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POSITIVE FEEDBACK ONLINE - ISSUE 35
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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

A Manufacturer's Response to Peter & Dave Clark's review of the model "55"

I would like to thank Peter & Dave Clark for their insightful review of the tec•on model "55" and for publishing it in the well-respected Positive Feedback Online.

We are of course delighted by the very positive reaction to the style and ease of use of our mini amp, and particularly by the description of its sonic performance: transparency, clarity, musicality are terms that confirm that the "55" is definitely meeting the goals that we had set-up for it. We wanted to offer a unique product, with modern design and quality electronics delivering the solid sound staging that we call our "pristine soundscapes"©, all in a compact package and at a price point that is considered "affordable". The review makes it clear that this has been achieved.

Beyond these positive aspects, as Peter notes, the model "55" is quite revolutionary. The unique USB input and on-board DAC makes it possible to link directly to a computer or music server. Here, our original objective was to extend the concept of an existing, conventional mini tube amp with a direct link to a computer for "multimedia". A Burr Brown PCM 2702 chip set, considered one of the standard for 16 bits stereo 44.1kHz DAC by audiophiles, was used to link to the USB port of a computer or server.

The implementation of the USB interface appears to fall short of Peter's expectations. However, given the vast range of computers, operating systems, media players and servers, we knew that complexity could sink the execution quickly. We wanted to have an [almost] foolproof solution, at the cost of flexibility or even some functionality. This was a basic decision, made to keep the product easy to use and affordable.

For instance, it was decided that USB would have priority, and that the USB cable would have to be disconnected to play through the RCA inputs. This was done, with due respect for audiophiles, to positively avoid "clicks" that may happen when spurious signals come through the USB from poorly controlled programs and to avoid early cut-offs from end-of-tracks fades.

Also, the USB Audio Device as implemented is not programmable: it is automatically detected by the computer and, hopefully, will successfully run through a "plug-and-play" routine to make the system as easy and robust as possible. USB devices are supposed to hot-plug without problems. Unfortunately, programs misbehave, and it is not unknown for "freezes" to happen. We have extensive experience with Windows operating systems for which no problems were encountered. On the other hand, misbehaving of OSX and iTunes has been reported by others.

Peter's vision is from someone who comes from the computer side and wants to extend functionality of the audio capabilities. Our original vision originated from the audiophile side, with an attempt to extension to digital capabilities. Thus, Peter might find that the "computer-ability" of the model "55" does not go far enough, however for audiophiles or music lovers with more limited PC abilities [myself included!], we hope to have made it easy to run a digital input without sweat! There are of course many opportunities to develop devices that are more directly "software controllable", but surely they will be more complex and more costly.

Concluding with PFO Editor's own words describing the "55" as "mighty impressive and worth an audition", I would like to again extend my sincerest thanks to the wonderful father & son reviewers' duo for their informative and very positive review!

Pierre Tecon

tec•on audio


Hello Dr. S.
Somehow I overlooked your October 16, 2007 Speaker Asylum post, most of which was a description of X-bass by Jennifer Crock. Thanks for posting that. I recall you (or someone, but I think it was you) referring to the concept earlier, but it was beneficial to read her words. Glad to see that it's an old idea, and not protected by a current patent.

I'm a believer in multisub systems—mainly coming at it from the point of view of trying to integrate subs with Maggies and Quads.

Best wishes,

Duke LeJeune
Dealer AudioKinesis


Hello again Rick and Dr Sardonicus,
I would like to comment on your reply to my recent long email, which I see was also published in 'Reverberations'. [See further below. – Doc Ed.] Not to entice you into a continued back and forth, but rather to assure myself that my sometimes verbose and convoluted writing has not left wrong impressions. In the following I have cut and pasted your reply in italics.

I would prefer a more gentle interpretation of my moniker ... as evocative of a "mocking" but essentially benign style of writing, but that is the eye of the beholder. One person's bon mot is another's mortal insult.

A "mocking but essentially benign" is a good description of how I perceive your style, the definition I quoted has a stronger slant to it that the way you come across. What I so appreciate about the good doctor is how skillfully you walk the tightrope maintaining the where needed mocking tone without bitterness. Hi-Fi journalism has too many fan-boys (especially online) and (most notably in the Big-Two print) those who consider themselves integral parts of the industry functioning as self knighted gatekeepers. Far on the other side we find the Audio Critic types who are so embittered and caustic that the only logical conclusion is that yes they hate 21st century hi-fi but their lives are so one dimensional and empty they have no where else to go. In sharp contrast Dr Sardonicus is able at turns report on exciting products, call for a reevaluation of received writ, and comment on the odd paths audiophiles sometimes rush headlong down while reminding us it is at the end of the day about the music.

I did not say the Lindemann is not a "contender." I said the company is mute to my, and apparently other inquiries here in the US, so I assume they have withdrawn from contention. I was very fond of the player, but the company absolutely and categorically refused to respond to any communication. What else is there to assume?

There is nothing else to assume or act upon. I would have perhaps been more accurate in characterizing your position but by the time I wrote the exchange had cycled off reverberations and I failed to find a reverberations archive. As a PFO reader I still find your writings on the product interesting while reassigning it to the vaporware-exotica category along with the likes of Japanese home market only pieces and half the German turntables featuring inch thick platters and acres of chrome. This category is interesting to read about but items here are of only academic interest. As a hi-fi consumer I note that should I be in the market for a edge of the art disk player the Lindemann, even if I could score one off say audiogon, comes essentially without factory support in North America, extremely worthwhile information. As I hi-fi journalist I would expect you to be annoyed having presented the Lindemann to your readers as a strong contender only to have it disappear into the mist. Some comfort may come from adding it's sound to your experience database of what existing devices have accomplished as in how you compare to it in your Marantz SA-7S1 review. Also unfortunate for Positive Feedback as the publication with the longest running and strongest editorial support for SACD to have such a worthy contender in that niche flake out. I also hear things off the best SACD which keep me investing in more disks and players so I will quickly say 'thanks' for continuing to wave the DSD flag. And with support continuing on the hardware side form the likes of Linn, Denon, Esoteric, Marantz, and others the Lindemann will not be missed too keenly.

I think most of us understand the trials and tribulations of small scale manufacturing and even those somewhat unpredictable vagaries of the artist/designer—manufacturer, from erratic temperament to undercapitalization.

And those understandings come through in your words and actions.

And to be sure, as a group audiophiles are an intolerant, humorless and compassionless lot.

Yes, we have our moments. And if I dwell on the borderline (and over the line) OCD audiophiles and trophy seekers I have interacted with I will question "why am I in this business?" But of course anyone in business has to deal with the public with all of our human imperfections. And on the other side of that proverbial coin some of my best and dearest friends come from the ranks of audio-geeks and exhibit great tolerance, humor, and compassion. I just wish Leo would refrain from bringing up the cost of the top Nordost wire when we are out with non-audiophile friends. It's embarrassing for someone like me who was taught that conspicuous consumption is a sin!

For myself, as you are aware, I am patient with a great many things ...I don't believe my communiqués with you over this extended period have ever departed from simple and cordial inquiries about status of things ...but I figure it takes only a few seconds and no resources to communicate.

Absolutely agreed.

My heartburn lies with those companies that take money and go silent ...that hear inquiries and go silent ...that simply (for whatever reason) melt down and go silent.

Yes, in this case silence is not golden. The challenge we face from the manufacturer side is to always remember that even if the temptation is to spend the time on filling the order rather than communicating with the client we will both end up happier when both are attended to with the communication coming first.

I have had companies who were not able to establish reliable US distribution simply say so, and decline reviews. No harm, no foul. I have had companies say that they would not meet expected production deadlines; no harm, no foul. I have even had companies say they loathe reviewers and will not submit products to same; again, no harm, no foul.

Loathe reviewers! Surely not!?!?!! Though I do have to say the clench Harry Pearson has on Greg Weaver's shoulder documented by the first picture on page two of his CES 2008 report is just a little creepy.

I think if one goes into business and hangs their shingle out, they have a responsibility to stand up to their obligations and at least provide customers with the scant comfort of the truth, as unpalatable and disappointing as it may be.

Well said. In my perfect world that would not have to be said as truth and integrity would be more highly valued and individuals' lives less complex and harried. Alas with the dishonest or overextended individuals who populate the real space truth can and does become a rare comfort.

I spent most of my adult life in the 'for profit" sector; I was a small business owner myself for over two decades ... and I am all too aware of the inexorable trend towards multinational corporations. My own view is that this is the future in a nation-less world where we are each but economic units; but that is just me.

Will we economic units still get to listen to music? I expect so unless there is a hint that it may have been improperly downloaded or copied in which case the Information Police will come through the door.

At the current time, small companies can and do flourish, but there are only two advantages they have: the unique qualities of boutique design and quality, and personal customer service. And the sine qua non of that customer service is to communicate.

That would make a good sign to hang over the small audio companies' owner/designer computer terminal "The sine qua non of personal customer service is to communicate". Something to consider as the PC boots and he plans to dive right into the CAD programs while email goes unread. These communications are one area where the old model of a team of manufacturer, distributor, and local dealer can really step up with the more local levels shielding the geeks back at the factory from some interruptions. In this post-internet age many of us, both as customers and manufacturers, are tempted to "go direct". In that case the makers need to keep in mind they bear a greater load with fewer in the ranks to process information from and back to the consumers. And consumers will do well to remember that as they pocket the distributors' and dealers' markup they are also forgoing that support team.

Well, that is enough. Thank you for the opportunity to discuss this, an especially valuable exercise for someone like myself who favors the technical side thus needing to make an active effort to consider marketing and customer service, along with and equally important to the latest high performance voltage regulator.

Happy listening

Norman Tracy
Audio Crafters Guild


Dear Sir,
A couple of weeks ago Dr. Sardonicus made a brief visit to my cube. I actually work with him on a daily basis. I appreciate your sympathy.

Normally his visits last a few minutes and include a funny anecdote or merely serve as a brief vacation from the monotony of our jobs. This particular visit, which demanded this letter, was much different.

Noticing a stack of CDs on my desk, Dr. S asked politely what they were. I responded "Some rap and hip hop." He was not mortified, but he was not excited either. I do not remember the details of the conversation exactly, but as if playing a game of word association, nearly as soon as I said rap, he responded "misogyny and violence." Not a novel response, but a surprising one coming from a person whose taste is so varied and nuanced.

My passion got the best of me and I ranted quietly at Dr. S., that not only was hip hop not misogynistic and violent, but that it is one of the few uniquely American art forms. It is one of the few things that when the Alpha Centurions land in a few millennia and begin to dig through our ruins they will discover and exclaim, "This is some mind-blowing stuff!" And what really cooked the Doctor's melon was my assertion that hip hop is the child of jazz and the blues. I told Dr. S. that some of the music he holds most dear has not disappeared. It has not fossilized. Just because something changes drastically—dinosaurs learned to fly after all—does not mean it is not right in front of you. However, before I begin to show you what Hip Hop is, let me tell you what it is not.

Hip Hop is not misogynistic and violent. Yes, some artists rely on misogyny and violence in their art, but the form, in and of itself, is neither of those things. Saying an entire art form is any one thing or another is incredibly dangerous. This danger is more pronounced with words like "misogyny" and "violence" because many human beings are misogynistic and violent. We war and murder and some of the unenlightened treat women as less than equals. Human beings = the scum of the universe. But not every human is scum. And some of those exceptions are brilliant artists we call rappers.

Obviously, there are many understandable reasons that the prejudice against hip hop exists. For my money, I would bet that many of the times you have heard the words "hip hop" it was on CNN. Usually "hip hop" finds itself accompanied by images of the most recent rapper to release a song about killing cops, or selling drugs, and then a quick cut to a Congressional hearing with someone passionately asking the government to step in and stop selling this CD or that CD. On the other hand, you might have become more familiar with "hip hop" during the mid '90s when several prominent rappers were murdered. Or, you know that the words "bitch" and "ho" are used liberally in some rappers' verbal arsenal. Yes Virginia, there has been and will be violence and misogyny in rap music. It will also be in cinema, and rock and roll, and photography, and on the stage. Just remember not to condemn the art, but to stop listening to the offending artist.

Now that I have briefly told you two things hip hop music is not, let me tell you even more briefly what it is. Hip hop music is encyclopedic. It is a record of our time. Hip hop takes what is old and makes it new again. Good hip hop music is precise, sophisticated, and razor sharp poetry backed by allusions to music history. Hip hop rewards your knowledge of music. The more you know, the more you have listened to, the more you will extract from the best of hip hop. Hip hop artist are maestros. They sample and manufacture rhythms, melodies, choruses, breaks, hooks, beats, and every other part of their songs. They are multi-instrumentalists limited only by their imaginations. Any instrument can become a beat, any sound a sample.

The influences of the music audiophiles live and die with are alive and well today in the music kids are listening to all over the world. Robert Johnson, Bessie Smith, Muddy Waters, and so many more that I hope to have an opportunity to show you, have been listened to, interpreted, and shot back in shockingly original ways by artists you, like the good Dr. S., ignore. You should stop that. You should stop that right now! I suggest we take a trip that will show how the music you love, has become the music we love. I promise the gap is much smaller than you think.

In the otherwise hysterical movie Office Space, there is one truly tragic scene. A young, nerdy, white guy is rocking out in his car to what could easily be called hard core rap music. His stereo is turned up, his arms and voice moving to the music with vigor. In the midst of his rocking he spies a person whose skin color is darker than his own and turns the music down out of embarrassment. Every time I watch it, that scene makes me sad. I am asking for you, the most capable among us, not to turn down the brutally elegant systems you have spent a lifetime assembling, but to turn them up. Way UP! You are the generation that was told that rock and roll would make you sex- and drug-crazed lunatics (oh wait ...maybe they were right on that count). You are the people that did not get to see Elvis below the waist on Ed Sullivan because it would change and pervert your mind. You did not listen to "them" then, and you should not listen to "them" now. Listen to this music. You will be better for it!

Sincerely,

Michael Kaplan & Benjamin Pray

Misters Kaplan and Pray:

I recognize a thrown glove when I see it!

En Guard!

As to the sympathy of colleagues, Mr. Kaplan… I will not go into the role you play at work as our own hyper-pituitary Typhoid Mary and self-appointed arbiter of everything culinary (Why is it that EVERYONE from New York City assumes they know …well, pretty much everything?).

I think your assertions are easily made, and less easy to support …so, since I believe in putting my resources where my mouth is, and since Emily and Alicia have flitted off into some barely post-teen something or other …AND since the redoubtable Lindy Gerber, of REDGUM (in typical Australian good-humored tolerance) seems at least somewhat interested in your hypothesis …here is what I propose.

I am shifting the REDGUM system to your abode … and you and your partner in crime are invited—nay challenged—to put your pen and music where your mouth is, and demonstrate that I am wrong about this "form," and you are right.

If you can make your case in complete and relatively readable language and figure out someway to insert your musical illustrations to support your contentions …then it's ON!

To the winner …either a Giant Jar of Skippy Super Chunk or… gag, smooth.

What say?

Post Script:

Oh and by the way, I think the first movie use of rap music was the opening scene in the original Music Man

Doctor S.


Hi Doc,
The closest thing to a Dylan Valentine, recently unearthed...

This morning, for a Timely reason noted below, I came to realize the great effect one of Dylan's oldest songs had on my life as a precocious teenagerin. l just at the edge of the free love, hippie, "ain't gonna work for the man no more" awareness that overwhelmed my generation, [led me to work inner more than outer life i.e. rather than sell "Real" estate] and still has ripple effects today ...even though sooooo long ago—and finally, I guess, something my Saturn return Returned to me (Astrologically twice in a lifetime—thrice if you hit 90).

I have always loved the line in his (now) old song -

"My love winks, she does not bother,
She knows too much to argue or to judge."

Been looking for a woman like that and just may have turned one up.

But back to Dylan, ahem, in my mind, [addled memory??], these lines remained for decades as the last lyric in this song. [It also reminds me of that "knowing" wink, twinkle in the eye one may still receive just passing some One on the sidewalk who Knows you Know—you know.]

Which song—just sung acapella to me this morning out of the blue and totally to my surprise by a brown eyed angel much younger and more divine than me and a Dylan fan extraordinaire.

Only to realize the "actual" last lyric goes:

"The wind howls like a hammer,
The night blows cold and rainy,
My love she's like some raven
At my window with a broken wing."

Ahhhh - the raven. [Evermore]

Appropriately and in a Dylan-esque way, it has also a Valentine vibe too, a few more days to come.

"People carry roses,
Make promises by the hours,
My love she laughs like the flowers,
Valentines can't buy her."

As Actual as Actual can be...

Life is good, and no you are not my Valentine.

sam h.

vancouver b.c.

hedging for the moment on the ribbons

[Text of the complete song lyrics sent along by Samuel deleted—alas!—due to the eternal copyright issues and the obscure state of current "fair use" guidelines with respect to quoting said lyrics. With apologies to Samuel H.! – Ye Olde Editor]

To which the ever-unique Dr. S. replies:

Always a pleasure, Mr. Samuel H.

I confess, I have struggled with Mr. Zimmerman's voice since my first wife opined that he reminded her of Buckwheat from Our Gang ...sigh ...it is odd the uncomfortable associations our brains insist on making and persisting, like a single bout with stomach flu and a life-long aversion to coconut.

At any rate, up until recently my loves have been more the Dylan Thomas poetry than that of Bob Dylan.

[Alas! #2: More excised poetry …this time by Dylan Thomas, his "Love in the Asylum"…the hobgoblin of copyright infringement raising its ugly head once more. What a world….]

But at last I have departed Thomas' stormy seas and found solace in that most gentle of places.

I wish you peace.

Dr. Sardonicus


Dear PFO,
As you might imagine, it is a great pleasure to respond to a review like Bob Levi's. A truly stupefying amount of effort goes into creating a product like the VRE-1, and the process of having "my baby" reviewed is a bit terrifying. It's a thrill to see that astute listeners appreciate the work put into this new pre-amp. I offer my profound thanks to Bob for his considerable effort in producing this review.

The VRE-1 is a true "statement" product, the culmination of everything I've learned about equipment design over more than 30 years. My goal was to create a pre-amplifier as close to audio "truth" as possible—the sound of a master tape, without coloration, obfuscation, or editorializing. This turned out to be an extremely subtle problem, and was much more difficult than I imagined. For a time I thought it might be impossible in terms of goals I had set. My long research finally uncovered the vital keys that brought everything together and made my prevailing goals attainable. A lot of work and sweat… and a little luck.

Bob's reaction to the VRE-1 shows clearly that a preamplifier designed for high-resolution truth can have soul, and need not be sterile and emotionally uninvolving. His delight in listening to a variety of music (including his stable of great tuners) comes across clearly, and this, for me, is essential. The VRE-1 not only conveys recorded information clearly, it connects you with the musical message. This degree of connection with the performance came as something of a shock, even to its designer (me), when all elements of the design fell into place. I was transported to the place and time of original recordings I tested the unit with, and so the name "Virtual Reality Engine" suggested itself naturally.

The debate over the relative virtues of solid-state vs. tube design goes on as I expect it will forever, which is fine - it's a fun aspect of our hobby. Astute readers will understand that the differences Bob describes are, in fact, rather subtle. While this does represent an aspect of the tendency toward convergence in the best equipment designs (regardless of platform), I believe that it is also a milestone in solid-state development—a reference-quality, ultra-transparent, solid-state preamplifier that goes toe-to-toe with the finest tube designs on musical merit and emotional engagement. Factor in the VRE-1's long-term stability, reliability, and elimination of heat, and it becomes an ideal choice for discerning music lovers and audio professionals alike.

Some small clarifications, if I may…

The VRE-1 has a total of four inputs, not five. All are truly balanced, though only one set of XLR connectors is obvious at first. I provide special XLR-RCA adapters for those who have more than one balanced source. As Bob states, these are not conventional XLR-to-RCA adapters. They are custom-made for the VRE-1. The analog power umbilical (custom made for this project by Stealth Audio Cables) is connected with Neutrik "SpeakOn" terminations. The VRE-1's Corian chassis—an amazing and expensive piece of engineering itself—allows the possibility of custom color schemes. Visitors to my website (www.SMcAudio.com) will find photos of the VRE-1's current black and ivory chassis, each with understated contrasting accents. A total black version is now an option at the standard price. In the future, custom colors will be a value-added option for those who wish to match their decor.

Finally, let me say "Thanks" again to Bob Levi for his considered and insightful review of the VRE-1. Thanks also for his inestimable work on behalf of the Southern California music and audio scene via the LAOC Audio Society. Few people understand how much work goes into the creation of a product like the VRE-1, and hearing Bob's kind words of praise make the effort rewarding and worthwhile. Truly music to my ears!

With my best regards,

Steve McCormack, designer
SMc Audio
Vista, CA 2/08/2008


Dear Sir, 
I wish to strongly protest the most recent Marantz SA-7 article by 'Dr. Sardonicus, in specific, and him in general.

First of all, at one point in this most recent article he slips up and uses Teac instead of Marantz ... shockingly sloppy.

And if that isn't bad enough, he does not put the '2' designation for the new Marantz SA-11. Quel horror!

And lastly, this mouth-breathing bolus of hog phlegm has the temerity to suggest that fouling peanut butter with chunks of unprocessed peanuts is somehow superior in result to the smooth concoction every right thinking person knows (as surely as they do that digital music and solid state devices are the spawn of Satan) is the only thing worthy of the apellation, 'peanut BUTTER!'

After all, cow butter is completely devoid of chunks of cow, is it not? Revolting.

In summary, this most recent series of mistakes, gaffes and outright offensive assertions cannot be tolerated!

Doctor Sardonicus must be either purged of his imprecise and objectionable ways, or you must remove him from public view.

Speaking for all right-thinking audiophiles,

Rick Gardner


Dear Doc,
I read everything you pen and I have never been disappointed, until now (http://www.positive-feedback.com/Issue35/marantz_sa7.htm). Everyone knows that crunchy is better.

Yours truly,

Nick Georgis

Nick

On some things, there simply is no compromise, and of course, whatever the forces of darkness may bay into the dark night of culinary ignorance ... crunchy is ALWAYS best!

Doc S.


Hello Rick & Editors,
I hope you enjoyed the holidays and our first days of 2008.

Thank you for the review/editorial mention of the ACG amps in "A Gaggle of Review Projects from the Good Doctor - Part Deux" by the good Dr Sardonicus. Before we get into 'what's next' I cannot resist commenting on a recent dialog you had in Reverberations. I will copy this to the editor in case he wants to add it (or an edited version minus the nuts and bolts about where the review amps go next) to Reverberations.

Commenting on the Lindemann situation in which a very worthy SACD player is apparently no longer a contender because not only can they not manage to keep a North American distributor or even answer e-mails essentially begging to buy their product. The letter writer expresses surprise those audio companies would be so inept to leave this cash on the proverbial table. Dr Sardonicus' response lived up to the definition of his name's root and was delightfully "characterized by bitter or scornful derision; mocking; cynical; sneering" responding that basically no broken promise or marketing ineptitude from an audio company would at this point surprise him.

Oh boy, reading that I felt as busted as a TV preacher caught leaving a strip club with a silicon sister on each arm. The review of the Audio Crafters Guild 1000 amps only happened because Rick put up with a string of SNAFUs, excuses, and delays until we delivered the amps to Dr Sardonicus. And there I sat needing to e-mail Rick about another missed deadline over the holidays as I was reading his response. This got me reflecting on the dynamics of the hi-fi marketplace circa 2007-2008. My perspective is that of a small audio component manufacturer in business for 15 years who has also worked a 3 year stint on the retail side for a local hi-end/custom install home integration dealer all on top of over 35 years as an audiophile.

The bad news is that in 2008 the specialist hi-fi market is very marginal.

The good news is that in 2008 the specialist hi-fi market is very marginal.

Let me expand on these two points and illustrate why the dynamic leads to glacial customer service resulting in Dr Sardonicus' scornful derision. To be clear in this context when I refer to the specialist hi-fi market as "marginalized" I am not using the term as a pejorative rather the strict definition of "relegate or confine to a lower or outer limit or edge". Flat panels and iPod anything, mainstream. Tube amplifiers for $133,000, outer limit edge.

The bad news of the marginalization of the two-channels-in-my-living-room-sound-only-hi-fi market is that the whole enterprise is basically cash starved. Many will object to that statement referring to a world of $20,000 speaker cables connected to $250,000 speakers. I will argue that it is precisely the stratospheric prices which are the strongest evidence that our passion/hobby/sport has shrunk to a point where the production numbers are so low that in many cases products are essentially hand build devices in very low quantities or even as individual bespoke creations. I have observed it is common for audiophiles to also enjoy hot cars and/or motorcycles so I will invite this comparison. Imagine your favorite pair of $7000 speakers. Nice overbuilt box in a luxury finish. Four, six, maybe eight drivers between the pair along with $20 to $200 worth of crossover parts and other hardware. Now compare that to a $6700 motorcycle's content which happens to be the cost of the Honda CRF250X off-road bike I ride when my son and I go trail riding. For that $7k I got 250 pounds of exquisitely crafted aluminum, steel, plastic, and magnesium made into my overhead cam 250cc inverted fork off-road rocket ship. Those not familiar with motorcycling can do a similar thought experiment comparing the content, fit and finish of one of the $50k speakers or amplifiers introduced at CES to a similarly priced BMW or Lexus automobile. The point here is that just as the economies of scale between the stereo and vehicle market drive a huge disparity in content vs. cost so to does the cash flow drive a similar disparity in the size of customer service and marketing organizations at work creating that final customer experience.

At the other end of the price spectrum we see the flood of cheap or inexpensive (and increasingly not so inexpensive) imports from China and around the Pacific Rim. I wonder how many of these new Asian players realize that in North America our old mainstay the locally owned service oriented hi-fi shops are as endangered and closing as fast as our record/CD stores. And that the survivors on the retail scene are largely closed off to new companies. Oh well, that does not deter the locals in my category the specialist operation run by an individual or small team driven to create. That brings us to the other side.

The fact that the specialist hi-fi market is marginal leaves a door open for the small company. The typical cycle for an industry is an early phase where the market is wide open followed by a consolidation phase where many fall by the wayside or merge into large companies. In the 1920s there were over 200 automobile companies in America and now we can count them on one hand. And examples like the Harmon group with its $300 million annual income created by gobbling up JBL, Crown, AKG, dBX, Lexicon, Mark Levinson, and all the others show home and pro audio is big business post consolidation. But thanks to the mature 'open source' nature of high-end two channel systems and the great curious enthusiastic customers who are in the two channel camp that door is left open for startups and established niche producers to compete with the giants. I will of course hold the opinion (and experiences) that the smaller companies bring the innovation and continue advancing the state of our art which drive forward the performance of our music boxes ever closer to the ideal of perfected music reproduction. With those efforts we enjoy a deeper connection to the artistry of the world's finest musicians past and present. The point here is that along with the individual creative freedom to innovate which comes with operating out of a small organization come the downside of little or no dedicated staff on the customer service side. And no manager to demand the technical/design talent to PLEASE stop designing and tweaking and finalize the design so we can ship some product! All in all a recipe for great sound but we will get it to you when it is ready.

To illustrate how the marginalization of two channel hi-fi in favor of home theater, flat panel TV, iPods, and downloads effect customer service let me relate two stories from my time in the industry.

In July 2003 I was working as a designer and project manager for a local high-end audio dealer who had grown to include a large custom install and home automation operation. We were a Proceed dealer and that year at CEDIA during the Mark Levinson & Proceed dealers banquet the top managers and engineers from Mark Levinson Audio Systems who spoke from the podium had been all agog over working with Toyota to get MLAS sound systems in the Lexus divisions top models as the ne plus ultra audio option. Then after we returned home the word came down that Proceed is history and the MLAS factory in Middletown, CT was to be shut down and all design, production, and support of MLAS products moved to Harman International's Lexicon facility in Bedford, MA.. Most of the MLAS staff was being made redundant and future support and design of Mark Levinson Audio Systems product was to be handled by the Lexicon organization. As a veteran of corporate downsizing who helped turn the lights out on a great research center after a merger made it redundant from half a country away I knew exactly what was going on at MLAS. Thank you for your service, this is your severance package, you only get the check if you first do a brain dump on all you know for the guys at Lexicon who get to do their job and now yours too. Or the other option everybody gets escorted out of the building the day they are told and the Lexicon staff is left to pick up the pieces based on the paper files and what they can glean off the server. Not a great time to be an employee, dealer, or customer of MLAS. It appears to me that only now are they recovered as evidenced by finally releasing new product at the 2007 CEDA and 2008 CES.

In December 2007 I am multitasking a 'day job' as electronics design engineer for a pipeline electronics company while simultaneously functioning as Audio Crafters Guild's owner and lead designer. We were anxious to get the Energy Pack upgrade to Rick for inclusion in Dr Sardonicus' imminent review of the ACG 1000 monoblocks and control amplifiers and promised Rick three Energy Packs, a stereo and a pair of the mono; before Christmas. Despite delays from our case vendor and my insistence on a redesign of the circuit boards it looked like we would make the deadline, for a change. The circuit board redesign had allowed an increase from the 2800 uF/channel as demoed at RMAF to 18000 uF/channel increasing the filtering action by a factor of 6 and energy storage from 21 joules to 129 joules! All the parts were in and the production run was started when the Great Ice Storm of 2007 hits northeastern Oklahoma. If it had been just a little colder we would have enjoyed a white Christmas with lots of thick fluffy snow. Alas air temperature was just warm enough to keep the heavy precipitation rain until it hit the trees and power lines where it turned to a thick coating of ice. We lost power to our home at 4AM, I will not soon forget laying there under the covers in the no street lights or even clock radio LED light darkness listening to the sharp cracks as the trees snapped under the mounting load of the ice building up on their branches. By morning 260,000 homes and business were blacked out from the falling branches taking out power lines. Even with the house blacked out we felt lucky to have an intact roof, heat in the kitchen and den from our gas stove, and light from candles and flashlights. Those in all electric houses sat in the cold and dark many with tree limbs through roofs and walls. Over the next 48 hours the magnitude of the disaster became apparent and we managed to procure a 5kW generator and got partial house lights and the furnace back up. With the family warm but the office still blacked out I returned to Energy Pack production in my home. Dang, the electronic temperature controlled soldering iron would not come on; seems it did not like generator AC. So I fell back to punt and check the assembly fit of the circuit board plus case design. While working that task I noticed the soldering iron had come on, likely while the furnace fan was off allowing enough voltage from the generator (there is nothing like hearing a gasoline powered generator throttle up under load to make one aware of power usage). The iron stayed on long enough to complete soldering the boards in that production run, alas we never did make up the lost days and another deadline was missed.

So the moral of the stories are that Dr Sardonicus is correct customer service is lousy in the specialist hi-fi segment. Sometimes it is because the managers of a multi hundred million dollar company have reorganization fever. Sometimes it is because your designer sits in the dark. Sometimes hi-fi comes second because my son will never be 14 again and the weather is perfect for a ride. And many times it is because manically creative designers drawn to this avocation/passion are busy redesigning "just one more thing" in search of that next step toward hi-fi perfected.

Well, enough of the philosophizing with stories old and new. Rick, do you still want to hear the Energy Packs on the ACG 1000 series amps? With some difficulty I am refraining from enthusiastically describing their effect hoping to have an unbiased report on what you hear upon plugging them in.

Happy listening

Norman Tracy
Audio Crafters Guild 

Norman,

Thank you for taking the time to construct such a substantive note.

I would prefer a more gentle interpretation of my moniker ...as evocative of a "mocking" but essentially benign style of writing, but that is the eye of the beholder. One person's bon mot is another's mortal insult.

I did not say the Lindemann is not a "contender." I said the company is mute to my, and apparently other inquiries here in the US, so I assume they have withdrawn from contention. I was very fond of the player, but the company absolutely and categorically refused to respond to any communication. What else is there to assume?

I think most of us understand the trials and tribulations of small scale manufacturing and even those somewhat unpredictable vagaries of the artist/designer - manufacturer, from erratic temperament to undercapitalization. And to be sure, as a group audiophiles are an intolerant, humorless and compassionless lot.

For myself, as you are aware, I am patient with a great many things ...I don't believe my communiques with you over this extended period have ever departed from simple and cordial inquiries about status of things ...but I figure it takes only a few seconds and no resources to communicate.

My heartburn lies with those companies that take money and go silent ...that hear inquiries and go silent ... hat simply (for whatever reason) melt down and go silent.

I have had companies who were not able to establish reliable US distribution simply say so, and decline reviews. No harm, no foul. I have had companies say that they would not meet expected production deadlines; no harm, no foul. I have even had companies say they loathe reviewers and will not submit products to same; again, no harm, no foul.

I think if one goes into business and hangs their shingle out, they have a responsibility to stand up to their obligations and at least provide customers with the scant comfort of the truth, as unpalatable and disappointing as it may be.

I spent most of my adult life in the "for profit" sector; I was a small business owner myself for over two decades ...and I am all too aware of the inexorable trend towards multinational corporations. My own view is that this is the future in a nation-less world where we are each but economic units; but that is just me.

At the current time, small companies can and do flourish, but there are only two advantages they have: the unique qualities of boutique design and quality, and personal customer service. And the sine qua non of that customer service is to communicate.

That being said, of course I would still like to hear the power modules.

Doc S.


Dr. S.,
I really enjoyed and appreciated your review on the Marantz SA-7S1 SACD/CD player, so much in fact that I just purchased one largely based on your review. Count me in the high end "musical" camp! I
would much prefer to be able to play all the cd's in my collection enjoy them rather than contemplate rather a prospective cd will be "good enough" or listenable on my system. I have had a few of the other top tier brand players and was never completely satisfied. Your review and the SA-7 changed all that - for the better. Thankyou for bringing it to our attention.

I also have really enjoyed all the letters on this machine - some quite amusing in their criticisms - to each his/her own I guess. Personally, I run from the hills any component that serves up any listener fatigue but I prefer the no fuss of solid state.

The only question I have for you that I did not read in your review or any of the follow-up letters: what are you using (or have tried with success or not success) for a power cord since the Marantz only comes with a 2-prong polarized power cable and matching IEC outlet? I am sure the readers who purchased the unit, many based on your review and recommendation, would appreciate knowing.

Thankyou for the great writing.

Randy Timberlake

Randy,

Thanks for your kind comments.

For some time now I have used JENA Labs The One, or Eze One filtering power cords on all my electronics (just as I do Critical Mass Isolation Systems). I also use only JENA Labs interconnects and speaker cables. I have used both balanced and unbalanced connections on the SA-7 and am hard-pressed to state a preference ... mostly for me, it is matter of whether I am feeding my reference BAT VK-51-SE/VK-600-SE or something that needs single-ended connections.

The effect of this combination (JENA Labs / Critical Mass) on virtually every player I have used (Including the Marantz, Lindemann and Meitner) is, to say the least, profound. I try to suggest this to new owners who, for some reason, feel compelled to immediately modify the Marantz, often before they have it fully ran in and before optimization.

Less expensive, of course, is simply using one of her non-filtering cables ...they work great too, but nothing like the Ones.

Glad you enjoy the player ...their North American VP of Marketing tells me both the Seven and the new Eleven are perpetually out of stock. So much for the pending death of SACD.

For me, the brisk sales of this player tell me there are many music lovers out there amongst in the audiophile wilderness.

Doc S.


Hi,
I was "comforted" and bemused by Ron Gordon's experience with Lindemann.

Recently I read a review in 6moons on the Tenor Audio amplifiers($90K). I sent them an email enquiring about preamps ...weeks passed, no response. Only once I wrote a snide comment to them, did I get a response.

Like Mr. Gordon, the experience was a good reason to forget any further consideration of those products. Spend $90K and everyone scatters! No thanks, I'll stick with my Reimyo and Gryphon gear. Making a good product is really only the start of the matter...

L. J. Phillips.

PS: I agree with Dr. S on the Marantz. Nice sound and build.


Dr. S,
I just read your comments on the SA-7S1 in the PFO Writers Choice Awards. I am curious why you chose filter 3 for your setting?

Isn't filter 1 the most purest and dynamic? On SACD reduction isn't that the filter that allows full content of SACD reproduction with all the dynamics that goes with that format?

Count me confused. Filter 3 to me sounds compressed with forward highs. Perhaps I have not given the filter enough use. For the most part, I started with Filter 1 and stayed with it. I did try the noise-shaping function with Filter 1, which I found to sound like Filter 2, but with more dynamics.

I will give Filter 3 a fair shot and use it for a few weeks and see how it works out. Then I'll go back to Filter 1 and see how it moves me.

Either way, you're right: this is one hell of a CD player!

Happy New Year! 

Phil Baatz

Phil ,

I listened to Filter One all through the break-in so I had a constant reference.

I do agree that Filter Three has a bit more lift in the high-end ...which I think balances the player's oft asserted tendency towards sweetness, with just a bit more shimmer.

On the issue of compression ...you lose me; that I don't hear. So, question is, how many hours on your Seven? If you are still under two hundred hours , there is a bit of dynamic compression which opens with more hours. It may be that the filter lets you hear that temporary effect a bit more ...dunno.

Knowing me, I will probably listen this way for a while and then go back to the first filter. But with people asserting the player is too sweet ...it is nice to be able to direct them towards tailoring the presentation a bit, without having to resort to the "single cartridge in the pistol" Russian Roulette of modifications.

Doc S.


Dr. S. & David Robinson, 
Where I would disagree a bit is that when you listen to live music of any sort it has a ease, a natural flow that sounds sweet compared to hi-fi sound that most audiophiles think is music reproduction.

Unless one goes to concerts, Jazz, Classical, Folk, where natural instruments are played, will one learn to listen to what sounds real and what sounds electronic and hyped? Natural detail sounds quite laid back compared to forward hyped detail. Listen to Rock recording from the '50s and early '60s and they too sound as good as any of the above forms of music. They were recorded simply within a room, no compression, mix downs, etc. I am always amazed on how well they recorded by then; play a disc and they sound like they are in your room, which back then was the producers intent to reproduce what they hear and transfer it to tape.

The reason for my run on above is the Marantz SA-7S1 gives you the detail in a natural space, neither forward or back. Listen to the human voice in conversation and it is laid back, clear, but with the body and natural presence to it, not in your face unless of course my wife is mad at me again ...smile!! Those who claim the SA-7 is laid back need to get of the house more often and go listen to real music. I don't understand the one knock against it; yes, it sounds different then the Esoteric gear I owned (X-01SE), but that is why I sold the X-01: it sounds clear, clean, and very processed, not like the real thing. The SA-7 smokes it, and believe me I did not want to sell my X01 due to loss of money I would incur. 

All I know that this unit plays what it is fed, garage in, garbage out. It can sound hard and bright, next disc warm and mellow. I have taken my unit to several homes, several types of gear, solid state and tubes, and all have shaken their heads in disbelief at the reproduction on their systems. I am using filter one, but I will give 3 a shot and see if it adds a bit of improvement. One guy even had a shoot out of LP against the newest re-mastered CD version, and he shook his head and said " I have tell you this is a real good unit" I buy it and I hate digital, this has given me something to think about. My opinion of the shoot out was a toss up, I could live with either medium, both had me tapping my feet and that what music should do; he thought the Marantz and better pitch and detail. His turntable was a Sota Cosmos with the Fidelity Research with the Decca London Jubilee, and that setup was not cheap.

Keep up the good writing, I enjoy reading your reviews very much!

Phil Baatz 

Phil, man...

You be preachin' to the choir here.

I am on record as saying the Marantz is my fav, and putting my money where my mouth is to buy the first one I heard. As far as I am concerned, as with cables, I have my team in place and that is that.

And my "absolute sound" is based on being a musician from about age eight on ...and working both sides of the recording console. I know precisely what acoustic instruments sound like, from inside and out ...but I also know what Fender, Marshall, Mesa, Epiphone, SVT and many other amplifiers sound like ...Guilds, Martins, and Les Pauls and Stratos.

I don't describe the Marantz as overly sweet, but people who are used to this overly etched, hyper detailed HIFI stuff do, and to adjust the machine for tastes, the filters do provide some meaningful changes.

The real charm of the player resides within its ability to subtely produce ample musical detail, but in a much more organic and natural way, than we are used to from digital.

I have a series of one hundred 80 minute CD/R's (MAMA) I did a couple of years ago ...spanning the more central part of my library. It is an absolute education to go from cut to cut and be made completely aware of the machine simply, and without fuss rendering the differences without appreciable colouration, but making even the more Jurassic cuts listenable and enjoyable.

I think if you will recall the context of my original comment it was answering the observations that the player can sound (to some) a bit laid-back.

Right now I am pairing the player with this luscious LSA Statement integrated (review coming) and the two, together, will beauty you into submission ...so a bit of edge is sometimes a good thing ...but as I said, I am sure I will return to the first setting with time.

Doc 


Editor
I would just like to thank you for publication's quality and its helpful reviews.

PF Online is relatively new to me and I have enjoyed every issue for the insights and help. As I go through a system overhaul, your reviews prove very helpful.

Being a guy in the "economy" range of things, the recent "gaggle" reviews [from Dr. Sardonicus] have proved timley and informative as I search out to replace my speakers in the new year.

The reviews of recordings by Karl Lozier and Bob Neill are equally enjoyed. Thanks Karl for discovering jems like Ariel Ramirez, Misa Criolla, Navidad Nuestra/Guido Haazen, Missa Luba. Choral Arts Society of Washington. Bob's reviews of several Bach Cantata Cycles have been great ! What an age we live in!

Isn't nice to know that if we [prefer] a little more Luther [on one hand], or C.S. Lewis [on the other], we have that choice? Keep up the great work.

Anyways, wishing you and your staff a joyful Christmas season and New Year.

Kevin Parson

Those are very kind words, Kevin; thanks for taking the time to share them with us.

Our artistic community works very hard to provide our readers with helpful and entertaining articles. When our readers express their appreciation, it encourages our writers and editors more than you know.

Please accept our Christmas greetings and best wishes for a joyful audio journey in 2008, Kevin.

david


Mark Lawton,
I read your article on the new Marantz SACD player. I am going to purchase a new 2 chanel player and I was also considering trying to locate a Sony SCD1 mod'd or have one mod'd by a VSEI dealer. Is the Marantz a better sounding player than the Sony? Everyone raves about the Sony build quality, but used and 10 years old?

Considering the cost is almost the same. What would your experience recommend?

Thank you.

Hello Napper,

I have never owned a Sony SCD-1, but I have owned a Sony SCD-333ES which was a 5-disc SACD changer that used the same digital section as the SCD-1. I had that player modified years ago by Modwright. It was a fine player, but even after the mods, sounded somewhat soft, was a bit foggy and lacked some bass impact. I replaced it with a Sony SCD-555ES SACD changer, the model that replaced the 333ES. This one had the new Burr-Brown chip set. I also had this modified more extensively by sacdmods.com. This was a giant killer player, great for the money. Finally, prior to the Marantz, I owned the Sony SCD-9000ES, which I had modified this time by Reference Audio Mods. This player went many steps further in some areas than the modified 555ES with which it shared the same digital chip set.

Now, although the mods on these various players were not the same and I can't compare apples to apples, my feeling is that the old Sony chipset (the very first SACD chipset made) that the 333ES shared with SCD-1 is not as good as any of the better quality later DACs found on later models. The Marantz SA-7S1 claims its chip set has the best specs on the market today, and listening to it, it's hard to argue.

The point of all this is that the one thing mod-ers don't replace is the DAC chipset, so you are stuck with whatever one comes stock in your player. For me, I would rather have a player with a more more modern DAC and upgrade parts around that. By now, most SCD-1s are likely to have high miles on them, though I have not racked reports of reliability one way or another. I would need to hear a VSEI mod-ed SCD-1 and compare against my modified SA-7S1 to know which was superior, of course, but with the knowledge I have, I would recommend using the Marantz as your platform for building the ultimate dream machine.

Mark


Positive Feedback: I enjoy reading you and I just had to write you to about this power cord.

LessLoss Filtering Power Cable

It is rare that after 15 years of trying power cords, interconnect and speaker wires that I lucked out to find a product that stopped me in my tracks and made me sit down and take notice right out of the box.

Back in 1982 I started to realize the value of good interconnect and speaker wire was way before MIT and Monster cable started to take off. The man back then was Randall McCarter of Randall Research who did the mod on Dahlquist DQ-10, which by the way was one of the few that really improved this speaker to the point that it could stand on its own today against some of the best out there within in the $8000 plus price range.

Randy started to develop interconnects and speakers wires and due to his electronic engineering back ground he really put some thought into it, the wires were stiff as all get out, but the sound was an eye-opener. Once MIT and Monster hit the market with their advertisement dollars Randy could not longer compete and after a few years he through in the towel. His products by the way sounded better, was designed right and truly researched and had a much higher built quality and materials.

As the cable and accessory market grew I went along for the ride, cable after cable, brand after brand, expensive and not so expensive. You name a major brand name cable and I tried it and even some home brewed cables from the mom and pop companies, you know the one's who work out their garage as a side job and charge almost as much or more then the major manufacture, some sound quite good.

After 10 years I started to come to the conclusion that wires were a crap shoot at best, even reviews from reviewers are way down because you really don't know how they are going to interact with one' s system. Then of course you get educated and you learn good is good, after that your chasing your tail, let's be honest there is only so much a good cable can do, and what you want it to do is bring out the best in your system and not hinder the performance.

I had finally settled down and excepted the cables that I owned as being as good as it gets regardless if I switched them out, I could change the sound a bit, but I would not hear a significant improvement. By the way all of the last few I owned sounded real good.

Some of the Brands: MIT Oracle, Tara Lab the One, Harmonic Technology Magic and on, and most currently Shunyata Python & Anaconda power cords which I liked quite a bit though they were expensive also but they brought out the best in my gear to that point.

Then one day I was looking over the Audiogon site and I saw the ad for LessLoss power cords and I was ready to keep going but I saw the info tab and click it and up came an eight page PDF file on the design of this cable, well reading will cost me nothing so I printed out the information.

Not since Randy McCarter did anyone really explain the design of the cable and what improvement the cable would bring. I also read where Marty Dewulf enjoyed the cables and I have spoken to Marty several times during my years with Sony Electronics, and I have know him to be a honest and upfront guy and reviewer.

So my wheels in my head started to turn, and to be honest I was so happy with my system, but I figured I give them a try at $550.00 and order three of them for my system, after all I could sell the Shunyata's and cover the expense of purchasing if I liked them, so I did.

I ordered the power cords and I received an email thanking me and telling me around 3 weeks. I said fine and waited. After 2-1/2 weeks the power cords arrived. I pulled them out and I was impressed with the built quality, I thought just maybe they will sound ok, if I don't like them on my system and I use them on my plasma, DVD player etc.

So I plugged them up to my Marantz SA-7S1 CD/SACD player, McIntosh C200 preamp and the McIntosh MC402 amp and let them stay powered up for an hour and I then hit the play button and listened to "For Duke" (M&K Realtime recording) and started to walk away when the horn section went off and the solo started, I heard detail, speed and micro to micro swings in dynamics and overtones that I had not heard as easily before.

I went back to my listen chair and went to track 6 and 7 and listened to the piano, drum and standup bass, the detail was as good as I have heard, but the over tones of the instruments came forth with ease and a flow that I had not heard before, did it make the Shunyata's sound like crap? No, but the LessLoss were quieter, better extended in both directions and the dynamics swings were better, in fact my volume control was lower then it normally was when listening to the same disc and I switched the power cords a few times just to see if what I was hearing was right, the LessLoss was providing more current, reproducing less noise thus my system sounded louder with a ease to the reproduction.

Now mind you these were fresh out of packing, no time on them yet and they were better then the Shunyata's at ½ to a ¼ of the price. In fact what these power cords were doing I had not heard before from any power cord to date, DCCA (home brew cord I had tried, stiff to the point of being un-useable, good sound, but not good value for the money) or MIT Oracle (great on amps), Shunyata's (good on digital gear)etc.

I've now have had them a month and they have improved by opening up a bit, but that is it, my system images better, it's focus is better due to the lowering of the noise floor, you can hear music that is just there in front of you out of a silent background.

Choral Music, stunned me, the power and swing of the voices, the number of voices that were now produced clearly with no blur to them, I no longer had to "listen hard" to hear the individual voices.

Male vocals superb, female voices superb, piano reproduction when recorded well was like hearing the real thing.

Recordings from the 40's, 50's, 60's, 70's, 80's, 90's, and current era take on their recording quality in stark relief.

There is no highlighting with this power cord, no bloating, no bass over hang or lack of mid-bass, highs extend forever, yet never hyped, smeared or in your face, they are just there and extend forever. Now mind you these cost $550 apiece not $2000 or more. Less noise more music, less jitter from power supply noise, means more natural reproduction from CD players, in fact some older CDs now sound quite good, god knows how many good CDs I may have traded away, the Marantz SA-7S1 CD player is also a huge factor in this being so.

And even more important then money, they work exceeding well on preamps, amps, CD p layers and even my on my plasma TV.

They really lower the noise floor to the point of really considering the need for a line conditioner on any of my gear just like LessLoss white papers said, plug them directly into your wall" and you will hear what I am talking about, no more trade off's that you have to make when using a line conditioner, your system comes into it's own with these power cords.

Once in and while even someone jaded like myself gets a pleasant surprise, and the excitement comes back to what got me into this hobby in the first place, and that is the love of music, and the attempt to get my system to fool me once in and while to thinking that sounds like the real thing.

The LessLoss power cords have taken my system to that level to the point that when I am listen to my system I feel relaxed knowing the system sounds "right" no thought of this could be better or that could be better, based on my experience with many, many power cords, I could pick that up in a second, keep in mind I had my Shunyata's sitting right next to me to go back to, which I did just to give them another go. Same result, LessLoss was better top to bottom, imaging, and less noise totally from my whole system without the loss of dynamics or the slight veiling.

This IS the power cord to own, but order enough for your whole setup, once you insert even one of your power cords back into the mix you will hear your system take a step backwards (only when compared to what you just heard) and again I not saying your tried and true power cords will sound bad, it just these power cords are just so good.

My Marantz SA-7S1 was an eye opener and for the past 8 months I have never thought about another CD player, that was a first for me in the digital world, when I got the McIntosh's I felt the same, they cost much less then the gear I had owned in the past, yet sounded better and I never thought I own McIntosh that was "old school" Levinson, Krell , Rowland, ARC, C.J. etc was where it was at, the McIntosh gear taught me a thing or two.

The LessLoss power cord now enters into that club, it's the best, costs far less and takes your gear to the a level that you will say, I can now appreciate what I paid all this money for, your system will be as good as it can get, that what we strive for and these power cords will bring out the best your gear can be.

On a rating of 1-10 these would be a 20 (consider the cost also), you're done chasing your tail, you start enjoying your system and the music it reproduces. That is the best compliment I can give these power cords.

I no longer even think about another power cord or change of gear, I want more music and I will be out shopping quite shortly, nice to spend money on the music and not on equipment/cable changes over and over again.

You will be doing yourself a disservice by not trying these power cords, Martin Dewulf was right; these are "the new king of the hill".

Enjoy!!

Phil

 

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