Letters • December 2009

Lamm LL1 Signature review?

December 28, 2009


I recently found your new site. Congratulations on your and Paul Bolin's new adventure! The layout and the content presentation are very appealing.

Here I am patiently waiting for your Lamm LL1 Signature review -- sitting here on the fence between the LL1 Signature/Lamm LP2 Deluxe the Convergent Audio Technology SL1 Legend preamplifier to mate with Lamm ML3 amps.

Alan Farris

My apologies for the delay with the Lamm LL1 Signature review. I've been swamped with work since TAB launched on October 1, and I'm only now getting to the end of my equipment-review backlog. I'm glad the companies have been patient. The Lamm LL1 Signature review will appear shortly after CES -- in fact, it will be the first one I work on after returning from Las Vegas. As you surmise, I will be comparing the LL1 Signature to the CAT SL1 Legend's line stage, and I may add a few comments about both companies' phono stages. -Marc Mickelson

Blue Circle BC703 review

December 24, 2009


Hats off to you for this excellent review, especially the comparison to other high-end phono stages. How many in the biz can accomplish this sort of excellent survey of topflight components? Very good service.

Beyond that, it's a clear, entertaining, and informative read throughout. I'm sure you need no praise from me, but it's my pleasure to say it.

You are Il miglior fabbro!

Garrett Hongo

Sasha W/P -- when?

December 23, 2009


I really like your new site.

Any idea when the Sasha W/P review will be available?

Mike Jenson

P.S. -- The color of the Sashas in Paul Bolin’s room -- is that desert silver?

We're glad you like The Audio Beat. It has been a lot of work so far, but we're happy with what we've achieved since the site's launch less than three months ago.

I know Paul Bolin is working on his review of the Wilson Audio Sasha W/P speakers. He and I both hope it will appear before we leave for CES early next month. And yes, the speakers installed in Paul's listening room are in Wilson's desert silver finish. -Marc Mickelson

Acoustic Art system

December 21, 2009


From your RMAF report: "I sat quietly through Ted Denney’s demonstration, in which he played a piece of music, removed the [Acoustic Art] treatments and played the same piece of music. There was an unmistakable improvement with the treatments in. Why lower frequencies should be audibly affected by these small devices in such a large room is one of the things that nearly drives me to racquetball."

First of all, I have to say that is one of the funniest audio-related lines I have ever read.

I actually heard that system in my room. However I unfortunately could not set up the system correctly. My dealer did it for me. It was as good as we could get it without putting holes in my walls. While it made a difference, the amount of change in my room did not justify the cost to me. So, for treatments, I am going the traditional route: eight GIK traps. I will get them after the holidays.

Keep up the good work.

Mike Doukas

TosLink recommendation

December 14, 2009


I wrote to you a few months ago with a quick question that you faithfully answered. Thanks. I now need to buy a TosLink-to-TosLink or mini-to-TosLink cable to go from a Mac Mini to an EAD 7000 Mk 3 DAC. Could you offer me any recommendations, please? There is some question as to whether or not a mini-to-TosLink adapter will cause sonic degradation. Aside from a private label (Lifatec, plastic conductor), only van den Hul (plastic) and now WireWorld (glass) offer a direct mini-to-TosLink cable.

Steven Reitz

By its very nature, TosLink is a compromised digital-connection format, so you're starting at a deficit with it. I looked on WireWorld's website and didn't see a mini-plug-to-TosLink cable, but that is a better bet than using an adapter of questionable quality. If you can use coaxial or perhaps even USB (with something like the Blue Circle 24/96 USB Tunnel that I covered on TAB to convert to coaxial or AES/EBU), you will probably have better sonic results. -Marc Mickelson

Amp for VTL TL-7.5 preamp?

December 7, 2009


A couple of years ago -- in your SoundStage! days -- you wrote a great review of the VTL TL-7.5 II preamp. Due to that review (and for other reasons too, of course) I bought the preamp. Which tube power amp would you use it with? And which solid-state amp? My speakers are only 89dB sensitive.

Patrick Vancompernolle

I actually reviewed the first version of the VTL TL-7.5, not the second, which uses different line-stage tubes. If you have the second version, you will have greater flexibility in matching it with an amp than with the first version, which sounded glorious but had very high voltage gain that created ample background hiss with certain amps and speakers.

My first suggestion is a VTL amp -- perhaps the MB 450 Series II Signature monoblocks I heard at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest. They will easily drive your speakers, and I'm sure there's a family sonic resemblance to your preamp. The TL-7.5 II, which I have heard in my system, is a very transparent preamp. It will therefore make it a good mate for many different amps that are of very high quality. I loved the original TL-7.5 with Lamm ML2.1 SET monoblocks, and I've also heard it make great sound with VTL's monster mono tube amps, the Siegfrieds. Nowadays I use an Audio Research Reference 110 stereo amp and Lamm M1.2 Reference monoblocks, both of which are hybrids. I'm sure both would be a very good sonic match with your preamp. -Marc Mickelson

"...cartridge and phono stage under $3000"?

December 2, 2009


Great review of the VPI Classic. I just wanted to let you know that I ended up purchasing the 'table. My only problem now is that this is my first turntable and I am stumped on which cartridge and phono stage to get. Any suggestions?

My musical preference is for acoustic music, vocal jazz , opera and roots music. I prefer a warmer presentation than that of an analytical one. I still want detail and fast transients, but I desire something with rich harmonics and tone, palpable images, and a sense of immediacy.

I would like to keep the combination of cartridge and phono stage under $3000. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Lee Thompson

Congratulations on your purchase. There are, of course, two ways to go with a cartridge and phono stage: moving magnet or moving coil. And then within the moving-coil camp, you can go with a high- or low-output cartridge. You can certainly get a top-flight moving-magnet cartridge and a phono stage with enough gain for it for $3000 -- likely much less. The moving-coil route will cost more and be harder to fit into your $3000 budget, especially if you go the low-output route.

Given what you say about your sonic priorities, I would first recommend a Dynavector cartridge, which the folks at VPI also like. A 10X5 will cost you around $500, and a 20X around $750. Both are high-output MCs, so you can get by with a phono stage that offers less gain. Creek and Bellari make inexpensive phono stages that would provide enough gain for either cartridge, and they sound good too.

If it were my Classic, however, I would take a different route that's also better in my opinion. Audio-Technica's AT33EV, which I used for my review, costs around $500 street price ($899 list). Add an Audio Research PH5 phono stage, and you're right at $3000. The AT33EV is a low-output moving-coil cartridge, and one with which the Classic sounds very good. The PH5's adjustable loading and higher gain will give you a viable upgrade path for the future.

The Classic will keep up with any cartridge and phono stage you use, even those that cost multiples of its price, but it will shine with the best you can afford. I used the Classic with the AT33EV and Audio Research's PH7, and the results were very impressive. I could live very happily with this rig. -Marc Mickelson


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