheap gear and foreign exotica; a Jon Scull for nutty and expensive gear and tweaks and his godawful loft; a kind of brand identifier that allows the reader to jump directly to favorite brands/writers. I'd love to see more writers "billboarded" as personalities with specific interests.


First -- and most importantly -- SoundStage! has become the most interesting and readable -- the gold standard -- of all the audio sites online.

1) I'd be curious just how many now take the time to download the entire E-Mag -- compared to the "hits" you had on the earlier, table of contents reviews page. I find, personally, that I wait until an interesting review gets to the archives.

2) The layout of the reviews themselves is excellent -- especially the sidebar/boxes and the ability to easily access the precis of the review.

3) Can we have more writers on the software -- CD/record reviewers? And some kind of teaser on the front page of what CDs are to be reviewed each month?

4) Is there any way the layout of the entry page or, say, a second page can be accessed whereby a reader can see in 14- or 16-point type the table of contents? Even if it is a second page that presents a clearer point of entry to, say, the the audio/music choices, like the archives, which I read constantly. I find myself misclicking back and forth until I hit the correct section.

...John R. Kelly

In terms of our E-Mag, we haven't tracked any decrease in hits since it went online, but we have been able to determine how many people download it, and it's over 7000 for issue 1, 9000 for issue 2. We hope issue 3, which will be online in a few days, will amass over 10,000 downloads. We're happy with these figures because we haven't publicized the E-Mag much. Regarding our music coverage, we are working to bulk up that area even more, and you will see a greater array of reviews, and reviewers, there as Y2K progresses (we hope!). Also, we are working on ways to make our archives more usable, including new layouts. This is another coming feature we hope to have ready this year. As you can imagine, SS! is a lot of work for Doug and me....Marc Mickelson

April 8, 2000


You probably hear it a lot, but I love your site. It's a nice change from all the regular commercial audio/video purveyors. The electronic magazine you've started is especially nice to see, which leads to my question.

I recently upgraded to a new computer and in the process lost my copy of the first E-Mag and have been unsuccessful in locating any link to it on the site now that #2 is available. Is there a download link I can access to recover the issue, or is it possible someone could e-mail it to me as an attachment?

Any help you can provide is greatly appreciated. Thanks for your time.

...David Edelman

At this point, we can't keep back issues of the E-Mag online because of bandwidth/space limitations, but we are looking into a way of archiving and distributing our yearly output, probably on CD-ROM....Marc Mickelson

April 4, 2000


Regarding your Montreal show coverage, The amp you have pictured in the room with the Lammhorn speaker is the new Art Audio PX-25 which uses the KR PX-25 tube for 6 watts. I would be also lacking if I did not mention and if you did not mention how more dynamic the Lammhorns were this year with the new German driver. That room had music that would never have been played last year. The demo changed my whole perspective on speaker/low-power amp combos like this -- and at half the price of the same speaker with the REPS-1 driver.

By the way, I am the same guy from New Hampshire who wrote last year regarding Montreal. The feeling is the same, a great show in a great city. The Montreal show is even more important since Stereophile canceled its show. Better music for about one-fourth the price of going to New York.

Keep up the great work.

...Mike Andrews

We had initially misplaced our notes on the new Art Audio amp, but we have updated our show coverage with the proper information....Marc Mickelson

April 4, 2000

To Doug Schneider,

The review on the Waveform Mach MC speaker you wrote  is a very interesting one, specially the section related to the subjective evaluation. Unfortunately, from a technical point of view, the review contains a pair of mistakes. The midbass driver of the Mach MC it is not a 5" unit. Actually it is a 170mm Vifa unit (6.5", nominal diameter). Strangely, the MC's driver has a similar cast chassis to the drivers used in other speakers reviewed by SoundStage! in the past: the Coincident Triumph and the Hales Revelation One. In these reviews, the stated driver diameter was correct. The second error is about the cone material. The Mach MC uses a shielded driver with a coated-paper cone and not a polypropylene one.

The mistakes I have noted do not make the review a bad one. But readers like me interested in technical details of the speakers reviewed would like to find a more correct description of the units in the pages of SoundStage!.

Best Regards,

...Marcelo G. Cendoya

Thanks for your feedback and for pointing out the errors. The cone certainly looks like polypropylene, but you're right, it is not. We contacted the manufacturer on both items, and the driver is described as a "pulped-paper cone"; however, according to the manufacturer the diameter is 6". We've updated the review for both of these discrepancies....Doug Schneider

April 2, 2000


I am a regular reader who thinks you are doing an excellent job. Keep up the good work. Wes Phillips will be an asset.

...Brian Clarke