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POSITIVE FEEDBACK ONLINE - ISSUE 31
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Our readers respond…we respond right back!

Send your comments to either editorpf@comcast.net or dclark@positive-feedback.com

 

Hi Dave,
I was reading your review of the Townshend Super Tweeters with much interest as I have the Reimer Teton's as well. The Reimers in my system have a good full range sound with very good highs via the ribbon tweeters all on 18 watts. I have found that I prefer the tweeters on the inside rather than on the outside position. The outside position seems to add some soundstage depth but seems to take away much of the transient information I hear with the tweeters inside. I am curious to know which configuration you were listening to when doing the Townshend review. After spending more time with this have you noticed any downsides to the super tweeter or is this a no brainer upgrade for the Tetons?

Thanks for taking the time to review my email and I will appreciate any comments that you may have.

Thanks much,

Larry

Larry,

I was and am using the speakers with the HiVi tweeters/ribbons on the outside. For my room that offers the best sound overall. The Townshends do make a difference and the review says it all.... a no brainer for just about any speaker and so far no downsides. But that is just me....

Thanks,

Dave Clark


Dear Sir,
I very much enjoyed Arnis Balgalvis excellent review of the Nova Physics-memory player. The review answered all my questions except one, that being the build quality of the transport. I would appreciate any insight into this aspect of the device that you can give me.

Fred Pascopella

Hello Fred,

Here are my thoughts on the build quality of the MP.

The Nova Physics Memory player is built to a good professional construction standard. There is nothing that makes it stand out appearance-wise in the commanding way that a piece from, say, Jeff Rowland does. At the same time everything is professionally finished:  the layout of the connectors is uncluttered, and the general appearance is very unobtrusive. The panels of my black anodized version gave the unit a direct no-nonsense aspect, though with a tendency to lean towards the plain-jane look.

The front-panel touch-screen adds a very nice high-tech tangibility and highlights the innovative intent of the transport as a whole. The CD tray slides out quietly enough, but it does not have the sensual feel that something like the Linn CD-12 or the Esoteric P-03 display. Overall, its looks do not convey the very sophisticated technology that is contained within this marvelous machine.

Best regards,

Arnis Balgalvis


Hello Marshall,
You have auditioned many good sounding components over the years including the great MBL separates. But I was wondering—how does this ultra-expensive gear match up to equipment costing far less? Have you level-matched ? I ask because there seems to be a belief out there that "all components sound the same" when level-matched to .1dB. This may be true on simple musical passages but not when the music gets complex, demanding or loud !!

In another words, how much better would the (expensive) MBL 6010d preamp sound when level-matched to an "affordable" preamp playing dynamic, complex musical passages? I would love your thoughts on this—IF you're qualified to do so.

John Harnick

Hi John,

If I read you correctly, you're asking if there's a significant difference between the components I enthuse over, which sometimes cost an arm and a leg, and less expensive ones, when played back at moderate volume levels.

The heart of the matter is the age old Subjectivist - Objectivist debate: Can you tell what an amplifier will sound like by looking at its specs? Let me ask you a related question: is a Timex watch the equivalent of a RADO? Some people think so. I know some audiophiles who think so, too, about amplifiers that measure the same. (They are generally the ones who are more into the engineering and technical aspects of the hobby, the "nuts and bolts" or circuit design guys.)

In my experience, components orbit the core goal of verisimilitude, some are far distant, others closer in. As an active participant, the differences are what the game is all about, and they are big enough to warrant description—that's what I try to do in my reviews-and maybe dictate purchase decisions. In my opinion, few others, regardless of cost, share the radius of the mbl 6010D, and most affordable preamps are barely in its solar system. To me the differences are large and very important. But, you need a system that can resolve to this level. Also, I've spent years studying the sound of unamplified acoustic instruments in order to recognize those cues that tell us we're listening to live. With a lesser rig or less time with unamplified acoustic instruments, I wouldn't care.

As you say, difficult source material compounds the challenges. Forget about realistically reproducing an orchestra in your living room, but the challenges are there even with a solo instrument. Analyze what a violin sounds like or spend some time in the same room with a singer: just try to re-create that! The task is daunting. (I haven't met the rig yet capable of reproducing it. If you think you have, you're kidding yourself.) This is the grail.

Try to audition this gear yourself. Two outcomes are possible: You may wonder why you bothered. Or, you may be shocked by something you didn't think possible in reproduced sound. You have to hear it and be receptive. Then you might want to amend the Timex analogy-most of those watches have crude second hand increments.

Regards,

Marshall Nack


Dear Mr. Hollander,
First let me congratulate you on such a wonderful forum. I really enjoy the quality of writing as well of the subject matter.

I am a musician as well as a scholar. I came across your forum through a Google search where I encountered an excellent article I would like to cite for a paper I am working on.

When citing a work, it is particularly useful to have a year associated with the article. Thankfully, the volume number was included in the article. I eventually did find the year for the particular article after searching for awhile in the archives. This was very helpful, but it did take a bit of searching as I did not know the article was only in the online version... etc.

Anyway... I just thought, it would be so very, very helpful to scholars if you could provide the publication date upon the article itself. This makes it easy to cite so that the Forum and the author receives proper credit due.

Thanks again for such a useful forum.

Kindest regards,

Julia B.


Dearest Editor,
I was really hoping to read about this player from a SACD viewpoint but Dave doesn't go there. So could you please send the player along to someone willing to go there? No, I don't have ten grand for a player, but would like to fantasize accurately.

I enjoyed Teresa's review of the Yamaha as she covered nearly all the bases. I don't care much about the surround issue except that the Yamaha can mix down stereo from a MC only release. I am aware that reality dictates that we have RBCD (mostly) but there are enough sacd releases to justify supporting the format.

Now all Chesky releases will be hybrid, Telarc gives us quite a few, and there are new companies, diminutive in size, that are contributing great stuff. For example, I just listened to "Immortal Nystedt" by Ensemble 96 with Oystein Fevang at the helm, a VERY fine ethereal choral work that I happened to hear on KCRW.com. The label is 2L29 and it is only available as a hybrid.

Thank you for taking the time to listen to your uncle Tommy.

Regards,

Tom

While I understand your concern that I did not review the other half of the EMM player (the SACD side) the issue is that while I do have a few SACDs (and the Cary to compare), the vast majority are not music I tend to listen to—being given to me as promos and such. Therefore with that in mind, I felt my take to be rather un-informed as to how SACD performs on either player.

It is my intent to get some SACDs that are more our flavor and do a follow-up, and even perhaps loan the player to Bob Levi for his take on that format.

Dave


Sirs,
Just a minor nit, but why does every designer of high end speakers claim that his special, careful design of the cabinet (which is usually quite impressive and extravagant in this class of product) eliminates mechanical resonance like the Gamut designer claims? Every time I lay a hand on these perfectly designed speakers I feel significant vibration. I have no doubt that most of the time there has been considerable effort put into significantly reducing the resonances that get through. And the designers should be proud of their results. But the word is "reduce" not "eliminate." Why this need to make extravagant claims rather accept accolades for what really is accomplished?

Allen Edelstein

I fully agree with the comment. Resonance will always be present, so the only thing possible to do is to minimize resonances and position them where they are the least harmful to the sonic reproduction. If we have stated that we eliminate resonances, that is definitely an error, we are trying to control and position resonant patterns of energy to have the least negative effect, but we are not claiming to be capable of eliminating resonances, which probably would result in at least a Nobel award…

Best Regards Lars, GamuT


Hi Marshall,
I really enjoyed your review of the mbl 8011 amplifiers. I can only reinforce your enthusiasm for the quality of sound reproduction from this high end manufacturer. Until recently I owned Avantgarde Duos and Kondo electronics including a Shinri 300B amplifier, M7 KSL Line Stage and KSL Phono, Audio Note UK DAC 5 DA Converter and CEC TLO transport. I also listen to Analogue via a Rockport air bearing T.Table and arm.

I thought the Avantgardes with Kondo electronics was about as good as it got having owned and heard numerous high end gear over the last 25 years. I never thought I would hear anything that could improve on what I was hearing from my system until I recently visited my high-end dealer . They were setting up a pair of mbl 111E speakers and Reference electronics including 1611 DAC, 1621 Transport, 6010D Pre and 9008 Amps. What I heard literally shocked me with it's musicality and naturalness, and this from solid state electronics and powerful amps. As you can imagine for someone that started with powerful solid state amps ( Krell, Gryphons, etc ) and dynamic speakers and went to SETs and Horn speakers this was quite a turnaround.

As you can guess I next auditioned the mbl gear at home and ended up purchasing the whole system as there was a synergy in using the mbl electronics with their speakers. I tried a whole range of Amps including Gryphons, Audio Research 600s, Levinson 436s, Classes and nothing came close to the mbl 9008s. It just goes to show that you can never pre judge on the basis of whether the gear is valve, set/push pull, or solid state as something like the mbl gear comes along and blows any preconceptions you have out of the water.

I am therefore not surprised at the enthusiasm reviewers and show goers are showing for mbl gear, and applaud you for reviewing this more mainstream equipment and bringing it to the attention of your readers. So even if you were a die hard SET Horn fan and you have a chance you should listen to the mbl gear and it might surprise you like it did me. I look forward to reading a review from Marshall on the other reference mbl gear particularly the 9008s as they are amazing. And keep up the great work as P Feedback is one of the best on-line mags there is.

Kind Regards John

Hi John,

Coming from an Audio Note electronics/Avantgarde speaker based system, for you to extol the mbl Reference Line gear for its “musicality and naturalness” is an amazing statement.

I’ve been there. I know what the low-powered SET myth and reality is about—the involvement, the emotional connection, the lush beauty of the midrange. But then there are the inevitable compromises in dynamics, bass control, speed, deviation from neutrality and colorations leaning to the excessively beautiful. Still, in many ways, this topology is as good as it gets.

So along comes the current generation of mbl products. First listen to a well-setup Reference Line rig leaves most listeners slack-jawed. It does everything the SET’s cannot do, superlatively. Big deal, you might say: at that price point, a high-powered SS rig ought to be able to handle these things. After all, the compromises in the SETs are mainly power related.

But, as you listen, you begin to discern that the envelope delivering the power isn’t raw. It has many of the things traditionally residing in valve-land. This is what you and I are responding to and this is what’s special in this marques offerings: the marriage of SS power with valve-like musicality. No, they won’t replace SETs for the die-hard devotees, although the Ref Line gear gives a taste of that—more than any SS I’ve encountered.

I love the fact that this gear is maintenance free. You drop them into your system—no tweaks required, and they can be left on 24/7. I’m hoping they’re a harbinger of the next gen of SS gear.

I envy you, with the rig you have assembled—love to hear it one day. Are you proximal to NYC?

Regards,

Marshall Nack


Hi Marshall,
As someone whom is more involved in finding the proper means to isolate my entire system thru African Black Wood - Ebony Devices made by either Shun Mook or Yamamoto Sound Craft more so then many here in the states can begin to understand, as I was stationed in Japan C 1975/84 I came away with more respect for the Music Loving Audiophile I meant there as many of them simple cared more about collecting Music as opposed to the endless search for hardware, yet after reading your article regarding the Core Furniture CLD Stand had me re-thinking what you had obviously stumbled upon, and that is that there are in fact a great deal more options out there besides using Maple as a shelf for our racks as a means to enhance the overall Tonality as well as Musicality.

Yet after looking to add more of what you where able to gain from Pure American Solid Black Walnut got me to thinking that in fact many of us have forgotten what this hobby was meant to be about—and too me that is gaining more insight into the Musical Notes and Beauty that lies just beneath the surface as many tend to pursue more and more detail and/or resolution above all else, I think that with this being said, you could do us all a great service and write a long over due article on the Sonic Characteristics of Tone Woods which hasn't been covered since 1999 as I recall.

As I'm attempting to gain more insight into this very subject myself after looking to add a different flavor of wood shelves to my Sound Anchors Audio Rack, I was merely wondering do you consider Black Walnut Slabs along with Granite Platforms cut to the same dimensions as mentioned in your Mass Loading section to be a nice place to start?.[ I'm looking at having the Wood thickness of only 4/4 - 3/4" high when planed and with the Granite at 1.25" high much like the ones you were able to use during said article. ]

Are their other woods besides Black Walnut which I could also be researching which offers augmenting throughout the lower midrange and/or lower midbass areas?

I await you views and trust in your opinions as your reviews are very very informative to say the least. One last thing, could you please tell John Action that Oscar the once fellow ProAc Tablette Reference 8 Signature owner says Hello.

Be well. Regards,

Oscar

Hi Oscar,

Personally, I was hoping some manufacturer would pick up on the Sonic Spice Rack. It would be cheap and a very effective way to tune the sound. These kinds of fine adjustments are required very often, what with power and environment variability (humidity and temperature are big ones). I'm happy to share what I discover in this area, but the effort required to inventory the property of various woods on my own is too involved.

I feel lucky to have stumbled on the tuning properties of walnut. At this time, it's the only wood I know of that augments the lower mids on down. All the commonly used woods do the clarity, soundstaging thing.

Shortly, I'll be getting a walnut LP storage unit from CORE Designs, replacing an inexpensive cherry plywood bookcase. This is destined to go behind the left speakerI'm hoping it will do the walnut tuning even in that location. If it does, I'll buy another and place it behind the right speaker--got to keep these things symmetrical.

I think your idea of a granite slab with a walnut panel above has potential.

Finally, I forwarded your salutations to John Acton.

Regards, Marshall Nack


Hello,
This email is for Robert Levi who reviewed the KS Emotion and Jorma Design cables. I have some questions for him.

I am evaluating ICs between a digital source and Pre-amp and power cords for preamp, amps and digital source. ICs that I am considering are : KS Emotion (RCA) and Jorma Design No 1 and Prime (RCA), currently I am using the Kimber KS 1030 and AZ Silver Ref 2 between my Preamp and digital source.

I have in my system the Jorma No 2 and for sure it is way better than both the KS 1030 and AZ Sil Ref 2, so much so that I have both of them up for sale. I find that the No 2 gives a very balanced sound all the way and there is some body to the music that I am looking for. I like this cord and am wondering if the No 1 or Prime can bring me up the ladder. I tested the No 1 and Prime with XLR from a Bladelius Gondul player straight into the amps bypassing the Pre, did not like it and found that the Prime was a bit fat on the bass as compared to the No 1. I am trying to get the dealer to bring in the RCA versions but this may be difficult since they sell more XLR type connections. I have not tested the KS Emotions as there is no dealer in Singapore.

My questions are: a) Is the KS Emotion closer to the No2, No1 or Prime?, in terms of sonics, is the KS warmer sounding than the Jorma's, is it worth the extra stretch to do Jorma's over the KS.

Power cords:

I will be testing Black Sand Silver Ref MkV in my amps later this week. I tested the Jorma Super Power (Power cord) on my pre amp …this is one very good cord there. Better than going into the digital source I have also a Harmonix Studio Master running from the Wall to my Sound Application RLS 240 gives more bite to the music versus the MAC Delta cord.

My questions are: Where does the KS Emotion do well at? Power amps, Pre-amps or sources? Is the KS cord closer to a Harmonix or Jorma tone?

Hope you can help me with these questions since I have no way of testing the KS cords unless I buy them. Unfortunately KS does not have a 30 day money back guarantee for International customers.

Thank you for you help on this.

Best regards,

Teck for Singapore

Dear Teck,

Without knowing your system or tastes, my comments are strictly from my own experience with these products with Avalons, Marten Design, and Focal Cobalt loudspeakers.

The K-S Emotion and the Jorma No.1 are very close. The 1s are a bit leaner and clearer sounding. The Emotions have a more robust mid bass with slightly improved dynamics overall. I would say they are comparable but the Emotion is 20% less expensive in the States. Emotions are my reference.

That said, the Jorma Prime are superior to both other cables by a significant margin. With pristine evenness from top to bottom, complete neutrality, ultra high clarity, wondrous relaxed presentation, and overall performance without peer ...the 3 times as expensive Primes are worth every penny assuming you can afford them. For value, I like the Emotions. For extravagance, I like the Primes.

In terms of power cords, I use the Emotions in system A and the Kimber Palladium/Harmonic Technology Fantasy in system B. The Emotion cords sound like the Emotion interconnects ...clear, open, uncolored, dynamic mid bass. The Jorma AC sound similar to Emotion but not as reliable to predict outcome. I've had less success with Jorma AC. Have not heard the Harmonix. The secret of the Emotions is ultra low impedance. This contributes to the interconnects, speaker cables, and AC cords. The secret to the Jormas are Bybee filters built in ...the best used in the Prime. Both are truly successful techniques. The AC cables are too close to call...both will serve you well.

RHL


To the elusive and reclusive Dr. Sardonicus,
I just had a few questions about the VMPS RM 30s speakers in the doc's Epistemological Epiphany. And if this is not you could you forward it to the good Doc.

Well I am a "mature audiophile" with several systems in different joints and for my, ahem, 60th, my better half has said yes to me about a new system for my study, where now retired I spend a good deal of my time, and typically have a reasonably crappy system that I spend most of my time with, blah, blah, blah.

So I have never had a pair of electrostats and was considering Quads, ML's and even the quirky Canadian New Form Research 645 V3 turbos. The VMPS do keep coming up for me though. My room is about 15 x 14 and I listen to mostly quartet, and solo jazz and classical. Seems as you mature, hearing and all, you tend to get into the composer's, jazz, classical, more mature works, Ludwigs String Quartets, Miles etc, etc. Not to mention the evolution of appreciation for the midrange over all else.

I do love the bass though... down to the low thirties though and was wondering what your feel about them VMPSs sight unseen and to this point unheard in my reasonably sized study.

Man their current price lists with the upgrades sure ratchet up the price in a hurry—near 6-7 g's, not a problem though. My brother gave me for Christmas past an mbl integrated amp, and I have a nice Accuphase ready to go. And so knowing full well you probably get badgered incessantly for recommendations, I humbly submit my request. Not only that but I would also let VMPS use the setup to demo up here in Vancouver, B.C. where nary a distributor exists.

My main system is by the way a custom pair of Tannoy Gold 15" rebuilt in custom cabinets, with a pair of Nestorovic NA-1's Audible Illusion pre, and Barclay CDP.

Thanks Doc, and only if you have the time, do your really dig those speakers that much. And say what do you think of their wave guide, groovy or not?

Kindest regards from a reader and supporter of your earlier print daze...

sam h. vancouver, b.c.

Hey Sam, thanks for the nice letter.

Let me respond.

Interesting observation about the "older" listener. I just find, in general, while the genres I listen to don't change ...I seek water from a deeper well in each of them. It takes more to touch me now ...

I have always been drawn, and repelled by the various forms of membrane and ribbon based speakers. The closest I ever came to actually ponying up, was a pair of Apogee Duettas, driven by a Krell, that I really enjoyed ...uh, until I heard how fragile they were. In retrospect, probably my caution was well-considered. Of course there were the EMITs in my Infinity QLS's but rest of the speaker was dynamic.

For me, the VMPS captures most of what I love about this topology, but offers none of the limitations (they play LOUD, don't break, and have terrific dynamics).

All I can say about the price is that getting the full dress rig (all the upgrades) and remaining under ten K is remarkable. They really are that good.

I cannot speak to bass integration other than in my room, where the largish sub got shoved to the very back of the room and behind everything, up against glass no less, and I had very little trouble dialing it in. I am a total bass head and it fills my coffers.

I am less enamored of the lens ...at least in my room. I am told they are a function of the room, listening position, etc. BUT thing is, you can use them or not, as you wish. The speaker is VERY adjustable. One of the things I appreciate is that it will work as well in a home theater as in a high end two channel audio only rig.

I understand considering the venerable Quads (everyone has to have a pair once in their lives, right?), Martin-Logans, and I too have had some curiosity about the Newforms. If you get a change to hear them, drop us a line with your thoughts, K? The hybrid ML's have been very popular ...but try as I might, I have been unable to warm up to them.

This highlights a huge problem, which is, how damned difficult it is to make a decision about speakers. It's like a mail order bride. You can look at the pictures and read the descriptions all you want, but until you hear them set up in something remotely approaching your environment, with your ancillaries, you are rolling the dice.

What I can say with confidence, is that the folks who frequent my listening room are among the most jaded and cynical listeners out there ...and to a person, they have all commented favorably on this speaker, which sells for a fraction of anything else I have had in the room for ages.

The Good Doctor S


Editor:
As a follow-up to my DIY article about the Marantz CD16 in PFO Issue 30 (http://www.positive-feedback.com/Issue30/diy.htm), I'd like to underline a problem caused by Oscon caps.

These caps have very low impedance and sometimes this may cause some problems. By this, I mean that high frequency may become distorted. This is due to the stabilizer IC not being able to drive the caps in a proper and correct way, for example low cost models of the 78xx and 79xx family.

You can easily solve this problem in a few ways. For example:

1) You can add a small value resistor before the Oscon caps, in series to the rail (+ and -). This reduces the “Oscon effect,” without causing big problems on the global sound result.

2) You can change the IC stabilizer, using a top quality one. For example you can use a Linear Technology equivalent. Otherwise you can use special upgrades like the ones made by www.newclassd.com or www.audiocom-uk.com. I suggest and prefer this second solution, because in any case the sound will be improved over the standard IC. In other words, by solving the problem in this way you will have an even better sound result.

I have to say that I do not like series-regulated power supplies, but in this case we can't do in a different way. It's not easy to change a series regulator with a shunt regulator, and is often impossible.

In conclusion, if you have some distortion at high frequency you can solve in one of the above ways, but feel free to find another solution.

Regards,

Fabio Camorani

Italy

 

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