Letters • July 2011

650T coming?

July 30, 2011

Marc,

Great mini review of the Audio Research Reference 250s.

Since Audio Research has upgraded the Reference 210 to the Reference 250, is the company working to upgrade the Reference 610T to Reference 650T anytime soon?

Tracy Hill

I've not heard from Audio Research that such an amplifier is in the works, but it seems natural that it would be. However, when the 610Ts were introduced, they were the first of the new Reference-series amps, while in this case they would presumably be the last of them.

Warren Gehl, Audio Research's chief listener, has told me that the Reference 250s are the best amplifiers that Audio Research has ever made, improving on the 610Ts in a number of ways. Based on what I heard at the factory, he's right, and it's difficult to believe that they can be improved upon to any great degree -- or at all. -Marc Mickelson

More Roy?

July 28, 2011

Marc,

I noted the contribution of Roy Gregory to your website. Any chance he will be reviewing hi-fi components for The Audio Beat?

David Rudolph

We're glad to publish Roy's work on the site, and it's safe to say that you'll be seeing more from him regarding equipment in the future. We'll announce his further involvement to our reader list. -Marc Mickelson

Older Tidal or new Wilson?

July 26, 2011

Marc,

Thanks for your great, insightful reviews of both the Wilson Sophia 3 and Tidal Contriva Diacera SE.

I currently have a Nagra CDP, Nagra PLL and NAGRA VPA as my main rig. My current speaker is the DeVore Silverback, which makes great music. I am looking to improve dynamics and add a bit more top-end resolution. I do get great coherence and a very natural, organic musical timbre.

I have the opportunity to purchase an older Tidal Contriva Diacera (the three-way, but still with the diamond tweeter) or a new Wilson Sophia 3 for about the same price. I prefer a non-fatiguing presentation with delicacy but also impact.

I would welcome your thoughts regarding a comparison between the two. I realize that the Tidal review model was the newer version with an extra driver and improved crossover. Nevertheless, any insight from you would be greatly appreciated.

Andre Szarukan

You're considering an early model of the Tidal Contriva Diacera without the second woofer and other changes from the speaker I reviewed. Given all this, I honestly can't comment of what that early speaker might sound like; I would bet that it will present the music in a "non-fatiguing" way, but knowing nothing more about it, I can't say more.

Of course, I can offer a great deal of feedback on the Wilson Sophia 3, which will surely help you achieve that non-fatiguing presentation, along with great coherence and naturalness, which your current speakers possess. However, given your Nagra electronics and desire to "improve dynamics and add a bit more top-end resolution," I would urge you to save your money until you can afford a pair of Wilson Sasha W/Ps, which will satisfy you in ways the Sophia 3s can't quite achieve -- and in other ways you won't know until you hear them. As I point out in my Sophia 3 review, "...the Sashas have the potential to reach greater sonic heights, given partnering components that can deliver on that potential." I think you have that partnering equipment. -Marc Mickelson

Fulton Gold!?

July 19, 2011

Allen Edelstein still uses Fulton Gold! Allen Edelstein still uses Fulton Gold?

Dave Gordon

Yes, I still use Fulton Gold speaker cables from the late 1970s. There are a number of reasons.

My speakers are a long distance from my amplifier, in different rooms, and resistance can become a factor in amp/cable/speaker response. The Fulton Golds have extremely low resistance due to their very large gauge.

My Fulton Golds are configured to improve their performance. The positive and negative connections to each speaker are spaced apart, reducing high-frequency inductance and improving high-frequency performance. And the cables are damped with a soft-foam wrap to decrease microphonic feedback.

And finally, they were a gift from Bob Fulton, and there's a bit of nostalgia involved also. -Allen Edelstein

Repair or replace No.383?

July 13, 2011

Marc,

We recently purchased Wilson Audio Sophia 3s as our MartinLogans died. They were paired with a Mark Levinson No.383 integrated amp and a Linn Unidisk digital player. The Levinson went to the hospital yesterday, diagnosis pending. An Ayre AX-7e was sent as a loaner. I don't know if it's broken in or not, but it sounds pretty good to us.

Any thoughts or recommendations on yes/no repair vs. replace the No.383? And if replace, Ayre vs . . . ? I realize the former is primarily driven by cost to repair, but I would welcome your thoughts.

One last datum: I am 60 and have excellent hearing in my right ear only. I lost substantial hearing in my left ear over a decade ago and live with it. I love classical music and jazz equally, and folk will always be part of my DNA.

Lew Sibert

Your message is the second in two months to reference the Mark Levinson No.383, which I reviewed and owned a number of years ago. If I were in your shoes, I would definitely get the No.383 fixed, unless it's a nearly hopeless and therefore very expensive cause. It remains one of the finest integrated amps ever made, both sonically and especially functionally. The Ayre AX-7e is a worthy replacement, as is the solid-state Audio Research DSi200. Both cost considerably less than your No.383 did in its day. My instincts would be to try some tubes as well. In this regard, the Audio Research VSi60 is worth considering if you can get by with 60Wpc. It may may enliven your music in important ways. -Marc Mickelson

Paradigm Signature S8s and "HEAI"

July 6, 2011

Marc,

I have a question, but perhaps it’s really a deep-seated case of high-end-audio insecurity (HEAI) that would best be directed to my neighborhood shrink. Okay, my front speakers are Paradigm Signature S8 v2s with beryllium tweeters. I recall reading your May 2010 review of the S8 v3 model, which presumably would be roughly the same as the v2 model. (I understand that the v2 and v3 are voiced the same except for "mods" to the midrange drivers and woofers that increase overall sensitivity from 89dB to 92dB. I believe the tweeters were not changed.)

My sense from your review was that the S8 v3 performed way beyond its price point, even challenging speakers that retailed in excess of $20,000 or more. I have owned the S8 v2s for about two years now. My impressions are very similar to the ones you articulated in your review. In fact, I even rounded out my front speakers with the Paradigm Signature Servo subwoofer, which I find to be a good match for the S8 v2s.

I follow the threads on Audiogon. I generally respect the views of many of the contributors and have bought from and sold to the site's members for quite some time, never once having been disappointed. I mention this because it has come to my attention that the S8s, in any version, have gotten very short shrift on the Audiogon website as compared to other popular high-end models from Vandersteen, Wilson, Magnepan and so forth and so on. In fact, there’s a thread with over 1300 posts that captures members’ favorite speakers. I don’t think the Paradigm Signature line has attracted more than a couple dozen posts. More recently, I was trading posts with another member who suggested sua sponte that I consider upgrading my front speakers. That member owns Vandersteen Model 5As.

Sorry for the long wind up. Here’s the pitch -- or actually the question: why do you think the Signature S8s attract so little positive attention on high-end websites like Audiogon? Do you think it’s because the S8 really doesn’t stack up well against the other more popular high-end models? Or, conversely, do you think that Paradigm is dragging around an old reputation as being a middle-of-the-road brand, possibly in light of its past history of catering to the masses? If the latter alternative is the case, then I surmise that the S8 is the best-kept secret in high-end audio, considering what you get for the bucks.

Your opinion (and HEAI assurance or consolation) is much appreciated.

Bruce Goode

In my review of the Signature S8 v3s, I touched upon a couple of reasons that Paradigm speakers don't get the attention they deserve from music-loving audiophiles. These include Paradigm's vast lineup of speakers and subwoofers, which can obscure any one model, and the company's reputation in the home-theater realm. Perhaps the biggest reasons, however, are that much of the audio press either ignores Paradigm speakers or covers them as though their prices can't possibly make them competition for models from smaller, more specialist manufacturers, whose speakers often cost much more money.

I've done my part to address all this. In addition to writing my review, I've also recommended the Signature S8 v3 to a few electronics manufacturers for use at shows (to my knowledge, none has followed up, however). I don't recall hearing any of the Signature speakers outside Paradigm's own demos, and some wider exposure would help the press understand and convey that these speakers are not just for home-theater use or somehow compromised musically because they don't carry five-figure prices.

As you state, "...I surmise that the S8 is the best-kept secret in high-end audio, considering what you get for the bucks." I couldn't have said it better myself. -Marc Mickelson

Joining the reader list

July 1, 2011

Marc,

Could I be added to your weekly distribution list? I liked all of what I browsed and read in an hour’s time -- certainly not enough for all of the data you have amassed and one new to the hobby.

Paul Wester

To join TAB's reader e-mail list and be alerted to all site updates, send a message to rl@theaudiobeat.com. -Marc Mickelson

 

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