Letters • November 2012

Another option for Wilson Sashas

November 26, 2012


As the owner of a pair of marvelous Wilson Sasha W/Ps, I'm motivated by the recent TAB letter [below] and your response to mention the excellent result I'm getting from my Aurum Acoustics Integris CDP and NuForce Reference 18 mono amps. However, for me, a profound enhancement emits from a small, nondescript capsule atop a book tower in the listening room -- the Acoustic Revive RR-777 Schumann Resonance Generator (a successor to the original RR-77 SRG). It delivers a generous dollop of verisimilitude to the stereo image. On a few early-morning, thoughtfully quiet listening sessions (I get up way before my wife) I sensed something missing. I'd forgotten to turn on the RR-777. The enriched dimensionality and harmonic texture this little wonder provides defies (my) understanding. But never my appreciation!

Mile Silverton

I'm very familiar with the Aurum Acoustics CDP -- I once reviewed it and bought the review sample afterwards. I'm not surprised it's part of a system that works musically, with "a generous dollop of verisimilitude" on top. -Marc Mickelson

Three options for Wilson Sashas

November 25, 2012


I am getting new electronics for my Wilson Audio Sasha W/P speakers and there are three options. I would like to ask your personal opinion about them. Which do you prefer?

Option one: I could buy a used Audio Research Reference Anniversary preamplifier, used Reference 250 mono amps and a used Reference CD8 CD player. My friend has this setup and he would sell it to me. I know that this is a good setup for Sashas. I had before Audio Research Reference 210 amps and a Reference 3 preamp and the CD8, and it was all superb, but I want a little more bass control and power and also "life." You know that Sashas need some power because the impedance drops to 1.8 ohms at 90Hz, if I remember right.

Option two: I could buy new Lamm M1.2 Reference amps and pair them with a Reference Anniversary preamp and CD8. This is your longtime reference setup, I know, and also nice match for the Sashas.

Option three: I don't buy now and wait to see if there is new model of Lamm M1.2. Do you know if there is an upcoming update for these amps?

Jussi Lyly

I can personally attest to the wisdom of either option one or two, as I've listened to all of that gear in my own system with Wilson speakers. I think the Audio Research stack makes the most sense, given its extreme synergy and the fact that you're after better bass control and power, and greater "life," than with the Reference 3/Reference 210s. You'll get everything you seek, and you obviously have experience with an all-Audio Research system. However, if one amp could fit comfortably within that grouping, it's the Lamm M1.2, which matches particularly well with Audio Research electronics, especially the Reference Anniversary.

As for option three, Lamm has no replacement for the M1.2s in the works. Vladimir Lamm is very careful regarding his product line, replacing units slowly and deliberately, not simply because he wants a new product to sell. Of course, the M1.2 will be updated at some point, but I've not heard when that might be. -Marc Mickelson

Voweling in

November 20, 2012


I am in the midst of trying to optimize my speaker setup and would appreciate your sending me the link to the "voweling in" process you said you had previously written about in your review of the Wilson Alexandria XLF.

Michael Goldin

I wrote about Wilson Audio's "voweling in" routine many years ago, but I don't know where you'd find that article now. I can summarize the process, however.

The goal is to find the best places in the room for the two speakers, the "zones of neutrality," as Wilson Audio calls them. This involves walking around the room and speaking, listening for the spots where anomalies -- standing waves, slap echo, comb filtering and the like -- have the least effect on what's heard. The process happens in a systematic way. Start at the front wall, walk, speak, and listen -- then do the same at the side walls. You may have to do it a few times, just to become attune to the changes in what you're hearing.

Once the "zones of neutrality" are identified, stand in them, move a foot one way or another and speak again. It should be easy to hear the difference, as you are within and then outside of the zone. Place the speakers in the zones, the spots where the room has the least influence, and then move them forward and back, in and out, in small increments -- fractions of an inch. Once you find the exact positions where the speakers sound best, install the spikes. You're done. -Marc Mickelson

Luxman and Tidal?

November 15, 2012


It’s difficult for me to hear Ypsilon electronics, and I’ll have finally decided not to go with a CAT preamp and amp, because they have only RCA connections. I prefer XLR to match with my MSB DAC.

It would be easier for me to listen to a Luxman M-600A and C-600F or M-800A and C-800F. Indeed, a dealer can bring these to my home. but he’s far from where I live. So before asking him to come, I just would like to know if these Luxman products could be an interesting match with Tidal loudspeakers (Piano Cera or Contriva Diacera).

Do you know these Luxman products? It seems Luxman amplifiers have gotten good reviews, but are Luxman preamplifiers transparent? Finally, do you have an opinion on a Luxman-Tidal match?

Sam Aversenq

I know the Luxman products well through the brand's US distributor, Philip O'Hanlon at On a Higher Note. I've had the top Luxman mono and stereo amps as well as the preamps in my system, and they all performed very well. I've not listened to the preamps at any length, but I reviewed the M-1000f mono amps, which are scaled-up versions of the stereo amps you mentioned, and they were undeniably powerful and neutral-sounding.

How would they match with Tidal? I can only speculate there, because I never heard the Luxman electronics with the Tidal speakers. I don't see a downside to Luxman's tonal neutrality except with speakers that need some taming, especially in the high frequencies, and that's not the case with Tidal speakers, which are very evenhanded and possess rather refined treble. I don't think pairing Luxman and Tidal would be a bad move, but perhaps not the most right one you could make. However, only experimentation with various brands of electronics could prove this. With this level of equipment, you really do need to do in-home auditions, so you get the most for your money.

Sorry I can't be more definitive, but even with brands and products I've reviewed, I can't always make informed judgments on compatibility, as I just can't use everything together. -Marc Mickelson

CAT JL2 Signature Mk 2

November 12, 2012


I am interested in the CAT JL2 Signature Mk 2 amp, and I read your take on it. How do you rate it as of today? Do you think it will mate with a good solid-state preamp like the Vitus Audio? Any feed back would be appreciated.

Arshad Fudukin

I reviewed the CAT JL2 Signature Mk 2 over five years ago, yet CAT still makes it unchanged from the version I reviewed. It would just miss being on my personal top-five list of amplifiers (which currently includes the Ayre MX-R, Lamm ML3 Signature, Ypsilon Aelius, Audio Research Reference 250 and Atma-Sphere MA-2 Mk 3.1 monoblocks), but it remains the best stereo amp I've heard. The CAT is a tremendously powerful amp, and one that's tremendously refined as well. I'm sure it would mate well with a solid-state Vitus Audio preamp provided that the preamp has enough gain for the amp -- in the CAT product range, the high gain of the preamps is offset by the lower gain of the amps. Most active preamps will work in this regard. -Marc Mickelson


November 8, 2012


Please subscribe me to your reader update list.

Graham Ramsey

E-mail rl@theaudiobeat.com to be added to the site's reader list. Those people on the reader list are the first alerted to all site updates and the only ones who find out about special offers and other site news. -Marc Mickelson

Cartridge demagnetization

November 5, 2012


I read with some interest your piece on using various tools to demagnetize an audio system. Some moving-coil phono cartridge makers, especially, but not limited to, A.J. van den Hul, say in no uncertain terms that demaging their cartridges may cause damage to the cartridge and that they do not think it is needed.

Back in the day I had a demagnetizer but stopped using it when I began using a van den Hul cartridge.

Is there something new about the way these new machines work, or is van den Hul just wrong?

Louis Sohn

Some moving-coil cartridge manufacturers warn against any demag device that puts current through the cartridge coils. That I can understand! However, the Benz Micro device shown in my article, a free-standing unit based on the Aesthetix circuit included with that company's phono stages, doesn't do this. While both Clearaudio and vdH frown on the practice, I can report that, as a user of both cartridge marques as well as the Benz demagnetizer, I have experienced no problems at all while also enjoying considerable sonic benefits. I also spoke to Aesthetix about this and they have never had a reported incident of cartridge failure after demagnetizing.

If in doubt, then the Cardas sweep LP offers an alternative method of degaussing cartridges -- and that definitely doesn't put a current through them!

One word of caution: don't use a demag device like the Benz or Aesthetix with a moving-magnet cartridge. That will result in damage. -Roy Gregory

Which Audio Research amp?

November 1, 2012


I am done searching for a new amp to pair with my Audio Research Reference Anniversary preamp. My new amp will be one from the Audio Research Reference series. I will keep my powerful solid-state Simaudio Moon amp for some specific purposes and will alternately use the new tube amp for light music playing.

Here come the questions.

  1. When playing at low volume, or low power of around 20 watts or below, are there any sonic differences between Reference 75, Reference 150 and Reference 250s?

  2. The 8-ohm taps are the correct ones to use with Wilson Audio speakers, right?

Wiratorn Ruk

I can't definitively answer your question about the three ARC Reference amps you mention, because I've had only the Reference 250s in my system. There are slight parts differences among the three, including the number of tubes and amount of power-supply capacitance, that will account for some sonic differences. However, I think it could be said that the three amps will sound very much alike within that 20-watt window. But, and this is pure speculation, I suspect that even at low power, the Reference 75 might sound slightly better than the other two, because it has fewer parts, including fewer output tubes. I've heard this amp at ARC, and it was glorious at whatever level we played it. My guess is that among the current Reference amps, the Reference 75 will be the one that listeners still covet a decade from now.

Regarding the output taps, my experience is that Wilson Audio speakers, which are rated at 4 ohms nominal impedance, sound best when connected to the 8-ohm taps. That may be the case with other speaker brands as well, but experimentation is easy. -Marc Mickelson


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