You are reading the older HTML site

Positive Feedback ISSUE 5
february/march 2003


Our readers respond…we respond right back!
Send your comments to either or



No more DIY section? DIYers want to know.

Paul J. Stiles

Yes, there's a DIY section, Paul. It's populated as the projects come in. We have several promised projects for review, but nothing's come in this round. Be patient... we publish 'em as they arrive!

All the best,
Editor-in-Chief, Positive Feedback Online

Hi Doctor.
I trust this message finds you in good health and spirits. I just wanted to drop you a line about how wonderful PF is to us in the hinterland. I feel privileged to be able to read every issue.

In particular, I felt it necessary to compliment the work of Clark Johnsen. I have been very impressed with his writings over the years and remain even more so with issue five. His review of the Stillpoints ERS product was on point and perhaps deserves further review.

Best regards,
Peter Taylor

Thanks for the good words, Peter... I'm sure that Clark will blush (just a bit!) upon reading them. I can hear him now: "Really! That's very kind of him!"


If Clark wishes to pursue ERS, I'm sure we'll be seeing more on the subject. Glad to hear that you're enjoying PF Online...

All the best,
Editor-in-Chief, Positive Feedback Online

Hi David...
I read your recent review of the Superclock II and was impressed. But knowing that the original Superclock required a separate (and expensive) power supply, I e-mailed Richard Kern, who I know did the installation work for you, and asked him if the Superclock II also required an additional power supply. This is his response.

From Richard Kern of Audiomod, at]:

Pete: The Super Clock 2 is $377 installed (return shipping on the SACD player is extra). The Super Clock 2 is so good that you don't need to add the power supply if you can't afford it. The power supply is $360 installed.
Richard Kern

Although its encouraging to note that apparently you can get by without the separate power supply, I'd be interested in your assessment as to whether the performance would be as good as, or nearly as good as, with the full configuration. Thanks.

Pete Watt

Good question, Pete!

I've done my best to answer this in a recent issue of Positive Feedback Online. Check my notes in "Reverberations," PFO Issue 4, at If you still have questions, let me know... I'll see if I can clarify things a bit further.

In a nutshell, however, I would say that the Superclock II all by itself is really quite fine. If that's all that you can afford, then you'll find the improvement to be quite striking. One additional thought that I haven't published in toto yet: the combination of the Superclock II plus Richard Kern's new transport mod... upgrading the transport section capacitors... looks to be the new sweet spot for "most bang for the buck."

Stay tuned for my review of that mod...but ask Richard about it in the interim.

(And yes, that goes for the rest of you too! ;-)  )

All the best, Pete..
Editor-in-Chief, Positive Feedback Online

To the Editor
I enjoyed Max Dudious' reviews of SACDs in Issue 5. I would like to add one suggestion. When discussing the brilliance of Duke Ellington's orchestrations (as Max does), it would be nice to also give a nod to Billy Strayhorn. Billy labored in relative obscurity (quite willingly) as at least 50% of Ellington's creative genius, so it would be good to give him his due in posterity.

David Zigas

Dear David Zigas,
You sure do have a well-documented case about Billy Strahorn's part in the great Duke Ellington oeuvre.  He certainly contributed a great deal, and he certainly deserves all due recognition.

I was writing about Gliere's Il'ya Murometz Symphony, and stretching it a bit (I felt) to show how Gliere was more than a little influenced by Anton Bruckner, and stretching it a bit more (I was sure) to make the analogy that Bruckner was to Mahler as Basie was to Ellington. To include even a paragraph about Ellington's indebtedness to Strayhorn, I felt, would be to stretch it too far. I probably would have mentioned it if the article was more centrally about Duke.

If it means anything, I am the proud owner of Lush Life: The Billy Strayhorn Songbook (Verve, 314 529 908-2) which I urgently reccomend to all Strayhorn fans; and of Great Times!: Duke Ellington & Billy Strayhorn Piano Duets (Riverside, RLP-475) that are each CDs despite Riverside's misleading LP designation. Both are the real.

Sometimes we are forced to leave certain items out of what must seem interminably long works, just to honor our sense of balance. Of course there is always the assumption on my part that for most folks it wouldn't matter all that much; and for those who are really "into the music," well, it's likely they already know. But thanks, David, for keeping me honest.

Dear Editor,
I recently developed a problem with my Sony SACD-player, SCA777ES. It played the "red-book" CDs well enough, but when I played some of my favorite SACDs, some that had played perfectly from start to finish with no problems just a week ago, it would get hung up. The music would stop, and the time counter would remain stuck on the elapsed time at the moment of the stoppage, say, 10:15. Then, after a while—sometimes only a few seconds, some times as much as a minute or two—it would resume playing music. It ticked me off.

What could it be? I talked to some audio buddies. A chip gone bad, some said. An intermittent solder joint, said others. What could I rule out? Some dust or dirt on the laser lens seemed more likely to me. I asked around.

Some said get a bottle of compressed air and blow out the dust (in my case animal hair most likely) that might accumulate in the body of the SACD player. Others said to use a vacuum cleaner.  I went to some photo shops, where I thought I could get a can of compressed air. Well, the three or four brands that were available all had some solvent mixed in. I didn't think that would be good for the innards of a CD player. And I didn't have a small enough nozzle to do any good with my vacuum cleaner when I tried.

Finally, I got a tip that Radio Shack marketed an item called "CD Laser Lens Cleaner." I drove through a blizzard to the nearest Radio Shack, and low and behold they did have one such.  It was eleven bucks and change. I took it home and, following the directions, I meticulously ran it through the routine described on its blister pack. My SACD player has been functioning perfectly for over a day now. I figure I saved myself some serious money with my little "CD Laser Lens Cleaner," what with not having to find someone to service my 777ES, or ship it back to Sony. I think the readership should know about this little beauty. If your  CD player has trouble with skpping or stopping, go out and get yourself the least expensive repair in the book.

Radio Shack Catalogue #42-227, "CD Laser Lens Cleaner."
Just another helpful hint from, your old pal,

Auro D'Oro

Hi David,
Love Positive Feedback Online. You guys are fantastic. The reviews, articles and interviews are great.

When will you be getting around to the Kimber Kable reviews? I`m very interested in these cables and wanted to read what you had to say about them. What I have read and heard people say has been very positive. Wanted to get your feedback.

Keep up the good work,

Hello Dave...
As a matter of fact, I have a set of Kimber reference cables (power, interconnects and speaker cables) in for review right now. I hope to finish my listening and commentary within the next couple of months.

So far, what I've heard has been good, but that's mainly been with the power cables and the interconnects. The Kimber definitely has its own feel and flavor, different from both my current JENA Labs and Cardas references.

More comments later, when I've had a chance to listen to the complete Kimber system, Dave. Expect to hear in either PF Online Issue 6 or 7.

All the best,

Editor-in-Chief, Positive Feedback Online

There are many people who need to use long interconnects between preamp and amp. Sometimes this is due to a belief that long interconnects are sonically better than long speaker cables, sometimes (as in my case) because of aesthetics of furniture and equipment placement. While your reviewers occasionally discuss the sonic benefits of short vs. long cables, both speaker and interconnect, they never review cables from the perspective of their value and use as long interconnects. Rarely do they specify the capacitance of cables, a critical consideration in selecting long interconnects. Short cables can sound different than long cables. And long cables can be horrendously costly.

I think it might be a valuable contribution for you to do a review of long interconnects (5-8 meters) in a variety of price ranges.

I have contacted a few cable makers to enquire about costs and suitability for use on long applications. I have found that some don't respond, some just say that they will "work fine", and a few give specific capacitance/foot and other data. Some are well known and widely reviewed and recommended (Cardas, JPS, DH Silver Sonic, etc.) and some I never heard of (Signal Group, Pure Note, Audience, Empirical). Some cost $2K - $5K for a 7 meter length, while others cost $160-$500 for the same length. A friend recently bought an 8 meter length of Signal Group simply for its rock bottom price and low capacitance/foot and to my ears it sounds quite acceptable, though a bit lean in the low end. When faced with a need for long interconnects, there are real issues of selection to be addressed, not to mention costs.

Perhaps this might be a worthy project?

Gardiner McCauley

You raise some good points, Gardiner. Cable reviewing is tough work...but I can well understand the frustration of 'philes who have to deal with escalating costs with long cable runs. It's going to get worse, too, as multi-channel SACD pushes us into the fine world of SIX cable runs(!!)

"Logistics is hell!" said Gen. Sherman. (Or he should have!)

We'll keep your suggestion in mind, and see if we can pop a project along this line later this promises, though!

All the best,

All the best,
Editor-in-Chief, Positive Feedback Online

To our Readers:
As of March 1, 2003, the portion of me that has opinions on electronics will become Amherst Audio, a Blue Circle dealer located in Amherst, Massachusetts, but available to anyone in the US interested in purchasing Blue Circle products but who is without a local dealer. I can be reached at (413) 549-6171 during evenings, weekends, and Mondays; at (508) 793-7179 during the day on Tuesday through Friday. At the latter number, ask for Bob Neill, not Amherst Audio.

I will be able to offer demonstrations of Blue Circle gear in my home by appointment, initially on Mondays but after September 30, 2003, on a more flexible schedule. For the record, I am in the Eastern Time Zone. My email address will be: until September 30, 2003, at which time I will post a new address.

Bob Neill

Hi David,
I have begun the process outlined in my past letter (see Issue 4), it has been incredibly helpful (my head is full of too much conflicting info, but I had an accoustics person here who was quite helpful). I still owe MaxDudious some feedback, but I have several questions. I have since raised my budget to something closer to $20k. I particularly like the Mezzo Utopia speakers.

With the lack of software in the SACD world, and reviews that the SACD players don't reproduce CD very well, I have been looking at the SIM Audio Eclipse CD player with its built in DAC. (A demo for about $3700). I am leaning toward two-channel (but making it work for movies, too, so probably will go with a pre/pro and a 5 channel amp (again looking at Sim Audio and Bryston),(depending on who I spoke to last)! I just signing on to ask you about the SCD-1s reproduction of regular CDs (and whether it had an internalDAC) when I saw your stop-the-presses note on the Meitner gear.  Sounds like any amount for a regular CD player would be a waste of money, and that I should wait several months to get the equipment from Meitner. Am I reading you right on that?


Hello again, Nick...
Well, yes, $20K is a pretty serious budget, all right. I wouldn't agree that SACD players don't reproduce CD's very well. Your stock SCD-1, 777 and XA-777 do a very good job, though my preference is for the modded players over stock. (See my previous articles on this subject at PF Online.) A modded SCD-1 does a fine job of CD playback, in my opinion. It isn't a Linn CD-12 (better) or a Meitner DAC6 (best I've heard), but in all fairness, neither does it cost as much.

"If" you can afford the Meitner DAC6/Meitner transport, that's the way I would go. You'll spend around $11K, but have exceptional 2/6 channel SACD and CD playback (assuming that you have a preamp that will handle 6 channels).

Call Jonathan Tinn at 503.221.0465, and discuss the Meitner option, and the system you're building. He may be able to advise you as to current pricing/availability of the Meitner system.

All the best,
Editor-in-Chief, Positive Feedback Online

Dave Glackin,
I really enjoyed meeting you at The Expo 2003. You're a lucky guy to be travelling with Stan Ricker! Somehow I think that would be more fun than being stuck in one room the whole time.  Your photographs are the best I've seen, hands down, of any from the show. You really caught the glow of Josh's mercury vapor tubes. Hard to do!

Thank you very much for mentioning PranaWire in your show review. It was easy to be overlooked as almost everyone who walked into the room took one look at the amps, their tongues fell on the floor, eyeballs bulging, and that's all they saw. Don't blame them though. I had the same response.

Thanks again Dave.

Look forward to seeing you at future shows, etc.

Best regards,
Joe Cohen
PranaWire - Breathing Life Into Music

I really enjoyed meeting you also. That's what the show is all about. And thanks for the kind words about the photos. Josh's amps are tough subjects to photograph, and it took some doing.

Seeing the show with Stan Ricker is an absolute blast. Stan is one of my closest friends in the known universe. I just wish I'd had a tape recorder running during all of our conversations over the last six years, because our readers could then be reading a second interview as big as the first (see Positive Feedback Online, Issues 1, 2 & 3). The amount of information and insight in Stan's brain is amazing.

Best of luck with your cables. If you exhibit them with Josh's amps again, you need to add some flashing LEDs and make them bounce up and down to make sure people notice them, however.

Best regards,
Dave Glackin
Associate Editor at Large, Positive Feedback Online

Good evening Dave
On behalf of Peter McGrath & myself we would like to thank you for kind words you wrote about our system at T.H.E. Show 2003.

BTW, we used five dm68 this year.

warm regards

Philip O' Hanlon
On a Higher Note, LLC
(distributor of excellence)

Dear Sirs,
I don't have much to complain about since the mag is now free. But, I do have one question. When will you do a review on the Merlin VSMM's?

Howdy Howard...
I've been working to get a pair of the Merlin Milleniums from Bobby P. for...oh...about two years now. We've had a pair promised by Bobby for sometime in March; if this finally comes together, then we'll put the Milleniums in the "Coming Soon" section of PF Online.

Editor-in-Chief, Positive Feedback Online

Ye Olde Editor:
First of all, I would like to thank Auro D'oro for his very insightful review of our Bellavista package (Bellvista 'table, Borghese Tonearm, and Boboli cartridge). I think he basically understands the philosophy behind our products and our company. That is not so easy to understand as it would seem based on Auro D'oro's advice. In fact, our being quite in conflict with the "regular" hi-fi approach in designing 'tables and arms, we normally have to suffer misunderstandings more often than people might expect.

So, I hesitate to comment in detail about what Auro D'oro has written, it is just too comprehensive. I would like to suggest owners place our Bellavista as far as possible from the center of wooden "floating" floors; at least to avoid walking close to the turntable while music is played. Auro D'oro suggested dampened maple cutting boards to help listeners in such situations. The best solution, in my opinion, to avoid (most of) the problems foot falls create is to place the turntable on a shelf directly fixed (screwed) to a wall.

In addition, I feel it is important to underline a couple of mistaken impressions about our top-of-the-line Bellagio 'table compared with the Bellavista 'table that might mislead the reader. The Bellagio is not merely the Bellavista table with improved mass. 

The Bellagio platter is a double Sustarin® (Bayer® Germany patented acetalic polymer) has different technical characteristics to the PolyVinyl used on the Bellavista. Also the lower and upper platters are decoupledthrough five Teflon® rectified rings and are fixed with five large stainless steel 8mm thick allen screws. Sustarin® not only is better for sonic purposes (being a much better self dampening material that diffuses vibrations faster), but due to its molecular structure is harder to machine, so having a higher rejection rate makes it even more costly.

The double plinth boards, where the platter spins, are laser cut with a particular curved shape that not only increases rigidity but also discharges vibrations. The lower transparent acrylic board is used only to fix the three conical feet to three 110mm tall, 8mm thick Titanium threaded bars in true perpendicularity to the acrylic board.

The motor is better and is fixed on the transparent board, not because we thought it was nicer than to make a hole to put the motor on the the 'table's shelf support (a la Michell), but because, considering that 90% of final users do not know the vibrational characteristics of shelf boards (which, in the final analysis, transfer vibrations to the platters, too); we preferred to fix it where we had the opportunity to develop a proper anti-vibration design (a motor cylinder box to match with a 15mm thick, 450mm deep, 550mm wide transparent board).

The arm board is better and absorbs more vibrations coming to the turntable platter than the Bellavista's arm board.

The bearing spindle system is the same but polished on every surface to guarantee a closer tolerance and so less friction.

Kind regards,
Maurizio Aterini

Send your comments to either or