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Positive Feedback ISSUE 9
october/november 2003


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Hello David,
Many people consider reviews to make a determination about the huge amounts of 'stuff' for the audio world.

I will be very direct... a cable review, eg., are these as objective as possible... or like other publications...are these reviews pleasant comments for a fee from product vendor...?

I hope my directness has not been too harsh... if you were Stereophile magazine... I would not care to ask...!

Thank You,

Joseph Ciarrocca

Hello Joseph...

That's a fair question, I reckon.

You're right that many people consider reviews before choosing a fine audio component... this has always struck me as very wise. There are more sources than ever for such reviews, ranging from traditional print to online publications like PFO, good online groups like Audio Asylum (, some of the Internet* newsgroups, and various web sites hither and yon. Provided that the comments provided by any of these sources are based upon real knowledge and experience, and provided that integrity is maintained (i.e., commentary is not skewed by commercial, "political/religious", or corrupting influences), then a reader can sift through reports, balance impressions, and use them as assisting information in coming to a decision.

This is particularly important when evaluating a component/system that is not available locally, and thus not subject to easy personal listening impressions.

The integrity of the review process must be maintained, therefore, since so many readers may be functioning on the trustworthiness of what we say.

To answer your question, which seems to be addressed at the above points:  PFO does NOT publish reviews "for a fee"... never has, never will. There is no quid pro quo in our reviews. If we like a component, we will say so regardless of the advertising stance of a manufacturer, and we'll say so for the reason that any audio lover of integrity would: *we like it because it sounds good in our listening room.*

If we can't get any magic out of a component, that doesn't necessarily mean that it isn't good...just that we couldn't find a point of synergy in our reviewer's room. The next reviewer may find it to be a fantastic design! For that reason, we do NOT publish negative reviews; *I believe that negative reviews to be broadly valid would have to be exhaustive, which no review is.* In that case, we simply ship the component back without comment.

On the other hand, if a component has magic in our rooms...if we strike gold...we say so in our review. A "hit" is indicative that something very good is going on, and we'll flag our readers' attention accordingly.

Throughout, the integrity of the process is vigilantly defended, and always has been. We publicly published our "Big Ten" back in Positive Feedback Online, Issue 6 (please see so that our readers would be aware of our internal policies on matters like these. That article is based on a memo that I sent out to all editors/contributors to Positive Feedback Magazine back in 1997... and was my informal policy before that going all the way back to the founding of PF in 1990.

In other words, you may trust that PFO operates on principles of integrity and trustworthiness in its work, and would never knowingly mislead, nor allow the corruption of the review process via quid pro quo.

I hope that this clarifies the matter for you, Joseph. Don't worry, your question was not harsh at all...and I don't mind answering this extremely important question from time to time.

All the best,

Editor-in-Chief, Positive Feedback Online

A very gracious thank you for a superb review of out "little" 100w/ch Wavac HE-833 Single-Ended Triode monoamps. Your description of the aesthetic, technical and sonic attributes was spot-on and the writing style provided a very entertaining read. It was nice to mention the CES show when I met you and Steve and shared some SACD moments—definitely good time memories!

A few comments:

  • All WAVAC amplifiers come with a pyrex glass shield—a nice, aesthetic & functional touch and far more attractive than metal cages.

  • All WAVAC amplifiers are self-biasing for optimal operation and user friendliness

  • All WAVAC amplifiers use the IITC circuit with no coupling capacitors in the signal path

  • All WAVAC amplifiers use only 1 output tube per channel for optimal sonic purity, resolution and magic

I note the use of high quality copper cables in your review—we also have found WAVAC designs work very well with silver cables including silver AC power cables.

tmh audio is very honored to represent WAVAC Audio Lab—it becomes very easy to market as we are so passionate about the WAVAC designs and sonics. Not only the state-of-the-art HE-833 SET, but the more affordable products which also have received rave reviews. These allow more people to experience the WAVAC purity and use the products Steve Hoffman uses in his mastering system.

Again, thanks for the great comments and the professional way the review process was handled.

Best Regards,

Jim Ricketts, tmh audio
US importer of high-performance audio & home theater products

Hello Jim...

Yes, I remember CES 2001 with a great deal of fondness... the main down side to that event was that my digital camera wasn't working properly. No photographs!

Thanks for the clarifications on the WAVAC line. I suspected that your points were true, but without researching the entire line, I wouldn't have been able to say so authoritatively. WAVAC seems to be onto some very special developments; I can see why you're pleased to be distributing their work.

All the best to you and the fine folks at WAVAC...

Editor-in-Chief, Positive Feedback Online

Greetings, and sorry for the unexpected email but I had to make a comment on the new Meitner DAC6 and DCC2. If it is as good as you and others claim it to be then cheers! However for the asking price a single box design would have been more practical for consumer use and probably more profitable to EMM labs. Thanks for your time.

Patrick Nicolas

Dear Editor
I would like to thank Positive Feedback, in particular, Dudious Max, for his well written article in Issue 9. As a manufacturer, it is always gratifying to hear that your products have been well received.

Beyond the evaluation of different cables products, the greater issue that Max has attempted to address is thought provoking. As much as we know in our advanced (?) state of civilization, there is more that we either don’t know or don’t fully understand.

While I am glad that our cables floated Max's boat, I hope the article will lead others further down the road on their own quest.

But, in the end, we may all have to "go ask Alice".

Art Almstead
Twisted Pair Designs

Dear Sirs
According to Albert Einstein, "everything should be as simple as possible, but no simpler!"

Mike Klein

Yes, I thought of that quote of Einstein's myself, Mike, when I read Max's article. I'm re-reading Ronald W. Clark's excellent biography of Einstein right now, in fact; this is one of those fine aphorisms that people like Einstein, Twain, and Churchill coined on a gratifyingly regular basis.

The point that Einstein made is of major epistemological significance, of course...a necessary qualification of Occam's Razor, in my opinion.

All the best,

Editor-in-Chief, Positive Feedback Online

In the old paperbound days, for PF and all of its printed paleolithic brethren, "Issue" contents were limited and defined by the constraints of time, space and matter. In a webzine, as you well know, those are all jumbled. PF Online, as you have noted, is dynamically updated, with red stickeys alerting us to new arrivals. Plus, old stuff "carries over" into new; stuff that once wouldn't have made it into print because of tardiness, arrives later on, but still the same "issue."  I'm not sure "Issue," as a frame of reference for the reader on the web, has any utility anymore, any more than a dial would have relevance on our push button phones. Though, interestingly, we haven't come up with a new verb for "dialing." -- David Zigas

Hello David...

A point very well taken! One of the early decisions that Dave Clark and I made as we developed the concept of Positive Feedback Online was to shed the restrictions of print publication, and go with the strengths of this new medium. (As in, "Yes, I can teach you to fly, but that cocoon has got to go.")

We went the idea of having dynamic issues, with ongoing development of an issue during a bi-monthly period, and fluid boundaries for "issues." You're right; the result has been a form of publication in which "issue" is a rather general way of labeling a period of flux, rather than a hard and fast designation of finished content. The intent is to serve our readers, and give ourselves a greater artistic freedom to pursue ideas, without the tyranny of concrete time frames. This is the nature of the medium, and I am happy as an artist to use its plastic nature as a source of creative power.

"Issue" still works for me, but its new context means that its nature has changed.

Thanks for the stimulating comments!

All the best,

Editor-in-Chief, Positive Feedback Online

Dear Sirs,
Clark Johnsen's "The Forbidden City" was highly enjoyable, although studies remain inconclusive. Keep 'em coming for one does not live on high-end audio alone.

Everardo de Armas

Clark is always exceptionally thoughtful, incisive, and provocative in his writing, Everardo; he's one of the very best writers in fine audio.

You may be sure that as long as Clark chooses to write for us, we will continue to publish him.

All the best,

Editor-in-Chief, Positive Feedback Online

Good evening,
I wanted to drop a line to tell you much I enjoyed your new column by Clark Johnsen, "From Clark Johnsen's Diaries: The Forbidden City." Good job and well put!

Thank you,

Donald Nunez

Hello Donald...
Thanks for taking the time to put in a kind word for Clark's work. He's an exceptional writer, and his efforts deserve careful attention.

I know that Clark appreciates hearing from those who enjoy what he does!

All the best,

Editor-in-Chief, Positive Feedback Online

Dear Sirs
One important aspect of the IPOD that was not covered in your review is that it has the capacity to store and play uncompressed PCM. This makes the IPOD and some of its competitors a very attractive prospect for the high end community. For instance, even the 30GB unit could hold upwards of 46 cds.

In addition, Creative Labs offers a 60GB model that is the equivalent to the IPOD (if less sexy).

By the way, great mag!

Gabe Gordon

Hello Gabe...

These are important points that you make; if we're going to have PCM kicking around, uncompressed (or lossless compression) is the way to go for maximum audio quality. My personal preference for digital audio reproduction is DSD instead of PCM, but iPOD type devices for SACD playback are not here yet.

Thanks for the addendum; glad to hear that you enjoy PFO!

All the best,

Editor-in-Chief, Positive Feedback Online

Dear Sirs
I was pleased to see the review of the Audio Note DAC and transport on Positive Feedback Online. I have been curious about AN DACs for some time and Bob Neill's comments cemented my decision. I was able to find a used AN 2.1x Balanced DAC for sale locally, hardly used—he quickly upgraded to a 3.1x balanced, and after a demo decided it was what I had been looking for all this time. It's truly great, and I should add that I find Bob's reviews great as well. He seems on a journey of self discovery and the context of the music helps too.

However, good as the 2.1x balanced is in my experience, has their been any talk of how the 4.1x balanced compares to lesser models? How much better can it get from the 2.1x balanced? And how important is the AN transport? Right now I'm using an Electrocompaniet EMC-1 Up as a transport, my former CDP of choice. Is there a real synergy with the AN products?

Much thanks!


Thanks for the feedback. I am as curious as you are about how well the less expensive Audio Note dacs perform and have at least two more reviews in the pipeline, each setting a less expensive dac into an appropriate system: the 1.1x Signature and a 2.1 balanced, both using the CDT-1 transport.

Since my reference gear is Blue Circle electronics and Reynaud speakers, I will be using that equipment in the reviewsthe 1.1x with a Blue Circle CS integrated amp and Reynaud Arpeggiones (floor-standing versions of the Twins) and a Blue Circle BC3 Galatea II/BC28 combo with Reynaud Evolution 3's. Stay tuned.

I have no idea how critical the CDT-2 is to what I heard from the 4.1 balanced dac, but I have come to believe deeply in synergy. I will approach AN's transports and dacs (and the IC between them) as one component. Listening to Peter Qvortrup on the subject of transports, I get the sense that he finds the principal competition for its transports smooth but a bit colorless. I find that a useful commment. If you can, I would get hold of an AN transport to see if that gets it. I may also try the CDT-2 transport with somebody else's dac.

Bob Neill

I looked through the achives and haven't seen much on Rotel or Mirage, which I hope isn't due to the "don't say anything bad" clause. You know of anyone that has or where I can get some tweek info on Rotel RSP-1066, RMB-1075 and Mirage OM-8's?  I'm thinking of gutting the Mirages, removing the poweramp and xover outside the box and using some decent wire inside. Was wondering if anyone has done anything similar.

No harm in askin' is there?


Gary Koralewicz

Hello Gary...

Yep... no harm in asking!

You don't see much on the Rotel or Mirage lines because we haven't gotten anything in from those folks. If we ever do, and if it's worth commenting on, we'll do it.

All of which means that I can't tell you anything about tweaking them, either. We'll publish your query in "Reverberations"; if any of our editors/writers can help, or another PFO reader, we'll be sure to publish it there for you.

Editor-in-Chief, Positive Feedback Online

Hi Dave,
I am just writing to you to alert you to a gentleman and a modified SACD player. Perhaps you know the guy. His name is Alex Peychev. This weekend I listened to one of his creations and I was amazed (see The difference between his machine—a modded SACD1000—and my Allen Wright modified Sony were not subtle. And the Sony beats a stock SCD-1 hands down. I would go out on a limb and say that Meitner should be worried :-)

Of course I have no idea what I am talking about, not having heard the Meitner, but I was so impressed with the sound quality that I thought that you ought to seek it out.

I know you're interested in mods and you've done us—the hi rez community—such a good service writing about it. Just wanted to pass the message on


Joel Waterman

Very interesting report, Joel... I'm always interested in what's being done with SACD mods.

I know the work of Dan Wright with the SACD-1000 (excellent!), but I'm not familiar with Peychev. I can well believe that the stock SCD-1 can be bested by either the Vacuum State Audio mods or the Peychev mods; the stock SCD-1 is good, but can be seriously improved, as I've documented. Richard Kern's work with the SCD-1 has been extraordinary; he's really wringing all sorts of improvements out of that Sony model.

Dan Wright's modded SACD-1000 is the only one that I've's very good indeed. He's done some things with the mods to the 1000 since I last listened to his work, but he and I haven't been able to schedule a listening session... dueling daytimers, there!

I'm slated to do an interview with Allen Wright at VSAC 2003 in just a few days; I'm looking forward to meeting him personally, and sharing his views on DSD/SACD and the modification of same. Should be of interest to all PFO readers!

As to Meitner being "worried"... personally, I doubt it. Once you hear the Meitner, it's clear that it is the reference standard in SACD playback... I haven't heard anything that bests it, or even comes too close.

Meanwhile, if you can send Peychev's vital stats along, or have him email me, we'll see if anything can be done to arrange a review of a modded player.

All the best, Joel... drop us an email any time.

Editor-in-Chief, Positive Feedback Online