SoundStage! Feedback: January 2001

January 29, 2001


Just a note to say that I read your reviews often and respect your opinions. Do you or anyone else at SoundStage! plan to review the new lineup of Classé amps? Specifically the CA-301 or CA-401? I've also noticed that apart from the Mark Levinson No.39, you guys have never reviewed any other Levinson gear, specifically preamps or power amps. I realize that there is more great gear than ever before and you'd probably have to have a hundred reviewers to get to it all, but I was just wondering.


...Orrin Sether

We have been talking with Classé about reviewing an amp or two, so stay tuned. Also, we do have the Mark Levinson No.383 integrated amp in for review, and you should see that review soon. After that review appears, we'll talk with Madrigal about other review products....Marc Mickelson

January 27, 2001


Please get rid of the popup advertising window. Are you guys hurting so much for space that you need to add another window for advertising? Just a suggestion. I find the popup annoying, a little reminiscent of porn sites (um, not that I would know), and less than professional. You don't see with popups. Also, it's not effective, at least for me. I never click those advertisers that sponsor that space and never will.

Regards from a slightly annoyed reader who still enjoys your site.

...Samuel Park

January 22, 2001


Thanks for continuing to put out great reviews on all kinds of stuff. I was trying to find an article that talks about factors to consider in selecting architectural speaker cables. You know, the kind of cable that is usually flat which you run through your walls and attic or under carpet. I was surprised I couldn't easily locate an article about this, and figured I'd see if you knew where one was.

Thanks in advance for your help,

...Hayes Ewing

Flat cable is not typically "architectural" cable, though, since flat cables tend to be of smaller gauge than more typical round cable. Round cable is run exactly the same way you would run telephone wire -- holes through studs or joists.  And you would keep these audio cables away from the AC-power wiring and away from any computer networking or A/V-distribution wiring since you don't want stray electrical fields from these other wires interfering with the audio-signal transmission. The longer the cable run for audio signals, the larger gauge the wire should be. It is generally preferable to place the amplifiers close to the speakers and run long interconnect cables (shielded cables for long runs). One way to achieve this is through the use of powered loudspeakers when they will be located longer distances from the components that will be providing the signals.

The only place you would ever consider flat cable (to my way of thinking anyway) would be if the cable HAD to be run under carpet (under the padding would be better). Nordost makes quite an array of flat cables that could be used this way since they have fairly sturdy jackets. However, runs longer than 30 feet are probably not a good idea; larger-gauge wire would be preferable. Almost every specialty wire manufacturer now caters to the custom-installation market and they would be the best source of information regarding the cables they offer and where they should best be used.

And there is one other alternative to drilling holes in joists or studs. In open spaces like attics or basement ceilings, there are new "hangers" for home automation wiring that are nicely finished wire loops. They screw into or are nailed into the joist or stud, leaving about a 2" or 3" loop you feed wires through. Just mind the cardinal rule: Separate dissimilar wires by feet, not inches. This means separate AC wiring from telephone and both of those from computer-networking wires and all of those from video-distribution wires and all of those from audio-distribution wires. You may see installers NOT doing this and they may not encounter immediate problems, but down the road at some time, something is bound to pop up in the way of negative interactions between these various types of wires if they are all too close together. Home-security wiring is another one that should be separated out from other types (these days it is mostly computer-like frequencies, so it MIGHT be OK to run it with computer-networking wires, but check with the vendor of the system to be sure.

You should probably also check the resources of CEDIA, which caters to the custom-installation business -- though take what they have to offer with a grain of salt. Some of the "authorities" are not thinking through their recommendations very clearly, especially the ones who see no reason to separate the different types of wire by significant distances....Doug Blackburn

January 20, 2001


Congratulations on surviving the latest CES. I read your website attentively daily!

...Matt Nalbandian

January 19, 2001


I love your site, but it drives me crazy when it opens extra windows. It makes me feel like I am on a porn site.

...Chris Rowe

January 19, 2001

To Srajan Ebaen,

I literally stumbled into Primus Audio Pleasures [subject of Y-Files column "Primal Audio Pleasures"] and met Al while doing research at Kansas University in Lawrence in 1998 (50 miles east of Kansas City). I was flabbergasted. Sure I was familiar with all the audio salons that listed dozens of fine pieces of gear and then kept a paltry handful around. To say my eyes boggled when I saw Al uncrating a pair of JMlab Utopias on my first visit ("Oh, hi, these are just a new pair of French speakers we got in") would be a massive understatement. And such taste. Most people have no money and wouldn't know what gear to buy if they did. Al has resources and an impeccable sense of what's truly great equipment to keep around. Primus is audio nirvana; as you suggest, perhaps the best little-known high-end dealer in the nation. I'm glad he's finally stopped hiding its light under a bushel, thanks to your excellent write-up.

...Paul A. Basinski

January 18, 2001


I really enjoy your show coverage -- BEST of the 'Net!

...Tom Heist

January 17, 2001


I wanted to compliment you guys on your coverage of CES 2001 on SoundStage! LIVE. It looks like the trend toward integrating audio and video will continue, and also appears the digital format wars are far from over.

Like we've discussed previously, I don't plan to adopt a new digital format until it becomes mainstream. I also don't currently plan to combine my audio and video systems. So are there any "must audition" CD players out there at a price below $10k? Or is EVERYBODY trying to combine CD with either DVD or SACD? Anything new besides the Simaudio and Audio Aero players?

...John Leosco

Thanks for your kind words on our show coverage. I've reviewed a few terrific CD players, including the Mark Levinson No.39, Linn Ikemi, and Audio Research CD2. These are all worthy of consideration, although none are new products....Marc Mickelson

January 17, 2001


Has anybody seen/heart Hovland's new mysterious power amp? Was Hovland Company represented at CES?

Warmest regards,

...Hans-Peter Mueller

We published a picture of the amp as part of our Las Vegas 2001 coverage....Marc Mickelson

January 4, 2001

To Marc Mickelson,

Just wanted to say that I really enjoyed your review of the Wilson WATT/Puppy 6 speakers and I am now contemplating getting these beasts.

As I only demoed a older version a couple years ago in Santa Clara, I am sure that the version 6 is very different. It is amazing how many people either love these speakers or hate them. I liked them.

I have built a new A/V room in my house just outside of Ottawa and think these speakers would be a nice match to my Levinson amp (No.336). I am a tad surprised you can drive these speakers with a rubber band basically (what did you say, 7Wpc?). Any thoughts on what 350Wpc may do?

Thanks again for the review. PS: I also purchased a PS Audio P600 that one of your writers reviewed. Do you guys get royalties?

...Matt Nalbandian

As I think my review conveyed, I think the WATT/Puppy 6es are very special speakers and ones whose love/hate ratio will now be heavily weighted toward love. Gone to my ears is the speaker's crisp, analytical character. The WATT/Puppy 6es are now very musically involving speakers, but they will still tell you all about the recording and your upstream components. Your Levinson amp will drive them easily and certainly help them to play much louder than my SET amps did. If you like your electronics, you won't be put off by their pairing with the WATT/Puppy 6es.

Oh, and we get no royalties for reviewing equipment that people then buy. We hope you are as happy with your Power Plant as we have been with the ones we've reviewed....Marc Mickelson

January 4, 2001


Have you had a chance to hear the Cal Audio CL-2500? If so any comments?

I have an older Cal Audio Aria Mk III and I want to upgrade. Actually, I would also like to mod the Aria to a newer transport if you know anyone who specializes in digital mods.

Hoping you had a great New Year.

...Gary Alpern

I haven't heard the CL-2500, but we have talked with CAL about reviewing it and the other 2500-series components. I really liked the CL-20, however, and the CL-2500 is the upgraded version of that.

Regarding transport mods, try Ric Schultz at EVS. He may be able to help you....Marc Mickelson

January 3, 2000


What happened to the upcoming review of the Resolution Audio CD55?

...Timothy Martin

We published an explanation in our "BackStage!" column this month:

"We had also been planning a review of the Resolution Audio CD55 CD player, but due to supply issues, the production of this unit has been suspended. Although Resolution Audio hopes to resolve this situation soon, we will no longer be reviewing this piece of equipment due to the uncertainty of its availability. Our apologies to everyone who was been looking forward to the review."...Marc Mickelson

January 3, 2001


I enjoy reading your magazine each month. I'm interested in tube integrated amplifiers, and have been awaiting a review of the Legend Starlet for a number of months.

Do you have a rough approximation when this review will appear?

Thank you.

...Tom Haleas

The Legend Starlet review is behind schedule, but we hope to publish it on 2/1, and if not, then shortly thereafter....Marc Mickelson

January 3, 2001

To Marc Mickelson,

Excuse the intrusion, but I'm just curious if you might be doing a review soon on the Audio Analogue Pucinni SE with remote. I noticed you mentioned the Pucinni SER in your recent review of PowerSnakes power cords. I have read the SoundStage! review on the non-remote model, but I have heard the remote version is a new design.

My system currently consists of: Rega Planet 2000, Totem Acoustic Sttafs, Nordost Blue Heaven interconnect, Nordost Solar Wind speaker cables, and NAD C340 integrated amp. I am thinking about maybe upgrading to the Pucinni and maybe pairing it with the Sidewinder power cord.

Thanks for the insightful review on the PowerSnakes cables and for producing a great website.

...Steve Domark

No intrusion at all. The Puccini SE Remote will probably be reviewed later this year. I need to talk to the distributor about getting a non-remote version for comparison....Marc Mickelson