POSITIVE FEEDBACK ONLINE - ISSUE 11
Our readers respond we respond right back!
The unfortunate thing is Misty River barely made ends meet this first year and hope that they can get some real gigs and return next year so I have so advised Stereophile and TAS that they were available for 2005. You guys want to have a party? I have rehired them for 2005 as has Albert BTW.
I'm overjoyed to hear that Misty River will return to Las Vegas in 2005. Thanks for everything that you have done to make that happen. I told the members of the band that listening to them was the most fun that I'd had at a CES in years, and I meant it.
Where does the silver transformer mod fit in this priority? It would be nice if it is # 3 that way much of 3 could be scaled back (cost reduced) as no longer necessary. BTW I enjoy PF very much and look forward to each update/new issue. Keep up the fine work.
I am not familiar with Richard Kern's silver transformer mods, and so cannot comment on it/them. I've cc:'ed Richard Kern with your question; he has a very good sense of what his "hierarchy of modification priorities" look like.
Glad to hear that you enjoy PFO...so do we!
All the best,
These are the best bang for your buck mods. If you wish to go further, add to these modifications:
The Sony the reader heard had all of the above modifications installed.
Thanks for the clarification, Richard; I'm sure that our readers will appreciate reading your latest recommendations on the sequencing of your Audiomod modifications.
All the best,
Unfortunately, I had been out of college only a few years, and my budget and student loans were a significant impediment. So no Stax for me. Well, I'm looking for that same experience. I've not been able to locate Audiostatics to listen to, but was wondering if you might be able to provide a sonic comparison of your Audiostatics versus the Stax. I'm also familiar with the Martin Logan CLSIIz sound, so that's another reference. I've listened to other electrostatics, like Acoustat, but I don't feel I've listened enough to say that I really know their sound.
Thanks in advance for any feedback you might provide on electrostatics that can come close to reproducing (or exceeding, is that possible?) the Stax ELS-F81 magic.
Now, I have not heard the absolute newest version of the Audiostatic (I owned two generations older and have heard one generation older Audiostatics) but I would assume that they are at least as good as what I have heard.
So, what are the limitations? As you may know the STAX are quite limited in both bass response and ultimate loudness (they begin to sound quite hard as well at relatively high levels say around 90db), so a big room is definitely out. The Audiostatics will play louder with less strain and have actually a quite good bass response as long as they are at least 1 meter away from the back wall. Both have the best low level response I have ever heard except for some horn loudspeakers. Tonally, I would say the Audiostatic is more neutrally balanced from top to bottom (the STAX sounds a bit lightweight sometimes) but doesn't soundstage or image quite as good (still not bad at either).
My understanding is that the latest generation has even better bass response and better imaging and soundstaging capabilities. One final caveat, these speakers will reveal all the defects in your system and deserve the best electronics you can give them and they are a demanding load for an amplifier. If your electronics are not up to it, they will not perform to their capabilities. However, if transparency is what you crave then I can say that the Audiostatics are among the very best of what is currently available.
We'll publish this in our "Reverberations" section, so that our readers can avail themselves of this resource.
All the best,
Thanks for this. The only Sony I've heard is the one heavily modified by Audience that sells for around $5K. I haven't put that head to head with the low-end Audio Note gear yet, mainly because of the price differential. I'll do that soon just to see what's up, now that you've put me onto it. I do think that there are probably a goodly number of digital sources in the c. $3000 range that would do very well in an under $10,000 system and would love to compare some of them at some point. Your preference for the Sony 777 in an Audio Note system is instructive: meaning you already know what AN is supposed to sound like, so you're not dragging in a new presentation or sound to compete with it but what sounds to you like a better version of the same thing! The AN gear sounded fine to me, but I have a lot of gear to hear before anything I say is remotely definitive. It would be fun to try out a pile of c. $3000 cdp's on this system or one like it some day. I may take that as a personal challenge. I note that the DAC 1.1x Signature is due out soon as a Mk II. And who knows what the CDT ONE will emerge as by the time we have decent spring thaw up this way?!! Peter never sleeps.
While commercial products do bring in the advertising dollar more people need to re-find quality audio and that will not happen as long as there is a gap between $30 and @3,000 audio systems.
I want to spend my $ on music not the latest vintage fad.
PS. Since none of the low end vacuum tube amps I have seen on the internet, meet my requirements : namely a regulated power supply and a volume control and at least two inputs (DVD player and Computer); I am busy working on a DIY project. The odd part is the solid state stuff is harder to find and buy than the better quality audio components.
Positive Feedback Online does a number of reviews during the year that concentrate on less costly designs. We have also published DIY projects over the years, as well as Pooge-ing projects that help a user take what he or she has and make it better for an investment in parts, solder, and time.
Good used gear can be found at more reasonable prices at e-Bay or audiogon; if you know what you're looking for, and proceed with the caution that all on-line transactions require, you can find some very good deals there. There are also modification services available, and some kit companies that can get you into tubes at a pretty decent cost.
It sounds like you know what you want. Have at it, and don't worry about the world of commercial products...that's a different thing altogether.
All the best,
Laboriel using the Gilmore speakers as his bass cabinets. Sounded good though the lowest
octave was missing.
we had measuring gear at the show which showed clearly that the speakers were reproducing
bass down to 20HZ authoritatively. We know that the speakers were reproducing bass down to
16 HZ because of recordings that we played with 16HZ organ pedal tones. Our test equipment
at the show only went down to 20HZ. It has previously been tested down 3dB at 17 Hz,
flat to 20 HZ.
and he did it through a bank of Atma-Sphere electronics! Clean and very dynamic with
amazing speed and definition.
you for you kind attention.
What we did hear was very impressive and it appears that not only do you have a killer product, but one that meets the needs of one of the best bass players alive today. On the other hand, would loved to have heard Bill Laswell pay some dub-stylings through them...!
As to the Atma-Sphere amplifiers off to the side, again my apologies. From where we were standing in the back, we assumed he was playing through that set-up to get such powerful and dynamic presentation.
Did you find, like Bob, that the player required an extended warm-up? I'm wondering if Bob received a new player and the extended warm-up was simply a break-in phenomenon. Also, did you experiment with power cords?
As far as the Xindak's personality goes, my reckonings of its slight eccentricity had more to do with its mechanical and digital locking features that with its sonority or response to electrical or audio in-put of any sort. I wanted the player to respond to its remote immediately & perfectly. It refused, preferring something more whimsical instead. One accepts its "joke" since it sounds so bloody good.
If there is any possibility of doing a review of the Exquisites, we'll certainly pursue it.
And for me, that's very enthusiastic....
All the best,
The timing is tough to say. I do believe that EMM Labs intends to debut their new transport at CES 2004; sometime soon after that is when I would guess we'll see it here.
I expect the results to be much different than the first review? Well, I'd be very much
surprised (read, "shocked!") if Ed and crew are not able to significantly better
the sound of the Meitnerized Philips SACD 1000. My discussions with them over the past
year indicate that they are quite confident the results will be a noticeable improvement
over the current transport system.
When I know, our readers will know.
All the best,
The huge strength of these speakers is the utterly flat midrange... as far as my RS SPL meter and I could tell, they were completely flat from the upper bass to the lower treble. Besides the 125 Hz dip I mentioned, there was also a siginificant peak around 6kHz, and the speakers cut off rather sharply after 12 kHz, accounting for the rather mellow presentation. After talking this over a little with the designer, I learned that without the 6kHz peak, the speaker sounds too dull. I even experimented with the alignment of the woofer, unscrewing it and removing the rubber surround whichpurposely of courseputs it 1 cm further forward than the tweeter. I discovered that this move greatly reduced the coherence of the sound (silly me, of course!).
The Preludes were sensitive to speaker cables, instantly distinguishing to the untrained ear (my girlfriend) the rather large sonic differences between a double run of 8TC and a pair of DH Labs Silver Sonics. The speakers were also very revealing of component upgrades. I used them with heavily modded Counterpoint hybrid electronics, which partly accounts for my experience of them as warm and full... Tom Campbell's experience of them as somewhat lean probably reflects his use of the Coda and Marsh amplifiers. By the way, I always thought their sensitivity was closer to 86 dBw/m than 91.5! They liked power, did really well on Bryston solid state, and poorly on flea powered amps. Their bass dynamics were very impressive when the recording (and amp) allowed it.
So thanks for the review. Their smaller siblings, the Duets, look very promising as well and it would be good to see a review of those... poor man's Merlin TSMs.
and Happy New Year !
Thanks again for writing me back, you've made my day!
P.S. Of course I dig the gear too! I forgot to mention in all of this high browed discussion that I enjoy your publication and the fact you don't seem to have a political agenda. Wow. That IS different!
Hello again, John...
You're certainly welcome, though I didn't really see your comments as a "rant." You raised some good issues, ones that were worth responding to.
Quite true that fine audio, like any realm of personal taste and preference, is ruled by relativities. That's why I don't bother getting involved in the various absolutist dogfights in audio, and stay pretty mellow when it comes to reviewing. Our work here at Positive Feedback Onlineso far as it pertains to reviewingis a set of impressions, of reports from the front lines, that are, in the nature of things, contingent and indicative. They are a journal of audio discovery by our community, written in the hopes that they will prove helpful to others.
I haven't heard the dCS SACD system yet. If I ever do, and I liked the results, I would report it here at PFO. What I have heard and judged "the best" in my listening room, worthy of the Brutus Award for 2003 in its category...the EMM Labs Meitner DAC6...is given in that context, and not as an "absolute." Audiophilia nervosa is a pathetic form of obsession; we are trying to free people from such slavish behavior here at PFO! Once lovers of fine audio realize that they are at liberty to educate their senses...to move from "sense" to "sensibility"...then they are free to love what they love, and to do so intelligently, passionately, and without being threatened by the preferences of others.
And wouldn't that be something!
TAS has lost my advertising dollar by allowing R Greene to dig his heels into B & M and the manufacturers who support them, in his speaker review 2 issues back. When called on the carpet, Harley paid me lip service, and I told him I would not advertise again until I saw an apology to all of us in his editorial- fat chance of that, but so goes the industry. Indeed, I saw the hand writing on the wall years ago, and began an educational website with online store hoping to reach the new blood that ALL mags ignored. Too little to late, I'm afraid. We are now left with generations of incest, and zero new hobbyists.
'Pile is akin to pabulum, and has been. Not that it wasn't often a fun read, with the likes of Corey G, and Sam of old.
My friend goes to Brazil every year...brings back some very nice brands of jazz...I must say without exception, these labels, CD's, which are entirely in Portuguese are absolutely excellent, artistically, technically.
I wonder if the Brazilian love for music also goes into a more conscientious recording and mastering process???
years ago I lived in Brasil; it's a wonderful place (and a disturbing one), filled with
extraordinary music. I will never forget the escolas de samba on thousands of street
corners during the week of Carnival in
I haven't listened to Brasilian recordings in quite a while, so can't comment on their relative quality, but I am tempted to speculate that there may be less opportunity to screw up the recordings than in many studios in the USA. An awful lot of these "half acre of mixing boards, companders, and Eqers"... plus the crummy zip cords, power supplies, and mics... simply need to be dropped into the nearest landfill and forgotten.
Fine recordings are more likely to be produced with simple, direct topologies populated with superior components that are well-matched, and well known, than by the witch's brew of trash that are very common even in smaller studios.
Any studio that practices "less is more; quality, not quantity" in its work is much more likely to produce excellent recordings... in Brasil, or the USA.
After reading this months(?) issue I see we (you) are following the Audiophile outline of magazine design and format. I have no problem with the recognition of products that show an advancement of the state of the art of our hobby. I do however see sameness in all of the audio magazines either in print of on-line in that you have decided to chose one product in each of your audiophile catagories for "best" .
I am neither a neophyte nor an aged sage of the high-end, however, I've been around long enough to have noticed a particular trend in this pursuit of ours. This has to do with the choosing of a "best" product in a endevour that has more than one "best" at any given time because of the nature of the beast, i.e. the imperfection of the equipement and it's inability to deliver all the emotional content as well as complete technical accuracy required to achieve a level of performance above all others.
it is beyond doubt that no single component reproduces the absolute musical event
absolutely it is to some that certain aspects of the playback of a given
performance is reproduced by a given piece of gear in each catagory more accurately
than another but not "in total"(all aspects of repro). Each one has it's
weaknesses as well as strengths. My feeling is that you have a group of as few as two or
three or as many as you can justify that are at defining the state of our art than
the majority. Some are better at reproducing dynamics and detail while others are better
at the emotional end or the overall sense of a musical performance in the total but
lacking in one aspect.
is reproduced by a given piece of gear in each catagory more accurately than another but not "in total"(all aspects of repro). Each one has it's weaknesses as well as strengths. My feeling is that you have a group of as few as two or three or as many as you can justify that are at defining the state of our art than the majority. Some are better at reproducing dynamics and detail while others are better at the emotional end or the overall sense of a musical performance in the total but lacking in one aspect.
As an example you have designated the EMM 6 as the state of the art in digital playback (please don't play the "industry so states" card). I agree it is one of the most detailed and enjoyable processors I have had to priveledge to listen to. It is also slighty forward in the upper mid and treble range and can be somewhat fatigueing in long listening sessions.
I am not disagreeing with your selection other than to say there others that excel in other areas of digital playback and could be included (Bermester, Goldman, DCS,etc) in this particular catagory. I guess I'm saying that maybe it is time we have catagories of "best" that that include more than one manufacturer (if warrented) that bring a level of musical enjoyment that are above the rest. I've read other publications that had class "A", "B", "C", etc, and now show a class 'A+". What's that?
My apologise for the long winded diatribe but this is a subject that seems to be in the "How To" section in putting together an audio mag. We need to take a different look at how we define "the best".
Interesting points, Mr. Dix. In response, the following:
1. Without debating the etymology of "best," I would say that I agree with you that selecting a "one best" can be misleading. This is why I stated explicitly in my introductory comments that our selections would be based upon components that we had personally heard, and that any no-mentions would not be indicative of a lack of merit, but only of lack of personal experience in our listening rooms. In other words, our selections would be indicative, not exhaustive. Assume that there are other worthy designs in existence...I do!
2. Your suggested model seems to me to drift from the "Audiophile outline of magazine design and format" (I'm not sure what you mean here) to a Stereophile or TAS model, in which there are a number of products in a category. As I stated in my introduction, beginning in 2004 we will be involving the larger PFO editorial/review group and their personal experiences/choices in our selection process. At that point, there may well be a larger pool of selections per type, recognizing something that we at PFO have been saying for a very long time now: that system/room synergies are at the heart of what produces excellence in audio...and that a given component may do superbly in one setting, and poorly in another. There is a certainly relativity at work here.
3. A very fine example of this is your assessment of the EMM Labs DAC6. My experience of the DAC6 disagrees with yours quite fundamentally. Slightly forward in upper mid and treble? Somewhat fatiguing in long listening sessions? Not in my experience! Nay, never! We will agree agreeably to disagree here.
4. Re: Burmester, Goldman, dCS...the first two have not been in my listening room, so I cannot comment on them. I have had the dCS Elgar/Purcell system in place for an extended listen, courtesy of the good folks at Audiophile Systems (thanks Gary Warzin!) I did not find the sound on standard CD playback in my system to be nearly as compelling in comparison, say, with the Linn CD-12, much less the EMM Labs DAC6. I have not commented on the SACD playback of the dCS gear, since I have never heard it. Once more, as I noted in my introduction, the Brutus awards are based on listening in our listening rooms. If I were to get a Burmester/Goldman/dCS system in for review, then I could consider it for a given year's Brutus award...otherwise, it cannot due to a lack of empirical contact... not due to a lack of merit.
5. Re: "A," "B," "C," "A+," etc....this is a model that Stereophile has used for many years now, and that TAS under Robert Harley has developed, with their own structure. Twice per year, Stereophile does a "Components of the Year" update; I don't know the periodicity of TAS's taxonomy. These systems allow for what you're advocating: a method of recognizing a number of worthy designs in each category, with layers designating levels of subjective appraisals of performance. These are organized as continuums of quality; "C" is, roughly speaking, "not bad/OK" through "A+," a relatively newer category roughly mapping to "Superb, the best currently known to us." (Check with Stereophile's April or October...as I recall!...issues for details as to the meaning of each category.)
This is not something that I envision doing here at PFO. The idea behind the Brutus awards is for PFO to tip our hat to "the best" that we've been listening to over the past year, plus recognize people who have made substantial and ongoing contributions to fine audio (the Lifetime Achievement awards) or to audiomaniac extremities (the Gizmo award). We hope that our readers find it to be helpful and...as I said...indicative.
The "best" is indeed a tricky thing to appraise. Ultimately, every lover of fine audio has to listen, read various sources (of which Positive Feedback Online is one), and educate himself or herself. Then one is in a better position to know where to go on one's own audio voyage. It is in that spirit that the Brutus awards were developed, and are offered to our readers.