SoundStage! Feedback: March 2001

March 30, 2001


I recently purchased the Arcam Alpha 1 to use as a bedroom system. I have a Jolida JD602 (tube) CD player and a pair of B&W 302s to go along. Well, lo and behold, my main system's CD player went down for the count (Wadia 21). This unit goes directly into my amp with no need for a preamp. I lugged the Wadia into the shop for repair. I soon found out that Wadia was not set up for repair work due to restructuring with, I believe, Acoustic Research in Ann Arbor Michigan. It dawned on me that this unit was going to be gone for a while. Well panic didn't set in, because I remembered from your review about the pre-out feature on the Alpha 1. I then took apart my bedroom system and hooked both the Alpha 1 and Jolida JD602 into my Ayre V-3 amp and for now use this as my main system.

Believe it or not, it sounds great. I find the preamp function of this integrated amp to work great when used with a more powerful amp. My Ayre is rated at 100Wpc. Although I hope this is just a temporary setup, I at least am not without music for the mean time.

The deal with my Wadia and its long process of being repaired is an entirely different issue that I may write back to SoundStage! about. It is sad sometimes to invest so much money into something and there being a chance that this company will go bankrupt or be bought out or just disappear. I love this CD player and got a great deal on it from my dealer a few years ago, but right now I am hoping it doesn't become another boat anchor.

Thanks for the great work you do.

...Mark Niehoff

March 29, 2001


It seems to me that your site has about the highest commercial-to-editorial ratio on the 'net. I can handle that.

What I cannot handle is the little extra ad window you open when I go to the page.

If you continue to open that window, I shall remove you from my bookmarks and learn to do without

Thank you,

...Mel Meer

We are looking into ways of doing away with the popup box, but keep in mind that the revenue from it allows us to provide free content over a dozen websites and cover trade shows all over the world, posting hundreds of pictures along the way....Marc Mickelson

March 28, 2001


I was at the Montreal Show and my over-40 memory seems to be waning. Could you please either reply with or post on your show site the associated equipment and prices in the Verity rooms and the first-floor room with Dunlavy SC-IV/As and Audio Research. Thanks!

Best regards,

...John Lettieri

The room with the Verity Parsifals was one of our Standouts, so its contents and prices are listed in our show report. In the other room you mention, Dunlavy SC-IV/A speakers ($8000 USD/pair) were driven by Audio Research VTM200 monoblocks ($6995 each). The preamp with an Audio Research Reference 2 Mk II ($9995), and the source was a Wadia 861 CD player (don't know the price). I couldn't identify the cables, but, as a reader pointed out to me, they may have been Siltech....Marc Mickelson

March 27, 2001

To Doug Schneider,

I enjoyed your review of the Verity Audio Fidelio. I am unable to find a similar write-up on the Parsifal speakers along with the measurements. Has there been one done on the Parsifal?


...Vasudevin Asuri

We're glad you enjoyed the review. We have not reviewed the Parsifal speakers; however, we are scheduled to get Verity Audio's newest, the Tamino, in the upcoming month....Doug Schneider

March 21, 2001


I am trying to find information on tangential tonearms. I had a Luxman tengential-tonearm turntable, and I've heard and read about the Stouffer tangential tonearm. Are there any others? Why do they call it tangential when it traverses a linear track. Thank you for any information.

...Loron Winn

There are several tangential tonearms currently in production: The Eminent Technology ETII, the Souther TQ-1, and the Rockport and Walker linear trackers are just a few that come to mind. These arms are called "tangential" because they keep the stylus at a "tangent" to the record groove (i.e., the path of the stylus is such that it meets the record groove at a single point without intersecting it). Since this is the theoretical path of the cutter head that cuts the record groove, a tangential tonearm will, in theory, have a lower tracing error than a pivoted arm....Andrew Chasin

March 18, 2001

To Doug Schneider,

Have you heard the Audio Aero Prima 24/192 CD player? It's a lot less expensive than the Capitole 24/192. Any chance of a review?


...Wolfgang Tober

We would not only like to follow-up with this player, but also the Prima 24/192 DAC from Audio Aero. To see if it reaches our review queue, keep checking our "Upcoming Equipment Reviews" list....Doug Schneider

March 14, 2001


I just bought a pair of Bright Star Big Rocks for my Lamm amps. What do you think about trying to put the sand in some sort of sealable, heavy-duty bag, as opposed to putting it right into the platforms? Somehow, the idea of having all that sand exposed and right underneath the thin platform on which the amps sit makes me a little uncomfortable. Also, do you know know of any alternative to sand?


...Gile Downes

Don't worry about the sand in the Big Rocks -- I've been using them for years with no trouble. Just get good grade silica from Home Depot or Lowe's and be sure to level it well. The only alternative I can think of is kitty litter, but I would think it's too coarse for use in a Big Rock....Marc Mickelson

March 13, 2001

To Marc Mickelson,

You've done a great job reviewing the Wilson WATT/Puppy 6 speakers. I'm very interested in buying a pair, but questions still remain about the bass extension and power. I know that Wilson has completely redesigned the Puppy to extend its bass. But how do the speakers compare with others in their class?

I know someone that owns a pair of Vandersteen 5s and he said they have much more bass than the WATT/Puppy 6. I know they may not have the resolution of the WATT/Puppy 6, but in terms of bass power and "wall flexing" ability, how do the Wilsons match up with speakers like: B&W Nautilus 801, EgglestonWorks Andra, Vandersteen 5, KEF 107/2. NO SUBS PLEASE! I will not buy a pair of $20K speakers and add a sub! All of these speakers are of similar size. My equipment: Krell 20IL CD player and FPB600 amp, Nordost reference cables. My room size is approximately 400 square feet. I want a high-quality, highly efficient, small-footprint speaker with great bass! Is that to much too ask?

Can you help or offer any insight?


...Earl Ringgold

I haven't heard any of the other speakers you mention in my room, but the WATT/Puppy 6's bass is very powerful, deep and impactful -- up to this point, no speaker I've owned or reviewed can match it. You should seek out and hear the speakers you mention given the amount of money you're about to spend, but I wouldn't be surprised at all if you settled on the WATT/Puppy 6es....Marc Mickelson

March 11, 2001


I know that you guys like the Verity Fidelio (have read the SoundStage! review). However, I know of a dealer here in Ontario who has directly compared the Fidelio to the Merlin VSM-SE model, and preferred the Merlins. Has SoundStage! ever reviewed the Merlins? Thanks!

...John Sutton

We've reviewed various iterations of the Merlin VSM speakers, including the SE. You can find those reviews in our archives....Marc Mickelson

March 10, 2001

To Roger Kanno,

I've been looking for a review of the Sonic Horizon cables since SoundStage! started announcing them in a commercial advertisement. It took more than a year, but at last you came in with a good and interesting review, which I really appreciate.

Keep doing a great job, you guys.


...Jose Garcia

March 9, 2001

To Doug Schneider,

Thanks for the nice site. Really like the measurements with the speaker reviews.

Now the question. You reviewed both the PSB Image 2B and the Axiom Millennia 3Ti in the same month, and it looks like I can get either for the same price. Would you lean one way or the other? I am more into classical music and not really a high-volume kind of listener. Maybe you can tell me just which speaker you enjoyed more with vocals, as you did not mention what music you listened to in the 3Ti review. I have a B&W dealer nearby, so I'll bring your leaning in and compare it with the new 303.

Thanks again for the site and your time.

...Lawrence Graves

The PSB speaker has the advantage of being a slight bit larger and, therefore, capable of a little more bass extension and overall output. That said, both are very good choices, but my own personal preferences sway me to the Axiom speaker. For whatever reason, time and time again I keep coming back and listening to that speaker -- even over much more expensive speakers! It's a good one for the types of music I listened to, which tend to be vocal-heavy pop, folk, jazz and rock. At times I did listen to them with classical musical, and they were very good again. As you mention, it's also a good idea to compare them to the B&W speakers, although I have not done so personally. One more speaker you may wish to add to that list is Axiom's floorstanding Millennia M40Ti -- very similar to the 3Ti, but with much deeper bass and greater overall output....Doug Schneider

March 8, 2001


First, and foremost, a big thanks to you and your staff for operating such a fantastic webzine! Keep it comin'! My audionut friends and I hold our every breath for the next SoundStage! review.

Any possibility of someone on your staff reviewing a Llano Design amplifier?

Thanks for your time and courtesy,

...Dennis Francis

We'll have get in touch with the company again about a review....Marc Mickelson

March 7, 2001

To John Potis,

I saw your review of the JoLida JD-302B integrated amplifier. You wrote "I can't think of any $500 tube power amplifiers" and further comment that the imaging of the JoLida was disappointing.

Your two comments lead me to point out that there ARE tube amps available for $500 and they do image like nobody's business. I recently acquired a Zen Triode Amp SE84 single-ended-triode amplifier (SV83 output tubes) from Steve Deckert at DECWARE (High Fidelity Engineering) and I am stunned by the 3D image this amp is capable of. It uses a variable input, so a preamp needn't get in the way. Its very modest power output (around 2 to 3Wpc) requires high-efficiency speakers (95dB+) but if those are used, MAGIC is the result. I'm using it with a decent (not great) CD front-end (Rega Planet) and DIY single-driver speakers (no sense dissipating that first, precious and magical first watt at HEAT in a crossover). My 120Wpc arc welder is gathering dust as I continue to be amazed at what I hear from discs I've owned for years! I'm quite sure SoundStage! readers might enjoy a review of this amp.


...Mike Stieber

Hey, I said that I couldn't think of any -- not that there weren't any! Actually, recently I've become aware of the Zens and they do look interesting. For the record, though, the only imaging problem I had with the JoLida integrated was with the Silverline Sonatinas. I don't know why -- it imaged quite well with all other speakers that I used. Even Michael Allen of JoLida concurred with this observation, stating that he's been recommending the next amp up the line for larger speakers for years....John Potis

March 6, 2001

To Marc Mickelson,

I have written to you on more than one occasion regarding advice and commentary on components. You've been very helpful and I come asking again.

Of late, our VCR is acting funny, like it may be in its death throes. I'm wondering what is a good DVD player? "Good" means value for dollar in this instance. Can I get a good, well-built, reliable DVD for $200 or thereabouts? Any names that you'd recommend or advise me to avoid?

Thanks in advance. BTW, I have a set of Clements loudspeakers on order thanks to your input and enthusiasm. I can't wait to get them wired into my Onix amplifier! I've got plenty of Bach, Duke Ellington, and Rush CDs to get reacquainted with.

...Charlie Hollis

I own a Pioneer DV-525 DVD player, and it's very good. It's been replaced by the DV-333, which costs around $200, I believe. I would recommend either -- you can still find the DV-525. One good thing about both is that they pass the 24/96 datastream via their digital outputs, so you can upgrade later with a separate DAC and still play 24/96 audiophile software....Marc Mickelson

March 5, 2001

To Doug Schneider,

I have been evaluating the Revel Performa M20 speakers, and I am considering buying a pair, but I wanted to get a professional opinion first. I noticed that you are currently reviewing a pair yourself. My questions are; My room is only 2400 cubic feet, so do you think the speakers play loud and clean? Also I plan on using the Revel B15 sub with the speakers, but I have no experience using a sub/sat combination. The dealer seems to think this combo will give the best sound for me vs. using a floorstanding speaker such as the F30. Lots of apprehension about the purchase, especially considering the cost.

Any comments would be appreciated greatly

Thank You

...Alan Todd

Indeed, I have these speakers in house and you will see them reviewed here in about a month's time. As to their ability to play loud, I primarily auditioned the Revel Performa M20s in a room larger than yours, and they did play plenty loud for me. You mention mating them with the B15 sub. I have not done this (yet), but I can only surmise that doing so will allow them greater output by being relieved of some of the bass. As for the F30 consideration, one advantage with a separate sub/satellite system has over a single full-range loudspeaker is that you can optimize placement of the satellite speakers for best upper bass, midrange and high-frequency performance (as well as soundstaging), and position the subwoofer for the best bass...Doug Schneider

March 2, 2001

To Marc Mickelson,

Thanks for finally getting the review of the Mark Levinson No.383 out. I have been waiting for it for quite sometime and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I purchased the No.383 used from a guy locally as well as a set of TDL Studio monitor M speakers. The person enjoyed the setup greatly but always wanted an active Linn system. I cannot remember what model components he bought, but I know I was trying to figure in my head how much he spent, and I was figuring mid-$20,000, and that being conservative. I talked with him via e-mail shortly after he had his new system set up and it was clear he was not fully satisfied, making this comment: "I have been questioning the wisdom of the move I made lately; you have an excellent system, IMO."

Thanks again,

...Brian Miller

March 2, 2001

To Marc Mickelson,

Just finished your interesting review of the Levinson No.383. Good write-up;
great piece. But now I advise you to take the Mac test.

I spent extensive time auditioning the No.383 at Listen Up in Denver last fall. I admired the amp a great deal. But admiration is not love, so I decided against a purchase. Whatever its strengths, I couldn't get away from the solid-state sound (great solid state, as you note). I simply could not warm up to its clear sonic signature.

Then, on a lark, I brought a McIntosh 6450 integrated into the house. Yes, I know Mac never seems to change -- stodgy old "old economy" company.  (which is why I suppose most reviewers stay away from it). Because of McIntosh's traditional look and low-key approach to marketing, it's very much below the radar screen of 21st-century adventures in hi-fi.

But I tried it anyway, and, the love thing happened. It's built like a tank, every bit as solid as the Levinson piece (42 pounds and incredible packing). And, for better or worse -- given the penchant today for simple circuits -- it is full-featured. Including things like preamp outs to run subs, which I think is an unacceptable omission on a $6k piece like the No.383. The 6450 has plenty of power; is highly resolving without being analytical like the Simaudio I-5 I unloaded before it. It's got much more drive than the Audio Analogue Puccini, and tremendous authority in the bass. The mids are not as ripe as the Pucinni's, but then it doesn't tend to make everything sound pretty like the Italian amp does (at least in its non-remote SE version).

At the risk of hackneyed clichés: The McIntosh integrated sounds like a sublime blend of tubes and solid state. It's got gobs of bloom and rich, not overripe, bass. It really gives you a deep look into a recording -- something I don't get from tubes, only the best solid state. I bet if you hear it, you'll compare it to your Lamm stuff. High praise indeed. You should buzz the boys in Binghamton and see if they'll toss you a 6450 for review. I doubt if you'll be disappointed. And it would be nice to see some Mac gear on your site. Stereophile recently raved about McIntosh's big tube amp.

Keep up the great writing!


...Paul A. Basinski

We've talked with McIntosh about reviewing some products, but nothing has been solidified yet. We'll have to bug them again....Marc Mickelson