Letters • March 2014

Stillpoints where?

March 29, 2014


After checking out your seminar on system optimization at TAVES last year, I picked up a set of four Stillpoints Ultra SS feet. I want to try them out under my Simaudio W-8 dual-mono power amplifier. Do you have suggestions as to where to place them under this component to get the best results? Did you experiment at all before your seminar?

I know you mentioned to place them under the parts of the components that cause the most vibration (e.g., power supplies, CD transports, etc.). I guess This would mean trying to place two Stillpoints under the two big transformers in the front of the amp and using the back two to balance the unit?

I also heard others say you get "softer," "more liquid" sound when they are placed closer to the center of the component and "harder," "more precise" sound when they are placed closer to the outside of the component. Why would this be?

Cameron Baskey

Your proposed positioning for Ultras under the W-8 is spot on. As to the inner/outer positioning, this is an urban myth. I think it originated in one instance probably involving a product with a flexible base and got extrapolated into a general rule without any checks or balances. In general, the inner/outer theory simply doesn't apply, something that is easily demonstrated. -Roy Gregory

Why I still spin CDs, part 4

March 21, 2014


I still spin CDs because I have close to six thousand of 'em and over $30,000 invested in a CD player. But, just as important, I like getting the album cover art and liner notes -- it's always nice to hunker down with a drink and read through all info contained in the CD, while listening of course.

Larry Phillips

Why I still spin CDs, part 3

March 20, 2014


The simple answer is that most of my listening is to vinyl. I haven't felt it worth the time and expense to do a true digital rig other than a Bluetooth input for my big system to play the odd track off my phone. I do have a decent CD/SACD player for the times I want to listen to silver discs.

Doug Farrow

Why I still spin CDs, part 2

March 19, 2014


I still use CD, SACD, DVD-Audio and DVD-Video as my playback media. A friend of mine uses a music storage bank from which he plays his music. He added a better sound card to the computer. It all sounds very nice, but for me the discs still sound more musical. It's as if the computer music sounds more artificial, less emotional. My personal favorite is DVD-Video. The music sounds like the real thing. CD sounds more compressed. SACD sounds more lifelike, less harsh, and less compressed. DVD-Audio is also very good. It gives an open, inviting and listenable sound, with lots of emotion.

Johannes Nel

Why I still spin CDs, part 1

March 18, 2014


[Regarding your question to the TAB reader list], I built and dedicated a computer (i5 -- 3570K, 256GB SSD, fancy power supply, fancy power cord, J.River Media Center 19) to audio and purchased a Halide USB DAC. This front-end performs well with My VTL 5.5 preamp, VTL MB-450 basic amps, Nola Contender speakers and 10" JL Audio sub. But my updated Special Edition Oppo BD-83 outperforms it in the 16-bit/44.1kHz format. CDs that I rip in J.River do not come up as vividly as the same CD spun on my Oppo. Sad, really. My server might do better with the higher-rez files -- with 24-bit/96kHz sources -- but most of my music in digital format sits on hundreds of shiny discs. Because my one-box CD player beats my computer as a front-end, I do critical listening with it. Solution? Probably a much more expensive DAC [sigh].

Judson Emerick

Reader list

March 12, 2014


Add me to your mailing list.

Tom Yates

You're added! For others who want to join and find out about new articles first, it's easy peasy. Send e-mail to rl@theaudiobeat.com. -Marc Mickelson

Which footers?

March 7, 2014


I finally got around to watching your presentation at the 2012 RMAF, which even on the tube was fascinating.

I have a finite elemente Pagode Master Reference rack, and I am wondering, due to the points you made about staying within the same family, whether I would be better advised to use finite's own Cera technology rather than other products. Additionally, I know you used and reviewed finite elemente products in the past, and I am wondering which of the Cera products provides the best bang for buck with regard to individual components on the stand -- mine weigh between 12 and 21kg. I would add that I already have the Cerabase feet under the stand itself.

Dominic Bexon

I'm glad you enjoyed the RMAF presentation. Youtube might not carry quite the same musical impact, but the message certainly survives intact.

The finite elemente (now finite hi-fi) racks set the standard for many years, both in terms of performance and appearance. Even now, they leave many of the more ambitious alternatives looking hopelessly heavy and mechanical. But beyond looking like real furniture, what finite racks got right was to create a structure that was at once dispersive and tuned to eliminate resonant peaks. That makes the Master Reference racks a superb basis for mechanically grounding your equipment.

You are also absolutely correct to question the importance of consistency across your support strategy. In my experience, this is how it works: in the same way that cables can be subdivided into two layers, the AC supply and the signal/speaker cables, the supporting structures also comprise a set of distinct levels. These are (starting from the floor and working up) whatever couples the rack to the floor, then the rack and shelf structure and finally the coupling devices that support the equipment and ground it to the rack. The CeraBase feet are an excellent choice between the floor and the racks(s). As we've already established, the finite racks are themselves excellent. The important consideration here is to make sure that all of the equipment is on the finite racks (and/or amp stands) and that all of those racks are on the CeraBase feet. This is about horizontal consistency within the system, if you will. The top layer of the support strategy -- the equipment couplers -- is the most critical.

Again, you ideally need to use the same couplers under all of the equipment (including the speakers -- the equipment/coupler interface trumps the equipment-floor contact), but as long as you follow that rule, you do have a range of choices. Stillpoints offer solutions at different price levels, and in my experience these outperform the finite CeraPucs and are for the most part more compact than the CeraBases. But my favorite solution, especially in combination with a wooden support shelf like the Hutter, Atacama, Quadraspire or finite, is the Nordost Sort Kones. These are available in four levels of performance, although I find that the AC and flagship TC versions are the best value. The only thing to look out for is the height they add to your equipment (around 50mm or 2" -- less the height of the equipment's own feet) and whether you have enough "headroom" in the racks. Of course, you can adjust the height of the finite shelves, but it's not a straightforward process.

But the thing that clinches the deal for the Sort Kones as far as I'm concerned is that beyond their own excellent performance, they dovetail perfectly with the Nordost Sort Füt speaker-coupling devices, which are by far the best I've come across. Get the system up on Kones and Füts (Feet?) and you'll be astonished how it comes alive. -Roy Gregory

In praise of Roy

March 4, 2014


Your quip about Roy Gregory in your answer to the phono-stage letter [below] comes, I suspect, close to the truth. The guy's inexhaustible -- and a damned fine reviewer. I can almost believe every opinion he offers. I also watched most of his setup film. Downright depressing how far I have to go.

Mike Silverton

Which phono stage?

March 1, 2014


I'm at the stage of building my ideal audio system. At the moment I have monoblocks and a preamplifier from the Vitus Audio Masterpiece series. I read your review of the Gryphon Legato Legacy. I wonder if it can compete with the phono stage from the Masterpiece series, the MP-P201, which I've heard.

Richard Chyliaski

Even with all of the gear those of us who write about high-end audio are able to hear, we're not able to hear everything (although it sometimes seems like Roy Gregory is the exception to this rule). In this case, while I obviously know the Gryphon Legato Legacy well, I'm not at all familiar with the Vitus Audio products -- outside some listening at shows, that is. I've talked with Hans-Ole Vitus about reviewing some of equipment, and that may happen at some point in the future. Unfortunately, that won't help you now. I can say that of the solid-state phono stages I've heard, the Gyphon Legato Legacy is easily the best of them -- and in the running for the best I've heard, period. If what I describe in my review appeals to you, why not try to find one to hear? -Marc Mickelson


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