Letters • July 2016

Audio Research and Ayre

July 18, 2016


Thanks for the scoop on the Audio Research Reference 6. With Audio Research's track record, along with the fact you've listened to every Audio Research Reference preamplifier over the past ten years, your rave review almost makes me want to just buy one, especially because every major audio publication anointed the Reference 5 SE as a Recommended, Reference, or Top Dog component.

The only question I have is, How neutral and transparent is the Reference 6? A comparison with a known reference, like an Ayre KX-R Twenty, would be invaluable.

John Leosco

Although I did not use the words neutrality or transparency (in an attempt to avoid use of words that get beaten to death in reviews), I tried to express how revealing the system was through musical example. As indicated in the review, the only unit I used for direct comparison was the Reference 5 SE. I did not have the Ayre preamp in my system, and haven’t heard it in any system in some time. I don’t necessarily accept the wisdom that the best tubed and solid-state equipment sounds the same today. I also don’t think reviews can provide much direction in deciding which you prefer. -Dennis Davis

Gryphon and Wilson?

July 14, 2016


Have you or any of your colleagues at TAB ever put Gryphon and Wilson together? I'm giving consideration to the new Yvette with a Gryphon Diablo 300 and Scorpio already in my possession. It’s not a combination I’ve seen mentioned, which is by no means indicative of how they might work together.

Larry Phillips

Other than my own use of Gryphon's Legato Legacy phono stage with Wilson Alexandria XLF and Alexia speakers, I don't recall coming across such a brand pairing at a show or in a dealer's showroom -- ever. I think there are two reasons for this. First, while Wilson has distribution all over the world, probably its biggest market is the US, where Gryphon doesn't have distribution. Second, Gryphon makes its own speakers, and I'm sure dealers make the point that brand unity trumps any sort of synergy between Gryphon an another brand. I can say that there are some sonic similarities between Wilson and Gryphon that make their use together intriguing. If you end up with an Yvette/Diablo 300/Scorpio system, give us a report, okay? -Marc Mickelson

Phono-stage advice

July 9, 2016


I'm seeking advice and hope you can help. I see that you've used and really like the Audio Research Reference 2 SE phono stage. I'm thinking of replacing my K&K Audio Maxxed Out phono stage, which I like and have been using for more than six years now. I'm wondering if you have any experience with the Pass Labs XP-25 phono stage or the Modwright PH-150 phono stage. If so, do you have any thoughts on how they compare? I've never heard any of these in my own system, although I have the Modwright LS 36.5 line stage and think it's great. Because the Reference Phono 2 SE has been discontinued, units are available at a price that makes all three of these closer in price than the list prices would indicate. I like the idea of various EQ curves, but I want a reliable unit and one that sounds great too.

Thanks for your time and expertise. And keep up the great work with your publication!

Joseph L. Smith

I don't have firsthand familiarity with any of the phono stages you mention, other than the Audio Research Reference Phono 2 SE, but a quick look at the K&K Audio Maxxed Out, which you own, shows that it has a step-up transformer -- likely a very good one, given K & K's heritage. One of the Reference Phono 2 SE's salient design points is that it derives all of its gain from active devices, so there is no step-up transformer. This means that loading, which the Reference Phono 2 SE allows you to do from the remote control, is more accurate and you don't have to be concerned with the sonic signature or loading mismatches a transformer can have. The Reference Phono 2 SE is, therefore, a very different kind of phono stage from the one you own; I think you'll find the same to be true if you hear one in your system.

I can't comment on the Pass Labs or Modwright units, except to wonder if they have step-ups or are fully active. Sound-wise, I generally prefer the latter approach. -Marc Mickelson

"The Best Music You May Have Missed"

July 2, 2016


I just wanted to offer a brief thank you for "The Best Music You May Have Missed" on The Audio Beat. I was able to find all of the recommendations on Tidal and have since had the opportunity to listen (partially or in total) to each.

What a great selection of music!

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed them all and found something compelling in each record. Whether we’re sympatico in our musical tastes or you just happened on records that struck a chord, I’m grateful that you brought these records to my attention and look forward to spending more time with them.

Thanks again for the terrific article. I’ll keep an eye out for the next installment.

Ray Shepherd

"Dig the site"

July 1, 2016


Add me to the list! Dig the site. Keep it up! Thanks.

Jorge-Anthony Polo

You're on the list. For others, send e-mail to rl@theaudiobeat.com to join the reader e-mail list and find out about new articles on TAB first. -Marc Mickelson


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