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POSITIVE FEEDBACK ONLINE - ISSUE 12
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Our readers respond…we respond right back!

Send your comments to either drobinson@positive-feedback.com or dclark@positive-feedback.com

 

 

David,
I know you are an ardent supporter of Ed and his work. I am interested in the Dac6s' ability to resolve standard "red book" CDs. We all know that there are essentially 2 or 3 players that can be considered 'state of the art" in SACD repro. Not all are as adept at standard CD playback. How do you rate the Mietner product in comparison to its SACD playback considering that the newer format is still "catching on".

Thanks,

 J.Dix

Hello J.Dix...

Yes, I am a strong supporter of both SACD as a format, and the design work that Ed Meitner has done, for one simple reason:  the excellence of the audio delivered.

I'll quote what I had to say on this subject back in PFO Issue 7 (see http://www.positive-feedback.com/Issue7/meitner.htm):

"Yes, but what about CD playback, David?"

Glad you asked!

This one took more time to assess, because I wanted to be sure of my impressions over time. I also made sure that my SACD 1000 was revised to the latest specification, for best possible Red Book performance. Then I sat down and listened carefully to favorite CDs on my dearly beloved Linn CD-12, my personal reference for supreme CD playback over the past five years, and compared the sound with that of the Meitner system.

For years now, I had not found better CD playback than the CD-12. I have compared it to a number of alternatives from fine companies like Accuphase, dCS, AudioNote, Cal Audio, Theta, Simaudio, Sony, BAT... a lot of them. I had never found anything that was better to my ears than the CD-12, and said so in print and online many times over the years.

Until now.

Long-term listening has made clear to me that even the mighty Linn CD-12 has finally been bested by the Meitner DAC6/Philips SACD 1000 tandem. The Meitner has all the musicality of the CD-12, but it adds detail, transparency, and superior imaging/depth in Red Book playback that the CD-12 cannot match. Frankly, I and my colleagues here have been truly amazed at what the Meitner digs out of standard CDs. The CD-12 is excellent, but the Meitner is simply better at rendering Red Book. Period.

In my experience, those of you who are looking for the very best in CD playback will find it here.

Enough said.

I have heard nothing since then to change my conclusion above. I continue to regard the Meitnerized SACD 1000/DAC6 as the finest system that I have heard for both SACD and CD playback.

I haven't yet heard the new EMM Labs transport, but have been promised a unit for review when they have a spare. At that point I'll be able to comment further on the EMM Labs system.

All the best,

david 
Editor-in-Chief, Positive Feedback Online
drobinson@positive-feedback.com 

David,
Thanks for the quick turn!  Yeah, at this point I'm still struggling with making the plunge, as I seem to be getting an inordinate amount of pleasure from CDs played in/on the esoteric standard players. You seem to have removed the last hurdle.

Thanks (I think)

J. Dix

"Thanks (I think)..."

Ha! An experienced audiophile, I see!

I've told you the truth about what I've experienced, but the suffering you'll have to bear.

I know the feeling....

You're welcome (I'm sure),

All the best,

david 
Editor-in-Chief, Positive Feedback Online
drobinson@positive-feedback.com 


Editors,
I wish your multiple reviews of this product made mention of this units defect in handling SACD single layer multi-channel discs. Most of these disks do include a stereo SACD mix. The Xindak skips it in favor of  the left and right channels of the multi-channel mix.

This is not the proper behavior for a stereo SACD unit. There is no down mixing going on with stereo SACD mixes - all a player has to do is read the right mix. The Xindak correctly reads stereo-only SACD mixes and the SACD stereo mixes from hybrid multi-channel discs but screws up reading  single layer multi-channel discs that contain stereo mixes (Beck's Sea Change, Billy Joel's The Stranger (karaoke anyone?)) -  There are hundreds of single layer multi-channel titles that this player cannot handle properly. This is not an issue with these discs - it is the Xindak player.

How could this get by 3 reviewers?

Bob Wilcox

Bob,
No doubt because none of the writers own multi-channel discs? I am guessing here, but since none said as much, I can only assume that that was the case. Then again maybe they did not have this problem.

Thanks,
Dave Clark, Editor

Dave,
Time to have a minimum set of required  tests for SACD players... Most Sony discs are Multi-channel - single layer and Sony probably has the largest catalog. Ergo, a significant number of  available SACDs titles won't play properly on a unit favorably reviewed multiple times.

The minimum test suite should be:

  • Single layer stereo SACD

  • Single layer multi-channel SACD (virtually all include a stereo mix as indicated on the packaging)

  • Hybrid Stereo SACD (Redbook and stereo SACD)

  • Hybrid Multi-channel SACD (Redbook, Stereo and Multi-channel SACD.

Bob Wilcox

Hello Bob...
Provided that
all (or a substantial portion of ) Xindak SCD-2's have the problem that you mention, then I would agree with you... it would be tough to understand how three reviewers could miss this.

The front left/right channels of multi-channel are immediately apparent to me when I forget to set to stereo SACD mode with the Meitner DAC6 system. Beck's Sea Change is particularly obvious, though there are lots of other SACDs in which an oversight of this nature produces lamentable and equally obvious results.

It may be that all the reviewers were using hybrids; it may be that some were doing multi-channel listening; it may be simple oversight, though that would be harder for me to understand.

Of course, it's also possible that the reviewers were using a sample that did not have the problem that you allege, Bob. It would be interesting to know if there is a confirmed bug in the Xindak SCD-2 software; if so, a simple firmware upgrade should fix the problem. Perhaps the folks at/handling Xindak will respond to your observations.

If any of our reviewers or Xindak wish to respond to your query, we'll publish their comments in "Reverberations."

david 
Editor-in-Chief, Positive Feedback Online
drobinson@positive-feedback.com 

My XINDAK review sample sounded fine and worked flawlessly on single and multi layer disks, (2 channel and multi-channel), regular CDs, and CDRs. I didn't try paper plates, hockey pucks, or LP's only because they wouldn't fit in the slot provided. I guess I could have used a hammer.

However, the remote only worked with EverReady  batteries, not Duracels. Now that's a real mystery to ponder.

Robert H. Levi


Hello,
First off, I am thrilled to find your magazine now online. I had purchased a couple issues when it was in print several years ago, and have wondered what ever happened. I am in awe at the amount of effort you and the PF team put into this journal -- it easily surpasses Stereophile and just edges out my current fave, HiFi+ for readerly enjoyment; not to mention it is quality stuff. I guess I'm trying to say, "thanks." My question is that I would like to print off some of your articles but it seems no matter what I do the text runs off the page by about 4-5 spaces (using IExplorer 6). Can you tell me if I'm doing something wrong on my end.  Any help would be much appreciated.

Best regards,
David

Hello David...
Dave Clark and I are certainly pleased to hear that you are enjoying PFO. It is a lot of work... heck, all editing and publishing is a lot of work...but we do get a kick out of writing about our passion for fine audio.

The problem may not be at your end. You can change the printer properties from IE's print preview option and increase the top and bottom margins a bit (.25 is generally safe), and you can increase the right and left margins to the same parameter. That can help.

If you still find that you're having problems, the simple and effective cure is to simply cut and paste a page directly into your word processor of choice, and format/print it out from there. Very quick, very clean...and "what you see is what you get" is the result.

For the more advanced among you out there, you can also purchase Adobe Acrobat (the full product, not the free reader), and use it to convert an issue to a .PDF. That will handle formatting and pagination... it will also give you a humongous file! We publish a LOT of material in each issue... pictures and all, remember.

Hope this helps you, David... may you continue to enjoy PFO.

All the best,

david 
Editor-in-Chief, Positive Feedback Online
drobinson@positive-feedback.com 

We have made the site printer-friendly and have tested it here setting the text size to medium and our printer margins to .25 (right and left) and it prints fine. We actually redid the whole site last summer just so that one could print the pages to their heart's content.

Dave Clark
Editor

Dear Daves,
Adjusting the margins worked like a charm. Thanks for your help!  If I may be allowed to elaborate on my praise from my previous email, what works well about your journal is that it delves into the human element of the hobby. This is, I believe, what makes Tom Gillet so popular, and why so many of us enjoyed J10's writings in Stereophile so much (His termination was one of many nails being hammered into SP's coffin IMO). Listener (RIP) was also good in this respect.

Robinson's review of the Komri's, which included pix of Brian Morris installing the speakers was great, and it's "that" which I'm talking about: people. It's hard to put my finger on but I know it when I read it.  So many reviewers have fallen into a formulaic style that one can simply scan over with the eye in a manner of minutes, or just read the conclusion. The reality of this somewhat esoteric hobby is that it is expensive and it is hard to audition all these widgets due to geography and basic time restraints. An effective audio journal should comes across like a good travelogue where the author describes the food and wine so well that you rush out to the kitchen to get something to eat and pour yourself a glass (See Hemingway's a Moveable Feast to experience this effect first hand). I may fail to be convinced of the merits of Peter Belt's pens, but I truly dig that the reviewer enjoyed her system more as a result; I mean, hey, whatever it takes to float the boat. As Dave noted in one of his Editorials, "dialectics" are what make this field interesting (at least for some of ussome prefer a more monological outlook), and there is a veritable plurality of means with which to perceive, interpret and enjoy ones tunes.

All the best,
David

Hello again, David...
Wow! There are an awful lot of Davids in this pleasant exchange!

You've said it very well, and have placed your virtual finger on a point that has always been of very high importance to me:  fine audio is as much about the PEOPLE (designers, engineers, audiophile hobbyists, reviewers, connoisseurs, tweakers, modders, etc.) as it is about the music and the audio gear. For many years, PF ran covers that were as often a portrait of a person as they were of some audio piece.

We're all on a personal journey, a voyage to explore what we're capable of encompassing in the world of fine audio. As in any journey, along the way we get to meet some unique people, and talk about the things we've seen along the way.

And I want as much of this *in medias res* in PFO.

Educational...and engaging. All at the same time.

All the best,

david 
Editor-in-Chief, Positive Feedback Online
drobinson@positive-feedback.com 


Hello!
Your informative test on the Komris inspired me to give the new Akurate three sessions at the local stereo shop. And I loved them so much that I bought them (and also all the CDs mentioned). This is certainly a new era in Linn's history of sound. I love the airy highs and the extremely fast bass. Are you going to get these speakers a test anytime soon? I can't wait to hear anyone else giving these puppies a critical test. You always getting biased when you buy thingshuh?

Keep up with the very good work!

Yours sincerely

Jesper Kallin, Sweden

Hello Jesper...
I would certainly agree with you that Linn is achieving remarkable new levels of audio excellence over the past seven or eight years. This is why they received several of our Brutus Awards in 2003. A complete Akurate surround system, along with the Linn UniDisk 1.1, the Linn Kisto controller, and a set of Linn amplifiers, are going to be reviewed by yours truly by late summer to early fall. The parts and pieces have arrived, and will be installed in April. The results will appear in
PFO... stay tuned!
Glad to hear that you are enjoying PFO... we are certainly having a great time publishing it.

All the best,

david 
Editor-in-Chief, Positive Feedback Online
drobinson@positive-feedback.com 


Hello all,
Can you please provide some advice for me? In Charles Hollander’s review of the Grado Master Reference Cartridge, he used a Souther TriQuartz arm on the VPI turntable. I have the
same set-up except that I have a VPI TNT mk1 turntable instead. The problem is that the spindle in the turntable is so high that I require spacers of about 1cm.

Can you advise as to an alternative solution to this problem? 

Also, he stated in the review that he rewired the arm. Can you inform me as to what cable he used?

Keep up the good work.   

Mark

Dear Mark,
Here are some tentative answers to your questions. If you mean that you have to use spacers under the tone arm base, I had that problem also. To solve it, I had a plastics fabricator cut and polish me a round disc of clear Plexiglas as a spacer for raising the pivot end of the tone arm. It solved the problem and looks sexy in a way that compliments the design of the table, though bigger is better in this instance. You'd have to specify the thickness you want and chose between standard offerings of quarter inch, half-inch, etc. The diameter would have to be according to the space allotted, and you would have to drill the mounting holes to match the desired spacing. And you may need longer than stock screws and nuts.

If your concern is only with the drop of the cartridge, then you might try a platter pad or two, as needed. They each have differing sonic characteristics and vary in thickness. After much ear-testing of the competing pads, I wound up with one that was about 1/4" thick, one that isn't offered any more, which (if memory serves) was imported by Audio-Technica. It changes the look of the turntable, but that's fine with me. It was made of a compound that contained a significant portion of vinyl, and was dished to the center which aids a linear tracking arm like the Souther. It sounds great.

The wiring harness was made by Clearaudio. It came through with the phono-cartridge connecting clasps all soldered on and color coded; with a pair of female RCA chassis mount jacks all soldered up; and all I had to do was to get the old stuff out and the new stuff in, which took all of about a half-hour. It is very supple wire, probably made with polyethylene insulation, very light weight and gauge, and its use eliminated a few unnecessary solder joints making the sound cleaner. It is standard issue on all the more recent Souther-Clearaudio arms. I have an original Souther, and it is improved with the new wires. You might contact Clearaudio and request they sell you the wiring harness as an upgrade kit.

Taken together, the rewired Souther arm, the re-furbished V.P.I. HW-19 turntable (all Plexiglas plinths, new platter and bearing, and new motor—all offered as an upgrade kit), and Grado Master Statement (low output) cartridge, yield some of the most "relaxed" and "natural" in-the-room LP reproduction I've heard. I mean, this vinyl front end set up is in the highest class, and I recommend it to anyone, especially anyone who has springy wooden floors.

How do you think your vinyl playback sounds? Let me know how it sounds with "updates."

Max Dudious


Dave Clark,
I have to agree with Doug Ward about the high volume of reviews pertaining to headphones, headphone amps and to some degree, vinyl. And NO, I'm not kidding because you only need look at the table of contents to see this. It appears that PF Online has turned into a niche type of publication. If you think that is what the majority of your readers want to read about, I think you are mistaken. I can safely say that I don't visit PF Online as often as I used to do because of this. I am not bashing headphone or vinyl enthusiasts either. I am just pointing out the preponderance of reviews devoted to these subjects recently.

Also, I would like to  see your reviews posted on some sort of schedule a la, Soundstage. You often seem to post a whole flurry of reviews and then nothing for weeks. I would guess that others are turned-off by visiting repeatedly only to see the same reviews listed. Personally, I am most interested in  equipment reviews, not the meanderings of someone about the current state of affairs in High-End, but to each his/her own.

I haven't seen a review lately by Tom Campbell and am wondering why. I liked his unpretentious style of writing and  could relate to him as a kind of common man's audiophile.

Lastly, I couldn't help but note a distinct tone of sarcasm and defensiveness in the responses to Doug's letter by some of your staff. I took his comments as being inquisitive rather than critical. If you only want what you perceive as Positive comments, then please note that at the top of the page. Thank you for your consideration.

Mike Poquette

Mike,
Thanks for the letter and points taken. As to what we currently have in this issue, and have ran in recent months as well, much of what you see is a reflection of what has come in as of late - both in terms of what is in house and what has been completed by our reviewers. With 30 some writers, we allow many to pick and choose what stirs them at the moment—though often we will assign what needs to be reviewed based on timelines and such. I think if you look at PFO over the long run, you will find that we are very diverse in what we review and tend to balance things fairly well between all the mediums/components being made today. Perhaps it is just lately that we are leaning a bit too far into what is for you and a few others, a
niche area. I think that if you continue to read PFO, you should see things will balance out over time.

On the other hand, our traffic is increasing every month, so while you may not be visiting us as much, others are finding PFO a place to visit.

As to vinyl, that is a focus between myself and a few other writers who find vinyl to still be the best medium for playback. So you are seeing the end result of listening to what is out there for the audio vinylphile. Sorry, but expect to see more vinyl oriented reviews (tables, cartridges, etc.) in the future. On the other hand there are those who do not have a vinyl rig and only see digital as a viable source. We have much online for those readers as well. How about tuners, those too!

As to headphones, we have several writers who prefer these (two who only use headphones) and as such like to offer the reader another option in getting the best sound for their money. I know many audiophiles who have phones and appreciate seeing what is going on without having to visit niche forums that can be a bit too hardcore.

As to the appearance of content, I publish as the stuff comes in, sometimes I have a lot, and sometimes I have little. Then, there are times that I will be unable to get content up, so things get a little stagnant. It might be that I have one of two reviews  and need to wait for the second or third. Sometimes there are personal issues that throw everything into a mess, and I need to wait till things settle down.

We wanted PFO to be "dynamic" with content appearing every few days or so, making the site more viable and exciting for the reader—as opposed to lots on the 1st and/or 15th and dead in-between. Perhaps this has not been quite to your liking nor has it apparently worked as we had intended (for you at least - others find it very cool). I will admit that last month I found myself putting up way too much too early in the month and then having to hold off a bit too long for the current issue, thereby making the site appear a bit stagnant. I should also say that I was on vacation off and on during this period, so things were not as controlled as I would have preferred.

Tom is working on several projects right now, so you will see them in the near future - soon I hope. None of which are vinyl or headphone related—at least I hope not!

As to the sarcasm, yes it was there, and yes it probably should have been reigned a bit. My apologies, though we all found his criticism concerning vinyl to be a bit uniformed. Which is not to say Doug's preferences are not valid, but vinyl still is a superior format and one that is quite alive. As such, there are many readers who want this content.

We appreciate constructive criticism and will continue to make PFO the best we can—but we can't please everyone all the time.

Dave Clark
Editor

Well, I was certainly sarcastic and intended to be that way. Defensive? No. I think vinyl is much better sounding at this time and I'm interested in enjoying music.

As part of the cycle of writing reviews, sometimes I’m interested in cables, sometimes I’m interested in analog, sometimes digital. I won’t be reviewing a product, however, if the manufacturer isn’t interested in a review, and isn’t interested in a review by me. The less interesting a product, in turn, the more eager the manufacturer is in a review. Notice anything there? There is more catch as can for reviewers than ordering off the menu as readers may think.

To address the analog is uninteresting comment. I just finished reviewing a $15,000 CD player and a $4000 turntable. I really enjoyed the CD player. As horrendously expensive as that CD player was, my wife and I both thought about organizing finances to buy it. I thought I could take the path of selling my LP’s and going entirely digital. Digital is certainly more convenient, more portable and takes less space. However, doing side by side comparisons of the same music, to my disappointment LPs still sounded better. As it did to my friends who don’t own turntables. So it goes.

Now if analog is a fringe topic for you, bummer. Headphones are a fringe product to me, but there are people interested. I can let it be. You don’t have to be interested in every article or any of them. But if writers don’t get to write about what is interesting to them, the reviews you read will be boring or reviewers will stop reviewing.

Larry Cox


David,
While I appreciate the reviews in your magazine, how about fewer articles on such pieces as headphone amps, anything associated with vinyl, and classical music reviews. Why publish reviews on gear that pertains to maybe 5% of the audiophile market? Does anybody on your staff listen to rock/pop? Thanks.

Doug Ward

Yeah, drop those reviews of vinyl. That medium sucks! CD is so much more sterile, flat and boring, why introduce musicality and life like presentation when we can go to sleep with digital. No sominex tonight, I'm having Kenny G on CD.

Larry Cox

Hell yes we rock! At least I do. Well, I used to anyway, but then one night I fell into that mosh pit and ever since then all I've been able to listen to is Hooked On Bach... On vinyl... Through headphones. Ahem. Almost all joking aside, I've been writing so much I've got blisters on me fingers! But I'll be glad to accept the challenge to review some rock 'n roll in future editions. But I can only review sugar-free pop, 'cause I'm on a low-crap diet. Pass the Dixie Chicken, please...

Gary L. Beard

I guess you do not read my reviews... I only listen to rock, well sort of rock that is! My tastes are not mainstream in the least, so you may not want me reviewing what I feel is good music. Problem is that most of the music writers only write about classical and jazz. So perhaps I do need to step up to the plate or at the very least find some more writers!

As to the other comments regarding vinyl and headphones, well... you're not serious are you?!

Dave Clark
Editor


Bob,
Very good work Bob. Thank you for the review.

Very Best,

John McDonald
Audience

John,
Considering it's far from a rave, you are very gracious. As you can likely tell, I have continued to move in the direction I started in when I heard the Audio Note 4.1 DAC but have tried mightily to keep my critical faculties from succumbing to my heart. There is no managing the heart but you can corral it when necessary, to some degree. I think what I learned from this latest audition is that SACD may (repeat may) not be necessary. What I heard from your player and what I hear from my expensive AN rig every day is telling me redbook properly implemented can be wonderful. Again, thanks for your gracious response and for letting me play with your toy. You are one class act, sir.

Bob Neill

Bob,
Thank you very much for the compliment. The way I see it is that, having an egotistical response to the review does not move Audience forward. I think your review is right on. I think you described the Audience/Sony very accurately. Additionally, you have offered Audience some very good food for thought by way of comparison to the AN.

John McDonald
Audience


Dear Editors,
In issue 11, in the carried over article "Upgrading a table
T.G. Audio Silver Power Cord", Mike Peshkin gives a highly favorable review of the T.G. power cord. Towards the end, he states that he also uses the power cord on his CD player, and perceives an incredible difference in the quality of the audio:

To further test the mod, I connected one of the MIT power cords that I use throughout my system (less than $200) to the HW19, and put the T.G. Silver on my CD player... Replacing the Z cord  with the T.G. silver gave me a bit more resolution within the midrange. "Leaner and meaner" is what went through my mind. Details like Wasserman's bowing of his bass in Trios-the "hows and whys" of his sound-were a bit more easily discerned. (He IS a different kind of bass man!). In the song, "Zillionaire," Edie Brickell's voice seemed a bit cleaner, but with a bit less of the power she is capable of in her alto range, and which I hear with the Z cord.

I'm making the assumption, based on the components he mentions within his system, that Mr. Peshkin is going digitally from his CD player to his ampif he can confirm or correct this, that would be helpful.

So, here's my questionjust how can a power cord alter the bits within a digital data stream? Specifically, while lowering the power supply rails on the digital outputs could change the difference between a 1 and a 0 in terms of voltage, there's no way that it could change *some* of the bits (as it surely must be doing if it gives more resolution to the midrange yet doesn't affect the highs or lows), and especially no way that it could affect them in anything other than a completely random way (and thus, non harmonically related). Additionally, with the CRC and other error correction built into a digital stream, if what's sent out from the digital source is different from what's received, the error checking will either fix it, or it will mute. There is no option to have "better" or "worse" quality. It's either there, or muted.

Now, of course, this doesn't apply to analog circuits, including the D-A converter and amp farther along. I'm simply referring to Mr. Peshkin's claim that replacing the power cord on his CD player modified the digital stream coming out of it.

Which, of course, is completely impossible.

Sincerely,
Dan Rose,
Chief Engineer, Digital Playroom
Asst. Chief Engineer, WBUR Group
Executive Committee, Boston Audio Engineering Society B&T Technical Committee, Audio Engineering Society

Dan,
I would bet that on your worst day, one where your head's aching and your feet are smelling, that you know more about electronics than I do. I doubt, however that your listening skills better mine, maybe the same, maybe less... it really makes no difference.

First let me state that the Audio Alchemy Pro 1 CD player has its own DAC and the analog signal is fed into my Anthem Pre1 preamp.

As for hearing (or not) what I reported: I am not the type of audiophile that changes equipment every 6 months; I can't afford it and anyway, that type of game does not make me want to come outdoors and play in the park.

I know my system extremely well; its strengths, its shortcomings, which choices of music to pick to impress my friends and which ones to choose to impress me and most importantly, which ones reveal changes that I can discern rather easily.

THAT is why you will see many of the same musical choices in my articles...not because I don't have a large enough CD or LP collection. If I hear a change I question it!  Why did I hear what I heard? Joe Schmoe is or isn't using his Binford 2000 welder today? My wife is or isn't blow-drying her hair?

I call in friends and ask them to listen, never telling them what to listen for! They hear the change... as my friend Reg heard the change with the turntable.

Just for a moment accept if you will (whether you believe or not) that power cords make a difference... anywhere! IF the electrical power coming into a unit is cleaner, with less hash, RFI, EMI, etc. could it then mean that power suply can do a better job,. or do it more easily, or DELIVER CLEANER ENERGY TO THE REST OF THE UNIT, thereby creating a cleaner output signal?

Now let's say the cord makes no difference... would I hear a difference... would the friends I ask to listen with me hear a difference?

A reviewer is simply a reporter in the old sense of what reporting meant. He may not be able to deliver the WHY (I already admitted my electrical knowledge shortcomings), but I tell you WHERE I heard the difference (in a system I know very, very well), I told you WHEN and HOW with the connection of the cord) and the WHO is me!!!

I can report ONLY what I hear; I question myself repeatedly to ascertain what I've heard is not only a true difference, but an IMPROVEMENT! I am only a reporter... if you wish for an Edison to supply you with an electrical dissertation as to why the changes I heard occurred, then I suggest you go dig the old guy up and re-animate him. Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" is NOT a story about a monster! My "story" about what happened and what I heard is not a work of fiction, although without graphs and charts and other arcania, to  you it may seem so... I would love to have a nickel for the times I have said, "We have not yet learned to measure everything"!!! In some ways I hope we never do!

Mike Peshkin


Dear Editors,
In your recent issue (Issue 12), you published a review of xStream interconnects from PS Audio by John Zurek. I have one quick statement about a feature he mentions, and one quick question about a statement he makes.

The back of the connector is cut diagonally, so there is no heat shrink where the cable meets the connector. The outside of the RCA plug has a Z-shaped gap that expands when you fit it over the female connector. It seats firmly, though it's not the tightest I've ever encountered.

As we all know, the outside of the RCA plug is the signal ground. While the Z-shaped gap is certainly striking, if it's not a tight connection, the ground might lift, causing hum, buzzes, noise, etc. in the audio. I wish Mr. Zurek had gone more in depth on this, as it could be a major source of problems for users of these cables.

Secondly, Mr. Zurek states that these are directional cables:

The Statements are completely separate cables. Right channel and signal direction is indicated only by red lettering. Look closely! I didn't think they were directional at first, but it does matter which end you hook up where.

Last I checked, analog audio was all alternating current, and a basic example, a sine wave, is positive for exactly half the cycle and negative for half the cycle. This means that the current flow will be one direction for half a cycle and then the other direction for half a cycle. If a cable is directional, and current is only flowing in one direction, you get either a) a rectified audio signal with no negative voltage components or b) a half-wave rectified audio signal, with no negative voltage components, and half the cycles missing. In either case, you get lots of distortion. Half-wave rectified signals are square waves for half their cycles, in fact. So, you don't want "directional" audio cables.

Now, on the other hand, you do want shields to be lifted at one side of an interconnect of a balanced audio signal to prevent hum. These cables, though, are not balanced, and the directionality when lifting shields is immaterial. Lift either end and you're fine, as long as you don't lift both. Finally, from a purely electrical standpoint, how does a completely passive device, a cable, increase low-end response? It could filter out the high end, thus leading you to turn up your amplifiers, and think that it's the low end that's being brought up, but Mr. Zurek mentions only that the cables create a more robust low end, so much so that on one recording they went "overboard" with too much bass. $300 seems like nothing to pay for a machine that seems to break the 3rd law of thermodynamics by increasing output power without any additional input power.

Sincerely,
Dan Rose,
Chief Engineer, Digital Playroom
Asst. Chief Engineer, WBUR Group
Executive Committee, Boston Audio Engineering Society B&T Technical Committee, Audio Engineering Society

Thanks for taking the time to comment on the Statement review.

As to your first comment: Yes, I did state that the connector on the Statements was not the tightest fit I've ever encountered. You wish I had gone into more depth, so I will.

I think my tightness comment stems from the fact that I have, over the years, I've evaluated many different RCA interconnects with many different connectors. Some of those connectors were extremely tight, and were very hard to use. Some had locking RCAs, and while they provided a great connection, were counter-intuitive, and also very hard to use. The Statement's connector was easy to use, and provided the proper fit.

There were NEVER any problems with noise or hum on these cables. I gave them a real workout! By that I mean I switched them in and out of every component in my system many, many, many times! I was not gentle with the Statements, and they never failed, nor did they ever exhibit a problem in any way.  If they did you wouldn't have to worry—PS Audio gets an A+ for customer
service!

I'll let Paul McGowan handle the comment on the direction of the signal flow of the cables, I've seen some cables marked for direction, and some not (see below). That part was just to let folks know they are marked for direction.

As far as your comment "a machine that seems to break the 3rd law of thermodynamics by increasing output power without any additional input power" ...

Whew! I think you may have misunderstood me. I never mentioned an increase in output power. The music did not get louder. There was simply more presence and detail in the lower octaves - without distorting the signal on the mid and upper octaves. I was trying to pay a compliment to these wires by saying that when combining two Statements their low end presence and detail was welcome on every recording I own - except one!

Would the same be true for your system in your room with your recordings? I don't know.

Cheers, john zurek

Dear Mr. Rose
Certainly you are correct that if for some reason the ground should lift you'd get hum and noise. The Z shape gap works extremely well, in practice, as a spring. John mentions in his review that it doesn't "have the grip of death" he was hoping it would. Well, that may be, however it did work as it should, it does work as it should and we have NEVER had anything put the tightest fit using this spring like tension. All RCA connectors have a series of slits around the barrel for this same purpose, some work better than others. I would have to argue ours works extremely well and better than most. So, while you're correct about the potential for a problem, the fact is this is a non-issue.

You also wrote:

Last I checked, analog audio was all alternating current, and a basic example, a sine wave, is positive for exactly half the cycle and negative for half the cycle. This means that the current flow will be one direction for half a cycle and then the other direction for half a cycle. If a cable is directional, and current is only flowing in one direction, you get either a) a rectified audio signal with no negative voltage components or b) a half-wave rectified audio signal, with no negative voltage components, and half the cycles missing. In either case, you get lots of distortion. Half-wave rectified signals are square waves for half their cycles, in fact. So, you don't want "directional" audio cables.

Now, on the other hand, you do want shields to be lifted at one side of an interconnect of a balanced audio signal to prevent hum. These cables, though, are not balanced, and the directionality when lifting shields is immaterial. Lift either end and you're fine, as long as you don't lift both. Finally, from a purely electrical standpoint, how does a completely passive device, a cable, increase low-end response? It could filter out the high end, thus leading you to turn up your amplifiers, and think that it's the low end that's being brought up, but Mr. Zurek mentions only that the cables create a more robust low end, so much so that on one recording they went "overboard" with too much bass. $300 seems like nothing to pay for a machine that seems to break the 3rd law of thermodynamics by increasing output power without any additional input power.

Whew! That was a long one! Thanks Dan, you are correct again—and no one would argue the merits of your message. We, as engineers, understand completely and agree with your comments. Our XLR series are designed in a similar fashion as you refer to. No, these are not balanced cables.

Cable directionality is an Audiophile phenomena—it has NOTHING to do with the way the cable is built in terms of grounding, shielding or any other such parameter that you and I as engineers might appreciate.

Cable directionality is based on a number of parameters, most of which are, in my opinion as a designer, voodoo. The way the wire is pulled through the die, the time of the year etc. :) I would not worry about this, it'll drive you crazy. If you want to chew on the merits of directionality, email me separately at Paul@psaudio.com and we can "chat".

While we do mark the cables according to the wire pull direction, and many people claim they can hear the difference, we do not subscribe to this thinking. However, many folks do and we accommodate accordingly.

The xStreams are well designed and engineered cables. They attain their "sound" through a type of geometry that has more copper on the return rather than the hot lead. As an acute listener I can tell you this does work sonically. They do make a marked improvement over your run-of-the-mill RCA. They are beautifully shielded, and used throughout a system make for some damn good sound. I would be delighted to argue the merits of these cables with you from that perspective at any time.

Thanks for taking the time to respond and read John's great review!

Paul McGowan
CEO
PS Audio


Hello David,
Kara and I would like to thank you for the fantastic review. You are really one hellaciously great writer. Thanks for the great photo work also. There is one part of the copy that needs some massage.

"On the amp side of things, I am most familiar with deHavilland’s 845 (30 Watts per channel)/845G (36 Watts per channel)"

In an 8 ohm comparison that 845 teasts at 22 Watts and the 845G 30 Watts. The  845G spec for 36 Watts is a 4 Ohm spec. We never took a 4 Ohm spec on the earlier 845 for a comparison. The only reason I mention is that we have published measurement specs that were taken on the earlier 845 and it might confuse some readers.

We thank you again!

Sincerely, George Kielczynski


Dear Editor-in-chief,
I love your on-line magazine and I would love to see more music reviews and their behind the scene stories, like the recent Speakers corner's Mercury Living Presence reissue on 180 grams LP. They sound so good & it would be a great fun to read about them and/or about the comparison between original pressings & the reissues. What do you say?

Sincerely,

Jeremy & Suebsak

I'm glad to hear that you are enjoying Positive Feedback Online. Your suggestion is a good one, and we are working to get more music coverage into the 'zine.

Projects like you suggest can be tough to put together, since they require expert coverage and a connoisseur's command of original vs. LP recordings. Roger S. Gordon can do some of this for PFO (Roger? You listening?!), and has done so in the past... so has both Tom Port and Brian Hartsell (who is the best at this sort of thing that I've ever encountered, but who has retired from writing/reviewing... for now, at least!)

If we are able to find the right person(s), we'll certainly try to get more writing about LPs aboard PFO, Jeremy.

All the best,

david 
Editor-in-Chief, Positive Feedback Online
drobinson@positive-feedback.com 


Jonathan,
I enjoyed your article on how we feel "the groove" of music at such a small level. I’ve had a similar theory for a while but when you explain it to people, they just kinda look at you as if you’ve just suggested the speed of light is variable (let’s not go down that rabbit hole, string-theory fans!)

The way I explain it is: take a sturdy block of wood and drill a 10 inch steel rod into it then fix a thin steel plate centrally onto the end of the rod so it looks like a sort of speaker stand. A plate of about 7 inches square will do fine but any regular geometric shape will work too. If you "ping" the plate with your finger, you’ll hear it "ring" as it vibrates. Now sprinkle a thin dusting of sand onto the plate. Then using a violin bow, bow the plate at any point along its edge and you’ll see the sand dancing into neat patterns. As the plate vibrates, the sand will arrange itself along the propagating lines of vibration and will show up the peaks and troughs on the surface of the plate. Hey, what d`you know, cool patterns appear! Depending on the shape of the plate and where you "bow" it, different symmetrical patterns emerge. If you don’t carry a violin bow about your person then holding a struck tuning fork against the plate will do just as well. What d`you mean you don’t carry one of those either? Sheesh, kids today!

This now lets you see how things vibrate in sympathy with other (nearby) vibrating things. "Holy Macaroni!" as Confucius used say, "That’s just like sitting in front of your hifi with the volume cranked up." Speaker vibrates, air vibrates, little hairs in ear vibrate, brain vibrates, you vibrate. He, she, it, we, they, vibrate. Depending on how certain music vibrates you, you’ll maybe be in tune with jazz but not blues, blues but not chamber music, chamber music but not gamelan.

Now as we get older, our bodies deteriorate and change shape. That six-pack you had is now a keg (a bit like changing the shape of the plate in our little experiment) and our bodies vibrate in new and different ways in response to music. When I was in my teens nothing but heavy metal would do, "but I need a guitar solo, now!!" Now that I’m approaching my mid-thirties at an alarming rate of knots, I find my tastes mellowing. Yeah, I still like Henry Rollins and Metallica (their train-wreck dalliance with the SF Symphony a mere blip in an otherwise fine career) but now I also love Tori Amos, a bit of Miles Davis here, a splash of Rachmaninoff there. The list goes on and on.

Music moves us, it vibrates us.

Can you dig it? Yes, I can.

Regards,

Guy Fraser.

P.S. Now, if you could get your Air Force One platter spinning near the speed of light, it should open up a wormhole that’d let us see Hendrix and Zappa jammin` with Mozart. Unfortunately that little theory requires more power than is contained in all the super-strings within this letter and a quite sturdy cantilever on your cartridge. Sorry.

Thanks, I'm very pleased my column struck a chord, as it were. And I too have to admit that as I tried the string theory idea on some of my friends, they all gave me "the look." I forged ahead anyway, as is my way. (If you look closely you can actually see the dotted "cut here" marks around my neck!) Love the idea of bowing the plate and watching the sand dirty dance into patterns. And the notion of everything vibratingair, cilia, brain, pancreas, naughty bitsis hard to refute. It gets notional only when suggesting that how it vibrates your bod effects musical taste. Personally, I'm totally in sync with that idea and swallow it whole.

Yes, my midriff (I used to have one!) "cask" (prefer that to a keg, I think) is growing in spite of halfhearted attempts to diet it off, I creak more than I should moving around, and it's getting to be a pain in the ass just getting out of bed in the morning. But once again, I think your vibe is right on; as our bodies change, our reaction to music's vibes change too, I have no doubt. Music that I didn't care for when young is now much more appealing. A matter of taste? Maturity? (Hah!) Or a matter of girth?

Regarding the Flywheel nearing the speed of light, I've been advised by Dr. Forsell not even to play 45s! (Singsong Swedish accent) "It stresses the electronics." So no can do. Nevertheless, I still see and experience Zappa and Mozart, Ray Brown and Poulencand Peter Ustinov doing the Grand Prix of Gibralter.

In any case, my fellow connoisseur, there seems little need to advise you to enjoy as you seem to have discovered the inner light that makes music and life so wonderful.erful.

Warm regards and thank you for writing,

J-10

 

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