Letters • January 2010

B&W?

January 26, 2010

Marc,

Speaking of B&W, have you written any reviews or do you have an opinion on the 804s or other speakers from B&W? It seems that people either love the brand or hate it. From what you have gathered over your years of experience, does B&W generally have a good reputation in the audiophile community?

Sheldon Simon

Sorry, but I actually haven't heard a B&W speaker in my system. In fact, I can't remember the last time I heard a speaker from the company, period. I did arrange B&W reviews on SoundStage! for other writers, but none for myself.

I think B&W has an exceptional reputation among audiophiles -- a big company that still seems to understand the audiophile ethic. As with any speaker, B&W's sound is not for everyone, but there's no denying that a lot of thought goes into each model. I'm hoping to review one of the new 800 Diamond-series speakers, just so I can answer questions like yours with greater knowledge. -Marc Mickelson

"Keep it up, guys!"

January 24, 2010

Marc,

Thank you for making such an insightful and delightful site. Keep it up, guys!

Trond Torgnesskar

Graham and Audio-Technica?

January 20, 2010

Marc,

I wanted to ask you how the Audio-Technica AT33EV cartridge is on the Graham Phantom tonearm. I know you use the AT33EV on your VPI Classic, but have you mounted this cart on the Phantom? Also, I know the AT33EV is a world apart from your Dynavector XV-1s in price, but are they similar in some ways?

Noli Tan

I did mount the Audio-Technica AT33EV on my Graham Phantom, and the results were impressive. The AT33EV is a fine cartridge, and it's available for around $500. Its self-effacing sound may not impress some listeners, but that's a sign of the AT33EV's sonic balance and fundamental neutrality. Mounted on the Phantom, I found the cartridge to match the sound of the tonearm to a notable degree, the two offering the proverbial clear window into the sound of the records I played. While my Dynavector XV-1s sounds more smooth and suave, and it has slightly more extended bass, I am glad to have the AT33EV around, especially mounted on the VPI Classic, as the two are a high-performance, reasonably priced combination. -Marc Mickelson

Show coverage, Sasha W/P review

January 13, 2010

Marc,

I wanted to let you guys know that I loved your CES/THE Show coverage. Very nice job!

Now that you guys are back and the dust has settled, do you have any idea when the masses will be able to read the Wilson Audio Sasha W/P review? I saw something in the letters section that said it would be published before CES.

Paul McGarrity

Paul Bolin submitted his review while we were in Las Vegas, but there was no time to get it online amidst the frantic pace of CES and THE Show. I will be working on the review over the next couple of days and should have it online by Saturday the 16th at the latest. I will send the link to the TAB reader list the minute the review is live. -Marc Mickelson

Comparing digital in a "helpful" way

January 12, 2010

Marc,

I enjoyed the Audio Research Reference CD8 review a lot. You have a way of talking about audio that is very helpful, which is more than I can say about most of your competition. The comparison of the CD8 to your Zanden units was especially helpful. I have had many jolly talks with Gilbert Yeung of Blue Circle Audio about the differences between his DACs and Audio Note's, and they generally come down to the differences you are talking about in your review. I am eager to hear Audio Note's forthcoming CDT 5 (tubed!) transport to pair with my (tubed) Audio Note Dac 4.1 Balanced Signature DAC. Together they retail for around the price of your Zanden gear, and I expect a similar sound, Peter Qvotrup's taste being analog at heart.

Bob Neill

Phono cable and phono stage?

January 4, 2010

Marc,

I have a technical question concerning AudioQuest's LeoPard phono cable. I just bought one to go with the Graham Phantom II tonearm (and the TW-Acustic Raven AC-3 turntable), and there is a small screw on the DIN, near the bottom of it, that prevents me from inserting the DIN any farther than at the very end of the Graham`s socket. Since you use the same products (I bought it, as always, with your inspiration), did you face the same problem? If so, what should I do?

By the way, are you going to review this phono cable?

One more thing: I'm also looking these days for a new phono stage. I read your reviews of the Lamm LP2 Deluxe and Audio Research PH7 phono stages, but I was wondering which of the two you would ultimately recommend, and what you think about the TW-Acustic phono stage, which seems to be well recommended by some users -- of course, if you have already had the chance to hear it.

Mike Cohen

I know the screw you are referring to. It aligns with the notch in the Graham tonearm's DIN receptacle. The thing to keep in mind is that the DIN plug on the LeoPard isn't meant to be jammed in all the way in order to cover the pins completely. Instead, it makes tight contact with the end of the pins and that's it. This is also the case with other tonearm cables I've used with the Phantom, including Graham's own. Just push the connector in until it has engaged the pins -- you'll feel it lock in place. After that, don't force it in any farther or you may damage the pins. The first time you plug the cable in, the fit will be especially tight, so don't use too much muscle.

Right now, I have no plans to review the AudioQuest LeoPard, but I use it happily with my Graham/TW-Acustic analog rig.

Regarding phono stages, I recently reviewed the Blue Circle BC703, and in my review I compare it to the Audio Research PH7 and Lamm LP2 Deluxe. Any of these three phono stages will do your analog rig, as refined as it is, justice. Beyond them, if you are contemplating mounting a second tonearm on your turntable, you should also consider the Audio Research Reference Phono 2. It has two inputs, along with a number of other useful features, including Decca and Columbia EQ curves. I have heard good things about TW-Acustic's own phono stage, along with the Tron Seven, which Jeff Catalano of High Water Sound, the distributor of TW-Acustic products in the US, recommends very highly. You don't mention what cartridge you'll be using, which will somewhat influence your choice of phono stage. However, these are all high-quality units that will provide enough gain and loading options for most high-quality cartridges. -Marc Mickelson

 

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