importance of height
am a 76-year-old audiophile (since the mid-'70s!). Therefore I have heard, seen and read a
lot since Holt and Pearson, and I am also a fan of The Audio Beat. I like your
squeaky-clean website and presentations. I
loved this from you today because it told me that you are one of the few good ones!
test I like to do is put on music I know well that has a strong single center image -- a
singer or horn player -- close my eyes, point to the source of the sound, then open my
eyes. With the Sabrinas, I am regularly pointing at a spot above the top shelf of my SRA
rack, which will give you some idea of how much height information these speakers convey.
Full-sized images? Oh, yeah."
send something similar to this message to speaker reviewers who at least say something
about soundstage height. And of course I hate speaker reviewers (almost all) who only talk
about image width and depth. Are they really that two-dimensional? In my long audiophile
life I have discovered that height is just as important as anything else we say about
soundstaging because it helps you believe in and enjoy the full stereo illusion, and it
also helps separate the men from the boys in speaker design (what you say about the
Sabrinas, which I havent heard, is just as true of Sasha 2s and Alexias). I always
tell audiophile friends that I remember listening to Vandersteen 5s and 7s several times
in different venues, and the image was consistently low to the ground -- at the
speakers tweeter height. It was like listening to opera in a theater from a low
balcony! I remember a highly rated reviewer (I think Robert Harley, if I remember well)
excuse Vandersteens 7s on this for not being tower speakers, but, as an example of the
opposite, many years ago I was very familiar with the first EgglestonWorks Andras, short
floorstanding speakers that nevertheless threw a huge soundstage with height up to the
ceiling! I think this is a very important factor most reviewers pass by, not only because
they arent paying attention but also because so many highly valued speakers are in
reality not very good.
especially glad to know that someone else appreciates the importance of height
information. I once described a person's system, which had no height information at all,
as "like listening to the Beatles in the upper deck of Shea Stadium." The
performers sounded like they were the size of ants. The Wilson XLFs and Alexias (which I
own) portray full-sized images, and the Sasha 2s and Sabrinas are certainly from the same
sonic family. Height is underappreciated, perhaps because it's so rare. -Marc
Research to replace Esoteric?
Esoteric X-01 LE is still making very nice (albeit a little lean) music in my BAT/Wilson
system. Would going to an Audio Research Reference CD7 or Reference CD8 give me more of an
analog-like balance with a little more warmth than the Esoteric player? I enjoyed your insight into the Reference CD8 and wondered
your opinion as it relates to the X-01 LE. Some have also recommended I look into the
Audio Research DAC8 with its USB connection for streaming.
is one of those terms like "neutral" that has lost much of its meaning, because
it has been overused to the point that it means so many things. I know what you're getting
at, however, and I think both the Audio Research Reference CD8 and CD7 will give you an
easy, liquid, full sound, the CD7 more so than the CD8, as I recall. However, if you're
not sure if you want a CD player or DAC, the product to buy is the Audio Research
Reference CD9, which is both, so you can play your CDs and files with it. It's also the
latest digital player in the Reference line. If you end up with any of these players, make
sure you use it balanced to hear it as its best. -Marc Mickelson
Research, DEQX reviews?
The Audio Beat planning on reviewing an Audio Research Reference SE amp powered with KT150 tubes? Audio Research
did the SE upgrade on my Reference 150 amp a few months ago. Though the upgrade was a bit
pricey, in my opinion, the improvement was quite considerable.
you may recall, I bought a DEQX PreMATE last year. The PreMATE did a great job of taming
my Paradigm Signature S8 v3 speakers and room. Is TAB giving any thought to
reviewing a DEQX product?
are planning coverage of the Audio Research Reference SE amps -- probably a blog but
perhaps a full review. We're still sorting that out, so stay tuned.
recall that you're a fan of the DEQX devices. I don't make assignments per se, so for us
it's not so much a matter of taking on such a product for review but having the right
person to write about it -- one who's interested in the concepts and sonic outcome. If one
of the writers expresses interest, we'll pursue it. -Marc Mickelson
Circle NSL and "body"
Your review of the Blue Circle NSL amplifier was one of the best audio
reviews I've ever read. As a potential owner of the amp (I'll have one here for audition
in a while), I have read and reread your piece, looking for the details that would tell me
what I wanted to know ahead of time. They'll all there, though one is sort of between the
lines. You are one of the very best reviewers I know of and am happy you appreciate Blue
Circle gear so Gilbert gets the benefits of your writing skills -- and ears.
I prize most in Gilbert's amps (contrasted with Crimson solid-state amps, which I also
like a lot) is a sense of body, which I don't equate with bass, though I expect it's
involved. His gear can give even violins body, their real body, not an add-on. From your
review I sense that that may be where the NSL gives away a little to achieve its other
extraordinary virtues. That said, when I moved from his 1022 amp to the NSP, which I now
own, I had the same impression initially, then got over it. Hearing depends so much on
what one has just heard that we need time to break away from what an amp is not doing
(what we just heard or are used to) in order to hear what it is doing!
first Blue Circle product was a BC3 preamp and that had to have been around 1997 or 1998.
BC2 amps soon followed. Aural memory, as you know, is pretty untrustworthy, but I remember
that combination with great affection and respect. I foolishly abandoned the amps when
they couldn't drive my latest speakers, though we did get tired of overheating our room
with them in the summers.
Thanks for your kind words. It's nice to know that what I write connects with
people. As for reviews of Blue Circle products, I'm finishing up one of the BC307 preamp
now, and it will be live soon.
one of Gilbert Yeung's products that I've written about has had body -- dimensional
density, even from violins, as you note. It has been a while since I heard the NSL, but I
am sure the body is there in abundance, although perhaps not as much as with some of
Gilbert's earlier amps. Gilbert's products run counter to so many electronics that trade
body for space and so-called neutrality, sounding lean and sterile in the end. Or, as I
wrote in my NSL review, Gilbert's electronics don't "so much unravel the music as put
it back together, aiding with engagement and comprehension." -Marc Mickelson
and bills have meant that parts of my music system have had to be DIY or cheap. A recent
change has meant that I have been able to revisit and enjoy both vinyl and CD, but the
expiration of the phono cartridge meant some unplanned spending. The means my support
consists of an IKEA Besta A/V cabinet with isolation shelves made from Lack table tops
supported on wooden cones. The other pastime is woodturning, so the cones are homemade.
leads to my question. Having a pile of chopping boards, and ready-to-cut-to-form isolation
blocks, then thinking of the cones and the cutaway pictures I managed to find of
Stillpoints, what is your opinion? Should the blocks remain just that to maximize the
contact area or is it worth turning bamboo cones? I know I could experiment and the cost
of a board is low, but my to-do list is closely monitored and I would rather sneak extra
listening in as opposed to workshop time.
raise an interesting question. I'm inclined to the view that blocks are likely to work
better, simply because I'm not sure how well the fibrous nature of the bamboo will hold a
point. If the two materials were different, aluminum cones for example, I'd definitely use
those point down to maximize contact area and security at both ends, but I've had great
results using simple hardwood or bamboo blocks with the IKEA Aptitlig,
so my inclination is to keep things simple. If you get bored one day and decide to spin up
some bamboo cones, I'd love to hear how they sound. -Roy Gregory