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Certainly, I am into The Cable Art as well. It is an imperative part of any system, any budget. I, too, am a CD/SACD guy and would be interested in some of the musical selections used by JM during his audition of these cables. Please forward this email to him for his perusal. Continue to keep up the outstanding work!
All the best,
[To which the inimitable Dr. Merod replied:]
Dear J. A.,
The bulk of my listening when I review equipment takes place using my own recordings and masters. One of the interesting and revealing aspects of that is hearing musical nuances and sonic elements that cannot be heard on mass-pressed CDs and SACDs, et cetera. My colleague and editor, David Robinson, is certainly one of the most discriminating listeners I'm aware of in his devotion to well-recorded music at the highest levels of audio resolution. He and I agree that the emerging DSD audio universe is set to blow away the criminally inferior resolution that has dominated commercial musical reality since the onslaught of the 16-bit/44.1 kHz Compact Disc debacle. Before that, one could expect (and find) just about any album in the vinyl domain.
Finally, after nearly thirty years of sonic limitation and musical degradation in the mass market arena, the emergence of Direct Stream Digital (especially in its Double DSD and Quad DSD rates) revives our aesthetic wholeness. My recordings are now either 2xDSD (with the exception eight glorious hours of live recordings a year ago @ Quad-DSD), or 24/96 PCM.
The virtues and liabilities of "all things musically recorded" can be debated ad infinitum, but I'm given significant leverage and assistance in my review work by access to masters that unfailingly hold more sonic information than 99% of the recordings I could otherwise use as base-line audio reference material. That good fortune is a joy and a blessing for me. I'll suggest, if you do not know already, the superior replications (on vinyl and on hi-res digital) of Duke Ellington's Columbia Records Jazz Party as an addition to your world. A unique and thoroughly remarkable 180 gram vinyl pressing years ago (that I believe Chad Kassem has in stock) of Henry Mancini's original late '50s Peter Gunn album will truly illuminate any system you can hear it on.
Such good words are very important to us, give us encouragement and keep us going.
I don't know if your magazine allows manufacturer's comments and follow up, but nevertheless I will write one.
First - the styrofoam. We hate styrofoam and never use it, you were unlucky in the way that on that day the soft foam supply truck failed to come and we had to use something at hand or delay shipping by another 4 days. Maybe even miss your time slot allocated for us.
Concerning the button on the front: it is normally used for power ON-OFF but since your unit was a "reviewer unit" I thought it will be better if you will be able to switch between PCM and DSD many times per day and you use power only once, so to improve your access to this button I moved it from the back to the front. It was a last minute action and I forgot to change the labeling on the rear switch. Hence the painting tape on the front - used as a gesture to avoid your confusion.
Concerning the tubes sticking down - we had many suggestions that customers don't want to have tubes on the top because there are too many components on their rack competing for the top shelve - the vinyl deck, tube amps etc. So we needed to design a box that will be OK when stacked on the rack and yet at the same time the user wants to have access to tube rolling without opening the box (which invalidates the warranty). The upside down solution is my personal invention and pride.
We have higher models which do have tubes on the top when requested.
Back to the label issue: we can not have a chassis that has prefabricated engraved labels for inputs and outputs because every DAC is different. This is the competitive advantage of ours to be flexible and offer the configurations per order. Every DAC is custom made and no two of our 600 DACS were the same. Every DAC has different set of switches, functions and sockets. The only way is to label them individually. To this end we have over 40 different labels that we apply but since your DAC had only one function and button on the front - we did not want to clutter the front with small labels and switches. It has to remain plain, simple and elegant.
We figured out that if you see the tape marks, you will know whats going on, similarly to the situation in the car - we know which pedal is which without labels, and we know which position is the light ON in our room without labels. After all - the worst case scenario is that we move the switch on and off and see when it starts to play .
Concerning the power cables - yes we do not supply them. There are over 10 styles of plugs around the world - different in Poland, Germany, Italy, UK and Switzerland. Different in USA and in Brazil. India and Hong Kong. So instead of going to great lengths to buy them all and stock them all - only to find that no one uses them and every audiophile has special high end cables and throws our no name cable away - we supply nothing. Our environment is probably grateful for that.
Finally a word about displays - we do have a display in higher models, but not showing the signal type. In our DAC architecture we do not use software so this is impossible. We take for granted that if the DAC plays sound - it locked the signal and it plays it ALWAYS in 1:1 form - in other words - what comes in is played as it is and as you rightly pointed out - we see on the computer the file type. There is no need to repeat on the DAC to "assure" the user that he is not dreaming. We play no software games and in hardware mode - if it plays it is the file which is being sent.
Again thank you for thorough and interesting review and we hope to cooperate again. This time - no styrofoam and good labels.
With best regards
While all of these print publications are excellent in their respective ways,
I have read many reviews over the years that were poorly sited with musical references upon auditioning gear. In my opinion, siting formatted, musical reference(s) is something every reviewer should strive to achieve when communicating to the consumer audience.
J.A. Fant, Esq
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