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POSITIVE FEEDBACK ONLINE - ISSUE 13
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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

 

Dear Editors,
there is some confusion in the community regarding the Xindak SCD-2. Obviously, there are several different modifications of this SACD player on the market. There are different output tubes, different types of capacitors on the output board and different opamps (drivers for the tubes ?). Some people report about their chassis not being copper coated or the power transformer having no cover at all. Even more interesting is a comparison of the pictures you can find on the internet. One is from your own review (another source is http://www.bertrandaudio.com/Images/Products/XINDAK/scd_2.jpg), the other comes from Xindak itself (http://www.xindakaudio.com/data/Sacd.jpg). Have a look at the output board. They are completely different from each other. Now, rumor goes that there are special low-cost SCD-2 for the Chinese market and an additional higher grade version for the US market. This may also be related to the findings of some people that the Xindak may have problems reading the stereo track of MCH hybrid SACDs which can not be verified by others (including your own reviewers). You may also know that there are huge differences in prices depending on whether you buy the player in Europe or US or directly from China. So, are some low-cost SCD-2 out there which also may be inferior in sound? If yes, how can you recognize them.

Maybe, you can give an answer to that.

Best regards,
Frank

Very challenging questions, Frank... thanks for sharing them with us.

I have been hearing rumors for months about USA vs. China versions of the Xindak SCD-2. I've never had a Xindak in for review here in PFO Portland, so couldn't comment either way, but different versions of audio gear for different markets wouldn't surprise me. If this is so, our readers will want to be aware of this fact when purchasing a Xindak, so that they can be sure to source the preferred version. Again, I cannot say for sure, since I haven't reviewed the piece personally.

What I can do is publish your queries, cc: my audiobud Jay Bertrand of Bertrand Audio, and see if he can shed some light on the subject. Jay handles the Xindak line, and may be able to answer your questions.

All the best,

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

Thank you for your fast response, David.

I just got an email from the people in China where I bought my SCD-2 (it arrived yesterday, so I didn't have the time to do some serious listening). They claim that there exists only one model of this player. They suspect that some distributors want to justify their higher prices by telling their customers about some fictitious low cost models. If I remember it right from one of the newsgroups on the internet, Jay Bertrand also states that there are low cost models for the Chinese market which are different from the ones which are (or should be) exported to the US or Europe. BTW, NYSound, also a distributor of Xindak gear says on its website that the SCD-2 will no longer have a copper coated chassis. Again, the interpretation can be that there is only one model and Xindak skipped the copper coating or NYSound only imports the low cost one.

Anyway, even if there is only one model, the fact that Xindak obviously changes the electronic parts of the SCD-2 very often may be a cause to worry about. As an example, from what people report there are at least 4 different types of output tubes (6N3, 5670, 6922, E88CC). The same holds for the opamps which may be AD712 or NE5532. From the engineers point of view all these parts may be direct replacements of each other. But can the customer be sure to get a consistent sound from the various types of SCD-2? I am sure that you are also interested in this because the reliability of your reviews
is very important for you and, of course, for all of us who read your magazine.

Thank you very much for your efforts and all the interesting articles in Positive Feedback.

Frank Decker, Germany

Hello again, Frank
You raise excellent points about product consistency when components (solid-state or tubes) within a design are changed. While interoperable parts may be technically equivalent, they usually *sound* different...and quite often VERY different...from one another. I would be concerned if there were major shifts of such parts from batch to batch, since the aural results might vary significantly in that case.

I heard from Jay Bertrand; this is what he has to say on the subject:

Hi Dave,
It is good to hear from you again. People who buy from, say, www.cattylink.com are being ripped off with inferior goods. The parts quality they use for the products they sell in China are cheap.

For the United States we use Vishay, Dale, Jensen, etc. I have been accused of charging too much because people assume they are buying the same products, and they are not. To stop this confusion, Xindak is going to have a new name for their North American products. This will happen in the next two months. When I get the new product, Dave, I will be glad to send you a unit for you to review.

Thank you,
Jay Bertrand
Bertrand Audio
http://www.bertrandaudio.com

From what Jay is telling me, there is at least one lower-cost SCD-2 model for the Chinese market. If so, then Xindak's move to brand the US model is a wise one, since it will help to clarify the situation.

Design and distribution in the Internet Age leads to far more complex problems in fine audio, that's for sure.

Thanks for bringing this to our attention, Frank. I'm going to take Jay up on his offer to do a follow-up on the SCD-2 when the new US model is released. We'll keep all PFO readers informed on our findings.

All the best,

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


Editor
I visit the Positive-Feedback site regularly. I really appreciate how the staff writes reviews and the audio equipment that's chosen.

I have been reading a lot about planar speakers. But, I have yet to read any reviews at your site on planar speakers.

I have been hearing a lot about a new company called Silverline Audio and their new line of planar speakers, along with Magnepan and a Danish manufacturer who's name escapes me at the moment. 

Anyway, does the Positive-Feedback staff have future plans to review any planar speakers?

Thanks,
Julius

Hello Julius...
That's a fair question. At the present time, PFO has no planars in the queue. The main problem with doing planar reviews tends to be the logistics of shipping and setup, plus the fact that planars usually need a pretty fair amount of elbow room to sound their best. Bass extension is also a concern in some quarters; ditto with efficiency with many planar designs.

Some of the traditional planar designers (e.g., Magnepan) do not seem to be very interested in having a lot of new reviews done. This does put a crimp in things, for sure.

Nonetheless, if we find an interesting design or a willing company (preferably both), and can match them with one of our reviewers, then we'd certainly give it a shot.

Let's see if anyone takes the bait, eh?

BTW:  If you're referring to the Silverline Audio run by Alan Yun, they do not produce planar speakers, so far as I'm aware.

All the best,

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

Thanks for the immediate reply. I want to make a correction. The new planar company I was talking about is actually called Soundline Audio www.soundlineaudio.com.

I think they are located in California. And thanks for the additional info on planars. I really appreciate it.

Julius

OK, Julius, that makes more sense.

The Soundline Audio speakers look interesting. Perhaps Dave Clark and the LA Gang can work something up on this.

All the best,

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


To the editor:
Though I have no doubt that Bob Levi is expressing sincere opinions in his article about LP collecting, his opinions make no sense to me. His assertion that the only way to acquire quiet, undistorted LPs is to buy them new is simply not true. First of all, new, unplayed LPs do not necessarily have quiet surfaces, and second, used LPs often do. I agree that buying new LPs is less of a risk in this respect, but it is no guarantee, nor are used records invariably disappointing, as his experience with the Solti Beethoven cycle attests. (It is also interesting to note that the Solti set, the most rewarding of the used purchases he mentions, was the most economic, at $11.11 per record.

Leaving aside the question of whether reissue LPs are better than the originals because of their quiet surfaces (a can of worms I'd rather not open), Mr. Levi's argument against buying used LPs illustrates the biggest limitation of his position-the fact that if you restrict your record buying to reissues, you limit yourself to musical choices made by others. Even the short list of used records he offers contains five Mercuries that have not been reissued on LP. If you want to listen to Paray's Sibelius Second or Dorati's Shererazade on LP, you're out of luck unless you buy originals. The fact that Mr. Levi paid too much money for substandard copies doesn't mean that these LPs are not worth buying, only that he needs to find a better source for used records.

My biggest problem with his position is that it takes the fun out of record collecting. His way of going about it is to leaf through the latest Acoustic Sounds or Music Direct (or other) catalog and order the records that seem appealing. When I look at these catalogs, I usually fail to find more than one or two records worth buying, mostly because if something is of interest to me, I already own it. When I go to a used record store or the local record swap meet, I invariably see records I've never seen before. I don't always buy them, but is interesting to come across them. The point is that I make discoveries, and learn something, which I never do when I look at reissue catalogs.

I do not mean to suggest that Acoustic Sounds, Speakers Corner, Classic Records, and others, have not done fine work in reissuing vintage LPs. They have, and I have purchased quite a few that I find rewarding. I even have a few that I think sound better than the originals. I simply do not want to restrict my musical choices to the records that these companies deem worthy of attention. This contradicts the reason I pursued high-quality audio playback in the first place-to expand my musical horizons. Bob Levi's way of going about it ignores too much great music.

Dan Meinwald
E.A.R. U.S.A.


Hi,
I recently got a Sony SCD-1, and I  am interested in modification options. Could you by any chance suggest some European based modifiers that I could turn to ? I would hate send the unit back to the US as I risde in Hungary.

Thnaks a lot for any help!

Kind regards

Frank Turi

Hello Frank...

This is an interesting question. The best person that I'm aware of for SACD mods in Europe is Allen Wright of Vacuum State Electronics. You can reach him with your inquiry at aw@vacuumstate.com; his web site is at http://www.vacuumstate.com. Allen is a first-rate modifier whose work is highly regarded. As a matter of fact, I just received a VSE modified Sony 9000 DVD/SACD/CD player for review just a few minutes ago...I'm looking forward to hearing it, believe me. (I will also be evaluating Richard Kern's latest set of mods to the Sony SCD-777ES... that unit is already here.) By the way, if any PFO reader is aware of other European SACD modifiers, please send along the information to me at drobinson@positive-feedback.com. We'll publish any updates immediately.

All the best,

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


Dave,
It has come to my attention that you have recently posted a review comparing a Sahuaro power cable to one from a competing company. The Sahuaro power cable you mentioned originally sold for half the price of the Elrod that was mentioned; also our Slipstream XP is so old it has not been in the product line for YEARS; its performance has been completely eclipsed by our new models. I feel this type of reporting is unfair to our company and represents a disservice to your readers.

Ron Paquette
Sahuaro Audio

Ron,
Never compared the two—simply said the following with respect to the Mikado:

"Although it has a killer power supply, I found that the better the AC cord, the better the Mikado sounded. The Blue Circle BC63 was a bit too lean, and the Sahuaro had a bit too much bass bloat, but the Elrod EPS-2 made things juussst right."

and

"Man, the Cary was the champ in the bass—I mean, people would grin as the room was awash with really deep and powerful bass—but with the Mikado in house, the Cary sounded slow and fat. Too much boom, like what I see in the mirror as I approach fifty—too loose and fat, needing to exercise a bit, to tighten things up and keep from getting flabby around the middle. Admittedly, this was with the Sahuaro AC cord on the Cary, and switching to an Elrod EPS-2 brought the bass much, much closer to that of the Mikado."

While it is an older version, it is what I own and use (actually it is still listed as current on the audioexcellence az website—I am or was using the Slipstream XP). The Elrod is new to my system and while it does cost a bit, the differences are not dramatic (SlipStream XP is priced at $800 and the Elrod was purchased close to two years ago when it was priced at $995).

I have not heard your newer models, except (I think it is) the newer Prethrilla I borrowed from Dan, and I did not find it to my liking with respect to how my system is balanced.

I can certainly publish your comments if you feel I am comparing apples to oranges and as such your company is being slighted, but I see it stating that the better the cord, the better the performance. Simply put the Elrod is better than the Sahuaro I own, though perhaps not better than your newer and more expensive products. That I do not not know, nor did I state that in the review.

Dave Clark
Editor

Dave,
Over the years I have seen reviewers continue to inadvertently make the same mistake. They write their review as if they were doling out some kind of absolute truth and fail to remind the reader the results they experienced was highly conditional. We have customers that replaced many different brands of power cables with Sahuaro including Elrod. I am always quick to point out that all this means is that under those conditions Sahuaro simply worked better; nothing more. We have experience, under certain conditions, where our least expensive power cable sounded better than our most expensive. Imagine the reader who makes the assumption based on what you said and purchased an Elrod only to find that in "his" system that power cable "did not do it for him"; now your creditability is questionable. System dependency is a most insidious problem.  We have labored for the past seven years to find a solution; and as of two week ago we feel we have the problem solved. It has also created the performance breakthrough we have been looking for since day one. But this a subject for another time.

Ron Paquette
Sahuaro Audio

Ron,
You seem to miss the point. Any of my reviews and for the most part, all of those in PFO, clearly suggest that YMMV. System synergy is one of the principals we stand behind and it is clearly reflected in our review policy and the desire to post multiple reviews of any one component. On the other hand, my suggesting that cord A is better than cord B in my system is true for my system and my ear and my tastes in music—but perhaps not someone else's. I state this quite clearly on many an occasion. Along with that, anytime I am asked for advice I always say, that what works for me, may or may not work for you—you'll have to try it to find out.

"Imagine the reader who makes the assumption based on what you said and purchased an Elrod only to find that in "his" system that power cable “did not do it for him”; now your creditability is questionable."

Ditto, if I said, "Sahuaro is the best," of which I believe I did way back when I reviewed them for audiomusings... and at the time it was the best for me. As to creditability, geesh, you mean people think I am all that! I hope not, as my opinion is just that.

Dave Clark
Editor

Dave,
Here is my point. System synergy is what we are stuck with; why? Because there is no other alternative. The science of audio is so primitive all we can do is play component roulette until we achieve something that somewhat approaches reality. Personally I see this as no solution, but like I said, this is all we got. I feel that reviewers should stress the point often and with great clarity regardless of the outcome of the review. 

Sahuaro is about to take a giant step forward; it is going to require an open mind and a little trust, but the good news is, the days of component roulette are coming to an end.

Ron Paquette
Sahuaro Audio


Dear Dave Clark
I would like to take this time to personally congratulate PFOL, for giving us, the audiophile readers, the best internet review magazine. Your reviews are superior to Stereophile, and even Absolute Sound, and the best part is, your reviewers are honest, and there is no politics involved here. Every time I get the Stereophile 700 best products edition, it is always the same. They rarely update, and there are very few product reviews. I go to Stereotimes, and even Sound Stage, and it's many review sites, it the same old story, not enough product reviews. With PFOL, I've come to expect at least 6 product reviews per month, and sometimes there are more. I like the way that the reviews come in, because I never know when to expect the new one, so I have to keep coming back, sometimes on a daily basis. I want to thank Bob Neill, and Robert Levi, and now Vade Forrester, for their great cable reviews. I know that I am leaving out some other great reviewers, and I don't mean to do so. I hope that you can keep up the great website, and that you will ensure that we will keep on seeing more great articles in the coming months. Maybe someday at CES I may get a chance to personally meet some of you. Again thank you very much, you are doing a superb job.

Sincerely,

Robert Shimomura

 

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