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POSITIVE FEEDBACK ONLINE - ISSUE 34
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The Higher End 2: The Clark's Brutus Awards for 2007
by Dave and Carol Clark

 

I am going to keep this short and simple and not go into a lot of detail (heck, let's see if I can avoid that at completely), so if you want to read more about any one product we have awarded here, than go and read the review.

Sources

The EMM Labs CDSA SE SACD/CD Player and Jena Labs' the One AC cord (www.positive-feedback.com/Issue31/emm.htm)

Reminds me of the best in solid-state: fast, dynamic, slam, visceral, clean, linear, and well ...honest. Mating the Jena One AC cord with the EMM (www.positive-feedback.com/Issue32/jena_emm.htm) is a match made in audio heaven. All the strengths and character traits of the player are kept in place—though they are magnified in a positive way which maximizes their audibility. The Jena also brings a very desirable sense of rich musicality to the EMM equation. With the One, the player takes on a very natural sense of color and warmth that was audibly missing before, though perhaps to a level that is a bit too far towards that end of the musical arc. Even so, with the One in the chain, it was almost as if this sonic and musical character had been held in check prior to the Jena entering the mix. Nothing is lost as this color does not diminish the player's resolution, transparency, or speed and clarity. It is still quite linear, but wow, how much nicer it all is with the One! More flesh and heft (call it healthy fat) to them bones, making it oh so luscious and captivating! Way smoother with not a hint of that ever so slight edge I had heard earlier. The EMM was now as smooth as the proverbial baby's bottom.

 

Solid-State Amplification

Clayton Audio M200 (www.positive-feedback.com/Issue33/clayton_m200.htm)

They are pretty much perfect for us. Can't say that they would be perfect for you, but I can find little if anything to fault sonically. Sure they could always be a tad more of this and tad less of that, but we are talking about tads here: morsels, crumbs, specks, etc. This falls into the realm of synergy and tastes—or better put aural preferences. Simply put, they work mighty well here in forming a great synergy with the rest of the system, so perhaps they are more or less as perfect as a Class-A solid-state amplifier can be in today's audio reality …well at least my audio reality. No doubt I could bring some other amplifier that might sound even better than these do, hey there is a lot I have not heard and some that look mighty interesting …but till then these are the king on the block.

At $9500 the M-200 amplifiers are a bargain. They are built like a tank right here in the States by Wilson and his assistants, they sound wonderful, and they have the appropriate fit n' finish. Yeah, they ain't flashy and all—they are quite understated in appearance—but Clayton has not cut any corners in their design (internal or external): what you get is what you need to get.

Tubed Amplification

Opera Audio Cyber 800 (www.positive-feedback.com/Issue34/opera_cyber800.htm)

Uh... yeah! These are truly stellar and at a hair under $4k ... well they are a real steal. I am in the process of writing a formal take on these, but again let me say that while they do have shortcomings (heck they are $4k!!) when compared to my $10k 200-watt Class A Claytons, what they lack is rather moot. They play music and sound very, very, very good.

Cables

PAD Proteus Provectus line of cables

In for review and so far, very, very, VERY impressed! Review coming soon...

Accessories and tweaks

Audio Magic Gen ZX $400 (www.positive-feedback.com/Issue34/noise.htm)

The Pulse Gen ZX requires a new vocabulary in how it is ultimately subtractive—in what it takes away from the sonic tapestry. There is a greater sense of emptiness and space between the notes and frequencies, there is simply way less of the crap and stuff that hinders a component from sounding as it really should sound. You get to hear the music, all of the music. Well, all that the component is capable of reproducing.

Furutech Nano Contact Enhancer (www.positive-feedback.com/Issue31/rambling.htm)

Audible the improvements were in areas of dimensionality, dynamics, and the sonic tapestry taking on a more texturally vivid presence. Especially noteworthy was a greater sense of bass impact, along with everything becoming that much more visceral and alive. Not a dramatic “My jaw hit the floor" sort of thing, but simply put the music sounded better. Smoother with a more organic feel, while still taking the overall resolution up a notch. A sure recommendation to try without any issues in terms of longevity—been a month now and the contacts look clean and healthy. Word has it that the stuff holds up very well even after a year or so. But even if it does age, the silver will tarnish making for even better conductivity between the two surfaces. As for the gold, well it stays nice as it is—no tarnish. I am assuming that the two metals, along with the Squalene Oil, may be the factors behind the smoother and more organic feel… with the improvement in contact/conductivity allowing for the rest of what I hear. $99

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