Letters • November 2014

Venture and Wilson cabinets

November 25, 2014


Great review of the Venture speakers! Well written and very interesting indeed.

In regard to the Ventures vs. the Wilson Alexandria XLFs, which speaker has the greater overall silence and which speaker's cabinet seems to have the better design as far as being less colored or more dead, giving less influence to the signal and the music?

Tracy Hill

You ask a good question, given the amount of thought and materials research that have gone into the cabinets of the Venture Ultimate Reference and Wilson Alexandria XLFs. However, given that the driver and crossover complements, not to mention the amps I used with both speakers, are not the same, I can't answer with any certainty. I can say that Wilson speakers always sound noiseless to me. That will not make sense to some, as passive speakers don't generate any hiss or hum of their own, for instance, but keen listeners know what I mean. The signal just seems to emerge from them with an enhanced sense of blackness, without any accompanying hash or resonance. This goes not just for the Alexandria XLF, but also the Alexia, Sasha and Sophia, whose cabinets are all made to the same standards and with the same advanced materials. Perhaps I'd think the same of Venture cabinets if I heard more than one of the company's speakers in my system. -Marc Mickelson

Digital analog?

November 14, 2014


I purchased some vinyl in a store near me and on the record cover it says "A digital recording." How exactly does that work -- a digital recording on a piece of vinyl?

Sheldon Simon

"A digital recording" on your records means that the music was recorded with a digital system and not an analog one. This was often stamped on LPs sold during CD's rise to prominence as a way to entice consumers, even though, as your question implies, it doesn't make sense, because the LP is inherently an analog medium.

Interestingly, even today we still have digital LPs, although in a different sense. Now, many LPs are mastered from digitized versions of analog sources -- perhaps even from CDs in some cases. Why is this done? It's cheaper and easier than tracking down the analog master tapes. I own a few of these LP and they range from sounding very good to very, very bad. If you buy LPs from the major reissue labels, like Mobile Fidelity, Music Matters, Analogue Productions, Pure Pleasure, ORG, ORG Music, Impex and Speakers Corner, you are getting pure-analog LPs created with exacting standards and care. Often these labels will include pictures of the master tapes, just to hammer home this point (as well as to show that they are using the actual master tapes, not safety or backup copies). Beyond these labels, it's anybody's guess -- and you have to do your homework to know exactly what you're buying. When we review digitally sourced LPs, we state this in our reviews. -Marc Mickelson

B.M.C. transport for playing CDs?

November 12, 2014


I need your help! I am considering the B.M.C. BDCD1.1 transport for purchase, and I need to know your opinion if it's worth the investment knowing that computers have taken over. How would it compare to an Esoteric transport? Have you heard the B.M.C. DAC1 in your system with the VTL TL-7.5 III?

Tom Graff

While computers are indeed prevalent now as a digital source, I still firmly believe that a good CD transport like the B.M.C. BDCD1.1 is not just a worthwhile purchase but remains the standard for playing CDs here and now. Obviously I'm not a computer-audio acolyte, but this isn't a matter of faith. I still hear a homogenization from so many computer-audio front-ends, with only a very few -- the Wavelength DAC with a MacBook, for instance -- not being immediately recognizable as computer-based. If you still have physical media to play and don't plan to rip it to a hard drive, you should definitely have a transport or dedicated CD player in your system. I use mine daily.

As for comparing the B.M.C. to an Esoteric transport, if has been a while since I heard a separate transport from Esoteric, but I would still say that the two are sonically similar in many ways. Both are highly resolving throughout the musical spectrum with impressive low-end power. Interestingly, while Carlos Candeias of B.M.C. was responsible for the well-regarded CEC TL 1 transport from the 1990s, and both it and the B.M.C. transport use a belt-drive mechanism, the two sound rather different, the CEC having greater midrange presence, smoother highs, and greater ease. I own a CEC and love it, but it was nice to have the B.M.C. here for the change of sound it represented.

I didn't get to hear the B.M.C. DAC1 when I had the VTL preamp here. One left before the other showed up. -Marc Mickelson

Nordost Heimdall 2 review

November 7, 2014


Thanks for the thoroughgoing review of the new headphone cable from Nordost. I ordered mine before reading your piece. It has not disappointed. Immediately apparent were increased tonal density, better low-level detail and more effortless differentiation. More "jump" is in evidence, and loud seems louder. I have heard it single-ended only, but I look forward to hearing what it can do with a balanced amp. A friend will also be able to try it with his Cavalli amp and Abyss headphones.

Stan Delles

Reader list

November 2, 2014


I found your site and I am really enjoying the reviews. I would like to be added to the reader list.

Stephen Dodds

Easy-peasy. Just send e-mail to rl@theaudiobeat.com and you'll be added to the list. -Marc Mickelson


The Audio Beat • Nothing on this site may be reprinted or reused without permission.