POSITIVE FEEDBACK ONLINE - ISSUE 4
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.
End of story.
All the best,
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,
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 !!!
you for your time and best regards,
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.
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.
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.
(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!
I just read about the red rose systemseems 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.
on staff think it would be fun to point a beginner in a direction?
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*!
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
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
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.
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.
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,
a lot indeed.
for the latest installment reviewing your new mods--
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,
Best, Bob Neill
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.
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!
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.
How ancient must this Dude Max be?? Is he marching to the scaffold literally? He is really enthusiastic about the S. Fantastiquebut 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
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.
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.
Thanks, and keep up the great work on Postive Feedback.
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.
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 encounteredit 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. Shapirowho, I must surmise, is happily unburdoned by any knowledge regarding vacuum tubesmade absolutely no attempt to find out the reason for his observation. Researcha 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.
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
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!).