enjoyed your photographs and descriptions of the equipment displayed at the RMAF.
was interested to see Silent
Running Audio's new Scuttle rack in your overview. I've been looking for a performance
upgrade to my two single-width Synergy three-shelf racks, without the five-figure cost.
Your reviews of other SRA racks have been helpful in providing product knowledge and
credibility. I've heard that Scuttle is priced at around $6000, which is still expensive
but more within reach than a Craz².
you've seen the Scuttle, and are very familiar with SRA Craz racks in your own system, do
you feel this may deliver much of the performance, rigidity, and sonic improvements as
Craz² at a more affordable price?
description says Scuttle needs to be assembled, which I am happy to do. Does this
significantly reduce rigidity, and as a consequence sonic improvements, compared with the
further information you could pass along about Scuttle is appreciated. Audio dollars are
precious, and I need to be reasonably confident they will make a positive return on
investment whenever spent.
on my discussions with Kevin Tellekamp of SRA, you have described the goal and performance
of the Scuttle perfectly. It is supposed to "deliver much of the performance,
rigidity, and sonic improvements as a Craz² at a more affordable price." (Its
introductory price is actually $5000.) Based on the rack I saw in Denver, I would say that
having to assemble the Scuttle won't result in compromised rigidity. The cross braces and
shelves are thick and very heavy, and the whole thing is reminiscent of the Craz2, coming
together with the same battleship-like solidity.
will be some slight changes made to the rack I showed in the RMAF coverage -- mostly ones
that make routing cables easier. Kevin has promised TAB the first review sample,
and we hope to have it soon. -Marc Mickelson
Great RMAF coverage as
have an unrelated question. As a general rule, am I correct in saying that wood shelves
are better than glass for electronic equipment? I've heard wood provides better vibration
control. Do you concur?
a side note, I have Synergistic Research MIGs for vibration control, but I was wondering
if wood was still a better material to use with the MIGs.
I began using a Silent Running Audio rack, I experimented with shelves made of different
materials, including MDF, wood, glass, stone and Corian. By far, glass was the worst,
always adding a hard, grainy character to the sound. (Perhaps there's no correlation in
terms of its use for shelves, but glass has a resonance frequency within the range of the
human voice -- that's why singers can hit notes that will break it.) In general, I've
found that shelves from dense natural materials -- wood and stone -- sound best, even if
they are used with other products, like your Synergistic Research MIGs. Even better have
been the results I've achieved with SRA products, which use wood and composite materials
in strategic ways. If you're looking only for shelving material, TAB advertiser
edenSound uses a dense, waxy composite material called TerraStone for its products,
and this can be fashioned into shelves. I've had very good results with edenSound
platforms. -Marc Mickelson
versus Reference Phono 2, part 2
read your response to the reader letter in September where you mentioned that
H-3000 was a bit fuller in the mids and bass compared to the Audio Research Reference Phono 2, which was a little lighter. How do the
upper mids (or presence region) and the treble sound compared to those of Reference Phono
2? Also, was your H-3000 the new model with the larger transformers?
was the amount of gain compared to that of the Reference Phono 2? Higher or lower? Can the
MC gain be lowered from its high position?
am currently demoing the Reference Phono 2, and I find that the upper mids and treble are
well detailed but also refined and smooth (which I like). I have about 130 hours on the
think I have found, like you, that while the bass goes low, there does not seem to be that
much fullness and weight in the upper bass or lower mids. My Conrad-Johnson amps and Sonus
Faber Stradivari speakers are a little lean in the bass, so I am perhaps looking for a
little more fullness than the Reference Phono 2 is giving me, but I do not want to lose
the refined, smooth upper frequencies.
also find the high gain just a few dB too high for my system -- manageable though.
would appreciate your thoughts, as demoing an H-3000 may be difficult.
the way, great mag.
H-3000 I reviewed did not have Allnic's new transformers. That unit has since been
upgraded (which costs $2200 for H-3000 owners), and I'm now listening to the new H-3000.
I'll be blogging on it soon, so I'll keep my comments short, but I will say that the
difference is well worth the extra cash just in terms of the unit's greater dynamic
The upper midrange and treble of the Reference Phono 2 and H-3000 are rather
similar -- a bit more corporeal with the H-3000 and a bit more airy with the Reference
Phono 2. This difference helps account for the H-3000's spooky layering of images. I think
the maximum gain of Reference Phono 2 is a bit greater than that of the H-3000, which is
adjustable in four increments. Neither had a problem with the 0.25mV output of my
that you're seeking a bit more low-end fullness, an upgraded H-3000 is worth a careful
audition. I know there are a few dealers in the US with demo units, and given the amount
of money you're about to spend, the cost of a plane ticket and night in a hotel seems like
a prudent add-on. -Marc Mickelson
am wondering about the prototype speakers in Magnepan's room as shown in your "TAB's
Summer Audio Roadtrip." Looks like MG3.6es, or perhaps they are working on an
MG3.7? Did they happen to mention anything about this by chance?
weren't prototype speakers or MG3.7s. As I pointed out in my article, Wendell Diller of
Magnepan likes to use "your eyes against your ears" when he sets up one of his
demos. Those speakers were an old pair of MG3.6es with no grille cloth. They were used
purely for show -- to make us think we were going to hear a brand-new speaker. Instead,
Wendell demonstrated his three-channel stereo concept (about which we'll be publishing a
blog soon) and those rough-looking speakers weren't even connected.
is tight-lipped about new speakers under development, but I wouldn't be surprised if we
see a new model at CES in a couple of months. -Marc Mickelson
vs. Reference 110
have an Audio Research VT115 amp paired with a Wadia 581se CD player and ESP Concert Grand
speakers. I am happy with the sound, but I will upgrade to an Audio Research Reference 110
amp if it will make a significant improvement in the music. I have read that the Reference
amps sound much better, but I haven't been able to audition one. Please give me your
thoughts on this.
I've not heard the VT115 in my system, I can't tell you how its sound compares to that of
the Reference 110 and therefore if it would offer "significant improvement" for
you. However, my experience with Audio Research's product line -- much of which I've heard
-- leads me to believe that a Reference 110 would be a worthwhile step upward. I also have
a Reference 110 here and it remains the best stereo tube amp I've heard and an amp I
recommend without reservation. It's powerful -- offering a true 110Wpc -- and can drive
just about any speaker, and along with that power comes refinement that brings out the
best in the speakers and electronics with which it's used. Ultimately, if you like your
VT115, I suspect you'll love the Reference 110. As with all of the Audio Research products
I've heard, this move upward will offer more of what your current amp does so well. -Marc
the guy who
wrote you about my Thorens TD 125 Mk II and Linn LP12 turntables with SME 3009 Series
II and III 'arms respectively.
keeping both 'tables, and I'm looking into getting the 'arms rewired. In looking on the
Internet and talking with a couple of people who do this work (in the US, Canada and the
UK), it seems that there are a number of opinions as to which wire is best. The choices
seem to be silver litz wire, silver Kondo wire and Cardas wire.
you have any experience with any of these? A guy in Canada feels that the Silver Kondo is
too detailed and might not wear well over time, while a guy in the UK feels it yields
there is the question of wiring from the cartridge clips to the RCA connectors or
terminate at the 'arm base and use a high-quality phono cable, which some feel offers less
are too many options, and I'm not looking to get into a trial-and-error thing.
like to know your thoughts on the topic and what I should watch out for. The wiring in
both 'arms is over 30 years old.
have no experience with rewiring a tonearm -- or having someone else do it for me. I know
that Tri-Planar uses Cardas wire for its tonearm, and that's a rather strong
recommendation in my opinion.
for terminations, the fewer of them you have the better. Thus, as Tri-Planar does, having
the 'arm wired from the cartridge clips to the RCA (or XLR) connectors is best. However,
this doesn't give you the opportunity to experiment with different phono cables, either
DIN or RCA terminated. Also, if your 'arm is hard-wired from cartridge to connectors and
you move your turntable, you may find that you now don't have enough cable, which means
you'll have to rewire a second time.
I were in your shoes, I'd simply rewire your 'arms internally with Cardas tonearm wire,
and keep the terminations as they are -- whether that means using a separate phono cable
or not. This will also likely be the cheapest option of those you mention. -Marc
or Audio Research?
follow your reviews and I trust your ears. I need your help. I'll be in Denver at the
upcoming Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, and I want to choose between two digital players, Ayre
C-5xeMP and Audio Research Reference CD8, to add to my modest system: KEF Reference
201/2 speakers, Krell Evolution 302 amp, Audio Research Reference 3 preamp, and
your opinion, what would be the best choice between these two players? I do not intend to
spend more than $10,000. My budget is limited to that amount. If there are other players I
should consider, please list them.
best choice between these two players," both of which I have here, depends on your
needs and priorities. First, you can play only CDs with the Reference CD8, while the
C-5xeMP also plays SACDs and DVDs. Both have balanced and single-ended outputs, and they
sound their best balanced. However, the Reference CD8 sounds very, very close to how it
does balanced through its single-ended outputs. In terms of sonic qualities, the C-5xeMP
is lighter and leaner, while the Reference CD8 displays greater physical presence, a very
direct midrange, and exemplary bass definition.
For CDs only, I personally would choose the Reference CD8 for all that it does so
well sonically. However, I need to play music from other digital formats, so I own a
your $10,000 budget, you might also want to investigate the new Ayre DX-5, which adds
Blu-ray playback. It represents Ayre's latest thinking on digital playback, and it
incorporates a top-flight USB DAC, so you can also use it with a computer. I will be
getting one to write about soon. -Marc Mickelson
do you expect to publish your review of the Ayre MX-R amps? I was ready (after a great
amount of thought and a slow build up of cash) to pull the trigger on Lamm M1.2s (to be
used with my Audio Research Reference 5, Wilson Audio Sasha W/Ps, and Shunyata cables),
but after I saw that you were going to review the MX-Rs, I decided to hold back. I'm
generally not a fan of solid state and like the Lamm hybrid concept, but I've heard great
things about the MX-Rs and knew a now-former Audio Research dealer who sold a few
Reference 5/ MX-R combos. I await your comparison. A sneak preview would be great, and I
would not reveal your thoughts to anyone. However, I can also appreciate if, like the rest
of your readers, I have to wait for the public release.
review of the Ayre MX-R amps is still more than a month away from being published, but I
can tell you that the MX-R is a member of a select group of the very best amps I've heard
regardless of technology. I hate it when equipment reviewers titillate instead of inform,
anointing some new product as "the best" without adequate explanation, but I
can't get around that with the MX-Rs at this point. To find out specifics, you'll have to
wait for my review. I don't think you can go wrong with either the Lamm M1.2s or Ayre
MX-Rs, but I'm sure one will be more right for you and your system than the other.
Please add me to The Audio Beat's
reader list. Fantastic site -- great reading.