Letters • September 2012

TAVES and RMAF seminars on video?

September 26, 2012


I would like to hear these seminars, but I am not able to attend either show. Have you considered making a video of these and having this available through your website?

Bryan Allen

The organizers of the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest will be posting videos of the seminars held in Denver, and you will be able to watch them via the show's website. -Marc Mickelson

"Why do cables generate so much emotion?"

September 24, 2012


Why do cables generate so much emotion? I mean, people swear that wire that is 40 cents a foot will sound just like something that is $1800 (that’s a low number by me on purpose). Everyone likes to say “Well, have you ever done a DBT on it?” or something like that, along with, “It’s only cable and it’s only delivering a signal, so why should it make a difference?” I for one am one of the "crazy" people who think cables make a difference, but so many people do not. They take offense, saying that our "logic" is not correct. They (nonbelievers) also take offense that the people who believe in cable changes say that people who don’t believe they just can’t hear the changes because their hearing is not good enough or their system is not good enough. I mean, I was a "Yeah, right" person until I bought my first Transparent cable. Then I was like "Holy crap!" Truthfully, it started with a sub cable and then I moved on from there.

People just think that we are crazy audiophiles who like spending money because we want to say that we spent X amount on cables. “Look at me,” in other words. But I don’t think I am like that. Reading your "Cabling Your System" Tech InSite even made it clearer that at some point I want to match up as many as my cables as I can. I can’t do the surrounds (speaker cables), but I can at least get matching balanced interconnects and matching speaker cables for my center speaker and matching balanced interconnects from my amp to my preamp for the surround speakers. But why do you think people feel that we are crazy?

P.S. -- I saw this as well on TAB: “Coming soon: Case Studies from the Real World.” What is that all about?

Michael Doukas

Cables are a very contentious product segment, and for a few good reasons, I suppose. There are so many cable manufacturers, some literally making their products in their basements, that it seems like the rigor required to make a CD player, for instance, is bypassed. On the other hand, people with open minds and ears do hear important differences among cables, and I suspect that those who fall into a solipsistic trap, believing that their inability to hear differences mean that no one can hear them, think that perception is a constant from person to person, which is ridiculous. I also know cable doubters who create their own realities -- that is, they don't "believe" that cables can make a difference, and consequently for them, they don't. The logical disconnect here is obvious.

I'm with you regarding the "loom" approach discussed in our Tech InSite: When you use an entire cable system in a unified way, the difference is much more profound in positive ways than with the mix-and-match approach. Regarding the case studies, we just published the first one of these a few days ago. Three more will follow -- along with more Tech InSites, which are (slowly) in the works now. -Marc Mickelson

Shunyata: old vs. new

September 18, 2012


I contact you because I want to ask about the new Shunyata Zi-Tron speaker cables. First, let me tell you that at this moment I am using a pair of Merlin TSM-MXr monitors (latest version) with Audience AU24e speaker cables. Merlin recommends Cardas or Audience speaker cables. A few years ago I bought, on your recommendation, the Shunyata Antares interconnects, and I really love them. They are the best interconnects I've tried in my system. As I saw in many of your reviews, you used the Antares and the Orion speaker cables. And that is the reason I write you. The Orion speaker cables are very difficult to find used. Now I have the opportunity to buy them used. My question is if you can compare the Orion speaker cables with the new Python or Anaconda Zi-Tron. I read your review of the Zi-Tron Cobra. I also read an old review of the Merlin speakers. I don't know if the Shunyata speaker cables will match my speakers well.

Pablo Hoffman

Even though the Orion and Zi-Tron Python and  Anaconda speaker cables are made by the same company, they are very different designs, with  the Orion employing the braiding that Shunyata used to use and which added quite a bit of cost to the cables. To my ears, having heard all of them, the newer cables are superior -- and I suspect they will cost less new than a used pair of Orions. The Zi-Tron circuit makes important improvements, ultimately helping the cables sound more transparent, less like cables at all. You might find, however, that once you add the speaker cables, you'll want to follow up with the interconnects to complete the "loom," so you can fully benefit from the Zi-Tron circuit. -Marc Mickelson

M1.2s versus Reference 250s

September 13, 2012


I'm not sure if you remember me, but we’ve corresponded before. I own Wilson Audio Sasha W/Ps and have Lamm M1.2 Reference amps.

I’m about to try Audio Research (a used Reference 5 preamp is "‘out for delivery" as I type this), and I am very curious about Audio Research amps as well -- particularly after reading your review of the Reference 250s.

Any thoughts on the Reference 250s versus the Lamm M1.2s?

Ian Currie

As you can imagine, how the Lamm and Audio Research amps compare and contrast has been a hot topic since my review of the Reference 250s went live. First, your Lamm amps are exceptional -- they're my references. However, there are certain things that the Reference 250s do even better, including presenting a bigger, more layered soundscape and a slightly more transparent and dimensional midrange. The Lamms answer with more corporeal imaging and slightly greater midbass weight. You have a good preamp to use with either amp, but you will get more of a sense of the preamp's sound extending through the amps and to the speakers with the Reference 250s. If you like your Reference 5, you'll love the Reference 250s, as they really are the sonic descendents of the Reference Anniversary preamp. -Marc Mickelson

LessLoss review

September 10, 2012


I just wanted to let you know that I think your review of the LessLoss Tunnelbridge and Anchorwave was very well written, and additionally it may be the best review of LessLoss products to date.

Aaron Knock

Thanks much for taking the time to write and your kind words. It’s great to run across truly effective new developments in our hobby. The type of technology in the Tunnelbridge further removes cable influence on music delivery. I hope you’ve had the chance to try the cables in your system. -Tim Aucremann

The state of CD

September 6, 2012


I very much enjoyed (belatedly) reading your "Asian Tour" reports and was fascinated to learn in the last of these of the rare and eye-poppingly expensive Glass CDs about which you were most impressed. As one who has no interest in taking up digital streaming, I have been following developments in 16-bit CD media such as SHM-CD, HQCD, Blu-spec CD, etc. and would be interested in your impressions of how these rate quality wise. Would all these new CD media (including Glass) be no better than a 16/44.1 download?

Andrew Liepins

I'm glad that you are enjoying the traveler's tales.

Your question is pertinent. If sampling rate and bit depth were the only determinants of digital sound quality, then the world of audio would be a far simpler place. Unfortunately, it simply isn't so.

When it comes to file replay, software, hardware, storage medium and transmission standard all impact sound quality. It makes for a highly volatile situation which shows little sign of settling down for quite a while yet.

The situation with optical disc (and Red Book replay in particular) is just as confused and confusing. The 16/44.1 replay standard only defines the encoding: the mastering, the storage material, the structure of the disc itself all have their own say when it comes to sonic quality. And that's before you get into replay hardware, system topology and data transmission (if required). Is a one-box solution preferable or are two boxes better? If two boxes are better, what do you put in the second one: DAC or PSU? S/PDIF (BNC or RCA), AES/EBU, I2S, USB, HDMI or any one of the various optical standards? You see what I mean.

What is really interesting about Glass CD (and also the LPCD mastering process that I also came across in Hong Kong) is that they show just how much mileage there still is in the basic Red Book format. Developments in replay technology and mechanics, as well as discs themselves and their production, suggest that there is still massive potential left to exploit -- promising to bring the "digital desert" represented by the last three decades of recording into stunning and timely musical bloom.

I'll have a sample of the Glass CD (along with a standard version of the same recording) at the Whittlebury Hall Show (and also the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest in Denver), where, if you'd like to arrange to meet, I can show you just what the lowly CD is really capable of. -Roy Gregory

K2 CDs

September 1, 2012


I read your review of Analogue Productions' latest remastering of Time Out with great interest! I am truly enjoying all of the great remasterings which FIM, Analogue Productions, Bob Ludwig, Steve Hoffman, Doug Sax and many others are now doing. I own remasters from all of them, but I am buying more Analogue Productions than the rest (combined) due to selection and consistent quality.

That said, I just acquired the Sony K2 HD remastering of Time Out, which came out in 2011. I also own the K2 Kind of Blue. Any thoughts on how the Analogue Productions SACD stereo version of Time Out compares to these discs?

Lloyd Lee

Roy Gregory brought a couple of FIM's K2 CDs with him when he visited me a while ago, and they were very impressive. I immediately tracked them down for review. I don't have the K2 Time Out that you mention, which was released in Japan by Sony, I believe, but the FIM discs are truly worth seeking out if the music (We Get Requests, Getz/Gilberto, Ella and Louis) interests you. Along with the SHM SACDs I've heard, these prove that physical media still have some life left in them -- and the media themselves may be more important than we've been lead to believe. -Marc Mickelson


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