[SoundStage!]Archived Letters
April 2001


April 23, 2001

To Doug Schneider,

The SoundStage! review [of the Audio Aero Capitole 24/192 CD player] is accurate -- an uncanny ease, and a relaxed, almost analog-like presentation.

I will also add that I have done an extensive evaluation in my system of the Capitole 24/192 with and without the preamp in the circuit, with both my ARC LS-16 and the beautifully liquid Hovland HP-100. Without a doubt, I preferred neither with the Capitole! In fact, in my opinion is that it does sound best run fully balanced direct to amp.

OK, my question is, how do you think it would perform with the impressive King Cobra V1 power cord? I am on the verge of purchasing the KC V1. I realize you did not review it personally, but I know you guys like the Shunyata cords. Have you heard the King Cobra? Do you feel it will be dynamic enough for the Capitole?

I look forward to any comments you might have. Thanks!

...John Sutton

I'm glad you enjoyed the review, and I'm looking forward to finding out your future experiences with the Capitole 24/192. As for the King Cobra, I have no personal experience yet (our other writers do); however, one of the power cords is coming to me. As well, I just got in the new Audio Aero Prima 24/192 CD player (the Capitole 24/192 went back). I hope to try the power cord with that player and report on the differences....Doug Schneider

April 21, 2001


I have been doing extensive research on the Internet as I am in the early stages of building a small home theater. The problem I have is the way audiophiles and videophiles in the US are treated by most of the larger equipment manufacturers. It seems to me that the U.S. market is considered to be an unsophisticated, second-class market when it comes to equipment choices. A couple of examples: Sony recently announced a new Grand Wega 50" LCD rear-projection TV no deeper than 16" for the US and due out in 2002. A little digging on the Internet turns up the awesome KF-50SX100 already on the market overseas! Or how about Onkyo, who gives the US the entire product line finished in...BLACK. Check out the overseas lines and what do you find? Almost the entire overseas line available in a silver/gold finish that is stunning! Or maybe we can talk about Denon. Same thing -- US products in black, overseas products in black or a beautiful gold finish that knocks you out! At least Marantz offers you a choice, but only when you get into the more expensive offerings.

Someone needs to get through to these manufacturers that it is time for a change in regard to this situation. I was going to build a home theater, but until I have some choices as to how my equipment looks as well as sounds, I am sticking to my two-channel music system. The combination of Accuphase integrated amp (gold), Marantz DR-17 Mk 2 (gold) CD player/recorder, and furniture-grade-finished Avalon Avatar speakers is awe-inspiring to look at and makes my friends drool when I fire it up!

Why tell you all this? I hope, given that you are an editor, you might consider this as a subject for a future editorial. Thanks for letting me gripe. I hope you seriously consider my suggestion.

...Gregory Beck

April 20, 2001


As I have been thinking about a new CD player to replace my aging Mark Levinson No.39, I read with great interest your recent review of the Audio Aero Capitole 24/192 CD player. Sounds like it might be just what I'm looking for.

But there is another "hot" new player out there that also seems like a candidate -- the Audiomeca Mephisto II (also French!). I was wondering if any of you at SoundStage! have had a chance to hear this player, and if so, if you could offer any comments about it and/or how it might compare (sonically or otherwise) with the Capitole 24/192. Also, do you have any plans to review the Audiomeca Mephisto II in the foreseeable future?

I have not yet had a chance to audition either of these players myself, although I will soon get a chance to hear the Mephisto II. Unfortunately, there don't seem to be any Audio Aero dealers around here, so it will not be easy for me to hear the Capitole.


...Craig Zastera

We heard the Audiomeca Mephisto II only in Montreal under show conditions, so a substantive evaluation of it was impossible. We are supposed to be getting it for review, however, so we should have more to say about it in the future....Marc Mickelson

April 19, 2001


I just finished reading your "BackStage!" article regarding surround sound vs. stereo imaging for video. Yes, I was spending (wasting?) money in an attempt to perfect a 5.1 surround system. But the music-appreciation factor deteriorated badly and the "gee-whiz" sound effects were not that enticing. Finally, I pitched everything and purchased some excellent Infinity IL40 tower speakers, a Musical Fidelity A3CR preamp, and a Sony DVP-S9000ES SACD/DVD player. The results have been astounding. Dialogue from movies is just as clear and present as it was with a center-channel speaker and (best of all) the quality of my music listening has been enhanced 1000%. I do think it is more important to invest in high-quality audio gear rather than low-quality surround gimmickry.

Thank you,

...Charles T. Bridges

April 17, 2001


I am writing you from Zagreb, Croatia, and I would like to ask you for help with an amp dilemma. I would like to buy a hybrid integrated amplifier, and I cannot decide between the Pathos Classic One and Anthem Integrated 2.

My system consist of

Arcam DIVA CD 72 CD player
JMLab Cobalt 807 speakers
Straight Wire Rhapsody interconnects
47 Laboratory Storatos speaker cable

I would like to point out that majority of my CD collection is jazz recordings, but I like other music (rock, ethno) too.

Thank you for your advice and best regards,

...Mario Cvitkovic

I have reviewed the Pathos Classic One, and I found it somewhat finicky in terms of ancillary equipment. Therefore, I would suggest hearing it in your system -- I haven't heard your speakers or other electronics, so I can't comment on how it will all sound together. The same goes for the Anthem Integrated 2, which we have also reviewed: Try before you buy....Marc Mickelson

April 16, 2001


Thank you for Greg Weaver's honest evaluation of the Rainbow Foil, and thank you for his courage in writing about it. I took Greg's advice and got a sample. It is incredible and now indispensable -- hands down the cheapest tweak for an audio system. Anyone who scoffs isn't listening. I've tried it (A/B) on several friends, and everyone notices a rather dramatic difference. Next experiment is freezing CDs.

By the way, I miss Greg's column.

Best wishes,

...Gary Lee

April 14, 2001


Do you still expect to have a Shunyata Hydra review in the near future? At one time I think you had said either 4/1 or 4/15.


...Mike Geoghegan

Our reviewer is working on it as I write this, so I expect the review will appear on 5/1....Marc Mickelson

April 12, 2001

To John Crossett,

Wow! Reviews that actually comment on sonics as well as music -- amazing! Because of your well-written review, I am actually going to buy Ray Brown Trio - Live At Starbucks. Too bad other hi-fi mags have lost sight of this concept, which is mainly why I don't subscribe anymore. Long live SoundStage!.


...John Roddy

April 10, 2001

To Jeff Fritz,

I've been enjoying your reviews in SoundStage! and have gotten a lot of good information from them. After reading your 10/99 Standout Systems column, I went out and purchased a Pioneer DVD-606D and used it as my CD and DVD source. I was very happy with the sound quality; it is equivalent to or better than other players that are rated Class B by Stereophile. Thanks for uncovering an unknown gem.

From your experience, what cost-effective DAC would improve the sound if I use the DVD player as a transport ? I have tried the MSB DAC III with 192kHz upsampling option, but it did not improve the sound that much. Maybe there is no cost-effective way to improve the sound further (more low-level resolution, more blackness, etc.) without having to spend a lot more money. My system consists of the Pioneer DVD player, YBA DT Integre integrated amp, B&W CDM1SE speakers, Kimber 8TC and KCAG cables. Thanks for your help and keep up the good work.

...Cory Hoang

I'm glad you had good luck with the Pioneer. It has been a faithful player for me. Regarding an upgrade, I've got a good one for you. Try the Technics DVD-A10, which retails for $1200. At its street price (around $400), it is a significant bargain and a huge step up in sound and build quality over the Pioneer. With 24/192 DACs and upsampling capability, it has a lot of potential. Although I can't give you specifics about the sound yet, it is very promising....Jeff Fritz

April 9, 2001

To Marc Mickelson,

Read your review of the Shunyata power cords with interest. I'm not sure your comparing them to themselves was of much value, however, for those of us, myself included, who have never heard them. I'm familiar with the Marigo Ultra cord, and since you've reviewed it, how would you compare, say, the Black Mamba to the Marigo? Have you ever heard ESP's The Essence cords? If so, how do the Shunyata compare to those? Shunyata seems to be the power cord of choice these days, at least they seem to be getting the most attention. Your feedback would be most appreciated.


...Joe Mendez

It's been such a long time since I heard the Marigo power cords -- and a few changes of listening room and equipment too -- that I don't think I can offer anything on them that wasn't mentioned in my review. I've also reviewed ESP's The Essence power cord, and it is similar in sound to the Shunyata Black Mamba in some ways, but it doesn't sound quite as open. It tends to work really well with solid-state gear, however. For more information on it, have a look at my review....Marc Mickelson

April 8, 2001


I read your 1998 review of the Onix A-60 integrated amp, but I'm curious. I own an Onix OA-21 integrated and BWD tuner, but cannot find any current dealers or sources for the products. My concerns are around service, not that I need it at the moment. Is Onix still an active company in the UK or are they defunct? Do you have any clue as to what's happened to them?

...Ben Taylor

As far as I know, Onix is still making audio equipment. Two sources to try for more information are HCM Audio and av123.com....Marc Mickelson

April 6, 2001

To Srajan Ebaen,

Here's my answer to your question [about solid state to fall in love with]: Electrocompaniet. These Norwegian amps are musical, musical, musical. The sound MIGHT be characterized as being slightly on the warm side of neutral. If I had more experience with tube amps, I might (from what I understand) be tempted to classify them as having certain tube characteristics. I don't. But I love them, as they are unfailingly musical and emotionally involving. Oh yes, they do all the normal hi-fi things too. I use an Electrocompaniet EC4.7 preamp and AW120DMB power amp with a Primare D30.2 CD player, Linn LP12/Ittok/Karma analog rig, Lehmann Audio Black Cube and EgglestonWorks Fontaine speakers. Interconnects are Kimber Select and speaker cable Kimber Monocle XL. Many of the usual tweaks apply. Although I am biased, this is a honey of a system that can play ANYTHING (one of MY major system requirements).

I do enjoy your thoughtful and well-written pieces. You're one of the the few writers to tackle in depth the behavioral/psychoacoustical/intangible aspects of music reproduction. Keep it up!

Kind regards,

...Ross Penney

April 5, 2001

To Doug Blackburn,

Just curious -- with the Perpetual Technologies P-1A, did you use the AudioPrism Wave Guide with the stock power converter on the large cord (60Hz) before the converter wart or on the small (12-volt) wire just before the P-1A itself? I have the P1-A and I'm thinking of purchasing a Wave Guide for the system. Your response and recommendation are greatly appreciated!

P.S.: Yours is THE best audio/video e-zine out there!

...John Tobin

I tried the Wave Guide in both positions you mention. I had a slight preference for the Wave Guide before the wall wart, but if you get a Wave Guide, do try both locations as there is system-to-system variation on where they work the best as much as component-to-component variation. Also try it on the digital coax (or AES/EBU or I-squared-S) before assuming the power cord is the best location for a Wave Guide with the P-1A. I assume you are also using some sort of DAC with the P-1A. You can try to put the P-1A and DAC power cord through the same Wave Guide for a double hit off a single Wave Guide. Another possible double hit is to put the digital coax from the transport to the P-1A and the cable used to connect the P-1A to the DAC through the same Wave Guide. This seems OK for lower-level signals like the digital bitstream and with components that don't pull a lot of current. I wouldn't recommend doubling up for amplifiers, though; the power cords are usually too thick for that anyway. You can also experiment with running the same power cord through the Wave Guide two times if there is enough extra cord and the cord is small enough....Doug Blackburn

April 4, 2001

To Marc Rigrodsky,

I've been going to write you for quite awhile now. We seem to share a similar taste for alt./hard country music, and I need to thank you for the Slobberbone and Old '97s -- these guys are so refreshing. I buy about half the CDs you review. I was thinking about buying the Tim Eaton disc until I got to the part about Wilco; then you lost me (sorry not fan of Wilco, Sun Volt or Uncle Tupelo). But this is not a bad thing -- it's good for me to be able to know really what you are saying. Translation: You write so I can understand. Well, enough sucking up.

Keep up the great work Marc, and thanks for all the great music you have turned me on to.

...Jeff Arthur

April 3, 2001


I was at the Montreal show and was completely blown away by a manufacturer called Scarlet Audio. I lost the phone number and business card for these people; I had discussion about purchasing an amp with the person there.

Do you know Scarlet Audio? Any reviews? And I would (and they) appreciate it very much if you could link me to their website or provide contact information.

Thank you -- great site!

...Andrew Phippen

We also encountered Scarlet Audio in Montreal and named their room one of our Standouts. Their website address is:


The company's phone number and e-mail address are available there....Marc Mickelson

April 2, 2001


While I do believe most audio-equipment reviewing must ultimately be subjective, that does not excuse sloppy, incorrect technical comments within the review. I know this shouldn't be a big deal, but it appears to be endemic to the genre, and if we ever hope to get near to accurate reproduction, the more technically correct we become in designing and reviewing, the sooner we will approach that ideal.

Over the years, I have seen technical errors that have become irritating. My favorite one is the inanely, redundant single-ended class-A amp. Dagnabit, if it's single ended, it has to be class A or it's an intermittent amplifier, which is decidedly not hi-fi. A second common irritation present in the April 1 issue of your mag is large -- dome radiators such as the woofer in the Revel Performa M20 speaker. This driver is NOT a dome driver. A dome driver is one which has the voice coil on the periphery of the driver diaphragm. The M20 woofer does not have anywhere near this large a voice coil. That the diaphragm is a one-piece, dome-shaped form without a dust cover does not qualify this driver as a dome. By the way, the famous Focal dome tweeters are not domes for the same reason; they are also cone drivers with one-piece, dome-shaped cones. This, of course, is not a statement of the performance of such drivers, only a comment on their design and engineering.

With all the controversy over subjective versus objective reviews, it behooves the subjective reviewer (and objective reviewer also) to be technically accurate, or else that reviewer weakens his validity and the validity of his approach to reviewing. One of the factors that always made Gordon Holt's subjective reviews so good was his clear and accurate layman's explanations of technical details. He always appeared to do his homework. It would do all reviewers well to follow the lead of a man so strongly associated with audio reviewing for four decades.

...Allen Edelstein


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