Letters • July 2010

"Yes, that is what I hear also"

July 28, 2010


I own Tidal Contriva Diacera SE speakers and really enjoyed your characterizations of their sound. As I read your prose, I continually thought, Yes, that is what I hear also. I share your experiences with the listening distance but have yet to really experiment with the jumper and the port plug.

Again, I thought this was an excellent review.

Norm Luttbeg

Comments on the Tidal review

July 27, 2010


Great review of the Tidal Contriva Diacera SE speakers. I just received my pair, and I was helped a great deal by Doug White of The Voice That Is with the setup. I am having a wonderful time with them, and I agree with everything you wrote. You were very accurate with your assessment of their qualities and abilities. My Goldmund 29M amp is able to get the most out of them.

Dave Smith

Footers for ARC equipment, next system upgrade?

July 23, 2010


I wrote to you a few times during the SoundStage! era. Right now I am using an Esoteric P-03/D-03 transport/DAC combo as a source, a Simaudio Moon preamp and power amp, and Revel Ultima Salon2 speakers. All AC cords are Shunyata CX series; interconnects and speaker cables are Transparent MM2.

I am buying a new preamplifier, as I discovered that my Moon P8 has very little gain. It only works with sources with high output voltage, like their own Andromeda CD player. My new preamplifier will be an Audio Research Reference Anniversary. Is it true that the rubber feet under all ARC gear hold back the true sonic potential? Do I really need to bypass those feet and use some sort of metal cones or coupling devices instead to make my preamp sing? I didn't do this while I owned an ARC Reference CD7. Also, what should I do first between investing in a super-costly rack like HRS or super-costly Esoteric G-0Rb master clock?

Wiratorn Ruk

Regarding the feet on Audio Research components, they are chosen specifically for their sonic properties. They are soft and isolate, instead of couple, which is what spiked cones do. I've personally never had any issues with ARC's footers, but there's no harm in experimenting and seeing if another kind of footer would work best with your rack. I've had very good results with edenSound's TerraStone footers, which also have the added property of draining off static electricity.

In terms of how to spend money on your next upgrade, I have no experience with Esoteric's separate clocks, so I can't comment there. I can say that the various Silent Running Audio racks I've used have all been very worthwhile sonic upgrades, especially the new Craz², which I'll be writing about soon. It's important to know that SRA racks are meant to be used with equipment in stock form and no special footers or isolation devices between the component and shelf. SRA takes the configuration of each component into account in the design of its racks. -Marc Mickelson

Ayre MX-Rs, archiving TAB articles

July 19, 2010


I happened to see that your latest reviews have been done using both the Ayre MX-R and Lamm M1.2 Reference amplifiers. Are you preparing a review of the Ayre MX-R monoblocks? If so, could you do a direct comparison of them to the Lamm M1.2 amplifiers? (And as long as I'm dreaming, please connect them to Paul Bolin's EgglestonWorks Andra II speakers.) I am not just asking because I happen to own Lamm M2.1 amplifiers and the Andra II speakers. (All right, all right, I lied. That is precisely the reason why I am asking!)

I look forward to seeing the review.

Two other things.

When I go to your site and hit the "Archives & Search" option at the top, the submenu that comes up does not allow me to see any archived equipment reviews -- at least when I put the mouse over "Equipment Reviews" nothing happens. Why is this? Is it because your site is so new that you have not archived any reviews yet? This is my assumption, but I am not sure. Or is there a problem?

When you do archive the equipment reviews (assuming there are none now), could you do me a favor? (Yes, me personally -- not for anybody else, just for me!) Could you please break down the equipment reviews into categories? It would be a great help if they were broken down into a few categories, such as:

Source equipment - (Digital players, turntables, tonearms and cartridges)
Amplification - (Preamplifiers and amplifiers)
Everything else - (Cables, power conditions, racks, tweaks, etc.)

I understand why you don't do if for current reviews, as it is nice to see all of the "new" reviews there. But once they have been up for awhile, (a few months or so), it would make sense to archive them.

Mark A. Helton

Yes, I do have Ayre MX-R amps right now, and a KX-R preamp too. I will be writing about both, as well as the new DX-5 digital player. You can rest assured that I'll compare the Ayre amps to my Lamm M1.2s.

Regarding your questions about TAB's archives, yes, the reason you can't click on "Equipment Reviews," for instance, and see a listing is that I haven't archived any equipment reviews yet. That's coming. Also coming are categories of reviews. I plan to list them by product type, date and even writer, so you can see everything that Paul Bolin has reviewed for TAB, for example. -Marc Mickelson

Thanks for the Esoteric coverage

July 15, 2010


I just read Paul Bolin's Esoteric review from the link you passed along. Thank you so much for sending this to me! It was interesting to read of the improvement Paul heard by adding the G-03X Master Clock. Your past reviews of Esoteric equipment were very informative, and were influential to my adding, first, an X-01 CD/SACD player and then later the P-03/D-03 transport and DAC, which I have enjoyed immensely for the past several years. The G-03X may be a way to even better sound without investing at the level of a G-0Rb.

That Paul heard a distinct improvement by adding a G-03X to the X-01 D2 is helpful information. Again, thanks for sending the link. I thought Paul's review was most enjoyable to read!

Bryan Allen

Grant Green, Larry Young and Music Matters

July 12, 2010


I just read the Grant Green/Larry Young review. Great writing! And great music. How did you learn so much about jazz?

This is the first I've heard about Music Matters. Are they really releasing the old Blue Notes on 45rpm? And what's the story behind it all?

Charles Murphy

I learned about jazz by immersing myself in it -- something I continue to do, learning more each time I sit down to listen. It's incredibly rich and challenging music, and the greatest recordings, like so many in the Blue Note catalog, reveal themselves slowly, with repeated listening.

Music Matters is a great story -- and record label. Joe Harley and Ron Rambach, who run it, have decades of experience in the music industry, but more than this, they have great knowledge of the Blue Note catalog. They have immersed themselves in it, helping those who buy their LPs discover some of the most important jazz ever recorded. All of their releases are on a pair of 45rpm LPs -- not the smaller 7" records that we think of as 45s. They have chosen 45rpm because of its potential for improved sound -- something they achieve with each of their releases. Joe and Ron truly love this music, and their definitive LPs are an expression of that. -Marc Mickelson

Conditioning or regeneration?

July 5, 2010


Here's a quick question, but I suspect it has a not-too-straightforward answer. Where do you stand on mains conditioning as opposed to mains regeneration? There are numerous products in both areas, and currently I'm looking at the PurePower range -- intuitively mains regeneration seems the most logical, l but I'm sure it's not that straightforward.

Dominic Bexon

I have firsthand experience with both the regeneration and passive conditioning/filtering approaches. I thought very highly of a PS Audio Power Plant regenerator when I owned it, until I tried a Shunyata Hydra. While I wouldn't hesitate to use a PS Audio unit with low-power components like digital or analog sources, I wasn't convinced that it was the best choice for use with preamps and especially power amps, because the unit couldn't re-create enough power to keep up with their demands.

Nowadays, I use a single Shunyata Hydra V-Ray Version II power conditioner or Essential Sound Products Essence Reference power distributor and plug everything into it. Both have proved to be the best power products I've used so far. They're passive devices, so I guess you could say that I have chosen that route over regeneration of power. -Marc Mickelson

Amps for Verity Lohengrin IIs?

July 1, 2010


First, my compliments on The Audio Beat -- it's a great read! Whereas other websites are becoming dominated with and even plain aggressive in terms of advertising and have become heavy to download because of it, The Audio Beat is fresh and keeps the focus on the passion for music and reproducing it well. It serves readers in a pleasant and more attractive way.

May I ask your personal opinion and some steering in my quest? There are quite some pictures of your home setup online, and some time ago the Verity Lohengrin IIs were in those pictures, together with a fine array of amplifiers. I have proudly owned the Lohengrin IIs for some two years now. They are absolute keepers. Maybe I've come to a certain age --50 -- and with that age has come a certain knowledge of what I want. My front-end components are long-stayers too: Verdier La Platine turntable, Kuzma Airline tonearm and Ortofon A90 cartridge. Our room is large -- 240 cubic meters (8475 cubic feet if calculated correct) -- but also fully acoustically measured and treated. The teaming up of the Lohengrin IIs and the room is a very happy marriage.

I have had the Atma-Sphere M-60s and MA-1s with the VU meters in my system. I also had an opportunity to hear a vintage Luxman C-03 preamp and M-03 amp, which have digital VU meters. Those meters gave an interesting message: 80% of time I listen up to 1 watt, 15% of time I listen up to 5 watts, 4% of the time transients reach 10 watts, and 1% of time (absurd SPLs here) transients reach 50 watts.

I hear what you are probably thinking: 12 SET watts and I will go to heaven. But what you see at the front with Lohengrin IIs is not what you get. There are 15" woofers around back.

What were your experiences with the Lohengrin IIs and amplifiers? The picture online tells me that Lamm, Zanden, and Audio Research amps were all used. I'm neither a SET addict (although the WAVAC 833 v1.3 is one of the best amps I have ever heard) nor a solid-state. It is hard to get the strings right, and once you reach that, the timpani comes in!

Oh, the quest.

Ron Ploeger

Thanks for the kind words about TAB. What you note is what I was hoping people would see: that it's a reader-friendly site driven by a love of music and great reproduction of it. I'm glad that we seem to be accomplishing this goal.

The Verity Lohengrin IIs are very fine speakers, and they not only will benefit from the best amps you can afford, they deserve them. You have named all of the usual suspects. Lamm has shown with Verity many times in the past, and the two brands have a definite synergy. A pair of M1.2 Reference monoblocks, which I use, would make your speakers sing. Synergy also happens with Verity and Nagra. John Quick is the US representative for both brands, and he therefore demonstrates them together. I've been very impressed with the results more than a couple of times, including at this year's CES.

Thinking back to my review of the Lohengrin IIs from a few years ago, I remember being delighted with Atma-Sphere MA-2 Mk III amps driving the speakers. Because of the Atma-Sphere amps' OTL circuit, the more output tubes each amp has, the better it can deal with diverse speaker loads. The MA-2 Mk IIIs have more output tubes than both of the Atma-Sphere amps you mention combined. The midrange splendor of these amps with the Lohengrin IIs was something to behold. I would therefore recommend that you hear your speakers with the latest MA-2s before settling on another amp, even though you have experience with other Atma-Sphere amps.

I will also suggest a solid-state contender: the Ayre MX-R, a pair of which I have right now. These amps are very special -- an accolade I'll explore when I write about the amps later this summer. -Marc Mickelson


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