or Audio Research?
followed your writing with SoundStage! and now your new venture. I've always
appreciated your writing style as well as your honesty in reporting what you hear. It's so
hard to describe the sound of a product. I sometimes assist friends with building systems
and have to describe differences in products that they cannot listen to prior to buying,
so I have to describe the sound. It's always difficult. In addition to enjoying your
reviews over the years, I've come to believe that your audio preferences are probably
closer to mine than anyone at Stereophile, TAS or Hi-Fi+ (not
that there are not many greats there as well). When I was looking for new cabling (and
listening to a few, including Shunyata Stratos), I noticed that the Stratos sounded more
natural but perhaps slightly less incisive and dynamic (flip side -- sometimes edgy) than
other cables. You hit the nail on the head when you described the Auroras as
"self-effacing." Well put.
as you may have heard, with great talent come great responsibilities. So I wonder if I
could ask for your thoughts based on your firsthand experience with the Audio Research
Reference equipment and Lamm amps. I have a VPI HRX rim-drive turntable, a Bel Canto PL-1
CD player (will switch in a year or two after music servers and interface standards shake
out), which I use with an Audio Research Reference Phono 2 phono stage, Reference 5 preamp
and Reference 110 amp. Cabling is Stealth Indra and Shunyata. I have Wilson WATT/Puppy 7s
(having previously had Sophias). I have recently heard the Sasha W/Ps and I am hoping to
trade up. However, I am mindful that they have an impedance dip and high phase angle in
the midbass, as did the WATT/Puppy 7s.
I love the Audio Research sound, I believe that the Reference 110 just doesn't grab the
bottom of the WATT/Puppy 7s and provide power in the upper-bass/lower-midrange region as
much as I'd like. Then again, I can live with it. I will probably try the Reference 210s
in my system in the next month or so to evaluate the impact of the extra wattage and
monoblock configuration. However, my understanding is that you and Peter McGrath (another
golden-eared guy) both use the Lamm M1.2s in your systems. What do the Lamm amps bring to
the party that Audio Research amp does not? As in everything, there is also usually a
downside. I assume some separation of instruments or soundstaging differences?
thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Continued success with The Audio Beat,
which I will continue to follow closely.
only do Peter McGrath of Wilson Audio and I both use Lamm M1.2 Reference monoblocks, so do
my colleague here at The Audio Beat, and Trent Workman, who handles Asian
sales for Wilson Audio. There are general similarities between the M1.2s and the Audio
Research Reference 110 (a very fine amp, by the way) and specific differences. What you'll
hear foremost from the M1.2s is greater bass depth and control and a less rounded and
physical midrange. The Reference 110 can cast an immense soundstage, both in terms of
width and depth, and while the Lamm amps are very good in this regard, they aren't as
adept as the Reference 110. The Lamm amps are a bit more incisive on transients than the
Reference 110, and they sound a bit drier in the treble, though they are not inherently
dry-sounding. The Lamm amps work very well with the Reference 5, both sonically and
electrically, strength combining with strength to create a very compelling presentation.
And, of course, the amps are very compatible with Wilson Audio speakers. -Marc
include me in your article-distribution list. I love your new online magazine. Thanks for
add your e-mail address to our reader list -- and thereby be alerted to every site update
-- e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. -Marc
upgrade -- Marten or Raidho?
in search of a speaker upgrade and have short-listed the Marten Audio Bird and the Raidho
Ayra C3. I see that you have experienced the C3. Any input would be appreciated.
been leery of speakers that use ceramic-cone drivers, because of what I've consistently
heard from them at shows: a overly damped, uptight quality, especially in the bass. The
woofers of the Raidho Ayra C3 look like they are ceramic (they are called
"Ceramix"), but they are actually a composite of an aluminum substrate with an
aluminum oxide layer. Those speakers didn't have the quality I mention. A speaker I heard
recently that was even more impressive was the Tidal Contriva Diacera, which does use
ceramic drivers but sounds open and bloomy. I heard these speakers first at the 2009 Rocky
Mountain Audio Fest, and I brought a pair home with me from CES. I'll be writing about
them soon. I don't want to scoop my upcoming review, so I'll just say that the Tidal
speakers are worth your consideration as well, given the speakers you're auditioning. The
pair I have costs around $70,000, but Tidal makes smaller models that would be more
competitive with the Marten and Raidho speakers you mention. The former US distributor for
Raidho, Aaudio Imports, now carries Tidal and could give you some feedback on both brands.
"...is this a significant upgrade?"
just read your
review of the VPI Classic. I enjoyed it, well written.
don't have much extra money to spare right now, but I'm wondering if my turntable is my
weak link. I have Legacy Focus SE speakers, an EAR 324 phono stage, an LFD NCSE 70Wpc
solid-state hand-built amp, and an Audience Ar6T power conditioner. I think all of this
equipment is of very high quality, but I'm wondering if my VPI Scoutmaster turntable and
Dynavector DV 20X HO cartridge are of a similar vein. The people at Music Direct
recommended I upgrade to a VPI Classic with Dynavector DV 17D3 cartridge. They say that
the Classic is even better than the much more costly Super Scoutmaster.
don't want to do anything unless it is a substantial upgrade, and this recommendation is
very appealing -- but is this a significant upgrade?
have no firsthand experience with any VPI turntable beyond the Classic, but as I reported
in my review, Harry Weisfeld of VPI thinks the world of his $2500 turntable, ranking it
with his very best. I trust the people at Music Direct, but your Scoutmaster isn't exactly
an entry-level 'table. My first piece of upgrade advice regarding your analog rig would be
to get a new and better cartridge. You'll definitely improve your system that way, and
perhaps substantially. I think a Dynavector DV XX2 Mk II or Te Kaitora Rua would be a
definitive step upward. -Marc Mickelson
HÝrning or Teresonic?
I remember well, you were quite smitten with the HÝrning
Eufrodites during the show in Denver of last fall, whereas in Las
Vegas the Teresonics were among your favorites.
ones did you like best? Which ones are best for all kinds of music (rock and classical
especially)? Difficult questions to answer, I know, but I would like to limit my listening
trips abroad to one of these speakers, and perhaps you can help.
are very difficult questions to answer because they refer to single components in systems
and rooms I didn't know at all before sitting down to listen, and didn't listen to for
very long. I also heard both systems with completely different music, although via analog
and not digital in both cases. Given all this, if I had to guess and pick between the two,
I would choose the HÝrning Eufrodite, as it was more full-range and involving. I'm sure
the TW-Acustic Black Night turntable with Dynavector XV-1t cartridge in that system didn't
hurt matters a bit. I would also guess that the HÝrning speakers would be better with a
wide variety of music, as they had deeper and weightier bass than the Teresonic speakers. -Marc
you and Paul Bolin had a chance to listen to Audio
Research's new DS450 amp, which is their take on class-D solid-state designs, at CES.
I know you are intimately familiar with Audio Research's tube-based Reference-series amps.
I would love your initial impressions on how you compare the sonic attributes of the
Reference tube-based amps with the new class-D design, especially when pared with the
Reference 5 preamp and digital offerings.
I do have a lot of experience with Audio Research tubed gear, I am also familiar with the
company's solid-state equipment. I lived with a 100.2 stereo amp a number of years ago and
never forgot the experience. Its sound was pellucid and airy, similar to Audio Research's
tube amps in this regard, and there was an immediate rightness to it -- something hard to
define in a few quick seconds but very easy to hear. I had the same feeling while
listening first to the
DSi200 integrated amp in Audio Research's large demo room and then to the DS450 at
CES. In both cases, the speakers were Sonus Faber Cremona Elipsas -- the exact same pair,
in fact. The clarity and musical rightness were undeniable. Both the DSi200 and DS450 are
based on the same Audio Research-developed circuit, so they are unlike other class-D amps
that use off-the-shelf modules. The DS450 seems to be a very worthy successor to the
100.2, which still commands good prices on the used market -- when you can find one, that
is. -Marc Mickelson
ML2.1s "still viable"?
you think the Lamm ML2.1 amps are still viable these days? I've got a pair of Kharma 3.2
FE speakers in the closet that would hold me until I can find a suitable high-sensitivity
speaker to use with these amps. I made the mistake of attending CES this year and left the
Lamm ML3/Wilson MAXX 3 room quite disturbed.
Is your question, Are the Lamm ML2.1s still good amps
in light of the ML3s? Absolutely. The huge difference in price aside, and the difference
in power as well, the ML2.1s remain top-rung SET amps. Yes, the ML3s are magnificent,
especially driving the big Wilson Audio speakers, but they don't make the ML2.1s obsolete.
In fact, at less than a quarter of the price of the ML3s, the ML2.1s are a way to
experience the glory of Lamm all-tube SET sound without paying in excess of six figures.
They can also drive a much wider range of speakers than SET amps with single-digit power
outputs. I'd say all this makes them "viable" indeed. -Marc Mickelson