DX-5, Blue Train, SHM-SACDs, and computer audio
Your review of the
Ayre DX-5 (which I own, as you might remember) is right on the money. If I had your
writers talent, Id write something very similar. So, I just wanted to
complement you on the very thorough research you conducted before writing your review.
Thank you for a job superbly done!
throw stones at me, but your collection of Coltranes Blue Train is not
complete until you get the 24-bit/192kHz DVD-A version by Classic Records. I also owned
the Analogue Productions SACD at one time and sold it after comparing it to the Classic
Records HDAD. It is uncanny and mind-boggling. The smoothness, the presence, the darkness
of it needs to be heard to be believed. Amazingly, it is still available from most decent
retailers at only $25. You might end up selling all of your other versions of this album
when and if you get this one.
you please tell me what SHM-SACDs you currently own and which ones turned out to be
disappointments to be avoided? I currently own seven and only one (Innuendo by
Queen) fell short of my expectations. I think Id like to buy more, but would like to
avoid mistakes, as at $60 apiece, such mistakes are a bit costly.
but not least, I was surprised by your rather lukewarm stance on computer audio generally
and with DX-5 in particular. I havent taken the plunge yet, but almost everyone
keeps telling me, that a Mac Mini (with Amarra or Pure Music on board) plus the AudioQuest
PSS silver USB cable plus the Ayre DX-5s DAC leaves disk spinning - even SACD
spinning - far behind, what with the need to continuously correct disc-reading errors
and so on. I was wondering if, since reviewing DX-5, you had a chance to play around with
computer audio playback in your system and, if so, has your stance changed at all?
glad you found the DX-5 review accurate, especially because you own one. As you note, I
don't own the 24-bit/192kHz DVD-A of Blue Train, although I do have Classic
Records' earlier 24-bit/96kHz DVD-V. While I don't really need another copy of this great
music, I'll probably pick up the HDAD at the next show I attend, just because you've
planted the seed in my head.
for SHM-SACDs, I've not come across any that I would call a "mistake," even
Steely Dan's Aja, which some people have expressed displeasure with. (I don't own
Queen's Innuendo, by the way.) I will say that I'm not sure the SHM-SACD of the
Rolling Stones' Beggars Banquet is worth the premium in price over the ABKCO SACD
from a few years earlier. On the other hand, I do think the various Bill Evans Riverside
titles and Sonny Rollins' Way Out West and Saxophone Colossus are well
worth the cost, and I also own multiple copies of them all. Also, as your DX-5 can play
Blu-ray music discs, you should look into the Deluxe Edition of Rush's Moving
Pictures and the UK release of the Stones' GRRR! greatest-hits compilation.
Be sure to get the Blu-ray edition of the Rush package, not the DVD; Rush's 2112
is also available the same way.
as I stated in the answer to another recent reader letter, computer audio remains a
curiosity for me, one whose potential, I believe, has still not been reached. As much I
would like to believe that file playback from computer is better than it is from a
spinning disc, my ears have so far indicated otherwise. I am interested in evaluating DSD
archiving and file playback, and one of the Bryston units that allow file playback from a
thumb drive, no computer needed. I guess you could say that I'm on the fence, although I
will admit that I've not fully investigated computer audio, probably because I'm playing
and enjoying more CDs, SACDs and LPs more than ever. -Marc Mickelson
need to upgrade when playing "only" LPs?
have the greatest confidence in your reviews. I purchased the Audio Research Reference 75
coverage to replace the Reference 110.
over 40 years I have been collecting classical LPs and have over 2500 records. I do not
listen to CDs at all and consider my Decca LPs of operas to be gems! I use a Clearaudio
turntable with linear-tracking 'arm together with Audio Research electronics and Sonus
faber Stradivari speakers.
use an Audio Research Reference 3 preamp. My audio friend states that since I only use the
volume control of my preamp, I need not upgrade. Would you agree?
and many thanks for the good you are doing for audio lovers!
friend makes a reasonable point, given your single-input system, but I don't agree with it
based on experience. I've owned both the Reference 3 and Reference 5, and the difference
between them was completely in the Reference 5's favor. You actually need the gain of an
active line stage even more with analog than digital, and I am sure that if you upgraded
to the Reference 5 SE, for instance, you'd hear the difference, even "only"
playing LPs. -Marc Mickelson
job on the
last Tech InSite case study. Thanks.
glad you like this area of the site. There are actually two other Tech InSites in the
works, and we're anxious to get them online. -Marc Mickelson
with Ayre MX-Rs?
still an avid fan of the The Audio Beat. Can I please pick you brain and ask you
a question about a review you wrote of long ago? Do you remember the Ayre MR-X
review? Especially with which preamp you tested the power amps? Did the amps sound
their best with the Ayre KX-R or with the Audio Research Reference 5?
question is a good one, but also one that I can't answer definitely. First, I reviewed the
MX-Rs two and a half years ago, and second, both the Reference 5 and KX-R worked
especially well with the MX-Rs, although they certainly didn't sound identical, as I
recall. Not surprisingly, the Reference 5 moved the sound more toward what tubes do well:
space, fuller images, ease. The KX-R was rather like the MX-Rs -- possessing superior
transient fidelity and dynamics, along with what's best termed as unforced resolution.
in this case is relative. I would say that if you love your MX-Rs, the KX-R is the easiest
choice for partnering preamp. However, it would be impossible for me to say that it was
better than the Reference 5 -- perhaps because that's the preamp I owned at the time,
perhaps because I just like tubes. -Marc Mickelson
I welcome a new dog to the household. Ive had dogs before, but not since Ive
been in to the high-end audio hobby. How concerned should I be regarding shedding dog hair
and my speakers and electronics? I usually keep the speaker grills off. Should I readdress
dont think the Boston terrier is a huge shedder -- but not too sure. Should I keep
the grilles on or am I being crazy here? I just recall so many for-sale ads specifically
mentioning "pet-free environment." I'm wondering what your thoughts are.
think "pet-free environment" in for sale-ads is a further reassurance of good
condition, not a proclamation of anything in particular. The ultimate condition of any
item you try to sell overrides your owning a pet -- or not owning a pet. We have three
cats, all well behaved, and they've never damaged any audio item I've owned -- and I've
never felt the need to proclaim this when I sold a preamp, for instance. Smoking is a
different matter, as it can leave a residual odor that may bother some people. I remember
buying a piece of electronics with that issue, and I took it back.
advice is to enjoy your new dog. -Marc Mickelson
traded e-mail every so often. I really love The Audio Beat! I am curious about
buying a new preamp. My sources are the dCS Scarlatti stack, a Nagra VPS with EAR MC
step-up transformer, Lyra Atlas cartridge / Triplanar tonearm / Grand Prix Monoco
turntable analog rig. My amps are the Ayre MX-Rs, which you reviewed a while back. My
current preamp is a Nagra PLL. Speakers are Wilson MAXX 3s, but I have Rockport Altair 2s
you listen to the Ayre KX-R at all? Any thoughts you can share? I am also considering the Audio Research Reference 5 SE (I could also find a Reference Anniversary used or buy a Reference 10 if I love the 5 SE) and
maybe maybe the Robert Koda K-10. I don't want to nudge my system in any way toward
something more lean. This has me a bit nervous with the 6H30 tubes in the Audio Research
preamp as well as the solid-state Ayre KX-R.
Koch of Robert Koda and I did trade e-mails. I'm pretty sure I'll be able to try the K-10
as well as the Audio Research and Ayre preamps in my system over the next month.
the preamps you've mentioned, I don't think any of them would be a poor choice, and I
suspect you'd find, as I have, that they all have their strengths. I did, in fact, listen
to the Ayre KX-R when I reviewed the MX-Rs, and it deserves to be in your lineup of
possibilities. I don't think it, or any of the preamps you've mentioned, will nudge your
system toward a lean sound, although the KX-R might give that impression, depending on
what you're used to. Before I heard the KX-R, I was told that it's a better preamp than
the MX-Rs are amps -- very high praise indeed. I didn't audition it long enough to confirm
this, but I can say that it's a very fine preamp.
between the lines of your message, I think a tube unit may suit you best. You've
identified all of the balanced suspects here, except for one: the VTL TL-7.5 III,
which would make for an especially interesting match with the MX-Rs, the two of them
imparting some thrilling transients and dynamics. The Robert Koda K-10 is all solid state,
but it possesses the greatest unforced detail and ease of the preamps you mention, so it
is another one for you to investigate. -Marc Mickelson
Objectivity of Subjectivity"
have to admit that when I read the title of your essay
(okay, blog), I nearly did not go on to read it. I feared another of the endless
discussions (okay, rants) about objectivity and subjectivity you refer to in your piece.
However, I care deeply about this subject and have tried many times to explain it to
non-audiophiles, so I read on.
I was very pleasantly surprised to find a rational explanation of the terms, and how they
applied to these discussions, without much of a trace of the usual rancor accompanying
such discussions. It may still have been a little bit pedantic, but I think you pretty
much avoided sounding that way, and it was illuminating. It may very well help me to
explain this phenomenon in the future.
also like to use the analogy to wine appreciation very often to explain the phenomenon of
"learning to hear" or training your ears, or more likely, brain, to appreciate
the differences we pay so dearly to make. I think it is probably the most apt comparison
one can make about our hobby.