Setup and Optimization seminar
write-up on Roy Gregory's TAVES seminar. It's amazing to me how little attention, say,
The Absolute Sound and Stereophile pay to this stuff, with Harley just
recently realizing how good the Stillpoints system is. This is groundbreaking work you
guys are doing.
in general, Volti Vittora in particular
are softening to big horn speakers. I know that horns have had their issues, but they
also have had their strengths, and I am working hard to preserve those strengths in my
designs and offer systems that can be appreciated by all audiophiles.
Vittoras may or may not benefit from corner placement; it really depends on the room.
Placing the Vittoras in corners may or may not extend the bass frequencies lower. I think
it's more likely that corner placement will enhance the bass that is already there, not
extend it lower, and that may or may not work well with the room they are in. I have found
they are very flexible speakers in terms of room placement. I am able to get very good
imaging and soundstaging with them pointed in or out from the listening position, and they
seem to work well in just about any room shape, filled with furniture or not. The only
restriction that I know of is that they need a little space between them to get a good
central image. If someone has a narrow/long room, with the Vittoras placed at the short
end, it will be difficult to get them spread apart enough to produce that nice central
just read your
review on the Ayre DX-5. For CD mode, how do you think it would compare to the Wadia
861? Better? Worse? Or just different?
I can't answer your question as it's stated, because I've not heard the Wadia 861 in my
system. While we reviewers get to hear a wide cross-section of products, we unfortunately
just can't hear everything on the market, even from major makers like Wadia. I can say
that I bought the Ayre DX-5, so I'm very partial to it, with CD, SACD, and especially
Blu-ray Disc. This is one of the formats -- along with DVD and DVD-A, not to mention
computer audio -- that the Wadia player can't accommodate. For me, this is an important
functional difference that's completely in the DX-5's favor: it opens up a world of
playback possibilities that the 861 doesn't. -Marc Mickelson
with ground loops
quandary with ground loops. I've determined my outboard DAC to be causing noise, so I
simply disconnected it. However, when I substitute my solid-state amp in the system
instead of my tube amp, the DAC is quiet. Now I'm really puzzled.
being able to hear what you're hearing (the nature of the hum), I can only speculate.
However, it sounds like one of two things is happening. (1) Your DAC has an inherent hum,
perhaps because it's not working properly, and the voltage gain of your solid-state amp is
low enough that the hum isn't audible, but swapping in your tube amp increases the gain
and therefore the hum. (2) It could also be that your solid-state amp is grounded
differently and therefore not creating a ground loop with the DAC in your system. I
suppose a third option is that your tube amp, and not your DAC, is actually the cause of
the hum. -Marc Mickelson
Very cool report
on your TAVES demonstrations. Now, can you give us an idea what these changes sounded
you can see from the step-by-step description, any detailed account is going to be long
and time-consuming to compile and post. I'm working on it and we'll post it as soon as
possible, alongside the existing blog entry, but in the meantime, here's the short
of the questions I addressed at the beginning of the seminar was how to judge the quality
of a system, any system, in a strange environment? It's actually much easier than it
seems; all you have to do is ask yourself two questions: How much does this sound like
real people playing real instruments? How close do the musicians seem?
first is pretty self-explanatory; does it sound like a group of people, hittin', blowin',
bangin' or yellin'? More importantly, do they sound like they're doing it together?
second question isn't about physical distance, but about the sense of presence and
immediacy -- of being in the same space as the musicians.
a formula that works every time. It works for strange systems in unfamiliar rooms, it
works for upgrades and tweaks too. And it worked for this seminar. Each step brought you
closer to the sense of real musicians, moving you further and further from the notion of
the system doing the reproduction, until -- by the end -- the performance existed as a
totally separate and independent entity.
absence of the mechanical and presence of the human/organic is what separates great
systems from also ran hi-fi. Frankly, even I was surprised by the extent to which we
achieved that goal -- which makes the listening all the more enjoyable. -Roy Gregory
preamp and amp pairing?
just wanted to say that I've been a fan of the site for a happy couple of years now! The
reviews are always concise, helpful, and actually informative. Much obliged!
have a question that I'm sure has been asked before, but I was hoping you could provide
some insight. I'm looking to invest in the next level of components, stuff that would put
me in the $20,000+ range per device, which opens up questions about the Pass Labs
XP-30/XA160.5, the Conrad-Johnson GAT/ARTsa, the new References from Audio Research, or
even the R-series from Ayre -- and I'm sure there are a couple that I'm unintentionally
ignoring. All of these marques are very different and all are, arguably, wonderful.
I'd bring in each pairing and run them through their paces, and that is probably the next
step. In the hopes of narrowing the field before that happens, I've been collecting
opinions that can help me pre-sort the field.
question is, which would you choose, if you had to choose only one? Or is there another
needs are, unfortunately, complicated. I don't have a pair of speakers at this time. I'll
be looking at many -- some easy to drive, some not; some full range, some not. These
reference pieces would, obviously, need to be more general purpose than special-purpose,
if that makes sense.
any thoughts you'd be willing to share?
Of the pairings you mention, the only ones I've heard in my system are the Audio
Research and Ayre. However, I would personally also consider the VTL TL-7.5 III and MB-450
IIIs, and the Convergent Audio Technology SL1 Legend and JL2 Signature Mk 2. Both would
easily meet your criteria.
Which one would I choose? That's tough to answer, as they are all first among
equals in my mind, though for different reasons. I would probably take the Audio Research
or VTL separates for both reviewing and musical purposes, but I would truly be happy with
any of them.
sorry I can't be more definitive -- and discuss the Conrad-Johnson and Pass Labs pairings
you mention. Equipment this good is more about different than absolutely better or worse. -Marc