Letters • October 2009

"...listening to music and sharing your experiences online"

October 26, 2009


I'm glad you'll still be involved with the passion of listening to music and sharing your experiences online. I've always enjoyed your writing style and will continue to enjoy it on your new site, which looks great. Congratulations and all the very best.

Lloyd Smith

Classic vs. Raven One

October 22, 2009


I read your review of the VPI Classic. I wonder how far behind or similar the Classic is to the cheaper TW-Acustic turntable, the Raven One. If funds allowed, that would be my turntable of choice.

Noli Tan

In term of price, the TW-Acustic Raven .5 ($4000) is more in line with the VPI Classic. I photographed it at the recent Rocky Mountain Audio Fest. I understand that the Raven One is a very fine turntable and its sound is similar to that of my Raven AC. I suspect that the sonic differences I describe in my VPI Classic review would remain between the Raven One and Classic (your choice of tonearm and cartridge notwithstanding, of course). -Marc Mickelson


October 19, 2009


If you’re not too busy writing your new e-publication, I would greatly appreciate your thoughts on a system change that I am considering, which is: trading in two Shunyata V-Rays and Python Helix Alpha power cords for an Audience aR6-T for the front-end, an Audience aR2-T for amplifiers, and powerChord e cords for both. These power conditioners are the new units with Teflon capacitors, and they do not use T-MOVs as do the Shunyata units. It would also be nice to not have to deal with those thick, hard-to-route Shunyata power cords.

I know you will be reviewing the V-Ray II and new CX cords soon. I know that I could upgrade both V-Rays to Version II status for $1500 each. The Python upgrades would be about $600 each.

If the Audience products are a move up sonically, this option is not only very tempting but preferred, and is actually less expensive to upgrade overall. The key phrase is, “If this is a move up sonically.” I would not like to spend any money for something that is very nearly the same or, worst case, less desirable from a performance standpoint.

I’m not asking you what I should do, but any advice or experience that you could send would be very helpful. WWMD? (What would Marc do?)

Ray Browne

WWID -- what would I do? I'd stick with what I know and like, because, as you speculate, chasing "better" through radical equipment changes sometimes gets you "about the same" and other times "a bit worse." I empathize with the difficulty of routing the Shunyata power cords, and they just barely fit into the V-Ray II's outlets. However, what they do is meaningful and sounds right to me. That's not to say that the Audience products aren't as good or possibly better. I just haven't heard them, and, as you know, switching without audition is fraught with peril.

I can tell you that the V-Ray II and CX power cords are significant upgrades from their predecessors, which were no slouches. You won't have to strain to hear the difference, and if you like what you have now (the stiffness of the power cords notwithstanding; it's still an issue), I don't think you'll be disappointed with the upgrade. - Marc Mickelson

Music servers

October 15, 2009


If I understood you correctly, you made a comment about listening to music from music servers which kind of sounded like the dismissive comment that people made when CDs were introduced in the age of vinyl.

With the right hardware and software, music servers will rival or exceed the best that traditional systems, using CDs or vinyl, can offer, and with the wrong hardware and software, it will sound awful.

Pro music studios essentially record and master performances using equipment that is akin to a hard-drive music server. Ray Kimber has demonstrated at the last few CESes, on systems that were essentially hard-drive music servers, using his unique recording method and the results were magical --musical and with soul. The audience sat transfixed through the whole demonstrations.

Michael Goldin

You are likely referring to this sentence from my profile of Joe Harley ("Music Matters to Him").

In reality, the symbol of audiophile wrong-headedness is the person who has sunk six figures into speakers as big as refrigerators, amps as heavy as anvils and all of the electronics and cables needed to produce sound from a paucity of CDs or [gulp] a music server loaded with the latest downloadable high-resolution digital files that may sound great but lack musical significance.

I'm not dismissive of music servers, even though I don't own one. I'm dismissive of the notion that a music server or computer-based playback rig is worth owning because of the ability to download high-rez music that I may not want to listen to at any resolution. I want to listen to great music, not merely hear great sound. Ripping your CD collection to a computer is probably the best use of this technology here and now. In the future, downloading may be the thing for audiophiles who are also hard-core music lovers, but that's not the case at this point in time.

I think this segment of audiophilia is vastly misunderstood because it's not covered with enough rigor. The technological advantages (and disadvantages) of using a computer for music playback have not been fully explored, and yet this technology is considered by some as a priori better. I worked in IT and know how noisy computers are. I had to move more than a couple of CPUs because they emitted so much RFI that the user's radio reception suffered. I'd be interested in finding out how this is consistent with better sound -- or if it's not. Perhaps that's a subject I'll tackle myself.

I think some audiophiles who have such systems are reluctant to admit that their main reason for having them is convenience. I play LPs, so that point is pretty much lost on me.

I hope I've explained my statement sufficiently. I want to believe, but on my terms, and ones with which people like Joe Harley would agree. - Marc Mickelson


Just a few follow-up points.

The technical issue of a noisy computer is true. But, as with any technical issue, it then becomes a challenge to find a solution -- to use an external DAC, isolate the power supply, use solid-state drives, etc.

Your point about good sound versus good music is well taken. But as high-rez downloads increase, the greater availability of software should diminish the issue of finding good music.

The convenience of a music server should not be underrated in the enjoyment of music. If I construct a playlist of music that I truly want to listen to one evening and listen for several hours without having to locate and load CDs or records, that is a significant benefit.

Michael Goldin

More Congrats

October 12, 2009

Congratulations on your new online publication. I own the Wilson Sasha W/P and Shunyata Hydra V-Ray II with King Cobra CX power cord. I’ll be most interested to read Paul’s and your reviews of these components.

Steven Plaskin


October 8, 2009


I just wanted to congratulate you on your new venture and wish you much success. The site looks good, is easy to navigate, and over time I'm sure it will develop into a wonderful source for audio reviews and news. I've already added it to my Favorites list.

David Dowdell

"Sign me up!"

October 6, 2009


I've been exploring your new website and it's really, really nice. Very easy to navigate. Effortless in fact. I read a number of the pieces, from one section to another, and most of all I was happy to read you again. I like the kind of tone you are setting: thoughtful, mature, generous, appreciative. I look forward to reading the articles promised for future posts. Sign me up!

Charles Murphy

First impressions

October 3, 2009


I spent 20 minutes on the site and read pretty much everything. I'd say you're off to a very good start. The layout is clean and easy to navigate, and the tone is earnest and authentic. Conspicuously absent was any shrillness or intellectual pomposity. I had the immediate feeling I was in the company of music lovers -- rather than audio-gear pontificators -- and it felt good. Quite welcoming, all in all. I look forward to watching TAB grow and evolve. Best wishes for your success.

Michael Dubrow

P.S. -- I very much appreciated your comments about Jim Thiel. Sometime down the road, you must hear the CS2.4 SE. It was his last design, I believe.

TAB is live

October 1, 2009


I like it. I like it a lot. It is well laid out and easy to navigate. It also looks good in Internet Explorer, Mozilla and Safari. Well done and congrats.

Can I get on that reader list?

Mike Doukas

You're on the list. Watch for my daily updates from the RMAF in Denver. - Marc Mickelson


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