Letters • June 2014

Johanna Martzy reissues

June 20, 2014

Roy Gregory is to be congratulated for his thorough and thoughtful comparative review of Johanna Martzy's EMI Bach recordings. His methodical approach afforded each version a level playing field on which to perform. That the much-hyped Electric Recording Company (ERC) edition came in a distant third is unsurprising to me. I bought one of the series last year out of curiosity and was severely disappointed on all levels. Given its outrageous price and all the attendant publicity, my expectations were high. I am glad I only bought the one.

Unlike Coup d’Archet, who for many years has striven to expand Martzy’s available catalogue (and those of a tranche of extraordinary French players), thereby giving something new to the listening public, ERC seemingly has only one motivation: exploitation. Exploitation of the artists’ good names, exploitation of EMI’s back catalogue and exploitation of naïve record buyers who have more money than sense -- record buyers who believe there have been no advances in record-cutting technology since 1950. That experienced journalists in Stereophile and elsewhere have been seduced by this propaganda is baffling and undercuts their reputation.

Checking their website, I notice that ERC has now increased the price of its Martzy Bach records from £300 to £500 each. I leave it to your readers to draw their own conclusions.

Thank you Roy for this most satisfying and commendable exposé.

Andrew Liepins

Valhalla 2 or Odin?

June 17, 2014


I read your review on the Valhalla 2 line of cabling. I have auditioned Valhalla 2 speaker and power cables in my system and have to admit the results were rather impressive. How does the Valhalla 2 compare with the Odin cable in terms of frequency balance, detail density, bass definition, coherence, etc.? Unfortunately I am unable to demo Odin in my system. I have reassured myself on numerous occasions that cabling is absolutely crucial to system performance. I will most likely keep the Valhalla 2 speaker cables due to financial reasons, but I want to go for the best in terms of power cabling. If the differences between the Valhalla 2 and Odin are truly marginal, then investing in the Odin would be a waste of money in a sense. Otherwise, I am prepared to go for the Odin. I would really appreciate your comparison.

Paul Smith

I actually haven't heard Odin interconnects, speaker cables and power cords in my system, so I can't compare them with Valhalla 2. As I mentioned in the Valhalla 2 review, I have heard the Odin tonearm cable with my analog rig, and it's magnificent, but that would apply to the Valhalla 2 tonearm cable too. Because of the delicate nature of the signal from a phono cartridge, and also the uniqueness of the tonearm cable, I wouldn't want to apply what I heard with the Odin and Valhalla 2 tonearm cables to the lines' other products, but given the price difference, as well as the fact that I suspect Nordost is rethinking Odin because of what they've achieved with Valhalla 2, I'd go for the newer (and cheaper) cables and simply revel in all that they achieve, which is, as you say, "rather impressive." -Marc Mickelson

Reference 10 and. . . ?

June 11, 2014


Just wondering if you have any plans to review the Audio Research Reference 10 preamp in the near future. It would be great if you did a review that compared it to the Robert Koda Takumi K-10 and CAT SL1 Legend preamps in particular, especially in terms of transparency, low-level detail, timbre, ambience and soundstaging.

Ashish Varma

I'm working on my review of the Reference 10, but it's still in the future, as I have to finish two other reviews first. Unfortunately, I don't have the Robert Koda preamp here any longer -- and haven't heard it recently enough to know how it would compare to the Reference 10. As for the CAT SL1 Legend, there are two issues. The first is that it is completely single-ended, and the Reference 10 is fully balanced -- and sounds its best used that way. So a comparison between these two preamps naturally cripples one to the advantage of the other. Ken Stevens has also upgraded the Legend, and it supposedly is not a small jump in performance. I am supposed to get my Legend updated this summer, although it's still here on my rack. If I can get that done in time, I can perhaps make a few general comments about it and the Reference 10. -Marc Mickelson

Magico S5?

June 6, 2014


Have you or any of the other TAB reviewers done any serious listening to the Magico S5 speakers? If so, any comments? While the S5s have been on the market for some time, I continue to catch a steady stream of positive posts on Audiogon. If I blinked and missed a TAB review, apologies.

Bruce Feinstein

I've not heard a Magico speaker myself in a number of years, even at shows, and we haven't reviewed a Magico speaker ever. However, we've mentioned the Magico S5 twice on the site: in a news story and CES report.

Just so you know, you can search the entire site using Google. Just click on the Archives & Search link, enter your criteria in the "Search TAB" box, and click the button. You'll find all references on the site. -Marc Mickelson

Sort Füt or Stillpoints?

June 2, 2014


Sort Füt or Stillpoints? (I take it one unscrews the factory feet from whatever component, then screws in one of these specialty feet?) Is either of them necessary when using something like a good Silent Running Audio base or Harmonic Resolution Systems rack? The Sort Füt seems a bit more complete -- one size fits all. The Stillpoints have almost too many options.

Larry Phillips

There's no easy answer to your question when you introduce a Harmonic Resolution Systems (HRS) or especially a Silent Running Audio (SRA) rack into the equation. First, I've not used Nordost Sort Füt(s?) at all, but I do use Stillpoints Ultra SSes on my TW-Acustic turntable, and they made an immediate and completely positive difference, lowering the noise floor considerably, among other things. However, they replaced earlier Stillpoints -- the ones with the ceramic balls -- so I consider them part of the turntable now, not so much an add-on. This aligns with using an SRA rack, which I also have, given that SRA eschews using any special footers with their racks, which are designed to do the footers' job. HRS is similar although not quite as rigid about footers.

I can say that with SRA racks, what you want is for the equipment's own footers to transfer all energy into the shelf, where the frame of the rack will dissipate it. So many soft feet don't do this, so I have gotten good results with Ayre myrtle blocks under components, especially CD and SACD players. Various ceramic feet/cones have also worked. Stillpoints are not really designed to do this, but it appears that Nordost Sort Füt units are. So if I were to experiment with one of them, it would be the Nordost -- given my SRA rack. Without it or an HRS rack, I would probably try the Stillpoints first, as they do some of a rack's work themselves and are very effective. -Marc Mickelson


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