Letters • October 2016

Adding DWM

October 25, 2016


I need advice. I have Magnepan 1.7 speakers, and I would like to add a Magnepan DWM Bass Panel to them. Is this possible, or it better to use REL subwoofer? What do you think -- is there a difference?

Peter Bisco

The DWM would be perfect to add to your 1.7s, mostly because they all use the same planar technology. No matter how well it's mated with your speakers, a dynamic powered subwoofer will not produce the same quality bass as the DWM Bass Panel. While you have to provide amplification for the DWM, you won't have to worry about setting the crossover point or phase, often the trickiest parts of adding a subwoofer, because they will be set for you when you buy the DWM. If you need further info, Magnepan has a page on its website that gives directions for setting up the DWM. -Marc Mickelson

Timbre TT-1: "an equivalent or better DAC"?

October 15, 2016


I read your article about the Timbre TT-1 and you are right: “It still makes the connection.” I’m sure there are better DACs out there that retain the sonic qualities of the TT-1, and I would be interested to hear what some of those are from you. I still have my TT-1 and it’s in my main system.

Again, I’m curious about what your thoughts are of an equivalent or better DAC.

Patrick Hudson

A 20-year-old 44.1kHz/16-bit DAC like the Timbre TT-1 is supposed to be long obsolete in these days of high-resolution file replay, but, as we both know, the TT-1 still makes very good music -- and we still must play CDs. I assume you're wanting a recommendation for a DAC made today that's "an equivalent or better." Unfortunately, I mostly have to speculate, because my experience with file-replay hardware is scant.

I do like the dCS Vivaldi 2.0 DAC that I'm currently reviewing, but it costs ten times what the Timbre TT-1 did back in the mid-1990s. I also use an Ayre DX-5 DSD universal A/V player as a digital source, and while, like the TT-1, you can't buy it new any longer, Ayre's QX-5 Twenty DAC may have many of the same musical qualities. Finally, Zanden's Model 5000 DAC, available used in various vintages, probably sounds the most like the Timbre TT-1; it also decodes CD data only, but it uses tubes.

Beyond these DACs, I would recommend trying to find a CEC TL1 CD transport and Genesis Digital Lens data buffer on the used market, as both are digital products from yesterday that still sound glorious today. They also work very well with the Timbre TT-1, especially if you can connect everything via AT&T glass optical cables (multimode with ST connectors), which you can buy cheap from various sources, because they are used in the telecom industry. -Marc Mickelson

Spinning discs in 2016

October 7, 2016


I have followed your Ayre DX-5 universal disc player coverage carefully. (I'm also thinking about their top-line amps, but that is for another e-mail.) I talked to Ayre and they told me to find a used DX-5, which they will still upgrade to a DX-5 DSD for me. Unlike you, Roy and others, I do not have a huge collection of (mostly classical) SACDs, such as Esoteric or  Japanese SHMs. But I have been purchasing lots and lots of SACDs, DVD-As, and now Blu-rays that contain multichannel audio, as I plan to have a really kick-ass surround-sound system.

I already have most of these titles on LP, so it is the surround format that interests me, along with the Red Book CDs, of which I have tons. So, instead of an Esoteric K-1, which you reviewed highly, I am interested in a player that plays both great standard CDs and multichannel audio. The Wadia reviewed on your site is out of production and only plays CDs, and the Esoteric is quite costly and only does stereo. Then there is the newer, cheaper Neodio player that plays Red Book CDs. I am wondering if the Ayre DX-5 DSD will play standard CDs on par with the other great CD players and give me absolute top-notch multi-format performance? Or do you have any other recommendations? And if so, do you have any idea where to find an Ayre player?

Jeff Levine

The Ayre DX-5 DSD is a very fine universal player -- it's my reference -- but as with anything in audio, you can always do better (which is subjective) if you're willing to pay for it. I suspect the Neodio Origine will play CDs in a way that some, perhaps many, listeners will describe as "better," but it's also three times the price of the DX-5 DSD (and even more if you consider that a used DX-5 DSD will cost less than the player's list price when new). If you are set on having one player for all formats, including Blu-ray, your choices are few and far between. Right now, Oppo may currently make the best-sounding Blu-ray players. But an even bigger hurdle for you is multichannel support, which the DX-5 DSD has only through HDMI; there aren't multichannel analog outputs, so you'll have to use it with an HDMI-equipped receiver or processor in order to play multichannel discs with it. Oppo's players do have analog outputs, so that may make them your only viable single-box options right now.

If I were you, I'd probably buy multiple players, based on the discs I would play most to least. If you'll be playing CDs more than other formats, allot the greatest amount of money to that player. If that unit also plays SACDs and DVDs, all the better. Again, Blu-ray will be tricky, with the Ayre DX-5 DSD leading the list in pure sonic terms. But as you've discovered, that's a hard unit to find used, and for good reason, given its capabilities. Some of the upper-end Pioneer Elite players likely sound very good and could suffice for Blu-ray playback exclusively. The BDP-09FD and BDP-05FD are worth investigating on the used market.

I'm sorry I can recommend a brand-new all-in-one solution for you, but in today's digital climate, the spinning disc is becoming an anachronism, so there aren't many companies making truly universal players anymore. -Marc Mickelson

Please add me . . .

October 1, 2016

Please add me to the reader e-mail list.

Francisco J. Valadez Jiménez

You're on the list. For others, send e-mail to rl@theaudiobeat.com to join the reader e-mail list and find out about new articles on TAB first. -Marc Mickelson


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