250 review: when?
been almost a year since your blog on the Audio Research Reference 250s, and I'm still waiting
with anticipation for your review!
chance of a review of the Sain Line cables too?
I haven't had the Reference 250s for a year without producing a review. I've only had them
for a few months. I'm finishing my review now, with the goal of posting it by the end of
the week. Sorry for the delay. You're not alone when it comes to waiting for this review,
as others have let me know, but I want to get it right before making it live.
may write about the Sain Line cables -- which the people at Audio Research have touted to
me -- but not until next year. -Marc Mickelson
and Shunyata: separated at birth?
reading your recent review of the LessLoss Tunnelbridge cables, I couldn't help
but think that I'd already read about the concept before. So I reread Marc Mickelson's review of the Shunyata Zi-Trons and couldn't help
noticing the similarity:
circuit, called (pronounced 'Zi-Tron'), is said to address a form of distortion that comes
from the insulating dielectric's storage of the electromagnetic field that's created by
the conductor itself. Zi-Tron is a patent-pending circuit that neutralizes the electric
charge differential between the conductor and the dielectric. A second conductor carries a
signal derived from the main conductor, and the fields generated by the two of them cancel
me, the LessLoss and Shunyata technologies sound the same. Seeing as you have used
Shunyata cables in your system, the question is are you also going to try the Zi-Trons? It
sure would be interesting to read a comparison of the new Shunyata and the LessLoss
Ive been waiting to see if anyone would notice what you mention.
Youre the first and of course you are correct!
technology principles behind the two wires are indeed the same; however, the
implementations are (relatively) quite different. Shunyata has an elegant non-AC-powered
solution, which theyve patented. It allows a broader application that includes
speaker cables and power cords. Without the power supply and associated items required by
LessLoss, the Shunyata solution is less expensive, at least at the low end of their
three-tier product lineup.
used the Shunyata Zi-Tron Cobra cables and have been listening with a full Zi-Tron Python
loom for a couple months now. They arrived a bit too late to complete break in and be
included with my LessLoss review. Because reviews of both LessLoss and Shunyata were
published recently I doubt well cover a direct comparison -- at least not in the
theyve done it differently, both companies have accomplished something significant.
Theirs is the first truly new technology in the high-end cable arena for some time now,
and it makes a very real sonic difference. I dont know what is your system, but if
you get the chance to try one of these new wires Id encourage you to find out more.
technology not only addresses electromagnetic distortion, it removes from consideration
the dielectric as a source of coloration among cables not using it. So it is not
surprising that the differences between the two brands are more of quality than kind. To
my ears the Shunyata cables offer slightly better imaging and dimensionality with slightly
richer tonality and a more natural sense of attack on the leading edge -- both brands are
very good and those differences may be relative to my own system. However, because
Shunyata has their Zi-Tron speaker cables (the best Ive heard to date) they are
steps ahead of LessLoss. And the absence of a power supply makes the Shunyata brand easier
to set up and maintain, although that may be less of an issue once all is in place. Throw
in the price differences and there you have it. -Tim Aucremann
preamp with Lamm M1.2s?
really enjoy your reviews on The Audio Beat.
wondering if you could help me. I notice you are using an Aesthetix Calypso Signature
preamp with your Lamm M1.2 Reference amps. I also own the Lamms, but I am looking for a
remote-controlled tubed preamp for them. Have you enjoyed the Calypso with the M1.2s? I
have heard others recommend Audio Research preamps, so I would be grateful for your
opinion, as my short list was the Audio Research Reference 5 SE, the Calypso Signature or
the VAC Renaissance units.
Calypso Signature is a very good preamp, though I would not place it in quite the same
class as the Audio Research Reference 5 SE or Aesthetix's own Callisto. I have heard a
number of Audio Research line stages with the Lamms over the years and all have been an
excellent match. I would also consider VTL's tubed preamps if I were in your situation. I
used the original TL-7.5 line stage with the Lamms and had excellent results with it. I am
not really familiar with the VAC unit but can enthusiastically recommend you hear the VTL,
Audio Research or Aesthetix line stages. As always, let your own ears make the choice for
you, as these preamps all have their own unique individual sonic characters. All are
excellent components. -Paul Bolin
just read your review of the new Shunyata Zi-Tron Cobra cables. It's so
interesting in many ways -- the superior wire for two-thirds the price (or thereabouts),
that Shunyata would introduce such a product at all, the change from the braiding
technique, etc. And interesting how you went about reviewing them, by demonstrating how
revealing they were of the Columbia Six-Eye LP without using the the Columbia
curve in the Audio Research phono stage and then with it.
for introducing such a powerful change in Shunyata's offerings and for being so damn
interesting in how you did it.
250s vs. MA-2 Mk 3.1s vs. M1.2 References
read your articles on The Audio Beat regularly and really enjoy your factual and
lucid descriptions of the equipment you review.
question today is your opinion of the Audio Research Reference 250 monoblocks vs. the
Atma-Sphere MA-2 Mk 3.1 and Lamm M1.2 Reference amps.
current system consists of:
Research Reference Anniversary preamp
Audio Research Reference Phono 2 SE phono stage
Audio Research Reference 210 amps
Oracle Delphi Mk 5 turntable with van den Hul Frog cartridge (hopefully to be replace with
a Dynavector XV-1s sometime in the future)
Audio Research DAC 3 Mk II with Ayre D-1x as a transport
Vandersteen Model 5A speakers
Granite Audio cables (these are amazing and very well priced direct from Granite Audio)
eventually want to replace the Reference 210s with one of the amps I mention and would
really like your assessment (pros and cons) of the amps given my current system
Normally, given your system, which is a reflection of your sonic priorities, I
would simply tell you to buy the Reference 250s and be done with it -- and that is
certainly still valid advice. However, you also mention the two amps I've heard that mate
especially well with your Audio Research electronics, the Lamm M1.2s and Atma-Sphere MA-2
Mk 3.1s. I don't want to trump my own upcoming review of the Reference 250s, but I will
say that they and the Lamm and Atma-Sphere monoblocks are rather different. The
Atma-Sphere amps are the most light-filled of the three, the extreme transparency of their
midrange and treble giving them a dominating sense of lucidity. The Lamm amps are darker
and more corporeal, especially through the mids, and their bass has more heft and power,
though I've never found the bass of the Atma-Sphere amps lacking. In between the two, and
offering a very wide palette of virtues, are the Reference 250s, which in many ways are
the amplifier equivalent of your Reference Anniversary preamp, which should give you an
idea of the completeness of their performance.
don't think you can go wrong with any of these amps, which isn't always the case when
you're trying to shoehorn them into a very good existing system. But I am sure that you
will find one of them to be more right than the others. -Marc Mickelson
CD transports "make a difference"?
currently connect the digital output on my CD player to my Benchmark outboard DAC. Since
essentially Im using the CD player only in a transport capacity would switching CD
players, or transports if you will, possibly make a sonic difference? Or is it
mainly only the DAC that can make a difference? Would one transport basically sound like
any other transport?
absolutely make a sonic difference, owing to various factors, including the quality of
their power supplies, the CD mechanism used, and their output options. So by all means
experiment. One cheap alternative is a Pioneer DVD player with S/PDIF output (I don't
suggest using TosLink unless you have no other option). You can also try a Genesis Digital
Lens between your CD player/transport and DAC. This is a small RAM buffer that essentially
cleans up the data from the transport before it goes to your DAC. Improvements with it can
be dramatic, but these are not easy to find, as they've been out of production for more
than a decade. -Marc Mickelson