wrote to you earlier regarding the Ayre DX-5 and
ended up buying it following your recommendation. Yesterday I received the Audio Research Reference Anniversary preamp and use it with DX-5 and Ayre MX-R power
amps. I wondered if you could give a few tips on placement and break-in of the beast.
I have it placed within my rack at the moment, the power supply one shelf above the main
unit. Would you change anything? Would you swap, for example, the preamp with the power
supply from where they are now? Just trying to get the best sound out of the beast.
how would you recommend breaking it in in my system? Should I spin a CD with the preamp on
24/7 for a couple of weeks? Should I give it breaks, like during the night, for example?
as you know very well, the MX-Rs love being on, but listening to the music 24/7 is too
much. If I leave the MX-Rs and everything else on but press the Mute button on the
Reference Anniversary remote control, will the break-in process continue as normal or will
other advice would be appreciated! Just trying to do everything right, you know.
terms of the placement of your Reference Anniversary, I'd say you're in good shape. I
might try to separate the two units further, perhaps with a shelf in between, but this may
yield zero sonic benefits.
break-in, yes, just play a CD on repeat; you can use the preamp's display to determine how
many hours of play you've clocked. I've always believed that dynamic music was best for
this, but that's only conjecture. When you don't want to hear music, your best option is
to turn your amps off (or put them in standby) so the signal keeps passing through your
preamp. Muting your preamp or putting it on an unused input will continue to put time on
it as well, although without the benefit of a musical signal. You can leave the preamp on
for the full number of hours you plan to break it in (Audio Research recommends 500
hours), although I personally would turn it off if I were to leave the house, just in case
a tube blew. -Marc Mickelson
versus Audio Research
enjoyed your review of the Allnic H-3000 phono stage. In your "Associated
Equipment" section, you list the Audio Research Reference Phono 2, but you don't
mention it in your article. How does the Allnic compare to the Audio Research?
purposes of keeping the review of the Allnic H-3000 manageable, I decided to compare it to
the Lamm LP2 Deluxe alone, as that was the phono stage I was listening to most at that
time. I also own an Audio Research Reference Phono 2, however, and like it a great deal.
Like other Audio Research Reference products, it excels at portraying space and scaling
dynamically. Tonally, it gives the best of tubes without excessive warmth. I also like its
adjustable loading and alternate EQ curves, both of which can be accessed via the included
remote control. Unlike the Allnic and Lamm phono stages, the Reference Phono 2 uses no
step-up transformers, deriving all of its gain from active devices.
Allnic H-3000 is completely competitive in terms of performance with the Reference Phono
2, but with some sonic differences. Its effortlessness and ease made its amazing 3D
imaging all the more engaging. It's slightly darker in tonal terms and presents more
dense, fleshy images as well. The H-3000V adds infinitely adjustable EQ to the mix, making
it the model to choose if you play a lot of older vinyl, as I do. -Marc Mickelson
Eidolon or. . . ?
enjoyed reading your Avalon Transcendent review. I have been listening to Avalon Eidolon
Vision speakers for the past six years and have enjoyed them very much. I have heard that
Avalon may be releasing a successor to the Eidolon Vision soon, possibly with a different
name but at a similar price. This is of interest to me, and I was wondering if you may
have heard anything about this. I heard that the new speaker may appear at the January
CES, not far away.
Eidolon Vision uses a single 11 bass driver, a ceramic midrange and a ceramic
tweeter. I was wondering how bass performance might compare between using a single
11 woofer and two 7 woofers, as used for the Transcendent.
listening room is about 10 x 15. Is there a relationship between room size and
how large of a speaker works optimally? It may be possible that the Transcendent may be a
better choice for my room size than the Eidolon Vision, or its successor.
I do recall hearing or reading something of a new Avalon speaker to be announced
at CES, but I fear that the specifics have slipped my mind. All other things being equal,
I would think that the 11" bass driver would deliver more bass than two 7"
drivers. While the Transcendent delivers an excellent amount of bass, it's of course no
match for the two 11" drivers in the Avalon Time or, from a more distant memory, the
single 11" driver of the Eidolon. But the difference is not all that great (compared
to the Eidolon's single driver).
Your room should be able to accommodate the larger speaker if you have plenty of
flexibility in placement. One great advantage of the Transcendent is that it's less fussy
in placement than larger Avalons (it's also more amplifier friendly). The size of your
room might limit your options in terms of setup, especially if the room is not dedicated
to one purpose. Avalons do like to be out from the walls more than some speakers, and in
my somewhat larger room (13' x 15'), the dimensions shrink when speaker placement takes
priority over sharing the room with others. The Transcendent allows for more compromise
than the larger speakers. On the other hand, the new mini Idea speaker that
was shown at the National Audio Show outside London and the RMAF in Denver certainly
sounded fantastic when allowed to stand out in the middle of the room.
any event, I suspect that your experience with the Eidolon Vision in your own room would
be a better guide than any advice I could offer. -Dennis Davis
enjoyed reading your
review of the Ayre DX-5, where you praised its sound, even though the transport is
originally an Oppo. I have the Oppo BDP-83 connected with a Transparent digital cable to a
Wadia S7i. The sound is nice but far behind the sound from CD. Do you think the Oppo drive
is the weak link? Is there an upgrade to improve the sound without replacing the Oppo with
a very expensive player?
assume what you're trying to achieve with the Oppo BDP-83 is the ability to play
high-resolution data from DVDs and Blu-ray discs through your Wadia S7i, whose transport
plays CDs only. Of course, the S7i can decode high-resolution data; however, what I'm not
sure of is if the Oppo player can send it via its digital output. Oppo indicates online
that your player has coaxial and TosLink digital outputs, but not if they can pass data
that are greater than CD resolution. Your manual might have this information, along with
if this feature needs to be enabled via the onscreen menus. If your player can't output
the data or the feature isn't enabled, the high-resolution data are downsampled, which is
the case with most Blu-ray and DVD players. This would account for the reduced performance
of the Oppo/Wadia combination.
you care to experiment a little more, you may be able to find an early Pioneer DVD player
for little money at a thrift store -- I've seen them here locally. Many Pioneer DVD
players can pass 24/96 digital data, and connecting one to your Wadia player would be a
way to determine if the Oppo is passing the highest-resolution data. This feature does
have to be enabled for the Pioneer players, so you'll want to take that into account. It's
easy to figure out via the onscreen menus, or you may be able to find the player's manual
CD playback with the Oppo, that it doesn't sound as good used as a transport as the Wadia
S7i itself is not surprising. The output/input of digital data, not to mention the digital
cable, is a major cause of jitter -- digital timing errors that negatively affect sound
quality. Wadia is also known for its use of high-quality transport mechanisms. It
co-designed and co-engineered the transport used in the S7i. -Marc Mickelson
review that "talks"
read your excellent review on the Silent Running Audio Scuttle, and I'm sold.
I will try to replace a rack I bought with the Scuttle and take you wise advice and wait
until I am sure about my amps before saving for the Silent Running platforms. I'm actually
very excited about the Scuttle! It is not often that a review really talks to me.
for the compliment. I don't think you can go wrong with the Scuttle. Once you adopt
effective vibration isolation, your system will be even better positioned for you to
assess changes to it. -Tim Aucremann
just heard on the radio that a major record label will no longer be making CDs as of end
of next year. Aside from vinyl, where does that leave us? Strictly computer-based audio, I
presume. I guess I'll need to get a DAC with USB and connect to my laptop. The other side
of the coin -- I guess-is vinyl is "obsolete," yet we still find ways to
purchase it -- same as tubes.
downloading going to be the only media now without CDs? Very disconcerting. Do you think
CDs will still be somewhat available after production stops?
not surprised that a major record label would announce that CD production will stop
sometime soon. We audiophiles are not catered to by the major labels, and thank goodness
for that! For us, there will always be vinyl, CDs and SACDs (which some of my colleagues
buried long ago, and have been proven dead wrong about). There are labels like Mobile
Fidelity, Analogue Productions, and others that make good money selling various physical
media to us. We download as well, but not the compressed formats that the major labels
will be pushing. Sound quality is too important to us, so we'll take the high-res route.
point is that we're a niche, and not one that major labels will think is worth their
while. That's OK, as there are other labels that will create the recordings we want. And
that's saying nothing about the great CD renaissance that's sure to come. As vinyl has
proven, everything that's old and discarded becomes new and desirable again -- especially
if it was better to begin with. -Marc Mickelson
with "...the right balance"?
am looking for a preamp with the right balance of tube tone, body and dimensionality with
the attack, dynamics and musical detail of solid state. My gear includes Wilson Sasha
W/Ps, Lamm M1.2 Reference amps, a Tron tube phono stage, and a TW-Acustic Raven One
turntable with Graham Phantom tonearm and Koestu Vermillion cartridge.
all-tube preamp I own seems to mask some of the dynamics and detail. I am borrowing a
Musical Fidelity kW hybrid preamp and it gives me most of what I am looking for. So that
got me thinking about the possibility of other hybrid preamps that might retain the
attack, dynamics and detail of the Musical Fidelity but with perhaps a touch more of the
bloom and body of tubes.
know you are a big fan of the Audio Research Reference 5/Lamm M1.2 pairing. What else
should I put on my short list to audition? I want a remote, and balanced outs would be a
have placed a very tall order -- "the right balance of tube tone, body and
dimensionality with the attack, dynamics and musical detail of solid state." Hybrid
preamps are not all that common. The Lamm L2 Reference would be a great choice for you,
given that you have Lamm amps, but it has no remote control. You have identified a good
candidate in the Audio Research Reference 5; I'm not sure if it can be classified as a
hybrid, because it uses tubes in its output stage and power supply.
it and the Lamm L2, you are probably limited to all-tube preamps, and there is one that I
can suggest: the Allnic L5000 DHT, which uses direct-heated triode tubes and certainly
sounds dynamic, detailed and fast. I have one in for review right now, so you'll get to
read more about it. Unfortunately, other favorites, such as the CAT SL1 Legend and Zanden
Model 3000, don't meet your criteria in one way or another. -Marc Mickelson
have been dealing with Wilson Audio for all these years, so you would know their speakers
better than most, and from the way you review products, I trust your opinion. My listening
room is 16 feet by 20 feet with a 9-foot ceiling. My room is set up with the speakers on
the 16-foot length. Do you feel that the Sophia 3 would be better in the room or do you
fee that the Sasha W/P would work well in this room?
the Sophia 3 and Sasha W/P would work in your room, but because the room is quite large,
the Sasha will more easily fill it, and the speakers' adjustments will give you more
control over placement. As I noted in my
review of the Sophia 3, the Sasha has the greater "potential" of either
speaker, and a room such as yours will help it realize that potential. -Marc