Letters • March 2013

Tube Technology contact info?

March 28, 2013

Marc,

Have you any information on Tube Technology's new address and telephone number and articles on the previous Synergy integrated amp (not latest Carbon)?

Vincent Maligec

The only contact information I have for Tube Technology is what I included with my review of the Synergy Carbon. However, as I mentioned in my review, Tube Technology is in the process of moving to the US and sharing manufacturing space with Manley Labs, so you might want to contact Manley Labs for further information. Regarding the Synergy, I've not reviewed or heard it, so I can't help you there. -Marc Mickelson

Robert Koda Takumi K-10 versus CAT SL1 Legend

March 22, 2013

Marc,

I just read your review of the Robert Koda Takumi K-10 with great interest. Would it be possible for you to comment on how the Takumi K-10 compares with the CAT SL1 Legend in terms of really low-level detail recovery such as hall ambience and reverberation, detail at the back of the soundstage and also microdynamics? Also, do you have any plans to review the K-70 power amp? It would be great if you got your hands on it as it's had very positive reviews in UK. It would be great to see how it sounds with the Wilson Alexandria XLFs.

Ashish Varma

The Robert Koda Takumi K-10 and CAT SL1 Legend are two of the very best preamps I've heard -- both would easily make my top-five list -- but they certainly don't sound alike. The CAT is more palpable and emphatic, and it captures small details of the type you describe and micro volume shifts in more obvious fashion than the Takumi K-10, which is more relaxed and gentle, imploring you to engage with the music, not thrusting it at you. Both will convey the detail on your recordings, but they will do it in different ways. You may also be able to increase the SL1 Legend's retrieval of ambience with different tubes, an option you won't have with the solid-state K-10.

Earlier I discussed a review of the K-70 three-box amp with Robert Koch of Robert Koda, but that's all we've done up to this point. I understand that there's a new version of the amp available, so perhaps the delay has worked in my favor. I'll see what I can arrange, perhaps for later in the year. -Marc Mickelson

". . .thoughts on computer audio?"

March 18, 2013

Marc,

What are your thoughts on computer audio? Can it truly sound as good as high-end CD or vinyl playback overall? Is it truly comparable? It has been gnawing at me, and I'm considering taking the plunge, but I'm debating whether to take that route or invest in the infrastructure of my analog front-end.

Sheldon Simon

My thoughts about computer audio are mixed -- still, even after much experimentation. The convenience and space savings are certainly big pluses, especially when you consider the number of CDs a big hard drive can hold. In my opinion, and from my experience, the sonics are promising, but I've not heard enough to cause me to sell my CD hardware and go computer all the way. This could be due to the extent to which I've personally experimented -- with a couple of DACs and only one playback software package. However, I've heard computer-based systems many, many times at shows, and only Peter McGrath of Wilson Audio playing his own recordings through an expensive dCS rig has really impressed me. Others have been good, even very good, but so have many CD players.

Recently, I've been using a CEC TL 1 CD transport that a friend lent to me, and it has caused me to think that CD playback has gone in reverse in some ways since the transport's heyday in the mid-1990s. I wonder if computer audio has some hand in this. Instead of exploring new and novel hardware options -- like the TL 1's belt-drive transport mechanism -- companies have been in a rush to build DACs for connection to computers, which are hardly high-end music sources themselves. I wonder where we'd be in sonic terms if CD, not file playback, would have remained the focus for the industry.

In the end, I'm optimistic that computer audio will deliver sound quality that makes us all think it's better than spinning a CD, perhaps when we have CD players with which we can play files directly from thumb drives -- no computer needed -- perhaps when streaming DSD is the standard and not just a pending novelty. But like you, I also play records, and they remain the sonic standard to my ears. -Marc Mickelson

From a Trident owner

March 13, 2013

Roy,

I read with interest your review of Gryphon Trident and found it quite useful for a potential buyer. As an owner of the Trident, I also spent a lot of time on correct placement -- almost  three years! And even these days I fine-tune them from time to time. You wrote that listeners familiar with the likes of Wilson will decry a lack of transparency and reach-out-and-touch immediacy with the Tridents. I also owned and listened to various Wilsons previously. I have to say this happens when you place the Trident -- despite being a sealed-box design -- not far enough from front wall. My speakers are placed almost eight feet from the front wall.

Armen Alexandrian

I often think that, as an industry, we place an overreliance on reviews and invest too great a trust in reviewers. No matter how diligently executed, no review can provide more than a snapshot of a product's character and demands -- and no reviewer can extract even close to the understanding of that product enjoyed by the designer or long-term user. Under the circumstances I treat your comments as praise indeed -- and add your observations to my knowledge (such as it is) of that product. I'm especially pleased that you think the review might be useful to a prospective purchaser; for me, that is almost the apogee of attainment. After all, I cannot tell a reader what to buy -- but I can suggest what he should consider, what he should look out for, and also what system and accommodation requirements apply.

I was especially interested by your comments regarding the front-wall distance. In my room the speakers were placed with around 82" behind them -- nearly seven feet. This was arrived at by listening to and adjusting positions, but it was also influenced by the stipulated listening distance, clearly defined in the user manual. Even so, I was still inside the required baffle-to-listening-seat position. Looks like I'll just have to get an even bigger room! -Roy Gregory

Add him

March 10, 2013

Marc,

Please add me to your reader list.

I have really enjoyed everything so far. Please keep up the good work!

Steve Miller

To be added to the site's reader e-mail list and hear about all new articles first, just send a message to rl@theaudiobeat.com. -Marc Mickelson

Tape vs. CD

March 8, 2013

Marc,

The latest news item about the availability of second-generation reel-to-reel tapes calls to mind a friend, a sometime recording engineer, who had a large collection of classical second-generation open-reel tapes (purchased illicitly) and a pair of enormous Ampex decks he used for various purposes, including -- and here's the interesting part of my story -- comparisons via studio-grade headphones of several of his tapes with their CD equivalents. Mind you, this was when the CD, that mass-market conspiracy to destroy our ears, was new to the world. He heard no difference, none whatever.

While I appreciate that his methodology might have been flawed, his findings do give one pause.

Mike Silverton

LS17 or LS27?

March 7, 2013

Marc,

I don’t know what prompted me to think about this. I've never contemplated stepping up to the price level of an Audio Research LS27, but then I noticed that the list price was only $3000 more, and if I sold some of my headphones and things which I hardly ever use I could bridge the gap. I’ve done so, and I am almost there. My dealer will let me trade in for a small, acceptable loss on my LS17.

At first I was excited but, the last couple of days I've gotten a bit of cold feet, thinking, $7000 for a preamp. Are you sure? I just wanted to get your opinion -- if you think this is a good step.

I do like my LS17, and the LS27 also gets very good reviews. It’s been suggested that I look for a deal on a used Reference 5, which would be a much bigger jump. But I think even with a good deal that will cost me quite a bit more and I have to go through the trouble of selling my LS17 and taking a bigger loss.

Anyway, I guess I am rambling, as I tend to do.

My other equipment is a Bryson 4B-SST2 amp, a VPI Classic 1 turntable with ring and weight, a Dynavector XX2 Mk II cartridge, a Simaudio 310LP + 320S phono stage, a Stello DA220 Mk II DAC, Magnepan 1.7 speakers with Mye stands, a Cambridge 640C V2 CD player and a Philips 963SA for SACD playback. I also have a Benchmark DAC1 USB in my home office for headphone use.

Thanks for any advice you can offer.

Sanjay Chugh

Audio Research preamps are distinct within the company's product line, meaning that the steps between them are easily understood once you hear one model in relation to another. The LS27 will be the most expensive component in your system, and it will make a strong case for itself, improving on the LS17 in a number of ways, including low-end power and the immensity of its soundstage. I don't think you'll regret the upgrade. On the contrary, it may put you on the path to upgrading your entire system, a worthy sonic exercise but one that can wreak havoc on your bank account. I speak from experience. -Marc Mickelson

Warped Coltrane?

March 4, 2013

Marc,

I enjoyed reading your Coltrane / All Night Long review, but I had a question. I bought a copy of Coltrane and was going to subscribe to this series if it was well produced. However, my first copy was far from flat, with dish-warping that was so bad it actually created azimuth problems for my stylus. In addition, there was a prominent thumping sound that began during the silence between the first and second cuts, with the thumping continuing well into the second tune. I therefore returned it. Later, I tried another copy, this time from a different online seller, hoping to resolve these problems. It was, unfortunately, identical -- severely dish-warped and with a distracting thumping sound. I returned it also and did not subscribe.

Did your copy not have these problems? I'd like to know if there exist non-defective copies. I have bought many albums pressed at Quality Record Pressings, and while they can be very, very good, far too many of them are plagued with this dishing issue.

I'd be curious to know your experience if you get a moment.

Rosser Clark

No, my copy of Coltrane didn't have the issues you describe. It's an exemplary record in every way, which is also the case with the others in the series (I've bought all but the latest few titles). If Coltrane would have displayed either issue, I would have noted it in my review. I do have a few Classic Records titles that are dish-warped, and it's especially annoying, given that I can no longer return them for replacement.

Pressing records is both an exacting and imperfect process, but the people doing it today are more purist in their approach, so their records are far better than those pressed in the '70s and '80s (back then I returned records all the time; I rarely have to today). Still, you should let the people at Acoustic Sounds / Analogue Productions / Quality Record Pressings know about the issues you've had. I know they take quality control very seriously, especially because they now control the entire process. -Marc Mickelson

Rowland 725 review?

March 1, 2013

Roy,

I noticed in your Jeff Rowland Aeris review that you currently use the Jeff Rowland 725 monoblocks. Can we expect a review on them anytime soon?

Patrick Vancompernolle

I've had the 725s in-house for a while now -- and been thoroughly enjoying them.

The running order for reviews is currently the Wilson Benesch Cardinal (all but done), then the Siltech SAGA electronics and the 725s, so you should see copy fairly soon. -Roy Gregory

 

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