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Positive Feedback ISSUE 64
november/december 2012


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Uncle Dave,
I just wanted to send a note of thanks for your work at Positive Feedback. I have been enjoying my first evening listening to higher audio-quality music (some 88.2 khz downloads from HDTracks) on my recently completed homemade 3-way towers. I've enjoyed perusing old articles from your magazine while setting up my Mac to play some of these better formats (currently playing them through Channel-D's Pure Music after reading some favorable reviews at PFO and elsewhere). I am struck by how much music I have been missing in lesser formats—though having a quiet house with everyone else sleeping certainly helps hear more as well.

Your friend,

Scott Gaastra

Hello Scott...

Thanks for the pleasant note… it's always good to hear from my favorite family brewmeister!

You're on a good track with your progression in fine audio. I like the fact that you've made your own three-ways; you'll certainly learn something from that experience. HDTracks does have some good stuff in higher-rez PCM files, though my preference remains DSD and Double DSD files. Harder to get, but much better for the ears and soul!

Dr. Rob Robinson's Pure Music system is excellent for Mac-based high-end listening, and does support DSD playback if you have an external DAC with USB 2.0 and DSD support. There's a growing list of those; check out my compilation at You'd benefit quite a lot from one of these DACs, avoiding the use of your Mac's internal chipset.

Stay in touch, and let me know how your audio journey progresses….

David R.

I own the KWI200 and I am using the Von Schweikert VR Signature speakers which are a hot rodded version of the VR4SR Mk111 speaker. I am disappointed that you consider the Modwright a budget amp. I read your intro and understand you specialize in budget equipment, but the $20,000 VS speakers sound fantastic with this amp.

This amp replaced a tube Ayon Triton and imo blows that amp away. I had wished you spent more time on how the amp sounds than about the dac and phono stage features.

Those features are important but the sound I feel is up there with the best. I have gone to CES about 15 times and audio shows since 1955 when I was 10 so I have heard great equipment and I would take this amp over Krell- Mark Levinson etc etc. It reminds me of the Halcro house sound which sells for pre-amp and amp about $60,000+.

Just my opinion otherwise great review.

Thank you for your work.

Elliot Burstein


Glad you read the review, and glad you enjoy the KWI200 in your system. I would imagine anyone that had this amp in his or her system would enjoy it a great deal. It is one sweet amp. Nice choice of speakers, too. I've always admired Albert's work.

I do not think of any $6000 product is as a “budget” device, other than maybe relative to the company's other products. The lengthy intro was simply to explain how I could justify reviewing a $6000 product in light of my self-imposed budgetary constraints.

If it had been an amplifier that sounded that good for $1500, I would probably have written a completely over the top no holds barred OMG I have to buy it review. I also can't imagine I will ever hear a $1500 amp that sounds anywhere near as good as the KWI200. It is pretty much the best amplifier I have ever had in my system, and I've been doing this since the late 1970s. However, at that price point, I expect a product to be exceptionally good, and was probably trying to be more critical of it than if it had been a lower cost “budget” amp.

I would take it over any Krell or Levinson I've heard, too, as I've never cared for the general sound of those brands (though the early KSA50 and ML-2 were pretty special). I've only heard Halcro at CES and other audio shows, but I generally don't spend a lot of time in rooms showing gear at that price point. I spend most of my time at shows trying to hunt down products that offer better value than a $60,000 amplifier.

That the KWI200 comes with very effective DAC at that price, is significant, and adds to its overall value. In spite of loving my LPs and my Linn, probably around 85% of my listening time with the KWI200 was from my server through the built in DAC. The KWI200 may not be a “budget” product, but it is clearly a very high value product.

Thanks for reading,

Steve Lefkowicz

Which one can play louder and witch speaker can play poor recordings better. Thinking of pairing with Wyerd 4 Sounds sti500 & Rega Apollo-R. Would that be a good match for either speaker. Really like your view on affordable audio.


Both the Silent Speaker and Lore will play as loudly as I care to listen. That doesn't really answer your question though. Ultimately, the Lore is capable of higher output levels without compression or distortion. I brought mine to a friend's house whose room is much larger than mine and who listens much louder than I normally do. With his Quicksilver 6550 (modified) amps, the Lore played way louder than I would ever listen and sounded great.

The Silent Speaker will play plenty loudly too, though it will certainly take a lot more power to do it. The few times I've really cranked my Silent Speakers up (with either a 105 watt or a 200 watt amp), they do lose a little in dynamics (compared to the Lore) and probably can't really sustain as high an output either. As I said, though, I listen at reasonable and fun levels, not rock concert levels.

The question about poor recording is a good one. Probably due to its slightly lower resolution, and more mellow overall balance, the Silent Speaker may be a little better at playing poor recordings. One thing I love about the Silent Speaker is that I can really enjoy long listening sessions without being overly concerned with audio stuff, but just enjoying the music. The Lore is quite good at this too, though may be a little more amplifier dependent. I realized that most of my time with the Lore has been with either tube or MOSFET amps, which I find generally more forgiving of poor recordings.

On a side note, the Silent Speakers are less critical of speaker cable, so there is potentially some consideration there, too.

I guess I'm glad I have both.

The Wyred4Sound amp you mention should be fine with either speaker. It has plenty of power for the Silent Speaker, which needs at least 100 watts in a decent sized room. Overall power is not that important with the Lore, though they will clearly show the differences and qualities of the amp feeding them. I haven't heard it at home, but the W4S amps have impressed me at the shows I've attended.

Hope that helps.


I just want to throw a shout out to Michael Mercer for his Bob Ludwig interview in PFO. This is exactly the kind of stuff I enjoy reading. To me, mastering engineers, at least the ones who are true artists, are the among the most interesting and authoritative of audiophiles because they're the ones who actually hear and, in some ways, create the finished product. I'm also always interested in the gear they use because it's gear that actually works in the professional world, rather than mere hobbyist stuff. And mastering engineers like Bob Ludwig know detail and accuracy when they hear it. Bob says he used to use those massive Duntechs, and he currently uses Eggleston Ivys. I looked those up and they're a little out of my price range. I'm wondering if you have ever heard either of these speakers and if they were ever reviewed by PFO. Again, hats off to you, David, for securing such a great interview for the magazine and to Michael.

Timothy Roth

Based on the recent articles you've posted, it's clear that you're a

freaking nutcase! Therefore I'm really looking forward to your future contributions to PF.

Russ Stratton

If you'd like more, see the "Beyond the Ariel" thread at the Multi-Way Loudspeaker forum at Diyaudio:

It's a very long thread that was inactive for a year or so, and is now active again, now that a prototype is up and running. (But not in the same part of the country where I live, so it's time to build my own.)

As mentioned in the articles, I design my own amps and loudspeakers because there is nothing on the market remotely close to what I'd like. I might commercialize the Karna amplifier or the new loudspeaker, but I'd prefer to license the design - I've done manufacturing before, and it's not something I want to do again. I think trade screcy is destroying the industry, so I share key design features of what I do on the Web.

DACs, though, are another story. I have a general understanding of what's inside, but I'm still researching exactly how Sigma-Delta and DSD devices work - there's a lot of sleight-of-hand in digital terminology, and translating it back into real-people-speak is not simple. For example, what they call "digital noise" is nothing of the sort - it's a collection of digital-feedback errors that appear at the top of the band, and measures somewhat like noise. Unlike analog noise, though, it is correlated with the input signal, but in a very complex way (chaos math is needed to analyze the relationship).

Lynn Olson

The Higher End

About the "expectation of privacy" and those emails to Positive Feedback Online

Ye Olde Editor

We do like hearing from you, our readers. It adds a great deal fun to what we do, encourages our editors and writers, provides information we may have missed, and correction that we may need. This is all to the good.

Your communication with us these days is almost always via the highly rational path of email. And we do read it, responding to the constructive correspondence—which is most of it, really—as quickly as possible. (The destructive stuff is routed directly to the bit bucket. Didn't yo' mama teach you better than that?!) Dave Clark and I are generally pretty rapid in getting back to you if a response is needed from us, or in re-directing inquiries to the appropriate person at PFO if it needs to go to an editor or writer.

By the way: please understand that the writers and editors at PFO are helpful folks, eager to assist their fellow audio/music lovers, or they wouldn't be doing what they're doing. Nevertheless, PFO is not an audio consulting service. Please do not clog the gears with complex requests for assistance with the sourcing of audio gear in your personal setting. Remember too that PFO is not, and has never been, an audio ombudsman. If you are having problems with a particular vendor, company, or dealer, please avail yourself of the normal channels for such resolution; no audio publication has the time or resources to take on such a responsibility for consumers. Enough said.

With an increasing flow of emails to Positive Feedback Online, and upon evidence of some recent confusion on the part of our email correspondents, it's become necessary to re-state the ground rules by which we operate here. So gather round the campfire, friends…

Any time an email, or an exchange of emails, is both constructive and of potential wider interest, we exercise the reserved right to publish it in "Reverberations," the letters section of PFO. This is, after all, a publication, a "journal for the audio arts." We are seeking to further educate and entertain our readership in our common love for fine audio, and contributions in the form of emails/letters from our readers are one way that we accomplish this goal. When you write to any of us… our essayists and reviewers included… we assume that you are aware of our nature as a publication, and that you write to us in the light of that knowledge.

This means that—unless you request confidentiality explicitly in your email or letter—there is no expectation of privacy here at Positive Feedback Online.

To put it another way: Any email or letter sent to this journal will be considered fair game for publication, unless you state in the document itself that the contents are private/confidential.

So… our default is PUBLISH.

The reverse is also true: the editors do reserve the right not to publish an email or letter. We are not obligated to publish your letter or comments simply because they are submitted. And hostile, negative, sarcastic, destructive emails or letters are never published.

So…sometimes we DON'T PUBLISH.

Finally, our subtitle for "Reverberations"—"Our readers respond—we respond right back!" is not a guarantee that we will always respond to an email or letter that is published. Often we do; sometimes we don't… usually when we don't, it's a case of res ipsa loquitur.

So finally… sometimes we PUBLISH WITHOUT RESPONSE.

I think that makes things clear. Having said all of this in the name of clarity, keep those cards and letters coming in!

All the best,

David W. Robinson