you for the great coverage of
the CES! I noticed your
picture and brief description of the new Esoteric K-01, and read from the company's
website that this unit will use 32-bit AK4399 DACs, eight per channel; a new VRDS-NEO
VMK-3.5-20S transport, claimed to be their most advanced yet; a new apodizing filter; and
remember reading your review of the P-03/D-03 in 2006, and the X-01 Limited before that.
If or when you review a K-01, I am very interested in knowing how you feel this compares
with the P-03/D-03 separates. It would seem that the more advanced DACs and transport
mechanism of the K-01 would give it advantages over the separates, which are now almost
five years old. The K-01 would also seem to benefit from lower jitter, as it is a
much as I love the P-03/D-03, it would be nice to have even better audio performance, and
to have this from a single box rather than two. Whether there is an improvement, and the
degree, is what I would be most interested in knowing. Also, if the K-01 gives up any
performance to the combo, and the impact of using an outboard clock.
supposed to get the first K-01 for review -- the unit that was used at CES, in fact -- so
you'll get to read my thoughts on it. I'll also ask Esoteric about borrowing a G-0Rb
master clock to use with the K-01. -Marc Mickelson
for TAB, Chris Thomas
my book, The Audio Beat is quickly moving up (already there?) toward the top
position of the Internet audio magazines, and its now my foremost source of Internet
high-end-audio coverage. I would like to congratulate you on the many superior reviewers
you have now recruited to TAB, especially Chris Thomas, whom I have read with
great pleasure and respect since I first came across a review by him in Hi-Fi+.
He and I share a fondness of David Berning's electronics. You have also created, without
competition, the best-looking Internet magazine in this market. It's very easy to access
and has nicely placed advertising, reminding me of the very tasty looks of early Hi-Fi+
issues. I just had to let you know!
for your kind words. We're very happy to have the Hi-Fi+ gang -- Chris Thomas,
Dennis Davis, Jason Kennedy and Richard S. Foster -- as part of TAB. They're all
quality people, thinkers and writers.
glad the fine points of the site's layout aren't so plain that readers don't notice them.
I thought long and hard about how to balance TAB's layout and usability, while
not giving over completely to advertising, as some sites have done. A clean look and easy
navigation were goals, and I've received several compliments on both, so I guess I hit the
mark. -Marc Mickelson
of the Philips Liszt LP
Philips Liszt Concertos LP is, in reality, a Mercury recording. It was made
in Walthamstow Hall, where the Mercury team made many recordings for their own label. The
first pressing (which I have) was released by Philips Records, Chicago, Illinois, and was
pressed at the Robert Fine Recording facility. I know this because of the stamper, RFR-1,
which denotes Robert Fine Recording. This, of course, was where these records were pressed
after the Lawrence-Fine-Cozart team switched from the RCA Indianapolis plant, where the FR
stampers were all made. Just think what this record would have sounded like if they
recorded at Watford Town Hall, where the best of the Mercury records were made.
for bringing this great recording and performance (Richter is unreal) to our attention.
question: I have noticed you have Thiel CS3.7s in your list of associated equipment in
your most recent reviews. Does this mean a review of the CS3.7s is forthcoming sometime
have a good eye. Yes, I'm working on a review of the CS3.7. I have two other reviews to
finish first, and the CS3.7 review will appear after those, so stay tuned. -Marc
review and Bose headphones
enjoyed reading your comprehensive review of the Audez'e LCD-2 headphones. The
bottom line is: certainly out of my price range. Because my wife and I occasionally
fly out to different destinations, I always notice businessmen wearing Bose 'phones on our
flights. Why is that? I would like to buy a new set of headphones that will cut down on
all the sound disturbances one is subjected to in the air.
glad you enjoyed the review. Don't feel bad -- the Audez'e headphone are out of my price
range too -- at least for now. But, darn, they're good.
far as traveling goes, Bose does a great job marketing its products, which contributes to
their popularity. If you don't like wearing full headphones (or carrying them around),
look at some of the in-ear models. I use Shure SE535s for my flights and they cut the
noise (not through active means, as the Bose headphones do, but by fitting tightly and
comfortably in the ear). They're also small, lightweight and great-sounding. -John
& THE Show
a great job you did covering
this huge event.
cartridges and gain
and I corresponded back in the spring and you actually
published my question and your answer. I still haven't made any changes, but I'm
getting close. The SoundSmith Aida cartridge remains on my short list, given that I still
enjoy the B&O MMC1 that I've been using. I know that you seem to favor moving coils,
so here goes.
considering a Benz Micro Glider S. I'm in a quandary: go with the high-output version or
the low? Most moving-coil proponents favor the low, but some immediately say the
high-output (2.5mV) has a better signal-to-noise ratio. The Aida MI has an output of
2.3mV, the same as the B&O MMC1. The Benz Glider SL has an output of 0.4mV with an
internal impedance of 12 ohms and a load impedance of >120 ohms. The downside of using
a low-output cartridge is the added expense and longer signal path involved with adding a
step-up transformer and the additional cable.
sent me in the direction of Bob Sattin. He recommends his CineMag step-up transformer at
$395. I also became aware that Rothwell in the UK makes a step-up transformer, which I saw
some positive comments on. Have you heard either of these? I purchased some Rothwell
attenuators for my CD player and they sound great.
are faced with a common dilemma for those who are switching from moving-magnet (or, in
your case, moving-iron) to moving-coil cartridges. Low-output moving-coil cartridges are
still the gold standard, but they require gain that your phono stage may not possess. You
then have to replace your phono stage or add a step-up transformer, among whose issues is
impedance matching and signal loss. Also with a step-up, as you point out, you'll be
adding interconnects (and their capacitance) to the signal path.
have no experience with either of the step-up transformers you mention. However, if I were
in your position and set on a low-output moving-coil cartridge, I would also begin
shopping for a new phono stage to go along with it. While some audiophiles enjoy
experimenting with different step-up transformers, there is so much variance among them
that trying different models in order to find the right one can be a long, hard process.
On the other hand, if your current phono stage has enough gain for a high-output moving
coil, that might be the cartridge to buy, simply for the sake of ease. You may come out
ahead sonically as well. -Marc Mickelson
also seem to own an Ayre C-5xeMP. I use this player in my system. Hey, dont we have
much in common? But tell me something -- do you get the impression that C-5xeMP is better
with Red Book CDs than SACDs? Thats my impression here. Somehow SACDs sound a bit
flat and uninspiring compared to regular CDs, while XRCDs and DVD-As are just mind-blowing
excellent. What are your ears telling you?
other day I read Michael Fremers Stereophile review of Ayre DX-5. He tested
the DX-5s stereo playback via the analog balanced outputs. He likes everything
except the SACD playback. Well, the C-5xeMP and DX-5 are relatives. Is it simply a
coincidence that I dont like C-5xeMPs performance with SACDs and Michael
doesnt like DX-5s performance with SACDs? Could it be that something is wrong
with the format itself, not Ayre players?
don't find the C-5xeMP to sound "flat and uninspiring" with SACDs in my system
(used balanced, that is). I can hear the things that characterize SACD. I do find that
goosing the volume is necessary. The player's DACs have four built-in filters, and the
best-sounding of them for SACD has the lowest output. So when listening to SACDs on the
C-5xe, you have to remember to turn the volume up a few clicks. This is also the case with
the DX-5, whose single-ended output while playing SACDs is 1 volt, which is extremely low
and could cause audible issues in a system with low gain.
added context, I asked Charles Hansen of Ayre about your DX-5 question. His response:
"As far as the sound of SACD goes, all of the digital signals delivered from the
transport in both the C-5xeMP and DX-5 are processed by the exact same circuitry. Same DAC
chip, same analog circuits, same power supplies, same master clock, same everything. So
the only way that DSD would sound different from PCM is if the transport is delivering the
wrong bits somehow." There is one instance with the DX-5 -- if the owner connects it
to a monitor that can't handle DSD, the native language of SACD -- whereby DSD is
converted to PCM, and that would certainly affect the sound.
also wrote, "SACD does sound soft compared to PCM. Everybody knows that.
It's supposed to sound soft compared to PCM. That's what people like about it." I'm
not sure I agree regarding SACD's intrinsic sound, but it is the case that CD and SACD do
sound different. I will be writing about the DX-5 early this year and will be sure to
address its CD and SACD performance separately.
for XRCD, Joe Harley, producer for the Music Wave series of Blue Note recordings on XRCD,
chose XRCD over SACD because he believes it's the best-sounding digital format. I reviewed
the first four Music Wave XRCDs and can confirm that these are very special digital
renderings of great music. -Marc Mickelson