November 30, 2004
To Doug Schneider,
I'm in the process of upgrading my system. I have Mirage M5si speakers, a CAL Audio Alpha/Delta CD transport/DAC, and an Adcom 555 II power and preamp, which I'm looking to replace with the Rotel 1090 power amp and preamp. I also have an Integra A/V receiver and DVD player, and a Yamaha tuner. I work in a school and can't afford to spend much more than is on tap here. How do I make the most out of just four outlets? What should I plug into them? Would a power strip plugged in to a Richard Gray's unit give me the extra outlets needed for all my gear?
Are you buying a power conditioner for an improvement in sound quality, or just to have multiple outlets (the Richard Gray's Power Company 400 Mk II has only four)? If it's the latter case, there are many more cost-effective ways to add extra outlets, although you more than likely can plug a power strip into the 400 Mk II without too much difficulty (always check with the manufacturer just to make sure). Here's another idea, though: you could just plug that power strip, or two, into the wall and get all the outlets you need. Or, if you don't want to use just any ol' power strip (which is what I'd try, just to start), you could get a bona fide "audiophile approved" power strip from Blue Circle Audio. The BC606 Music Bar looks interesting, and I use the JPS Labs Power AC+ Outlet Center, for the precise reason you want to use a power strip (add outlets), and it does the trick nicely....Doug Schneider
Zanden transport for review?
November 26, 2004
I am one of the only two French audiophiles to own a Zanden Model 5000 DAC (thanks to you; the other one decided to acquire a Zanden DAC after he listened to mine). I am writing because I am surprised to see that almost one year after it has been put on the market the Zanden Model 2000 transport has been reviewed by no one. Will you be reviewing it?
We have a standing request with Zanden for a Model 2000 transport for review. I spoke briefly with Mr. Yamada about it at last year's CES, where we first saw and heard the Model 2000. So far we haven't received one. However, I will keep the lines open so when Zanden has a unit to loan, we'll get it....Marc Mickelson
Thanks for "Getting Pushy"
November 24, 2004
Thanks for your November editorial ["Getting Pushy"] and stance against push media. Spam sucks.
Esoteric X-01 or UX-1?
November 19, 2004
Thank you for the excellent review of the Esoteric X-01. For the past year I owned an Esoteric DV-50, and I couldn't make up my mind on the X-01 or the UX-1. Your review drove it home, and made me realize the X-01 is the player for me.
Allen J. Ballweg
Bel Canto or Esoteric?
November 18, 2004
I have been trying to get the most out of CD and DVD playback (as I love DVD concerts) to the highest level I can afford. I am currently running a cheap Toshiba DVD player, SD1200, as transport into the Bel Canto, then into a Plinius 9200 and Dynaudio speakers. I use a Primare SPA20 as a receiver.
I am thinking of upgrading the source and considering the Esoteric player, which would do all formats, or alternatively getting a good DVD/CD player to perform transport duties into the Bel Canto DAC2. My current sound is actually quite good, but the soundstage is a bit narrow and lacks lushness. To complicate things, I read that the Esoteric DV-50 reminded some of the Bel Canto sound!
Unfortunately, I don't know what I don't know, so I thought I would write to you as you have experience with both the Esoteric and Bel Canto units. I also suspect that somewhere out there is probably a great and inexpensive DVD/CD player that when matched with my Bel Canto could really shine.
From your message, I gather that cost is a consideration. However, what you get with the Esoteric DV-50 (now replaced by the DV-50S) is far greater functionality. You can play SACDs, DVD-As and DVD-Vs with it, and you'll never be able to accomplish with this the DAC2.
You have two courses of action in my opinion. On the one hand, you can find a very good transport for the DAC2, which will raise its performance. I wouldn't look toward a DVD player, however. You'll want to jump to something like a used Mark Levinson No.37, or a transport that's even better. Your other option is buying the DV-50S, although given your admiration for the Bel Canto sound, you should also consider Bel Canto's PLayer, another universal A/V player. I haven't heard it, but its family history is strong. I personally would choose the second option -- good SACDs are a joy to hear -- and in this consider the Bel Canto unit along with the Esoteric. You might find a product you like even more....Marc Mickelson
"Prose that makes me laugh"
November 17, 2004
I write to expound on and fill the trumpet air for Jason Thorpe, your reviewer.
Jason's scribe work is new to me. I have not visited your website in, oh, months or maybe years. The products that you review are just too dear for me. I am talking restrictive, I-go-to-Taco Bell-for-dining-out cash flow here. Therefore, I must shop elsewhere, and my eyes go to lower-cost places.
But, as I was supposed to be working and while summoning the desire to do so, I strolled over to your site. And looking (at the less "dear" items), I see two of Jason's reviews. So I review Jason. He's a coherent and fluid writer, but also, informative, fun and has a way out-there sense of humor (I consider that a compliment as I probably have one, too). All of this makes Jason a stitch to read (he's not so talented in his wife's underwear or else he'd be touring by now). He reminds me of that Corey What's His Name that was at Stereophile some time ago.
And though I'm not really wanting to get the stuff Jason is glowing about, I may come back to fantasize and read more prose that makes me laugh.
"In the market for a DAC..."
November 15, 2004
To Doug Schneider,
I'm in the market for a DAC and found your review of the Stello DA220 very informative. But I have no way of hearing the DA220 at this point. I have heard and been impressed with an older combo -- the Assemblage 3.1 and D2D-1.
Would you mind telling me which you would buy if you were buying? (I note that you mentioned the D2D-1 in your review -- hence, my question.)
Although I own a D2D-1, and use it regularly in my system, I have never heard the Assemblage DAC 3.1. The only knowledge I have it is that it's supposed to be very good. That said, I still have no idea how it would compare to Stello's DA220. My advice to you is to listen to both before you buy. And if you can't listen to them, think twice before you consider purchasing either. Also, don't go by the word of anyone else unless that person has actually compared the two side by side (many people, including some reviewers, wax poetic about the differences between gear without careful auditioning). I'd give the same piece of advice for any equipment purchase, not just DACs. Oftentimes in high-end audio the differences among components are very slight, but those slight differences are meaningful to potential buyers, and will likely be the deciding factors as to whether they are truly happy with their purchases -- or not....Doug Schneider
Accustic Arts Amp II-AC High Performance vs. tubes
November 12, 2004
To Jeff Fritz,
I'm considering purchasing an Accustic Arts Amp II-AC High Performance amp. Can you tell me how the soundstage width and depth of this amp compare to the performance of tube amps? I had a set of Cary CAD-805C monoblocks driving EgglestonWorks Rosa speakers (87dB, bad match). Though there were many faults with the match, it did throw a wide and deep soundstage.
I did not have a tube amp on hand to compare with the Amp II-ACHP, although I did have the Gryphon Antileon Signature, a very tube-like muscle amp if there ever was one. Simply put, the Gryphon threw a wider and deeper soundstage than the Accustic Arts amp. The AA amplifier was all about focus -- the images within its soundstage were sharply defined and very stable. If you're seeking tube-like sound you may be left wanting with the Accustic Arts amp, but if you want a clean, pinpoint-accurate amplifier that will let you zero in on individual areas within the soundstage, the Amp II-ACHP might be your ticket. Oh, and it'll give you plenty of power for those EgglestonWorks speakers, too....Jeff Fritz
November 11, 2004
I just read your review of the Classé Audio Delta CP-500 preamp. Although I have only listened and played with the unit for an hour or two at the store, I am totally convinced that you have hit the nail right on the head (to use an old saying like that makes a guy feel older than he is).
I was thinking of picking up the Classé CDP-100 CD player, CP-500 preamp and CA-2100 CA-2200 amp to replace my existing Sony CD player, NAD C-160 preamp and NAD THX-218 power amp.
I have a pair of MartinLogan Clarity speakers that I have just purchased, and I am wondering if the CA-2100 or CA-2200 will do a better job of driving them. I think that 220Wpc of the NAD amp are probably not as clean or true as the 100Wpc of the CA-2100. I am not sure, but I am thinking that the CA-2200 may be overkill, although I have read that electrostatic speakers need lots of power.
I guess I should have asked you early on if you had a chance to review the CDP-100 or CA-2100/CA-2200 amps. I am hoping you may be able to give me a quick answer or some help with this.
I personally won't be reviewing the Classé CDP-100 CD player or CA-2200 amp, but you will see reviews of both on our sites -- the former on Ultra Audio and the latter here on SoundStage! -- so stay tuned.
I doubt either Classé amp you mention will have any trouble driving your MartinLogan speakers, which do need a good amount of power to sound their very best. As much as I've admired NAD products (like most audiophiles, I've owned a few), the Classé products I've heard over the years have offered better performance -- at a greater price. You may not get more power from either Classé amp you mention, but I suspect you'll get noticeably better sound. In this case, you pay more and you get more.
The all-Classé system you have planned is sweeeet. I'm sure you'll have fun listening to and configuring it....Marc Mickelson
Jeff Rowland Concerto?
November 10, 2004
Do you have any plans to review the Jeff Rowland Concerto integrated amp? It would be interesting to read how it compares to the Mark Levinson No.383, especially in light of your October editorial.
We've been unable to get any Jeff Rowland products for review thus far, so I don't think I'll be hearing the Concerto anytime soon. I agree -- it would be a great unit to compare to the Levinson No.383. I will keep making requests of Jeff Rowland, which may lead to a review at some point....Marc Mickelson
NAD with various Paradigm speakers
November 9, 2004
To Jeff Fritz,
I read your "Surrounded" column on the NAD T743 receiver used with Paradigm Studio 100 v3 speakers, and it sounds very impressive. Could you give me your idea of how the T743 would perform with lower-end Paradigms such as Monitor 3s, or even Mini Monitors? Disregarding bass extension below, say, 60Hz, do you think the receiver and speakers could be an excellent match? What kind of sound can I expect?
My experience with various Paradigm speakers suggests that as you go up the product line the primary differences you'll hear are increased dynamics, resolution, and bass extension. However, all of the Paradigms I've heard have essentially a neutral character across the frequency band. This suggests that the NAD T743's core sound, as described in the review, will come through with either the Mini Monitors or the Monitor 3s. The key is that the NAD has solid, clean power, and that will show a speaker's best attributes every time. I'd not hesitate to try either of the combinations you suggest....Jeff Fritz
More on counterfeit audio cables
November 5, 2004
I read with interest your news and "BackStage!" articles on counterfeit audio cables. Audiophiles in Hong Kong have known that audiophile cables may be fakes for almost a year. Many well-known cables can be found selling at absurdly low prices in several malls in Shenzhen, Mainland China. Are they fakes? Nobody knows, but audiophiles coming from Hong Kong dare not buy them. In fact, many shops that specialize in buying/selling used hi-fi equipment in Hong Kong are now quite reluctant to accept used cables unless they come with the original packing/boxes and receipts from a notable dealer.
Nowadays, buying used cables online is risky!
Kan Pui Gay
Power for Paradigms
November 4, 2004
To Jeff Fritz,
Great piece on the Paradigm Studio 100 v3. I just purchased a pair. I was hoping you could/would answer a question. I have a Yamaha 5760 receiver (95Wpc). Is this enough power for the Studio 100 v3s? If not, what would you recommend?
This month's "Surrounded" examines receiver power ratings and how they can be misleading. I also test the Paradigm Reference Studio 100 v.3 setup I have with NAD's T743 surround receiver, which is rated at 50W x 5 with all channels driven simultaneously. If your Yamaha's power rating is accurate I'd say you'll have no problem with the Paradigms. But remember, all power ratings are not created equal, so if the Studio 100 v3s sound anemic in your system, it likely means the power rating is misleading and you need a more powerful amp.
Hitting the nail on the head
November 3, 2004
To Jason Thorpe,
You have hit the nail right on the head in your Pro-Ject RPM 9 review [in "The Vinyl Word"]. Great, honest review! Only those who have used the turntable will fully understand what you have said. I have been using an RPM 9 with a Blue Point Special cartridge for nearly a year and was wondering why no one has reviewed the turntable in the way you have. I will send the link to this review to all my vinyl-loving friends.
Minimonitors and crossover frequency
November 2, 2004
To Doug Schneider,
I have enjoyed your continuing reviews of stand-mounted speakers; you must be some kind of reference on the subject by now. Both you and Marc Mickelson have reviewed the new Signature-series speakers from Paradigm and concluded that these are indeed competing at the top for under $10,000. What I am curious to know is how, in your opinion, the Signature S2 would compare to something like the JMlab Mini Utopia, which you had described as a true reference minimonitor. Is the Signature S2 in this rarefied company?
Lastly, I noted that Paradigm for this new series has the crossover for the tweeter at 1800Hz. There appears to be a new trend among some speaker designers (e.g., Amphion), who are arguing that getting the tweeter to be below 2000Hz is essential to respecting the human ear's profound sensitivity to the frequency range between 2000 and 5000Hz. Do you feel having now heard the S2 that there might be any merit to this theory?
I believe the Signature S2 to be one of the very best two-way minimonitors you can buy, regardless of price. Yes, that puts it in the "rarefied company" of speakers like the JMlab Mini Utopia. However, a direct comparison between these two speakers is impossible because it has been many years since I've reviewed and heard the Mini Utopia. It has also long since been discontinued.
As for the "lowish" crossover point, that's not really a new thing at all. Numerous Canadian speaker companies have been using a similarly low crossover point for years (Paradigm, PSB, Energy, Mirage). It's done, basically, to get a better "blend" between the tweeter and the midrange or woofer for better on- and off-axis dispersion. Essentially, as frequency increases, midrange and woofer drivers start "beaming" (i.e., their dispersion narrows). If crossed over at too high a frequency between, say, a tweeter and a woofer, as in a two-way like the S2, you can get large "suckouts" off-axis -- you can see this in some speakers we've measured (www.speakermeasurements.com) that have rather high crossover points. Companies like Paradigm like the low crossover point because it takes advantage of the excellent dispersion characteristics of the tweeter, and blending it with the woofer before the woofer starts beaming. Reproducing those lower frequencies does, however, put additional stress on the tweeter, so they've had to make sure to build it so it could take the stress.
Finally, Amphion, which claims a seriously low crossover point of 1200Hz for the argon2. They do that for the reasons I just cited, but also because the company believes in getting the crossover components out of the most critical range of human hearing....Doug Schneider
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