[SoundStage!]Archived Letters
January 2002


January 29, 2002


I have been an audio enthusiast for many years. I am very glad to see how you and other good audio magazines are including more low- and mid-priced components, since there are many of us who cannot (or simply do not want to) spent $5000 or $10,000 for an amplifier or a pair of speakers. I am sure that there are many affordable products out there that can satisfy many audiophiles. For example, I have a secondary audio system in my bedroom consisting of a ten-year-old Yamaha EQ70 equalizer, an NAD C521 CD player, a Creek OBH10 passive volume control, a Parasound HCA 1000A amplifier and a pair of NHT Super Zeroes. As the NHT speakers do not reproduce bass frequencies and my Boston Acoustics VR2000 subwoofer is in my home-theater room, I use the equalizer just to increase a little bit the 30-60Hz frequencies and give a little more bass extension to the NHT speakers. The gain from the OBH10 is somewhat limited but enough for my bedroom (I do not want to go deaf). I was amazed when I saw a Yamaha 2001 catalog that included this equalizer, exactly the same model with the same specs and just $149! I think the EQ70 is excellent for its price and when used properly, so eventually it would deserve a review on your pages. Since many music lovers like me look for the best way to enjoy our music for a reasonable price, I feel that magazines like yours are very valuable guides.


...Manuel Acevedo

Of course, in addtion to SoundStage!, we also publish GoodSound!, which is all about affordable high-performance audio....Marc Mickelson

January 28, 2002

To Jeff Fritz,

I've enjoyed your articles concerning DTS, etc.. I am attempting to build a vintage quad setup using an original Marantz 4100 quad integrated amp with four speakers. Objective is to play back DTS-encoded CDs containing digitized material of original-source quad recordings from the early '70s. Additional goals include better management/control over the I/O along with having access to 5.1 (or better) digital-sound options. Finally, configuration will include a four-channel R2R, turntable with CD-4 demodulation, input from my satellite for streaming audio, support for DVD-A, and finally (whew!) MP3 playback via my PC. It looks like I might need a signal processor capable of decoding DTS along with supporting all the above.

Any light you could shed on this would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

...Eric H. Killorin

Yours is an interesting question, and points to an industry-wide dilemma that may be solved soon. First, you have volume control using the Marantz, so it makes no sense to add a preamp/processor which would render the Marantz 4100 useless except as a power amplifier alone. Since you do mention DVD-A, you certainly want to start with that player because most of the functionality you seek (such as DTS processing) can be incorporated from the source player. Since you will be using the analog outputs of the player anyway, it makes sense to utilize as much of the onboard processing power as possible. This will likely include Dolby Digital as well. With the advent of universal players (SACD, DVD-A, MP3, etc.), even more processing power is being incorporated into the players themselves. With a setup that includes a multichannel integrated such as you use, this makes the most sense by a long shot, as it is more cost-effective by far. The other option is to find a receiver with preamp outputs and the processing options you seek. But this would be my last resort...Jeff Fritz

January 27, 2002

To Tom Lyle,

In January 2001 you wrote an excellent review on the PS Audio P600 Power Plant power regenerator. Since then I have heard people praise an alternative from ExactPower. I would love to read an article comparing these two products, especially from you. Have you written, or are you planning to write, such an article? If not, what do you think about ExactPower? Is it a better choice in terms of sonics? I do look forward to hear your opinion one way or another.


...Leif Svedlund

We've contacted AV123.com to review a unit from ExactPower....Marc Mickelson


January 25, 2002


As a regular visitor to SoundStage!, I must say I've been missing new contributions from Doug Blackburn. It's been a while since his excellent "Myth of the Cone Footer."

Hopefully, there will be more from Doug to look forward to.


...Barry Diament

Thanks for your interest and concern! These days I'm devoting about 80% of my time to writing for Home Theater & Sound, SoundStage!'s home-theater sister site. I still do occasional equipment reviews for SoundStage! and will continue to add to the "Max dB" series from time to time. At Home Theater & Sound, I have a monthly column called "Video Noise," and I write product reviews as well.

I'm always interested in ideas for "Max dB" columns, so if you or any other readers have something you'd like to see a column about, don't hesitate to send me an e-mail. I can't guarantee I can create a column for every subject that is suggested, but you never know. Future "Max dB" columns that are already rattling around in my head? "LPs: Bad Bet for Newbies" and "Why Creating a System That 'Sounds Like Live Music' is Low Fidelity."...Doug Blackburn

January 4, 2002

To Jeff Fritz,

I just read your review of the Versalab Life Support System. Do you know where to get a Duplex outlet now, besides Music Direct (they are out of them ? I hope I am not bothering you with this inquiry. Thanks for your help.

...Alan Piga

No bother at all! The last information I have is that Versalab is indeed out of business and their remaining stock was sold to Music Direct. In all likelihood, you will have to resort to the used market to find any of their products.

If anyone knows of a new supply, possibly old stock at a dealer, please let us know so we can pass it along....Jeff Fritz

January 3, 2002

To Doug Schneider,

First of all, I want to wish you a happy new year and good luck and success with SoundStage!. SoundStage! is for me a fine website, and I visit it very often. Do you remember our last e-mail contacts regarding the JMlab Mini Utopia speakers (I own a pair of these)? My request, if possible, is to please listen to the Mini Utopia in conjunction with the  Revel B15 subwoofer, which is on the SoundStage! schedule. Is your room too small for this B15? Give it a try, please!

Best regards,

...Siegfried von Känel

Yes, I certainly remember. The B15 sub is indeed in my house for review. Unfortunately, I will not be able to try it with the Mini Utopias since they have long since been sent back. However, I have many other speakers here, including Revel's M20. The room in which I listen to minimonitors is likely too small for the Revel sub (although I will try it there). For the most part, I plan to use it in my larger room....Doug Schneider

January 3, 2002


I wonder if you can help me. I'm currently using Nordost Blue Heaven Revision 2 cables, but I am planning perhaps to upgrade, due to having just bought a Musical Fidelity 3D CD player, and I want to realize the increased potential of my system. I e-mailed Nordost, but they suggested cables that come in hand-crafted velvet-lined gift boxes, which put me off straightaway, as fancy packaging doesn't impress me. It would be all the same to me if the cables came in a paper bag!

Being a blind person places me at something of a disadvantage, since I can't read reviews as readily as a sighted person -- apart, that is, from online reviews. It may help if I list the components of my system.

Power amp: Pass Labs X150
Preamp: Pass Labs X2
CD player: Musical Fidelity 3D
Tuner: Arcam DT81
MiniDisc: Denon DMD1000
Speakers: Mirage MRM-1 and BPS-150I subwoofer
Cables: Nordost Blue Heaven Revision 2

Although money isn't a prime consideration, I do want to be sensible about it. If you could give me the benefit of your experience, I would be grateful. Happy new year, and I look forward to hearing from you.

...John Coley

Any advice I can give about cables comes from the experience I've had with a limited number of brands. First, I've found Nordost to offer very good cables, and you should definitely compare the Nordost cables you have with anything you consider buying -- you might save the cost of upgrading. On the higher end, the Acoustic Zen interconnects and speaker cables are wonderful. At a lower price, DH Labs' Silver Sonic Air Matrix and Q-10 offer exceptional value. These are the two I would recommend based on recent experience, but JPS Labs new Superconductor FX is probably worth adding to this list....Marc Mickelson


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