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POSITIVE FEEDBACK ONLINE - ISSUE 4
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Our readers respond…we respond right back!
Send your comments to either editorpf@attbi.com or pfo@charter.net

 

 

  

 
Hi,
I believe you are a former Theta Pro Gen Va owner? If so, was your switch to SACD a big improvment? The most important question is did you find SACD to be more dynamic then your Theta. How about detail?

Thanks,
Mike

Hello Mike...
Yes, I still own my Theta Pro Gen Va; it does service in my home theatre system these days.

Was the switch to SACD a big improvement over the Theta Pro Gen Va? Yes, in every way...as I've been detailing in my writing, editorial columns, and reviewing ever since the fall of 1998. To these ears, there's simply no comparison...in my opinion, SACD via the Sony SCD-1, the 777 series, the modded SCD-1, the Accuphase SACD system, and now the Meitner Philips SACD 1000/Meitner DAC6 (SUPREMELY!) make Red Book PCM via the Theta Pro Gen Va obsolete.

And yes, that includes both dynamics and detail...especially with the Meitner system, though the modded SCD-1 and the Accuphase system also better the older Theta system quite considerably.

No doubt in my mind.

Hands down.

End of story.

All the best,

david
Editor-in-Chief, Positive Feedback Online
editorpf@attbi.com

Hi again,
Couple of other questions if I may... Do you notice SACD being as sensitive to digital cables and power cords as the Theta was? Any info on where to find the Meitner Philips SACD1000/Meitner DAC6 and its availability?

Thanks again,
Mike

Hello again, Mike...
Yes, you're going to find that SACD responds well to improvements in isolation, cables and power cords...and dedicated power supplies and line conditioning, as well.

As to how to get into the INCREDIBLE Meitner DAC6 system, contact EMM Labs new distributor, Jonathan Tinn, at 503-221-0465.

Better make that phone call *quickly*, Mike...the floodgates are going to burst when the word gets out as to how stellar the Meitner system is for both SACD and CD. My "first look" review will be appearing in the next few hours at PF Online, to be followed by a MAJOR review in PF Online, Issue 5.

All the best,

david
Editor-in-Chief, Positive Feedback Online
editorpf@attbi.com

David,
Is there a standard for connection between SACD transports and SACD D/As? Thanks for the pointers about the Meitner. Might not be able  to afford it, but I at least have to hear it!

Mike

Mike
No, there's no standard yet in the sense of usual and customary I/O (e.g., IEEE 1394, "Firewire"). Accuphase, for example, is using CAT 5 Ethernet cable with RJ45; the Meitner uses ST Glass fiber optic (exceptional!) And while the Meitner system isn't cheap...it isn't stratospheric, either.

david
Editor-in-Chief, Positive Feedback Online
editorpf@attbi.com


Dear Dave,
I just read in your article about the Transrotor Leonardo that you use the EAR 834P with Hovland caps. As I own the 834P Deluxe myself, I was wondering what the difference is that this mod brings to the sound, and of course what the cost is of such a mod. By the way, which tubes do you use? I use the original tubes provided by EAR. Did you also make other mods to it?

I am trying to figure out whether I should try to improve the sound of my EAR by applying small mods, or whether I should buy another phono stage altogether, such as the Michell Delphini. I compared them once, and the Delphini Dual Mono was much better, and I was told that the newest edition of the Delphini stereo even beats the older Dual Mono !!!

Thank you for your time and best regards,
Rudi Vermeulen
An audiophile in Belgium

Rudi
The mods are the substitution of three Hovland caps for the stock caps (not sure which ones as I did not so the mods, but the person is here in Los Angeles and I am not sure if that helps you) and better RCAs on the rear. The result is a more open and faster sound with an added degree of transparency. A real no-brainer. But the stock stage is rather good as it stands. Actually I find it very musical, but perhaps in your system the Michell may be a better match. We are "voicing" our systems after all to fit what we perceive to be right.

The mods were about a hundred (US) dollars. Oh, and the unit uses stock tubes, though I do use a single ensemble Tube Sox on the center tube to help quiet things further.

Thanks
Dave Clark, Editor
dclark@positive-feedback.com


Hi David,
Once again I read with great interest your article on the continuing mods to your SCD-1. I had written to you some time ago after your second installment in this series. I had mentioned that I found your article very informative especially in light of the fact that I was seriously considering a similar mod by Richard Kern. I have a Philips SACD-1000  and I must admit I did not have the mod done yet.

Since reading your latest article it is probably fortunate that I did not. This new Super Clock II sounds like a real "no brainer" as you said. However, one question emerged immediately after reading your article. You clearly stated," the Superclock II outperforms the old Superclock AND Superclock Power Supply upgrades put together ".  I had to wonder what part the Super Clock Power Supply now plays in the whole equation. Is it still a vital and significant procedure since the emergence of the New Superclock II ? In your previous article you had suggested that the addition of the Superclock Power Supply was vital. Perhaps this is a difficult question to answer due to the extensive modifications that you have done to your SCD-1. If you have any input into this question, I would greatly appreciate your opinion. Also, perhaps Richard could better answer this question. In any case, I truly did enjoy your article once again and any input you have into my question would be greatly appreciated. Thank you and keep up the great work.

Sincerely,

Mike Poquette

Hello Mike...
It's good to know that you are finding the SACD modding series to be helpful.

To answer your question: I have found that the improvement wrought by the Superclock Power Supply is as I noted...it seems to increase the silence of the SCD-1. To put it a different way:  you can think of the effect of the Superclock as ADDITIVE...*increased* resolution, better articulation, leading in turn to improved soundstaging and imaging, while the effect of the Superclock Power Supply is SUBTRACTIVE...*less* apparent veiling of the sound.

Clarification:  the Superclock II sounded better to me than the original Superclock PLUS the Superclock Power Supply. That does NOT mean that the Superclock II isn't better yet WITH the Superclock Power Supply...it is. If you can afford to add the Superclock II *and* the Superclock Power Supply, then by all means do so! The Superclock II *will* benefit from the greater silence of the Superclock Power Supply.

To sum up:

The Superclock I was very good.
The Superclock I + the Superclock Power Supply was even better.
The Superclock II alone struck me as better than the Superclock I + Superclock Power Supply.
The Superclock II + the Superclock Power Supply is even better than any of the above.

(So are all the other mods... they are all beneficial... but the return on investment will vary. As always in the case of diminishing returns, it's those last few percentage points that cost you an arm and a leg!)

Hope this helps, Mike. I was simply trying to give our readers a sense of my impression of where the "sweet spot/bang for the buck" is in the world of SACD modding.

Best wishes with your Philips SACD 1000! PF Online just got in one of these with the Meitner DSD fiber optic outputs... we'll be reviewing it and Meitner's new DAC-6 and Switchman-2 very soon now!

David W. Robinson
Editor-in-Chief, Positive Feedback Online
editorpf@attbi.com


Editor,
The advent of SACD has me interested in beginning to listen to music again (vs. background). I have a spare bedroom (12x14) that I would like to set up. The more I read, the more confusing the many choices are. My current system are 20 year old NAD components and a Nakamichi cd player, and speakers I can't remember who made with a velodyne sub. I don't  own a DVD player yet.

I just read about the red rose system—seems pretty good, but only works for two channel. Now, I wonder if the future means surround, not that I have ever been attracted to it. A universal player seems like a good idea, but the Sony 777ES looks like higher quality than what's available in universal.

Anyone on staff think it would be fun to point a beginner in a direction?

Nick

Hello Nick...
Yes, SACD certainly has the power to transform digital sound from "background music" to "foreground fine audio experience" all right... provided one proceeds with reasonable care in setting up one's
system.

I should mention that I'm using your email as a point of departure to share some notes with all of our PF Online readers... mainly because I get a lot of requests like this, and would like to biff a whole flock of birds with one bonk...  (In other words, friend readers, please do NOT view this response as an advertisement for free audio consulting... patronize your local dealer if at all possible!  ;-) )

That being clarified: In a following email you mentioned being willing to spend "$8000-10000" on a surround system, with around $2,000 for the SACD player.

Here are some points that I would make to guide you:

1. Your current components, with the exception of the Velodyne subwoofer, are not up to snuff. Sell them for what you can get out of them... put that in the pot for this project... or use them as a bedroom or office system.

2. Your room is fairly small, but that doesn't mean that you can't do surround. Stereo would be easier, but there's little doubt that some real progress is being made in fine audio surround sources on SACD, and in the downstream components. You *will* have to do some careful planning to make this work, however, since ALL good fine audio systems make the most of the ROOM ITSELF. If it's a dedicated room, see if a local fine audio dealer/consultant can help you to test for acoustics, and to put acoustical treatments into place that make it a good place to be. Don't spend too much, but don't spend too little, either; I cannot emphasize the importance of this preliminary step enough.

Remember:   whatever else you do, the ROOM and the POWER will always be there. Within the limits of the possible, *get them right*!

3. Surround sound setups in a room this size mean that you are going to have to place yourself roughly equidistantly from all speakers: three to the front (left, center, right) and two to the rear (left and right), with the
subwoofer or a sixth speaker (depending on the approach that you take) placed appropriately. (I could write many words about this point alone, but don't have the time at this moment.) Figure on an easy chair or, if you
intend to be more social in your listening (please!), a small couch or hide-a-bed. (If a hide-a-bed, make sure that it doesn't rattle when the music gets active, eh?)

4. Spend a few hundred dollars to have an electrician pull a direct, dedicated set of circuits into your room. These should be pulled with 10 gauge Romex, tested for proper ground and polarity, and pulled from the same
pole of your box to avoid ground loop hum. At a minimum, have one 20 amp circuit for your sources and preamp, and one for your amp(s).

5. Get a good line conditioner at your source end. There are a number of fine products out there... check the reviews here and elsewhere for more information.

6. Make sure that you use good racks and isolation devices under your SACD player and preamp at the least... again, there are many of these out there.

7. Use high quality power cables, interconnects and speaker cables in your system. Don't spend too much... don't spend too little! Again, there are many good products out there...check the reviews here and elsewhere for more information.

8. Assume that you're going to use smaller monitor speakers supported by your subwoofer. Which monitors is a question of taste and pocketbook... time to hit the reviews again!

9. Preamp/amp combos for SACD surround are starting to appear, though many of them in the world of fine audio are going to be too expensive, given your budget. The good news is that if my sources are correct, there are new products from companies like Creek and Musical Fidelity that will be announced at CES 2003. You'll want to wait for the new generation of SACD products to arrive before you make your final decision on SACD players/preamps/amps, I think.

10. In the world of sources, if you're looking for surround, the Sony XA-777ES is a terrific machine and can be had for a good price. In stereo, a Sony SCD-1 modded with a Superclock II is quite a treat. If you can score a deal (via the Internet, eBay, audiogon, etc.), you may be able to get quite a lot of transport performance at a pretty decent price...keep your eyes peeled.

11. A number of folks have their own spending formulas for fine audio systems (e.g., "30% on sources, 40% on electronics, 30% on speakers," etc.), but they're only guidelines, and reflect the preferences/prejudices of those who constructed them. I have no such clever guidelines to help you. Overall, I'm inclined towards getting the room, the power, and the sources right, then working/upgrading downstream (i.e., towards the speakers), but there are others with fine results who would disagree with me. You'll have to set your own budget priorities here...and may need to spend a few more dollars in each category to get it right.

I'm cc:'ing Max Dudious with this email, so that he can add any recommendations he might think of to this exchange. I know that he's enjoying the Polk SACD surround system that he's been assembling...

Hope this helps! All the best to you on your audio quest,

David W. Robinson
Editor-in-Chief, Positive Feedback Online
editorpf@attbi.com


Dear David,
Sorry to disturb you again, please further advise is there any Multi-SACD player now selling in the market? Or can I just use the existing two-channel SACD player but with a surround sound 5.1 channel amplifier can enjoy too ?

Thanks a lot indeed.
Jim 

Hello again, Jim...

You'll need to have both a multi-channel SACD player AND a multi-channel preamp that does NOT use Dolby Surround (which uses PCM to do the surround soundfield) for the SACD input. Dolby Digital 5.1 is a PCM-based system that was not made for DSD surround processing...fine audio needs better than that!

There are a number of multi-channel SACD players on the market that pass an ANALOG signal in 5.1...e.g., the Sony XA-777ES, the Marantz SA-12S1, the Marantz DVD-8300...but then you'll need to find a 6-channel preamp and 6 channels of amplification if you want to hear SACD surround in all its glory. Sony makes an inexpensive multi-channel preamp, but if you have some money to spend, then companies like Ed Meitner's EMM Labs (http://www.emmlabs.com) can provide you with the Switchman-2 which handles multiple sets of six channel inputs. Meitner is also releasing 2/6 channel DSD processing via fiber optic via his brand new DAC-6 converter, and will be releasing a transport for this in March of 2003. With the right amplification, this could easily be the best that you'll hear on the source end in 2003. (PF Online will be reviewing the EMM Labs gear and the BAT 6200 in the near future.)

Additionally, I am hearing rumors that Audio Research (http://www.audioresearch.com) will be releasing its 6-channel surround system at CES 2003, as will Linn; Balanced Audio Technology (http://www.balanced.com) already has an exceptional 6.1 amp shipping, the mammoth VK-6200. Classé may also be working in the direction of SACD surround, though they have no preamp for this yet (but wait for CES 2003). Other companies jumping on the SACD surround sound bandwagon include Musical Fidelity and Creek, according to my sources; I have a feeling that there will be others at CES 2003 who do the same, or announce their intentions to do so.

A good compromise, if you want both DVD video and SACD surround in the same room, due to budget or space constraints, is to purchase something like the Marantz SA-12S1 or 8300, or one of the new Sony units which feature DVD video and SACD surround, and set up for both Dolby Digital and SACD surround with two sets of outputs. The logistics are challenging, but not nearly impossible any more.

CES 2003 is going to be debuting some new SACD surround products; stay tuned for show reports detailing what is announced.

Regards,

David W. Robinson
Editor-in-Chief, Positive Feedback Online
editorpf@attbi.com


Thanks for the latest installment reviewing your new mods--
While your story clearly makes it a no brainer to do the new superclock for someone with a stock SCD-1 or 777 what about those of us who have already started down the mod path by putting in the original superclock—is the improvement with the new version worth the money given what you heard or is the difference not so dramatic?

Thanks 
Clyde Rickard, former subscriber, now lurking on web and at the audioasylum.com

Hello Clyde...

Very good question. I tried to make it clear in my article that the Superclock II was better than both the Superclock and Superclock Power Supply mods, in my opinion.

If you have just the Superclock, then I think you will hear a definite improvement, one that I would consider to be substantial. Is the "definite" improvement that I heard "dramatic"? That's a pretty loaded term, but to my mind, it was very noticeable, and quite pleasing. If you have the Superclock and the Superclock Power Supply, then the gap is less, but would still there in my judgment.

As to "is it worth it?"...well, I never try to answer that question for readers. You're the only person who knows your finances and can decide whether or not you're willing to make the second investment to trade up. I would say that you'll find that you are moving up, and don't feel that you're taking a risk of feeling let down in doing so...but no review can guarantee that your response will be the same as mine.

The original review tells you how satisfied I was, and I did exactly what you're talking about...Superclock I to Superclock II. I would do it again, most definitely.

Now you get to choose, eh? ;-)

Good to know that you're continuing to read PF in its online version...enjoy!

All the best,
david
Editor-in-Chief, Positive Feedback Online
editorpf@attbi.com


Clark,
I remember that whole misadventure well, including Levinson's support in Fanfare, which kept it and her alive long beyond the normal life-span of such myths. I met her at a high-end shop in West Hatfield (just north of Northampton, Massachusetts), which was so high it eventually came tumbling down, though not before Linning me up for a while, where the owners were wining her and drinking her gospel neat. Even so strange a cult as hers can spread if it appears to support what was then the reigning rear-guard paranoia. Odd chapter in the audio history, I agree. I was hoping it would just go away, but no such luck! Leave it to Dr. Tweak to bring it back in all its gorey.

Best, Bob Neill


Hi David,
Any idea when you guys will be doing the Kimber Select reviews? I am looking for cables right now and the Kimber is on my list.

Thanks,
Rich Maurin

It's in the queue, Rich...we have the power cables and a pair of the interconnects in here in Portland...but I don't reckon we'll have a report until February/March (Issue 5).

For what it's worth, my first take on these is that they're quite fine...not cheap, but very good. Like all cables, system matching will be important; the Kimbers have a definite flavor.

More later...online!

All the best,
david
Editor-in-Chief, Positive Feedback Online
editorpf@attbi.com

Hi David,
Thank you for the reply.
I am looking forward to reading the review on the Kimber. I am currently auditioning TARA The One interconnects. (I will have The One speaker cable later this week). If I send the TARA back, the Kimber is next on the list to listen to.

Rich
PS. Positive Feedback Online is the BEST internet based audio review magazine.

Glad that you're enjoying PF Online, Rich...we work very hard to make it both educational and entertaining. It's always good to hear that someone appreciates what we're doing...thank you!

All the best,
david
Editor-in-Chief, Positive Feedback Online
editorpf@attbi.com


Editor,
Hey guys!  The web site is lookn' good!  Keep up the good work. By the way, has anyone at Postive Feedback Online taken a listen to Zingali speakers? Sure would like your spin on these: http://www.zingali.it/

Dwain Barefield

Howdy Dwain...

Glad to hear that you're enjoying PF Online; so far, so good I think...lots more to come, though! I'm not familiar with the Zingali line at all; never heard of 'em, as a matter of fact. Perhaps my unindicted co-conspirator, Dave Clark, or some of the PFO "LA Gang" is familiar with them, though.

Dave?

All the best,
david
Editor-in-Chief, Positive Feedback Online
editorpf@attbi.com


Editor,
What a remarkable fellow this Sam Spade (opps Max Dudious) is—extolling the virtues of legendary conductors as Georg Szell while commenting upon Paavo Jarvi as possibly this generations Szell. Well, Cincinnati and Cleveland are both in Ohio.

How ancient must this Dude Max be?? Is he marching to the scaffold literally? He is really enthusiastic about the S. Fantastique—but really, Max,Atualfo Argenta. Is he not a utility infielder for the Cleveland Indians?

Enjoyed this piece a lot... Keep them coming.

Corno de Basetto


Dear John Pearsoll,
In the last few weeks I have enjoyed your comments and ramblings that I have been able to read on the internet from PF. I tried to send my brother-in-law a copy of "I Was A Teenage Hi Fi Nut" in an attempt to connect with him about the genesis and passion I have for music and audio. Alas I have come to the conlcusion that the old web site that had it is no longer up and running. You did a delightful job of casting back and re-creating the milieu that some of us knew growing up. I am now in my mid fifties with very similar experinces of my own cobbling the magic together.

Today, much of what I own is either classic old gear or nerdy tube DIY, with lots of vinyl, mostly classical, some jazz. If you have the article in a file that doesn't require too many keyboard gymnastics to access, could you send me a copy? I think what you had to say is important to share, especially with our younger friends that have grown up with a lot of high tech mediocrity.

Thank You,
Greg Breault

Hello Greg...

Sorry for the belated reply! John Pearsall's commentary is very fine indeed, especially when it comes to the history of audio and the origin(s) of our common passion for audio as an art form.

You'll soon be seeing part two of his "History of Audio" series at Positive Feedback Online. This is to be followed by some op-ed commentary that he says will "peel paint" in a few quarters! Ah, "faithful are the wounds of a friend"!

John doesn't have email currently. If you'd like to call him directly, contact me again via email; I'll put you in touch with him.

All the best,
david
Editor-in-Chief, Positive Feedback Online
editorpf@attbi.com


Hi,
First, I love Positive Feedback!! What a great resource. I have enjoyed several articles/ reviews by Jeff Silverstein in the past and wanted to ask him some questions on his AR XA turntable, i.e., how he did the mod`s to it. AR modification info is becoming increasingly hard to come by, and Jeff seems to have a nicely modded XA. Please send his email address or forward this email to him so he can get back to me (I hope)!

Thanks, and keep up the great work on Postive Feedback.

Pat Rabun

Thanks for the words of praise, Pat...they're appreciated.

Unfortunately, I don't have a current email for Jeff. His otological health took a serious turn for the worse several years ago, and he had to discontinue audio reviewing for us.

Wish I had better news for you...but you're certainly welcome to read PF Online at http://www.positive-feedback.com. Perhaps one of our readers there will be able to help you.

All the best,
david
Editor-in-Chief, Positive Feedback Online
editorpf@attbi.com


Editor
A note regarding the review of the Audio Valve Eklipse preamp by Art Shapiro in Issue 1. Mr. Shapiro noted a 'flare-up' of the tubes when the unit is turned on: "More significant was an alarming and decidedly nontrivial flare-up of the tubes whenever the Eklipse was turned on. This had to be brutal on the tubes. Considering that there is a fairly long muted delay before the Eklipse is available for use, I would say that this is a significant deficiency in the implementation. Tubes can be rare and n expensive resources, and anything that can be done to improve their life-span is an asset."

Well, contrary to Mr. Shapiro's opinion, this is in fact quite normal and utterly trivial, if the tubes in question are of the 12AX7 or 12AU7 variety (and possibly other types regularly used as small signal amplifying devices also). Unfortunately the review does not even mention what type tubes are used in the preamp!? (I tried to find more information on the manufacturer's website, but this has to be one of the worst programmed sites I have ever encountered—it is impossible to navigate.)

In any case, the phenomenon is simply due to the high current briefly drawn by the cold heater filaments. As they quickly heat up, their resistance rises and the current drops to the steady state operating level, and so the flare disappears. This takes less than a second.

What I really do not understand is why Mr. Shapiro—who, I must surmise, is happily unburdoned by any knowledge regarding vacuum tubes—made absolutely no attempt to find out the reason for his observation. Research—a novel concept for audio reviewers??

Extensive information regarding the heater 'flare-up' can be found, for example, at the tube forum of the AudioAsylum website (in case Mr. Shapiro couldn't be bothered to ask the manufacturer or the distributor). Took me less than a minute. A recent example: www.audioasylum.com/audio/tubes/messages/102982.html

The generally interesting and informative thread starts here: www.audioasylum.com/audio/tubes/messages/102854.html

I feel the review has done a disservice to both the manufacturer (whom I am in no way whatsoever related to) and your readers.

If you take your 'mission' at all seriously ("The mission of Positive Feedback Online is straightforward in statement, complex and rich in execution: It is the mission of Positive Feedback Online to EDUCATE
and ENTERTAIN its readers as to the possibilities of high end audio."—quoted from your editorial, and big words indeed) you may want to either remove the review from your website or -better yet- add some clarifying and correcting statements!

Other than that, thanks for your efforts and keep up the generally good work (but please! urge your reviewers to do some research and provide a bare minimum of technical information before publishing!).

Best regards,
Thilo Corts
Baden-Baden, Germany

Thilo
I don't intuitively understand how what you are saying, precisely parallels the situation with a light bulb, which invariably blows in that first fraction of a second after being turned on. This dramatic flareup has not occured with any tube equipment I've owned, and I'd think the whole purpose of "soft start" circuitry, clearly not part of the preamp in question, is to minimize the turn-on shock.

Art Shapiro

Send your comments to either editorpf@attbi.com or audiomusings@earthlink.net

 

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