Letters • September 2016

Shunyata Research Denali review?

September 23, 2016


Do you have any plans to review the new Shunyata Denali power conditioners? I am very anxious to see it reviewed.

Jerry Belben

Not only do we have such plans, the review is in the works right now, and we'll get it online as soon as we can. -Marc Mickelson

New Wilson speaker for home theater?

September 20, 2016


I own the WATT/Puppy 6, which I know you had. I love it very much. I use it strictly for home theater; I don’t listen to music whatsoever. In fact, the Wilson speakers are of great importance in my system, as I don’t use a center-channel speaker. I love the phantom effect and the system relies on their capability. The system also consists of four surround speakers and a B&W DB-1 subwoofer.

So, here is the thing. The WATT/Puppy 6 is old, and I would like to upgrade. I feel the midrange/tweeter range, hence vocals, can be better, and I presume that in the last 20 years or so from the introduction of the WATT/Puppy 6, Wilson Audio has made progress. The obvious choice would be the Sasha W/P 2, but that's out of my reach financially, so I'm aiming for the new Yvette, which I guess you have not heard, but you did review the Sophia 3.

Before owning the WATT/Puppy 6, I had a rare chance to audition the original Sophia and the WATT/Puppy 5.1 head to head. While the Sophia was nice, it was no match for the 5.1, which for home theater was fabulous. It was fast, dynamic and had lots of drama; it was a clear winner, so based on what I heard with the 5.1, I bought the WATT/Puppy 6 without even hearing it. It was a good choice. I will not have a chance to hear the Yvette before purchasing.

I wonder if based on the above you can shed some light on what to expect from the Yvette, if for a moment we presume it’s a true upgrade over the Sophia 3. It has a new tweeter, a new woofer, and a new midrange, all from much more expensive Wilson speakers. Do you think it will be an upgrade in terms of vocals? Do you think it will retain the beefy midrange I like so much? Do you think it will have the same speed and sense of drama?

Ran Moyal

While I don't have the level of home-theater sound system that you have, I also don't use a center-channel speaker and find the sound from my simple 2.1-channel system to be very satisfying.

The WATT/Puppy 6 was my first exposure as an audio writer to Wilson Audio speakers, and the point where the company's sound began to evolve to where it is now. I reviewed it and ended up buying the review samples. I've since replaced the WATT/Puppy 6es with other Wilson models, a few times in fact, and you are correct that Wilson has greatly refined the performance of its speakers in the intervening time. One of the most significant changes occurred when Wilson switched to its current Convergent Synergy silk-dome tweeter from the older inverted-metal-dome model, which your speakers have. With the new Yvette, you would get the latest iteration of that silk-dome tweeter, and with it you can expect both more natural presentation of detail and greater expressiveness. The midrange of Wilson speakers has always been substantial, physical, and the dynamics abundant, -- all very good for movies. The Yvette is not the next version of the Sophia; it is an all-new speaker, and while I haven't heard it (it's only now beginning to ship), I am confident that you will consider it an obvious upgrade to your older WATT/Puppies, especially as they provide dialog for movies. -Marc Mickelson

Upsampling versus high resolution

September 11, 2016


I have been using Roon for playback of downloaded high-res files and it seems to work quite well. I also have a Cambridge Audio CD player that upsamples to 384kHz, I believe. The unit is approximately eight years old at this point. My question is this: since the CD player upsamples to “high-res” numbers, shouldn’t that be the same as what Roon is doing?

However, the CD upsampling, at least to me, doesn't sound much different from standard CD playback. The Roon software does sound like high resolution one would expect to hear, however. If the upsampling CD player and the Roon playback are both, conceptually anyway, doing the same thing, why do I not hear the very same quality from both? Perhaps because the CD player has an eight-year-old DAC as opposed to the new PS Audio DAC I just purchased? Maybe it's the quality and newer technology?

I'm wondering what your thoughts are regarding this.

Sheldon Simon

I suspect the answer to your question lies mostly with the source material. What you're listening to via Roon is native high-resolution material -- i.e., remastered from the master tapes at a resolution above CD's 16 bits and 44.1kHz. When you're upsampling a CD, while the output data may be 24 bits and 384kHz, for instance, it's still ultimately CD's 16 bits and 44.1kHz. You can't create something from nothing. Upsampling will certainly change the sound of a CD and may even improve it in some specific way, but it's still a CD. With Roon, you're beginning with higher-resolution digital source material. -Marc Mickelson

Wes Phillips

September 1, 2016


Luke and I were also saddened to hear that Wes passed away so suddenly. What you wrote about his writing is absolutely right on. His writing was concise, to the point, easy to read and easy to grasp. It is sad that he had been plagued by ill health these last couple of years and we could no longer read his reviews.

Luke visited Wes several times when he was reviewing our equipment. Wes loved his cats, and one time, after one of his cats passed away (almost at the same time as when my cat passed away), I asked him how he felt about the loss. He said that he was sorry that he kept his cat alive for way too long and that he should have lessened her suffering by letting her go sooner. I felt exactly the same way about my cat -- I kept her for way too long. Wes taught me an important life lesson.

Bea Lam


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