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POSITIVE FEEDBACK ONLINE - ISSUE 37
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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

 

Sirs,
Firstly I'd like to thank Positive Feedback for taking the time to review my modification. It is always valuable to hear the opinions of others, and while we are not always going to agree on everything, (nor is that possible or even desirable) I think certain fundamentals are true and sharing that common ground is a good thing. I am pleased to hear that what I believe and find to be true Greg also experienced and enjoyed. His many years of maggie ownership also lend much credibility to his opinions which is also important to me.

To answer a few points, first, it was unexpected but not surprising to hear him say he preferred my XO design to passive XO's. I do too, and so has every other DIY'er who has tried both passive and my XO on the 1.6 and reported back to me. There is nothing like a single, unified, full range driver and even a passive system cannot beat it.

As far as him hearing increased efficiency, his ears are not wrong. Stock, all new Magnepan models are about 86 dB efficient, however this XO design raises that to about 92 dB which is a fairly large increase, and it does this to every model so modified. This is due to the XO being used, and has nothing to do with the driver or it's size. It has also been verified by computer.

In regards to his thought about the slightly missing "warmth", I believe what he is not hearing is a by-product of the harmonic distortion created by the mdf frame as well as fuses being in the XO path. It's more of a quasi warmth (or slurring) and not a natural one and perhaps more time with them will reveal that natural warmth is still there. Also, should an owner wish for more warmth it can be made up with the use of a tube preamp that has those qualities. Another plus is the owner can then control the amount of it whereas previously it was out of his hands.

This modification for me was not an end, it was a journey. Along that journey I discovered that many of the hard core beliefs held about Magnepans are simply incorrect, both in what they are capable of, and what the reason they cannot attain their true potential is. My goal was only ever to make the best Maggies I could, and afterwards share that with others. For some people I make the stands, for others I give them the info freely to do it themselves. Still, and somewhat amazingly, there are those who won't even entertain that what I have done is right, good or even valid. That is why I am very glad your review was able to shed more impartial light upon the subject.

Again, thank you very much for a very well considered review, and I hope the speakers give Greg many years of pleasure.

Peter Gunn
Magnestand


Editor,
I was quite surprised to find myself quoted twice in May Belt's latest article. [See http://www.positive-feedback.com/Issue37/belt.htm] I offered the quoted comments in a quite different setting, and I still stand by them in the context in which they were made. I did not intend them to be interpreted as an endorsement of the RR-77 or the concept behind it, but simply as a possible part explanation of what some people were hearing, and how such a tweak could come to be. My first point about a fortuitous discovery of an unexpected benefit of something intended for different purposes was very definitely a general point. Some people think that we only develop things that work from a starting point of accurate knowledge about something. That view is most definitely mistaken, and all we have to do is to look at history to see that. We didn't have an acceptable explanation of why things fall to the earth or water flows downhill until Newton came up with his theory of gravity, but people had been devising things which worked due to gravity for several thousand years before Newton, and giving a variety of explanations we now reject for why they work. Many useful things have been discovered and developed in ignorance of how and why they worked, and that isn't going to stop.

As my second quoted statement suggests, I think that what people are perceiving is the result of a subsonic addition to the vibrations present in the room. What that statement doesn't say is that I wonder whether or not the result is desirable. It's certainly nice that it seems to add to many people's enjoyment of music, but I wonder whether or not it may not also mask some other things. I know in my system I've long strived to retrieve as much of the actual ambience of the original recording venue, and to minimize the impact of my room on the sound, thus enabling me to get as much as possible of the "you are there" feeling, rather than the "they are here in my room" feeling. 

That result is, of course, highly dependent on the recording. After reading Jeff Day's comments and my discussion at Audio Asylum with Stephaen, I came to the conclusion that what the RR-77 offers seems to be something that would not move my system in my preferred direction, as some of the comments I was reading seemed to indicate that it strengthened the listener's impression of their own room, and I have been slowly working at reducing that impression in my setup.

There is one thing I am very clear about, however, and that is that all of us who are in this hobby are here because we're interested in increasing our enjoyment of recorded music in our homes. There is a huge range of competing products and approaches available which offer to help us in achieving that goal, and I regard that as a positive rather than a negative—though it certainly can and does make for confusion, and there are certainly going to be some products/ approaches which do nothing, or even reduce our enjoyment. The only way through the confusion is the often slow learning process of discovering what it is that increases our enjoyment, what diminishes that enjoyment, and why those things have those effects. Once we have a good feeling for what it is that we want to achieve, we can move forward with quite a reasonable degree of certainty. In my experience, we make fewer mistakes as we do so, and we get more enjoyment from the music we listen to. Somewhere in that process, we also need to learn that it's more important that our systems please us than that they please others. In audio as in everything, we can't please everyone, but if we do genuinely manage to please ourselves, we often end up pleasing many more other people than we expected. There's something about a system which works together to achieve a particular personal goal that seems to result in more enjoyment for many people than a does a system in which the owner has striven to please a lot of people, since that often seems to result in a system with something to displease everyone. We need to learn to know ourselves and what pleases us before we can really start to assemble a system that not only offers us deep and long standing enjoyment, but also offers enjoyment to others. In order to do that we need to learn to listen with an open mind: not only to our systems, the components we audition, and the music that we enjoy, but also to what others say.

We don't have to agree with everyone, just as we don't have to enjoy every component or recording, but we do need to consider everything we hear on its merits and make up our own minds accordingly, while acknowledging that we will occasionally make a mistake. The only way to avoid mistakes is not to do anything at all—and paradoxically, that's the biggest mistake of all.

David Aiken

Dear David,

I am sorry if I was not perfectly clear when I referred to some of your sentences in my recent article. I am usually quite careful to make myself clear.

My intention was not to use your comment as an endorsement for the RR-77, but as exactly as you had written it—as a thoughtful suggestion as to what MIGHT be happening—i.e. that it might be the brain being tricked into believing what was being heard was far more information than was actually available from the recording—the equivalent of a sub bass!

I actually followed your comment with "This is an interesting concept which David has put forward—showing someone (David) attempting to find some rational explanation instead of the typical knee jerk reaction of 'It must be imagination'."

This really WAS intended as a compliment—it WAS evidence of a thoughtful process at work—which was to be applauded—which is what I had intended to convey and what I feel!

There ARE too many 'knee jerk' reactions and your thought process was to be applauded!

Again, my referring to your other comment—the point about a fortuitous discovery of an unexpected benefit of something intended for different purposes—was a very valid and important point which I wanted to reinforce by adding your comments. I completely agree that "Some people think that we only develop things that work from a starting point of accurate knowledge about something. That view is most definitely mistaken, and all we have to do is to look at history to see that." and I think that point should be repeated over and over again!

I agree with the other points you raise in your reply and I thank you for a very courteous response to my article.

Regards,

May Belt


Dear Sir,
Who is this "whacky" Mr. Rodman, and don't you think you are currently overstocked with whackos? I mean, you can't swing a cat around PFO without hitting one; although, he does have a flair for the written word ...but this is not about writing, this is about ideology and "correctness" and oh ...my, how he doth violate those sanctities!

Welcome Mr. Rodman, may you find PFO a fecund field for your flowery phrases...

Rick Gardner

Many thanks for the welcome, my fellow-whacky.

Mike Rodman


Hi David,
As a long time reader, I was surprised by the absence of PFO at the 2008 VSAC in Vancouver, WA. It was, admittedly, smaller than the last VSAC which took place in 2003, but no less interesting to myself. After the fantastic coverage of the Silverdale conference, I had assumed that you'd be the first ones to attend. I understand that there may have been good reason to forgo a formal exhibit, but it is in your backyard and I was able to drive from San Jose, CA to set up a non-profit exhibit.

Please don't take this as a scolding of any kind, but more of a real disappointment since I had expected the very best coverage from PFO.

Steve Koto (ironbut)

BTW I'm still a loyal reader... j ust kinda bummed.

Actually, Steve, you are operating under a mistaken impression. I was at VSAC 2008, took a number of photos, and will be publishing a photo essay soon. And PFO supported VSAC 2008 with free advertising for a number of months.

I will admit that I found the show itself to be a bit underwhelming, at least while I was there. I remember much more robust events at Silverdale, every one one of which I attended. The contrast was painful.

Nevertheless, I hope that next year will be a better event.

All the best,

david

Great David, I always enjoy your coverage much more that any of the other 'zines' whether print or online.

Thanks for such a prompt and insightful response.

Keep up the good work.

Steve Koto


Dear Dr. Robinson,
I thoroughly enjoy reading Positive Feedback! It is one of three publications that I read and respect. I’m a Marantz Reference dealer who would like to pass on some information to Dr. Sardonicus. On his Marantz SA-7S1 I recommend that he purchase from Radio Shack part # 278-270 50 ohm BNC terminator ($4.49) and attach it to the unused BNC output on the back of the player. I also recommend that he remove the ferrite bead choke on the power input inside the chassis. This is easily accomplished after removing the cover. Both of these tweaks were recommended to me by Marantz. You can contact Kevin Zarow about these if you have any concerns. This is not for him to review but for him to enjoy and any others who might own this unit.

Good Listening,

Tom Hoffman 

Very interesting, Tom ...thanks for passing this along. I know that the inestimable Dr. S. will appreciate your recommendation.

I'm also running an SA-7S1 in my reference system as a review project ...a "second impressions" article ...so I'll look at the BNC terminator, at the least.

And by the way, glad to hear that you're enjoying PFO ...we certainly do!

All the best, 

david 

Dear David,
Did you know that the SA-7S1 has SEVEN fuses in it! Replacing them with your favorite fuse does more than single fuse replacements in other pieces of your equipment. I have primarily been an analog person until the SA-7S1 was available. If you are interested I would be willing to keep you informed of the tweaks I have planned for the SA-7S1. None of them should void your warranty.

Good Listening,

Tom Hoffman


Greetings again Redacteur-en-Chef:
Wouldn't you know I had a listening session with my little sidekick last evening and told her I had attempted to describe our experience of "it" in a note to an actual "Doctor". Being as precocious and bright eyed as she is, it was insisted that I add a paragraph inspired by her feedback—now done with her approval, and further insisted that her name not be used as it is going out "to the web and everything." Of course she doesn't know about the Chocolate!

Hah! No more editions forthcoming! The rest remains unchanged. That said ...yust following orders Dr. Robinson, glad you liked it.

Say could you pass this on to Doc S., and thanks for publishing his BAT, rant preface—a wonder!

We have previously corresponded.

Many thanks

sam h.

And greetings to you, Lecteur honoré

Sam, so good to hear from you…

As always, your richly crafted emails force me into more thoughtful and complex responses… so this time, I will insert my responses into your text, as we go along ...since this one came in two installments …I will do my best to preserve it as sent…

Tractatus Logico-Sardonicus

Ego mos tracto is…

Thanks Doc. That needed to be said, you know, the rant before you come up to BAT. Well written and refreshingly free of left Hegelian logic chopping disguised as wisdom.

Touché – Kudos and all that.

Unlike so many of my peers, I have been Hegel-free (I dunno, is that sort of like being gluten free?) for some time now. Like Woody Allen when he was still sane, I consider myself a teleological existentialist.

Although, as an overture, W's opening tenders seem apropos and to the point of the rant,—good to get off your chest of course, one wonders what individual incident set the embers ablaze!— but again—point seven is of interest.

You are correct …about getting it off my chest …but my ire was not the result of any single incident …more the cumulative result of watching the Internet audio blogs and thinking about the movie Untraceable; where a serial killer creates a website that invites the anonymous Internet inhabitants to visit and view the increasing misery of someone he has decided needs to die. With each "hit" the visitors knowingly contribute incrementally to the eventual torture death of the unfortunate subject. The more hits, the quicker the poor wretch dies. Of course …you can predict what happens.

Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus
Ludwig Wittgenstein

1 The world is all that is the case.
2 What is the case—a fact—is the existence of states of affairs.
3 A logical picture of facts is a thought.
4 A thought is a proposition with a sense.
5 A proposition is a truth-function of elementary propositions.
6 The general form of a truth-function is [p, E, N(E)]. This is the general form of a proposition.
7 What we cannot speak about, we must pass over in silence.

It is not often someone quotes such a sunny German philosopher to me. But, I do work for the government, so that is much like being a prisoner of war, no? I am much more social than this poor fellow, and there is almost nothing I cannot speak of (translation, I rarely have an unexpressed thought), which is why I am so popular at cocktail parties for the epistemologically impaired.

Neruda's supplement to point 7,
as an antidote to being assailed by verbal dotage follows...

Keeping Quiet
(trans. Alastair Reid)

And now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.

For once on the face of the earth
let's not speak in any language,
let's stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.

It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines,
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.

Fisherman in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would not look at his hurt hands.

Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victory with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.

What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about,
I want no truck with death.

If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves (our stereos –sh) and of threatening ourselves with death.

Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.
Now I'll count up to twelve,
and you keep quiet and I will go.

Senior Basoalto's moving poem suggests hope in introspection and understanding. Well, I think that when the effluvium gets to your lower lip …you gotta' say something.

Silence

There was no easy moment
No pause where eyes looked for me
No break in the anger echoing
No quieting in the hot din
That traced the room with red wires

The backs of heads turning
The pursed lips turning
The sallow hands turning
Around and around
A carousel of rising and plunging blades
And at last, when blood
Touched my bare skin
I finally said, what I should
Have said at the beginning

Rick Gardner –

This said, don't hold back ever Dog, let them nit pickin newts have it.

In the moment for instance music in my life exquisitely transduced is still framed as a backdrop, a blissfully dissociative, enveloping relaxing context within which to forget the world for a moment and in a Nerudian way share for instance

...with

My wistful and winsome 11 year old granddaughter who loves so sit beside me with her skinny knees folded under her chin, and for hours and hours quietly check out music with me. This deep and delightful sharing for which my system and software provide the prescription is more significant to me than any hardware dharma battles.

I have no idea what she is dreaming of, where she goes off to, but we have a mutual love of this space and grant each other unspoken permissions of unquestioned privacy, emoting and internalizing of our experiences. My only feedback, she is often glassy eyed, and sighs the most beautiful sighs, and of course then thanks me with a big hug and a kiss.

It is really very beautiful in fact, profoundly endearing ...Love that girl...
and according to her, where we listen is truly a "sweet" spot.

The times most of us know such peace are rare and precious. For myself …I don't think we are made for it. But then again, we are also not made for one, continuous, uphill struggle either… although at times (if we live fully) this is the only vista we can see.

But of course you are completely and utterly correct.

The irony of the viciousness of these silly internecine battles painted against the backdrop of what we are supposed to be doing is truly absurd.

Say hi to your granddaughter for me and tell her that here in Oregon, we still have the largest pine tree in the world (and arguably also the largest slugs).

Further and for instance, another relatively recent re acquaintance is to the knowledge of carnal chocolate consumption which equals at least or trumps even such beautiful, pure and innocent sharing as above and of course altogether in a much more adult context.

Yes my most significant recent discovery that trumps again and for certain any new ECM Folkloric Deer Herd Calling with of course accompaniment by Jan Garbarek is this ...there is a Patisserie in town that makes a medium sized pastry using ultra fine Belgian chocolate, they are like small cakes, meringue a layer of chocolate icing, a layer of actual chocolate, another layer of meringue, icing and chocolate and then fully covered with the self same chocolate icing. Called a Merveilleux and made by Van den Bosch—the total adult x-rated love bomb, Doc, to be shared of course, and the interval between its transcendental ingestion and removal of clothing, on the way to, you know, consummation actually shortens with every subsequent Merveilleux.

I am so pleased to hear you speak of chocolate …a passion for which I have developed late in life, along with one for fine Darjeeling tea. It is comforting that the epiphany I might have suddenly become a woman, is just a misapprehension.

And in these contexts, the BAT sounds delightfully promising.

Many thanks, Oh most excellent scribe,

sam h. frozenovia, wet coast

Always a pleasure, Sam …and as much as I typically loathe meringue, the rest of the concoction sounds wonderful.

The BAT preamplifier truly is extraordinary.

Take care…

Suffering from a bug, and letting the cool Oregon breeze comfort my fever …

Doctor Sardonicus.


Dear Sirs,
The stuffed port loading of the Ulysses speaker will indeed act like a sealed enclosure so long as the ports are sufficiently stuffed. It's not hard to tell when there is enough stuffing so long as you can measure the bass impedance curve. When the lower impedance peak, the port peak if the reflex ports were not stuffed, can no longer be seen the port is properly stuffed. The box/driver combo then gives a closed box second order roll off instead of a reflex roll off fourth order one with the same box resonance point as a conventional sealed box of the same volume but with one significant difference. The Q of the box/driver is lower than the conventional box meaning the bass is tighter and more controlled but somewhat leaner which would normally require a larger enclosure.

This loading goes back years. The best known version was the Dynaco A25 stuffed port design. But the Danish variovents (the Dynacos were a Danish design using an earlier version of the variovent) and the Fried line tunnel are also examples of this design. And I'm sure there are many other examples of this design probably going even further back in time. Properly used it's a damn fine way to load a bass driver as explained in the Daedalus review.

Yours,

Allen Edelstein


Editor:
I just read John Potis' review on the Thiel Audio SCS4 loudspeakers. Extremely informative.

I'm in the market for new loudspeakers. Would John pick the SCS4's over Thiel's 1.6's? I'm trying to make a decision, and his expert opinion would be very valuable. 

Thanks for your help.

Ron Salvati

Hi Ron,

I've never heard the 1.6 but I own the 2.4 and while the 2.4 obviously offers things like extended bass and added dynamics, I have to say that I found the SCS4 to be the most expressive and musically involving of all the Thiels I've heard. I strongly suspect that I may prefer the SCS4 to the 1.6 so the very least I can advise is to listen to both with a very open mind follow your ears... and heart.

Best,

JP


Dear Mr. Davey,
I enjoyed your column, and it has inspired me to take the digital plunge. I would like to rip all my CDs into .wav files. I think 1TB would hold at least 1000 CDs, am I right?

So my question, is there a certain speed that a NAS has to have to play a .wav file or will any NAS be fast enough?

Any 1TB NAS units you recommend? I will be using iTunes.

Thanks very much!

Jordan Caplan

Jordan,

Your math is correct... Sounds like you're on the right track.

I will write another article going on NAS units, but to give you a general idea the last thing you should worry about when it comes to NAS devices is the speed, you want to focus on reliability and data redundancy (if that's what you're interested in.)

If all you want is 1TB of space for your iTunes music, buy a 1TB USB external hard drive and save your money.

A NAS device is useful if you need more than one computer/device accessing the data at the same time. A RAID capable NAS device is the same as the above but also factors in real-time data backups.

Trust me, if you rip 1000 CDs and your drive dies, you will kick yourself for not spending the extra money on RAID.

Another thing, please look into using Lossless compression. The audio is the same and it saves on average 5-10 megabytes per file. It adds up!

Happy ripping,

Pete


Hello Pete,
You only mentioned my personal interest at the very end of your article, transfer of vinyl to hi-rez files.

I like all music but mostly listen to rock & roll. I'm not sure digital recording is good enough. If you A/B two sources it is very hard to tell the differences. Right now I'm trying to discern the difference between Dr. Ebbett's Beatles blue box stereo vs. Millennium Remasters RMG series from MFSL Beatles box set. They both sound good and you can't tell which one sounds better by A/B-ing even though they do sound different. You have to listen to at least one side of an album to hear the magic of the music.

There is no question that vinyl sounds better than CDs in there present formation. I'm wonder if 24/96 or maybe 24/192 rez would capture the vinyl magic. Also how easy would it be to set up a digital system that could accomplish this, what do you think?

Thank you, Michael

Michael,

Well… I'm glad that something in the article piqued your interest! Thing is, this isn't for everyone, as everyone has different tastes. As long as you can enter the digital world with an open mind I think you're on the right track.

Thing is… you have to keep in mind that all equipment, no matter what, colors the sound. It's the colors that you prefer is what matters! A traditional CD player with built in DAC can get your foot tapping and you think, damn, this transport and DAC have it right! This is the ultimate piece of equipment and I will stick with it.

Then you power up your turntable (with custom needle, cartridge and tone-arm) with your favorite phono pre-amp and plop on the latest iteration of Steely Dan's "Aja." With a sip of good cognac you realize that this is the ultimate sound, analog. In your head you're thinking, wow, that CD player sounded great, but this turntable sounds "different." I hate to use the word better as there is no such thing, everything is subjective but I won't bore you with that as I'm sure you already know this.

What I'm trying to say, is what are you after? Digitally stored audio that sounds as good as the turntable? You will get close, but keep in mind it will never sound the same as all of your equipment varies. You're going to have to try and reach for a compromise I have to say. Yes, recording that vinyl into a raw 24/96 audio file will probably be an exact representation of your wax, but the piece of equipment that turns it back to analog might color the sound to your disliking. It's synergy you're after; it will require several pieces of equipment. As you can see the market is catching on and all sorts of devices are out there for this purpose. There are even phono-analog to USB converters out there to record your audio to burn onto a CD. Unfortunately this stuff isn't yet geared for the audiophile, this is for convenience only.

If you're after some suggestions on how to get the sound into your computer to your liking, let me suggest a few pieces of software. It sounds like you already have a decent turntable and pre-amp that you prefer. Now you need to get this sound into the PC via a –DECENT- sound card. Since we're dealing with analog here, you will want something from the professional industry. E-mu sound card, Lynx sound card, etc. The software that's gaining popularity is Audacity, and Adobe Audition. Both of these packages will allow you to set a custom sample rate. With these packages you can use plug-ins such as a de-clicker, but I am against those because that alters the sound!

For example, a friend had a JVC limited pressing copy of The Beatles – SGT Pepper (you might have heard of them) 5000 copies made. He pulled it into his computer (first time playing as well) into two huge 24/96 raw data files. Each side of the record went to about 1GB each! I have burned these to a DVD audio disc and played it back and WOW. This beat the EMI CD by a land-slide. All of the above was done on a PC. If you're a Mac guy (I use both) then I'm sure a Google search will turn up some results. I intend on trying out all of this once I get my hands on a decent turntable setup.

Anyway, I hope that answered some of your questions!

Peter Davey


Hello,
I have have been a long time reading and getting to be more of a purist in equipment.

I cannot believe after going to the Montreal show that nobody has taken [an interest in] the Redwine amplifiers and now a Triode vacuum tube preamp and DAC, all on batteries. This was one of the best at the show, but still very little print. I also thought that the single driver Omega Alnico driver loudspeakers, and their pure Hemp powered sub were superb in imaging and soundstaging, and the bass from the sub was outstanding, a big surprise. Again, nobody has ever reviewed these in the last few years. They are the only licensed true Hemp loudspeakers out there. Many guys in bands I have spoken with are all going to the Tubby tone driver, which is the same licensed formula.

A little variety would be welcome; I am sure many others would like to hear these two also. They are on constant back order, and I have none to audition in my area, which makes it all the harder.

Keep up the fine work.

Peter Johansen

Salem, MA


Hi PFO,
Excellent review of the Vacuum State Electronics 9000ES by Adam Goldfine.

I have one myself and would be interested to read if Adam can do a comparison to the EMM LABS CDSA player....

Cheers,

Mark Hoepfl

Mark,

Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed the review. I am planning to do a comparison of the Sony to the CDSA sometime later this year. I have heard the EMM Labs player under very different conditions than my 9000, and have found it to be an excellent sounding piece of gear. I am as curious as you are to compare the two units on a level playing field.

Thanks for reading,

Adam Goldfine


Editor:
Save money AND improve your sound.

I have been on a personal quest to significantly reduce the cost of my 2 channel audio system with minimal sonic sacrifice. In the last 6 months, I have shaved some 3 thousand dollars with another $2K FS heavily discounted, to go. Joyfully, my musical enjoyment has increased! How can this be so?

Companies with huge advertising budgets and distribution networks aren't necessarily great (Bose...). Indeed, the high costs of business ownership have driven many audio manufacturers underground (home-based).

The good news is that many underground products sonically rival the far more recognized choices. How do I know this? See below. Of course the prices of all products could come down by at least half if not for steep distribution discounts and advertising costs.

Countering the counter culture, most advertising dollar- based magazines do not report on (or review) underground manufacturers. Consequently, said manufacturers must rely on word-of-mouth advertising from satisfied customers. But isn't that the most effective advertising? If such was the norm, maybe the hobby wouldn't be on life support!

For those who think only brand names are viable, I say "Jump in, the water's fine!"

I offer my own personal examples for comparison as they were/are all highly regarded (and rightfully so):

  • 7 sets of Stillpoint/Risers (@$400/ set of 3)

  • Sound Fusion Columns for the Stibbert ($1100)

  • Harmonic Tech Pro 9 speaker cables ($900- biwired)

  • 6 PS Audio eXstream power cords (@ $550)

  • Lector 7T, Bluenote Stibbert Mk II- @ $4K

  • PS Audio GCP 200/GCPS $2995

  • PS Audio GCA 250 with Level 2 Underwood mod $3995

Within the last 6 months all have been replaced as follows:

  • Herbies isocup/balls (@<$65/set of 3)

  • Machina Dynamica Promethean springs

  • Clear Day Solid Core Speaker Cables- Silver Shotgun (<$300/10ft pair)

  • Morrow Audio MAP 2 power cords (@<$200/2 meter)

  • Raysonic 168 CD player $2500. The tube output is so good, I eliminated the PS preamp.

I also made the jump to bi-amping for my Maggies 3.5Rs and got Wyred4Sound SX 500 monoblocks $2200

Each replacement has either been a sonic revelation, or at least comparable. Combined, my system sounds better than ever, and by a wide margin! One of my tube-biased audio friends recently said my system sounds very tube-like, but there are only 4 tubes, these in the 168 output.

Robert Hart


Mr. Kaplan,
I asked you to put up or shut up. Apparently, you are incapable of either. Indeed, you've once again failed to provide even one example of the music you tout in such fantastic, unrealistic, extremely inaccurate terms. That really is the end of our exchange.

The emperor has no clothes. You are all talk. Have you tried ballooning with all that hot air?

The identity of this Holy Grail of rap is a big mystery you must save so that we will all read your "series of pieces". And you presume that I am "along for the ride". Think again! You've exhibited your ignorance of music, sociology, and now economics. Why would I, or anyone, want to read your nonsensical ramblings about the world's most boring music?

But then, if you are anything but ignorant, it is presumptuous. You presume to know the readership of PFO. We are a bunch of white, middle-aged, upwardly mobile folks, who listen to music that you consider "dead". WRONG! We are a community of audiophiles, who share an interest in sound reproduction. Our ages, colors, economic backgrounds, and musical tastes are quite diverse. PFO's record reviews are dominated by classical and jazz recordings mostly because they are the best sounding ones available - those you will use to tune & tweak your gear, and those you will get the greatest sonic pleasures from.

You've underestimated—and insulted—not just me, but all of PFO's readership. One thing most of us share, which you clearly do not, is a musical background that allows us to understand how silly your original letter was. And as a group, we are far from closed-minded. Many of us listen to music that is far to progressive and modern for you to appreciate, understand, or even sit through. In fact, that music is as forward-thinking and "alive" as your rap-crap is regressive, primitive, dumbed-down, and dead.

Now, let me address the "largest point of [your] second letter", that the more accessible something is, the "less good" it it. For some inane reason, you think this theory of yours relates to economics. (And as usual, you "have no doubt" of this. I understand. Doubt comes with maturity and wisdom.) But your argument is cynical and stupid. It supposes an ignorant and tasteless audience... which, admittedly, may be true for rap. But the most popular jazz artists in history are Miles Davis and Dave Brubeck, both brilliant and ground-breaking musicians. Is their music any "less good" than the less accessible work of Charles Mingus or Thelonious Monk? The most popular and well-known classical composers are, no doubt, Beethoven and Bach. Is their music "less good" than that of Thomas Tallis or Alban Berg? Gee, I guess that theory only works when the audience is composed of idiots!

So, thanks for the offer to introduce me to rap music so good I can tolerate it... because that's what I truly desire, to fire up my audio gear and sit down to immerse myself in the glories of music that is... barely tolerable. Oh, joy!

OK, I'm done. And please don't bother o respond. You've had your chance, spread your manure, and now I'm done with you. Many years ago, my father taught me a little poem that ends, "He who knows not, and knows not that he knows not, is a fool. Shun him."

Good advice! Consider yourself shunned.

Happy listening to all... except Mr. K. To him, "Turn that $%#@ crap down!"

Art Alenik


Hi,
I am really frustrated by the theses of several readers that are raising walls against reviewing expensive equipment. What is expensive, and what is cheap ( or better, fairly priced)?

Something that is either out, or within the reach of the writer. No?

That is wordplay in ignorance and inability to understand what is going on. Please allow me to explain. The world is filled with rich people with loads (not lots) of money, and poor ones with little or no money. But I think that they know it. They don't seem to know, by the way, that the first group of people lives in areas and houses and buy things that the second group considers EXPENSIVE. And expensive they are by their measures. But for those that can enjoy them is merely small change.

I do not want to steal your space and time by blah, blah, and philosophies of a certain well known kind.

Keep on with the presentation of what there is and how it is made, and please ignore those that believe, for example, that tanga bikini is a product that is targeted to the 4 billion humans on Earth. For their information, this specific product is the for the ladies of this world. And not all of them.

The same goes for our subject.

The 100,000 US dollar loudspeaker, amplifier, CD player or turntable, is for the audiophiles that have the money, not for all the audiophiles.

To add a line that seems to escape.... Many of these products are mere exercises in technology and not full production items.

Take whatever tickles your fancy: experimental or bankruptor. Why in the name of audio gods this product is forbidden for a periodical to test it?

Best regards

V. Lamprou


Mr. Clark,
Perhaps the readership of Positive Feedback is very wealthy, with a lot of big spenders willing and able to spend thousands of dollars on a wire. But my vote would be for reviews—and especially for awards - going companies and products meeting some standard of economic reality.

Kenneth Adams

Bethesda, MD

It might be worth noting in instances like this that I cover the budget segment exclusively. I don't think I've ever reviewed anything over $4000 and have found many very musical components, from cartridges to speakers, in the $60-$1000 range.

Best,

Ed Kobesky


Hi guys [sent to Chip Stern via PFO),
I was avid reader of Stereophile for many years and quit. Why? Because everything they and now you are writing is so sugary, I want to....

Guys, please stop serving the manufacturers, I know, they pay you money, but still you have to serve the readers and only them! Believe me, you will be bankrupt in no time if you continue to sing songs about $1500 power cords and $7000 mini speakers!

There are many idiots in this world, but the majority are not going to buy this nonsense. That say, I'm not into cheap hi-fi electronics so please don't think that I'm from "another camp". I have quite expensive gear which sounds exceptional. After a while of living in US (I'm originally from Russia), one thing I've learned is that it is not an achievement to by good expensive things but that it is most enjoyable to buy them when you think you have made a great deal. Please visit Audio Critique. That's when I understood why I quit reading Stereophile. You just mimic them in every aspect of your reviews! Everything is great! Yeah, sure.

ladislav Yeliseyev

Dear Yell-At-Us,

What, pray tell, inspired this barrage of...I don't even know what to make if it, save that you are convinced that I am a whore and that I like everything, and nothing is bad. I'm impressed that you have expensive equipment. Why don't you go out now and get a really great deal on some really bad equipment so that you can hate music for the next six months and thus inspired, can go on at great length to tell all of us how awful the gear is and to prove categorically what an honest, principled man you are compared to sugary Chip and all of those suckoff Stereophile guys.

Explain to me now, how there is anything constructive in this message that I should take away as a guiding principle, save that if I like an expensive piece of gear, I am likely bending over for a manufacturer, while if you like expensive gear, it is because you have exquisite taste and got a really great deal?

Is this what you trying to tell me? Please clarify. I would love to correspond with you and share ideas, but based on this letter, I am not sure what your point is supposed to be. If it is that I should check out Audio Critique, might I suggest you have a gift for marketing language and should seriously consider becoming a motivational speaker.

If it is that I am a useless sack of shit, well then, thanks for writing and you have a nice day.

Warmest regards,

Chip Stern

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