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Positive Feedback ISSUE 2
august/september 2002


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I have been a subscriber for awhile (I just found out that you are discontinuing the printed magazine) and this is the first time I have written to you. I must comment about your reviews of the Zen amp from Decware. First, I compliment you for reviewing products from small companies like Decware. Some people believe that the best innovation is coming from companies like them so it is good to compare and test each product on its own merits. Also, I love your magazine and feel sad that the printed version will no longer arrive in my mail box, even though I understand the economics of the situation.

With that, I take exception to the reviews of the Zen amp from the three gentlemen who wrote them. As a background, I have owned or reviewed many of the high-end amps and pre-amps that are popular with the Hi-fi journals. I now own the exact Zen amp reviewed in this issue. 

I don't begrudge a difference of opinion. My gripe is that all three reviewers seemed to mate the amp with speakers that weren't well suited to the task. It's fine to try different speakers in order to experience first hand any amps' capabilities and synergy with that speaker, however these reviewers seemed ill prepared to plumb the depths of an amp they knew put out only 3-5 watts of power. Not only that but their excuses at the end of their articles seemed lame and anemic for "professional" reviewers. This is not up to the standards of this fine publication.

Regarding the Zen amps sound, I find it to be an excellent musical transducer. Mated with proper speakers it is rather special in its balance of attributes. It is very fast and very alive without being edgy. It's spot on in tonal balance. It images well. It is extremely musical sounding with great rhythm. It is better than many of the pricier components I have used and it is only $500 or so dollars! 

We often talk about converting more people from the mid-fi market to Hi-fi and here we have a product that just blows away every mid-fi product I have ever heard and yet doesn't cost much more than many of the Sonys, Onkyos, NADs, et. al.. Don't you think for this reason alone that it (and any other similarly positioned product) deserves a more professional approach?

Incidentally, I have used this amp with various speakers including some old KLH speakers through which they amazed many guests to my home.

Again, thank you for a great forum.

Mark Wagner

You are right on several counts... we blew it. Perhaps with more writers with the new venture, matching products like the Zen will be a bit easier.

Dave Clark
Senior Editor Editor
Positive Feedback Online


I thought your readers might find my list of "Classical SACDs" useful. You'll find this at:

This lists all known classical titles to date, garnered from postings on AA, updates on label web sites and occasionally hits from Google.

There's also a corresponding "Jazz SACDs" list which is now sadly out of date. If enough people e-mail Julian (address at the head of the list) hopefully he'll get around to updating it.

Enjoy your "mag". Keep up the good work!

Stephen Best
Canberra, Australia

Hello's been a while since I heard from you. (Then again, I've not had any extra time for too bad, that.) Thanks for sending along the URL of your classical SACD list. We'll post
this exchange over on "Reverberations" at Positive Feedback Online so that our readers benefit from it. Dave Clark can also add it to our Duke of URL section.

Glad to hear that you are enjoying PFO...drop in from time to time, eh?

All the best,

David W. Robinson
Editor-in-Chief, Positive Feedback Online



Dear Sirs;
Love your site. I just bought a Rega Jupiter 2000. Read your reviews and could’t agree more. What a great player. What I wanted to know is what is the break or burn in period for most cd players. I hear so much about this.
Personally, the Jupiter sounded great from the moment I first fired it up so any improvement would be icing on the cake. Thanks for taking the time to read my email and answer me.

Jeff Braecklein, USA

Thanks for the compliments. Yes, the Rega is pretty good. I had a chance to hear it and found the unit to compare very well to units in its price point as well as a few points above.

As to break-in, unfortunately each component it different. I have heard some things change—improve— with a hundred hours or less, whereas other components seem to take forever. My imagination? Don't think so. Too much experience and that of others has shown it to be a real issue. Problem is, "What is the real break-in time?"

For most CD players I would go with at least 200-300 hours of continuous music playing. Whether it needs to see a load at its output I have never got a straight answer, but I prefer to leave a player hooked-up to a preamp when playing a disc. The preamp does not need to be on—at least that is what I have heard—but then again if you leave stuff on, just turn the volume down. I have just finished about 300 hours on my new Cary 306-200. Major differences between "out-of-the-box" and now? Not really major, but the differences are real and worth the time. Warmer, sweeter, more open, and with a bit less "edge." Enjoy the Rega!

Dave Clark
Senior Editor Editor
Positive Feedback Online



Hi David,
You probably don't remember the following thread on AA's Hi Rez forum:

Me: "Can I subscribe?"

You: "Alas! Due to the bloody increases in the already bloody high shipping rates... to "the rest of the world," PF is not currently shipping outside of the USA and Canada. If that changes, or we find some other way of spreading our joy and cheer to the rest of the planet again, Joel, I'll post a notice here on AA."

Me: "Best case for web based subscription if I ever heard one !

"You: "Yah, if you can come up with a web-based subscription model... that really works... and doesn't kill the print end of things...then you've got something there! But then, that's the problem...."

Just in case you think I am making this up:

Congratulations on PFO!!  I am a tad slow, since I only 'discovered' it at Issue 2. I was thinking about your contributions to AA's Hi Rez forum today and quickly clicked on the PF link in my bookmarks and was pleasantly surprised. Somehow  missed your announcement.

I miss those contributions on Hi Rez. In my book, the SCD-1 upgrade saga is still one of the highlights. Plus your SACD tips. We seem to have recurring DVD-A vs SACD discussions these days—think someone is tinkering with AA's medicine cupboard or we have to change chemists!  I dubbed it "Kremlin Watching" in a recent post. Nobody has the facts and we're all guessing as to the future of a format. Gets a bit tiresome after a while.

I am glad I can now 'subscribe' to PFO and I will start reading Issue 1 before I work my way over to Issue 2. It sure looks like a pleasant on-line read. Don't skimp on the pictures though... a picture paints a thousand words as you know (and it's easier to proof-read :-)

Anyway, just wanted to show my support.

Thanks a lot and I wish you and the entire PFO crew lots of success.
Joel Waterman

Yes, I have vague memories of that exchange at AA...all too prophetic, as it turned out, eh?

PFO represents the best that Dave Clark and I have been able to put together to trump the hassles of paper and ink distribution. Over time, we think that lovers of fine audio will find it to be a very helpful read... let's hope so, anyway!

Tune in regularly... there will be more to each issue as time goes by, right up to the point of "cutoff." Dynamic publication, and yes... lots of photos!... should make it a pleasant place.

All the best, and greetings to the gang at AA... wish that I had the time that I no longer have to hang out there....

All the best,
David W. Robinson
Editor, Positive Feedback Online



Dear Editor in Chief:
Please forgive my minimalist contribution. I've always found audiophile discussions to be informative, as well as amusing. However, I feel uncomfortable applying the term to myself. Of all of the responses, it is my view as a lover of music, that Srajan Ebaen's personal narrative to be the most palatable. As a lover of music, and amateur musician it has always been about "the music."

Music, like communication is subject to perception, interpretation and I might add --imitation.

The only "absolute reference" is that conceived by the sound the composer hears in his/her head. After that, all efforts to recreate that "original performance" becomes an effort to recreate a unique event in time. An effort that sounds like the original, but is in itself a new creation. With the exception of a recording, no two performances of the same musical material is ever quite the same. Although I should add (at the risk of sounding redundant) that even the same recorded material played back on different equipment will sound differently.

There will always be subtle differences, nuances, etc. subject to individual tastes, perceptions, biases, whatever. Whether it be classical, jazz, reggae, C&W, or rap, each successive reproduction itself becomes a new point of reference. In the words of my ex-wife, a trained musician and violinist, "No matter how good it sounds, it will always be a recording."

It's all about the Music. Let's enjoy and participate in the creative process that gives it life.

Dwain Barefield



Hello David,
I just noticed that the August/September issue of PF is out. I was waiting in great anticipation for the next installment on the Audiomod modification to your Sony SCD-1. I thought your article in the last issue regarding this modification process was captivating and extremely well written. I especially liked your systematic approach to the mod and the step by step review of each stage. I should say that your article convinced me to have a mod done by Richard Kern too. After a couple discussions with him I decided to pick up a Philips SACD 1000. He felt that his mod of it comes very close to the mod of the SCD-1, SCD777, etc. Since there was a significant price drop with the Philips I opted for it. I have to say, I don't think too much of the Philips as a stock unit but shhhhh....

Please advise if you can when you will be publishing Online the next installment of this. Also, I see you have a upcoming review of the Marsh 200s scheduled. That is a coincidence as I have been looking into it actively of late. I was going to contact Audio Advisor about an audition but perhaps I should wait for the article first. What do you think? Ok David, keep up the great work. I must say I am very impressed by the PF online and I told Richard that too. He was expecting you awhile back as I was talking to him. I will subscribe to the printed version soon. I suppose you don't make too much off the online version. Again, I think you have a great publication here.

Mike Poquette

Hello Mike...
You'll be seeing my notes on the Black Gate capacitor upgrade for the Sony SCD-1 SACD player very soon now. In a word: terrific! The incremental gain is most interesting; I'll be characterizing it in another photo essay.

Dave Clark and I are glad to hear that you're enjoying PF Online! We want it to be a resource for the entire fine audio community, a site that's pleasant to read...educational and entertaining at the same time.

Don't worry about subscribing to the print version; we've discontinued that...Vol. 9, No. 3 will be the last. PF is strictly online after that.

Thanks for the good wishes...all the best!

All the best,
David W. Robinson
Editor, Positive Feedback Online



Dear Editor in Chief:
Hi David, my name is Fred Petersen, I'm not sure if you remember me' but I e-mailed you shortly after the late Harvey Rosenbergs death to thank you for the eulogy you wrote in listener magazine. At that time I complained about the scarcity of Positve Feedback issues. I want to thank you for your kind reply to my former letter. I'm really impressed with the editorial and the review philosophy's of the new format; especially the stand taken on not smearing a component based on the fact that it may or may not sound good in the reviewers system. Experience has taught me this! Quite recently I made a change in my system upgrading my speakers from Tannoy D-500, Towers(8" dual-concentric poly prop. drivers) 1 per tower. The other components in the system are a custom tube pre-amp/crossover by SaR Labs, and a much modified Dynaco ST-70. The front end of the system is a Sony SCD-670 SACD player. Definitely not cutting edge in some people's book, but I hear some of the acoustic phonomena that reviewers talk about in record & equip' reviews (eg. soundstage depth, width & height). I fine tuned the sytem with reasonably priced interconnect (D.I.Y.) and aftermarket speaker cable. Total cost to me $5000CN, approx. $3100US.

I found a pair of 12" Tannoy Royal Blues (in home made cabs) on the used market. I must say the original plan was to build custom cost-no-object cabinets for the drivers, and to refurbish the crossovers and drivers (recharge magnets and install new foam surrounds)—hoping to make them look like downsized Churchills. Needless to say swapping in the Royal Blues (as is) for the D-500's was not what I expected, a couple of giant steps backwards actually. I'm looking forward to getting started on the project. I'm starting to get a little long winded here so I'll cut to the chase. I'm planning to go on the web myself featuring my system for the time being but hoping eventually to market the mod that's been done to my Dynacos. In the mean time I was wondering if I you would be intersted in correpndence relating to the progress of my speaker project.     

Many thanks,
Fred petersen

Hello Fred...
Sure, stay in touch with us here at Positive Feedback Online as you pursue your project. It sounds like something Gizmo would have really enjoyed...he really loved his Tannoys!

We'll be glad to look at anything you'd care to send when you can.

All the best,
David W. Robinson
Editor, Positive Feedback Online


Dear Sirs;
I've been a 10+ year subscriber to PF (and native Oregonian) and have to say that I miss the "hard copy" format. That said, I can tell you that I love that format of your new website as well. Although I miss thumbing through pages while listening, the ability to link pictures to products on the web is very nice. The only thing that really bothers me about the format of the website is that each article is not "dated", and all categories are updated constantly (a good thing). Would it be possible to include a release date next to each title?

Thom Middlestadt

Howdy, Thom...good to hear from you again.
Yes, I'll miss paper 'n ink, but I have to confess that I don't miss the downside of same: hassles, ever-increasing costs, delays, and rapacious distributors. No, not being independently wealthy with scads of time on my hands...Dave Clark either!...the time had come.

That's an interesting idea on the article dating. I'll pass this exchange along to Dave Clark, our trusty-rusty website editor. He can respond to it over there.

All the best,
David W. Robinson
Editor, Positive Feedback Online

Uh... well... maybe... I guess... but the TOC does have the month and I am now using red "New" next to the latest additions. What I wanted to do was make the TOC have the look and feel of a print TOC, so I want to keep it simple. But your idea has merit. We'll see...

Dave Clark
Senior Editor Editor
Positive Feedback Online


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