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Positive Feedback ISSUE 40
november/december 2008


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Writing for Positive Feedback, Neoteric Listener (great turn of phrase, guys!) Dean Seislove describes ( what it's like coming in from the big-box cold, to the warm embrace of Virtue Audio.

Dean is no stranger to great sound but a friend he invites over hasn't yet wandered off the Sony/Advent plantation. I love the part where his buddy says... "Now, I see it sounded like crap before." That's what I call the "ah-ha" moment of high-end audio. Once bitten, never back. A small fortune to AudioGon and a lifetime of pleasure. Turnin' audio lovers into audiophiles is what we do and Dean, you're fantastic! This buds for you.

Anthony Krinsky

Hi Dave,
Your journey has been so similar to mine, I find it almost as confirmation/vindication. Very cool. I am currently using an external 1Tb G-drive to a Mac Mini via firewire, an Off Ramp 3 is on the way after auditioning a friend's Turbo 2, feeding the DAC in my Cary 306/200. There are a couple of differences from which I think we can learn things from each other.

1) I need to go to a NAS.

2) I need to try your isolation tricks and the Locus USB and you need to try the Von Gaylord Chinchilla digital cable. I used the Chinchilla as AES/BSU from the Off Ramp and it was a significant improvement over a number of cables with loads of info, dynamics, harmonic richness with no glare and most of all perfect pace, attack and decay... although I didn't try the Purist.

FWIW, the Jade Audio Coaxial RCA is a terrific cable as well. Rounder and very harmonically rich and in use with my Squeezebox 3 to the coaxial input on my Cary. In the end, I like the above set up better and the i-tunes flow interface is oh so very appealing.

3) If you can get Leopard onto your Mac you can control it from a distant Mac or, better, yet, from an iTouch. Close the Mac Book and leave it alone on it's Shakti stone. Sweet!

Thanks for your ramblings and enjoy the tunes!



Dear Editor,
I came across this site while searching for information on MP3 s and SACD. I must say these are the most informative articles i have ever read.

Thank you so much.




I could not find any reviews of Atma-Sphere amps. My MA-1' are in for a tune-up, but will be returning soon. I do not need them right away, since I am building a pair of speakers. I would love to hear your views on the amps. Is a customer loaned piece of equipment something you folks entertain?.

I live in Brampton, On.

William (Bill) Laleff

Hello William...

Yes, that is correct; I don't remember publishing any Atma-Sphere reviews here at PF/PFO. At this time, we have no plans to review Atma-Sphere.

We appreciate your offer of your MA-1', but we do not review loaners from our readers. The liability issues alone would preclude doing this, quite apart from other conflicts. I'm sure that you understand.

It was a generous offer, though...thanks.



Hello and good morning John,
I just wanted to let you know that the binding posts on the INT-150 can actually take banana plugs.

As a recent new owner of what I understood a couple of months ago was the first INT-150 in Canada, I needed to get it to work with my Analysis Plus cables that had banana plugs.

I called into Pass and the gentleman on the line walked me through how to pry out the plastic inserts once you remove a small brass pin that holds them in place.

It took a couple of tries and a small set of needle nose pliers but in the end about 10 - 15 minutes of careful work.

I just thought I'd pass :) that along.

Thanks for the additional confirmation on the difference between the Pass and the ConnyJ as I heard the CJ in San Diego and respected it but did not love it and I had the same reaction to the Simaudio Moon I-7. But I bought the Pass site unseen seen the dealer here could not get a demo.

The good news is I now have the best sound I have ever heard and I probably still do not have much more than 100 hours of playing on it.

All the best

Andre Benard

Hi Andre,

Thanks for the note, and thanks very much for the tip regarding the Pass Labs INT-150' binding posts and their ability, post-surgery, to accept banana plugs.

Congratulations on having the first INT-150 in Canada! I'm glad to hear you like it. And, yes - at least in my system, the INT-150 just kept on sounding better and better the more I played it.



To the editor:
While I enjoyed reading Michael Hobson' recounting of his experience in my listening room with the Furutech demagnetizer, I was less pleased reading the description of me as the "self-proclaimed
vinyl guru." I know Michael was just giving me a friendly "zetz," but really, I have never proclaimed myself the "analog guru" or the "guru" of anything!

I'm just a guy who sits in my basement listening to music like everyone else in this hobby, except that I'm one of the lucky ones who gets to write about it and make a living from it.

I'm also one of the many audiophiles who kept the analog faith during the dark digital 1990s. We owe a great deal to people like Mike Hobson who put their money where their vinyl mouths were and started making records again when most people told them to stop the presses and go home.

It' all worked out pretty well, don't you think?

BTW: my second DVD, shot in high definition will be out in about a month. It covers record production (at RTI and Pallas), record handling, storage, cleaning and collecting.


Michael Fremer
Senior Contributing Editor, Stereophile

I regret to note that like most of the media Teresa Goodwin downplays multi-channel SACD which in my opinion sounds vastly superior to old style stereo. One of the SACD discs she recommends is Masters & Commanders just try this disc both on a Stereo only player like the Marantz SA-7S1 and then on a cheap universal player and with multi-channel amplification and rear speakers and I guarantee you will find a considerable difference the sound comes to life played multi-channel completely missing from the stereo only version.

Next what is required is amplifiers or receivers that do not internally convert DSD to LPCM before reaching the final analogue stage. The downplaying of multi-channel SACD by the media afraid of upsetting backward 2 channel only readers (the reason given to me by Hi-Fi Choice magazine ) and manufacturers is probably the main reason why SACD has failed to reach a wider audience who do not realize what they are missing. As many homes have a Home Cinema set up it is so easy to combine multi-channel SACD for greater listening pleasure.

Gerald Bearman

Just read and enjoyed your review of the Ref1000 amps. I was curious if you have heard the latest Nuforce amps and how you would compare the two. I have a big interest in both these amps but have no local dealers to get a listen. Based on your review, I think the warmer sound of the Ref1000 is more my cup of Tea.

Michael Cole


All I can offer you is input I've gotten from others who've heard both.

From what I can gather, the Nu Forces are a brighter sounding amp, a little closer to a traditional SS sound. I have copied fellow PF contributor John Potis, who owns a pair of the original REF1000, and I believe he may have actually used a pair of NuFoce, so he could better advise you. But my sense of things is that he greatly preferred the Bel Cantos. However I know one manufacturer who owns and deploys them BOTH.

By the same token, another PF 'phile was suggesting that I get in the new Bel Canto REF500 for review, as it might represent something a touch sweeter, as sometimes less powerful amps are...and by less powerful, 500 watts for crying out loud.

Ron Carter, yes that Ron Carter, is using the new mkII version of the REF1000 (in an all Bel Canto/Tetra 606 system), and he indicated in an e-mail to me that he is very enthusiastic, and seems to think the mkII represent a pretty significant upgrade in sound.

I have not had a chance to hear the REF1000 mkii, but I should think that their goals in evolving them would parallel some observations I made at the end of my piece as to possible areas for enhancement: to be given a touch more presence, openness and transparency.

To wit, in writing to John Stronczer of Bel Canto about a proposed possible follow-up on the mkII and referencing my own positive impressions and notions of how they could be kicked up a notch, I hit upon a phrase that John liked, as he wrote back to me...

Zesty and Musical”--a great description of the improvements without even having heard them…

Having said all that, their warmth, body, clarity and solid foundation in bass contribute to the Bel Canto’s exemplary dynamic range, natural, un-italicized tonal balance, and non-fatiguing musical presentation. I should think the mkII would be a pretty safe bet.

God knows the REF1000 were very EASY TO LISTEN TO, and one always felt as though they were involved in a musical experience, not listening to a system. Of course, that is a factor of working within my room and my own system synergy: which is why it is always good to know about related factors and synergy, such as your room dimensions and acoustic properties and what sort of system you are running or thinking of running, including cabling and AC cords and such.

So there you have it for now. I have got to run, but feel free to be in touch...warmest regards and yours in immersion in music...

Chip Stern

Upper Manhattan