Letters • May 2014

Naming rights

May 18, 2014


I was just having a chuckle at all the pretentious, if not just downright pompous names being bestowed upon audio gear these days -- Dynamis, Neolith, Lilium and La Assoluta (!) to name a few. It appears to be about not being outdone, and so the name stakes get higher and higher.

Remember when we just assigned model numbers to these things!? At least then I had some hope of pronouncing the name of something I'd bought.

Larry Phillips

Lamm phono stages

May 14, 2014


Any advance comments on the Lamm LP1 Signature phono stage you have in for review? I own a Nagra VPS/VFS and have listened to the Allnic H-3000V, Audio Research Reference Phono 2 SE and Boulder 1008 and stuck with the Nagra. Not that it was better in all areas, but in enough it wasn’t worth a change.  I am very curious about the Lamm LP2.1 and LP1 Signature -- and I have not heard them yet. I'm also curious about the Allnic H-5000 DHT.

P.S. -- I bought a Robert Koda Takumi K-10 preamp, in part from reading your review. It was all you said it was and maybe a bit more. I suspect you miss that piece a little.

Thank you for the great website you have!

John Frech

I'm finishing up my listening to the Lamm LP1 Signature; I received the LP2.1 just yesterday, so I haven't listened to it at all. I don't want to say too much about the LP1 Signature, because I'm working on my review of it, but I will say that it might be the very best product of any type that Vladimir Lamm has created. Vladimir is a hardcore analog guy, and it shows in the LP1 Signature.

I did miss the Robert Koda Takumi K-10 after it left -- it's a very seductive-sounding preamp. I've heard that the Robert Koda amps are even better. -Marc Mickelson

". . .great jazz never goes out of favor"

May 6, 2014


I'm wondering whether there are any early must-have Jazz Messenger LPs. I have later-period stuff like Moanin', A Night in Tunisia and The Big Beat, but from the Horace Silver/Kenny Dorham period? Maybe the first LP called Horace Silver and the Jazz Messengers (blue cover) or one of the Cafe Bohemia live LPs from Music Matters?

While you are at it, have you any of the Analogue Productions Impulse! 45rpms? I purchased A Love Supreme, Out of the Cool and The Blues and the Abstract Truth. Any other must-haves, so I can finish up this set?

I ordered the Music Matters 33rpm Blue Notes and I'm now purchasing some of the Analogue Productions Prestige LPs on your earlier advice. I hope Analogue Productions tackles the Riversides next, ones from Monk, Montgomery and Evans. I think they did these in the first set of 45rpm titles.

Jeff Levine

Regarding Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, as you've discovered, it's not straightforward to figure out which ones to buy. Some are listed as Art Blakey albums, some as Jazz Messenger albums, and three important ones as Horace Silver and the Jazz Messengers albums. The group's lineup also changed over time, and some of the albums (Orgy in Rhythm, the Birdland sessions, for instance) were uneven and more for completists. You've hit the highest points with The Big Beat, Moanin', and A Night in Tunisia. Two early sets worth having are The Jazz Messengers and Hard Bop, both on Columbia and both recently reissued. The Horace Silver Blue Note LP you mention is definitely worth having, just for an example of the group in its very early prime.

Regarding the Impulse! titles, once again you've already grabbed some must-haves, but I would also consider John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman and John Coltrane's Ballads as equally essential. I also like the lesser-known McCoy Tyner album Nights of Ballads & Blues, which Analogue Productions has reissued. The Monk and Bill Evans titles they reissued at 45rpm are long sold out and increasing in price used, so re-reissuing them as single LPs makes a lot of sense. Maybe that's to come after the single-LP stereo Prestige titles.

If there's one thing that all of these records proves it's that great jazz never goes out of favor. It just sells -- and resells. -Marc Mickelson

"Life is short"

May 1, 2014


I hope you don’t mind, but I need to vent.

I can’t stand reading threads that claim there is no difference between cables or that level-matched audio equipment sounds the same. This was in the response to a question -- Is high-end audio dead? -- and of course it devolved into "This matters and that doesn't." All wires do the same thing, so if we hear a difference it’s because we want to, so the argument goes. And this applies to any high-end product. Someone brought up how a high-end home-theater preamp has the same insides as a $1200 mass-market model. Now, that I can’t speak to, but if I smell a skunk I can’t convince myself that it smells good. If I taste liver, I can’t convince myself that it's chicken parmesan. If I see a standard-definition TV and then a high-definition TV, I am pretty sure I will be able to tell the difference.

Can the brain be tricked? Sure. You can look at soda, and drink water and expect the taste of soda in your mouth. But how come when it comes to sonic differences, people go crazy and say that’s it’s all in our heads and that cheap cables sound the same as Live Line cables? There are engineers who say that anybody who buys into this stuff is just throwing his money away. They constantly point to double-blind and ABX testing as proof. All I can say is that the differences I hear can’t be quantified in a way to please these engineers. They will say it’s expectation bias or I heard a difference because I need to justify the money I spent.

I could go on, but this rant is long enough. I am a cable believer. I needed to just let it out to someone who has helped me and who gets it. It’s too bad you can’t do some sort of well-run double-blind test, preferably with high-end cables from companies that do not advertise on your website, or that fact will be questioned.

Mike Doukas

I don't know why some self-proclaimed audiophiles expend so much energy tearing down the notion that different cables or electronics or speakers or whatever sound different. Life is short, so why waste any moment of yours on such a fruitless exercise? The answer is that carping about audiophiles and their supposed idiotic beliefs is these people's hobby, not listening to music. But perception is not a constant. We all don't possess the same ability to perceive differences in sound, sight, taste or touch. Instead of acknowledging this simple fact, the nay-sayers project their inability to hear differences on to those of us who can -- or simply say we're kidding ourselves.

In the end, I'd rather enjoy great music than argue with someone who believes I can't hear what I clearly can. Again, life is short. -Marc Mickelson


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