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Positive Feedback ISSUE 39
september/october 2008


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About two years ago, I purchased Antique Sound Lab AQ1001 integrated amplifier guided by your positive review. I was very satisfied and expressed my feeling of gratitude to your reviewers in Positive Feedback Online Reverberations a while ago.

This summer, I found an excellent review of Mhdt Lab "Paradisea+" DAC in Positive Feedback Online. With all POSITIVE previous experience with your reviews, I hurried and obtained one unit directly from them.

Many, many thanks for an excellent review. Each word holds true! It helped me to discover this wonderful unit.

Now, I am a happy owner of "Paradisea+" DAC and enjoy the MUSIC, not the sound it delivers. Yes, guys out-there, hurry-up to get your own ones! I can give this advice now, because I already secured one for me .

The last, but not the least: all transactions were organized with assistance of  great and gentle man Lin-Li Huang from Mhdt. The same professional and FRIENDLY treatment I also received from Arno Lau at Antique Sound Lab.

This is what good Hi-Fi is about and how it should work: excellent advice, friendly professionals and quality gear!


Prof. Dr. Novica Milicevic

Mr. Clark,
Here are my personal comments regarding John Acton’s review of the Joseph Audio RM25 XL in Positive Feedback Issue 36. Do with them as you will.

I’ve owned all three iterations of the RM25 and loved the sound of every version. The original RM25si was detailed and very neutral for the price. I noticed a very slight ring to the bass drivers on some material, but it was easy to forgive in the context of the overall sound. I upgraded the crossovers to the Mk.II version and immediately noticed the ringing was completely gone and the bass was slightly improved. It was a relatively small but important improvement to an already great loudspeaker.

I had these speakers for several years until my stereo system was stolen. This was the time to make changes, but I still hadn’t heard any other speakers in this price range that turned my head. I ordered a pair of RM25XLs and am astounded at the improvement that Richard Modafferi has wrung out of the RM25 design. John Acton has hit the mark in his description of the RM25XL. It is very easy to hear the improvement over the previous version. There is more (and more extended) bass and a much more effortless overall sound with the speakers in the same position, in the same room. The salesman that helped me unpack and set up my new system remarked that the RM25XLs sound quite close to his RM33si’s. High praise for a middle range speaker in the JA line!

I find the comment regarding the cones not allowing adequate leveling rather odd. I have never had a problem using the cones in two quite different residences, with both carpet and laminate flooring in my present home. John, you need to get a carpenter it to level your floor.

Another option is to purchase longer 1/4"-20 threaded bolts to increase the adjustment range.

John, your review meshes very closely with my experience. I second your recommendation and urge speaker shoppers to track down a pair of RM25XLs for an audition. They will be astounded.


Graham Moore

Vancouver, BC

Thanks for the USB audio articles.

I noticed that there was a dearth of tube DAC's, or did I over look one or two?

I grew-up with tube audio in the 50's and 60's and was quick to dump the problematic equipment for solid state in the 70's. Yet recently during the last 3 years, I found that the tube/valve equipment of today is not my father's tube equipment, but then you know this. As your article alludes when comparing DAC's, "dinnnnnnnnnng versus a dinnng" and as you already aware, that is one of the major benefits of tubes over sand equipment.

BTW, I have both solid state (sand) and space heater (tube/valve) equipment. Which sounds better? Well, it depends ...on too many variables.



Mr. Clark,
I may only be imagining or dreaming (which I hope) but I think it actually happened that the stock market lost 500 pts 2 days ago and after a little rebound, 450 today. If all goes well tomorrow it will be up 1000. If not, real money has been lost (on top of money lost the past 6 months and possibly the next 6). And if I heard correctly on the radio, 600 k jobs lost in US since start of '08.

Undoubtedly the time between conceiving and publishing a review is long enough that economic conditions change considerably. And maybe the guys who read PF have so much money that the current bad weather is negligible concern.

You may want to take a survey, but I'd guess the proportion of your readers who don't consider an $8000 power conditioner a "steal" to be increasing. Reviewers (who tend to write as though price was no factor at all) generally acknowledge a law of diminishing returns, these assertions about steals, bargains, and cheapness become untenable.

And although contraptions costing <$500 that really improve one's sound system have an appeal, for even that "small" amount of money, many of us will be looking for more than a chord with a disk attached to one end. 

Over on 6moons I read a little rant by the editor decrying the proliferation of cheapskates bottom-feeding on Audiogon to buy nearly new hifi equipment at steep discounts from new retail. I'm not trying to say the prices for new stuff is excessively priced (I have no way to know), but I think this is a sign that 1) economy is forcing some people to sell off their hifi equipment and 2) buyers are REALLY looking for value.

In any case, I wish you the best, and hope in the future to read about products that have very high value for their price.


Hello Kenneth,

In light of the hit Wall Street has taken over the past week in particular, and the last year in general, your position seems utterly defendable – on the surface, at least.

However, it would seem that you misread my statement, or at worst, you've taken it entirely out of context. I did not say that the Audience aR-12 T was a "steal." In fact, what I said was, "…$8000 is not "cheap" by any measure…" Then, in the last paragraph of the work I stated that, by all the criteria I discuss in the body of the work, it represented a "musical steal." Let's examine how I could come to believe that and make such a statement.

As you read the entire article, you will see that I clearly state that when the aR-12 T was dropped into my system, one with an MSRP of roughly $135,000, it made a SIGNIFICANT musical contribution, a contribution that cannot be achieved with ANY OTHER INDIVIDUAL PURCHASE, regardless of the dollar amount of that single investment.

I realize that this figure is likely to exceed the typical expenditure by the average music lover. Yet there are many readers of this journal who have invested this much (or more) in their two- or multi-channel systems. So in that context, running the numbers would indicate that someone with a system in that price range (or above), would find tremendous value with this single $8000 investment, an expenditure that represents less than 6% of the total system cost in this instance.

I further state clearly that the aR-12 T is a landmark product, one that extends the former boundaries and limitations of its product class. It truly is a device by which all others in its class may come to be measured. It should come as no surprise that any such revolutionary device would inevitably be expensive.

Finally, this kind of wholesale advance of a product class comes along only rarely, and as such. I am duty bound to recognize its significance and report on how this device affects the entire category of AC conditioning products.

The synergy of these factors, setting a new benchmark – and by no small margin, its singular ability to do what it does as a stand-alone device, and it's advancement of the state-of-the-art, make it something very noteworthy, literally an important advance in the Audio Arts.

In an effort to describe just how good it is, I concluded my evaluation by saying that in light of the conflation of all the above criteria, the Audience aR-12 T must be seen as a "MUSICAL STEAL," even with such a high sticker price.

I believe that when viewed in this full context, as it was written, there is no way that someone should come away with the impression that I meant to say that an $8000 power conditioner was a "steal" in the literal sense.

Thanks for reading my rantings and especially for taking the time to write us on this subject.

Greg Weaver

In my opinion the only High in most high end Hi-Fi equipment is the price. I absolutely agree with you that the Esoteric DV-60 must be upgraded to HDMI 1.3. if it is to be purchased, I find I use my Home Cinema setup for only approx. 20% of the time compared with around 80% for listening to mostly classical music.

Audiophiles will already have good stereo amplification so it seems to me to be a waste of money to buy expensive receivers or DVD players for listening to multi-channel SACD or DVD AUDIO as one can use a good sounding stereo amplifier for the front speakers, an inexpensive receiver for decoding & for connection to centre channel ,rear speakers and obtain first class sound. & video. Whilst the cheap Onkyo 606 receiver is a very good buy I can recommend the excellent Pioneer VSX-LX51 receiver (probably different model No. in US) as like the (Onkyo) it incorporates DSD decoders, HDMI 1.3 (thin power cord which I changed) , together with the amazingly good value Pioneer LX-DV50 universal HDMI 1.3 DVD player a fraction of the price of the DV-60. The multi-channel sound via HDMI 1.3 is first class , the treble is absolutely pristine, best I have ever experienced irrespective of price. I can find no fault with the video performance but have not compared it to the DV-60 (I do not like Esoteric sound (or their prices) prefer Marantz) This now brings me to Dr Sardonicus's love affair with the overweight overpriced Marantz SA-7S1 its RB CD performance is no where near as musical and un-fatiguing to listen to as my 20 year old modified Marantz CD94 (Ken Ishiwata the designer for many years keeps telling me the laser will soon pack up, I suspect he wishes it would). My CD94 incorporates the TD1541 A S2 DAC never bettered and still used by Zanden, and AMR , I found the SA-7S1 stereo only SACD sound to very very poor but the sound came to life with the same hybrid Telarc and Pentatone multi-channel discs. When I substituted the very good value Marantz DV6001 (modified) universal DVD player. Fortunately it does not use HDAMS and is much easier to modify (upgrade the chips) than the Marantz DV7001 which does not sound as good. Happy Listening,

Gerald Bearman

Thank you, Dr. Sardonicus for previewing the PXK Direct Coupling System.

Direct coupling is material science. The materials of the rack and the filter regulate the mechanical interaction between the component and the energy in the listening room.

Loudspeakers are machines; drivers are pistons. The pistons pump energy into the air. Air has mass and the air transfers energy to everything in the listening room. Direct coupling taps into this abundant source of energy which loudspeakers are preordained to supply every time music is played.

In the direct coupling paradigm, loudspeakers are transmission towers and the PXK rack is an antenna. Energy is propagated through the antenna in every direction. The filter is coupled to the rack using tungsten carbide balls fixed in place by CNC'd sockets machined into the trapezoidal corner brackets. There is no movement, no decoupling, no damping and no isolation; the ball is a high energy transfer conduit. Energy plows into the filter from the rack. The component couples to the filter through the pulling action of the resting area surface. The filter reprocesses the velocity of the waveforms in both directions without storing energy and ultimately completes a 2-way circuit between the component and the floor.

We would like to point out that the Marantz amps were seated on Grand Masters during the preview listening period and say without equivocation that the Black Label Series of isolation products will remain the cornerstone of our product line up. We think audiophiles now have more choices with Critical Mass Systems ranging from great to "Extraordinary".

One final word on the subject of price: We continually strive to keep our prices down but there is a cost for excellence including parts, materials and manufacturing that is unavoidable.

Once again, we thank Dr. Sardonicus for giving the new PXK Direct Coupling System an audition. There's a lot of noise in audio and he has a way of cutting through it.

All the Best,

Joe Lavrencik

Critical Mass Systems

Please allow me to express a deep and heartfelt thank you to John Zurek and the rest of the staff at Positive Feedback Online for the opportunity of having our Consonance Cyber 845 tube monoblock amplifiers reviewed. As an obvious reflection of the staff there, PFO has come to represent the gold standard in online high-end audio reviewing websites.

John's physical description of the amps should serve as a road map for how it's done. But, after all, this is the high-end audio hobby, and what matters most is what's inside, the heart and soul of the component. I greatly appreciate the work John put into this end of the review. To say he captured the true sonic essence of our product would be how I put it. With 28-wpc, this is not the typical SET amplifier strictly limited to the highest in high efficiency loudspeakers. Rather, most reasonable speakers can be accommodated quite well indeed, as witness the synergy achieved with the traditional Daedalus Ulysses, a product which I personally spent a good amount of time with at THE Show 2008.

Tube amplification is the core competency of Consonance, and the Cyber Series tube monoblock amplifier line represents our flagship. We invite you to give this truly reference line of products a listen, as we have an exceedingly well fleshed out line of amplifiers that should fit most any
audiophile's need.

Once again, my sincere thanks to John Zurek for an outstanding job in reviewing our amplifiers. Well done!

Joe Trelli
UltraViolet Audio