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POSITIVE FEEDBACK ONLINE - ISSUE 43
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Our readers respond…we respond right back!

Send your comments to either drobinson@positive-feedback.com or dclark@positive-feedback.com

Jeff,
About six month ago, I purchased a Leben CS-600 in response to your very favorable review. It was perhaps my single best audio purchase in over 30 years—right up there with my KEF 104/2s, which unfortunately are long gone. The two might have made an exceptional pairing.

As you know, the Leben is a delight in every way. I've run it with el-34s, 6L6GCs and KT77s, and as you said in your review of the CS-660P, every one was my "favorite" while listening through the Leben. Here's my question, I've been looking to try the Tung-Sol 6CS7s you mention in your review of the CS-660P, but have been unable to identify a source. Much to my surprise, the 6CS7, while inexpensive, appears to be in generally short supply. Do you know where I might find a matched quad? Thanks in advance for any help you might provide. Best always.

Tony RienziHi

Tony,

I am glad to hear you are enjoying your Leben CS-600, I certainly have enjoyed mine a great deal (it's warming up right now in fact).

The place I have been buying NOS 6CS7 tubes is Radio Electric Supply in the US. They normally have a large (and changing) stock, with a number of different NOS brands available at any given time. The best way to find out what is in stock and what the prices are is to send a message to Dale at dale@vacuumtubes.net and inquire.

Happy listening!

Kind regards,

Jeff


Hey Mr. Day,
I see you upgraded up the Harbeth line to the Monitor 40.1, contrats, I hope a well detailed review is in the works if not could you give me some insight as to what the 40.1 brings in compared to the SHL5? I'm guessing absolute resolution and bigger sound altoghter. Thanks and enjoy.

Hi Patrick,

I did indeed buy a pair of the new Harbeth Monitor 40.1 loudspeakers, and they are a very nice loudspeaker indeed.

I did keep my Harbeth Super HL-5s as well, and use them in combination with the Leben CS-600 valve integrated in a second system to serve as a 'real world' music lovers reference (the system from the introductory article of the Music Lovers series I penned for 6moons, with the addition of a large Philips 1080P LCD screen and Oppo DV-981HD for video duties). I use them both nearly every day and enjoy the heck out of them.

The M40.1s aren't really in to be reviewed as such, rather they're a personal purchase that I made as a result of my going ape over them at last years CES when they were first introduced to the public. Having said that though, I may indeed follow up with a review of them one of these days when I get a break in the review schedule. Art Dudley over at Stereophile wrote a nice article about the M40.1s, and if you haven't read it yet you might want to go read it over at the Stereophile web site. My impressions of the M40.1 align pretty closely with Art's.

I get a lot of comments about my buying the M40.1s as being an upgrade to the Super HL5s, and I suppose they are under ideal conditions, but that's not really how I think about them. To use an example from photography: when shooting photos I pick a camera/lens combination that I think will work the best for what I am trying to accomplish. If I want to get a wide angle view during street photography I would use my Leica MP with my Leica Summicron 35mm ASPH lens, but if I was doing portraiture I'd probably pick a Leica Summicron 90mm ASPH lens, as it's a better tool for that use. Both lenses are built to the same high level of quality and performance, but one's a better tool for a particular application.

And so it is with the Harbeth M40.1 and Super HL5. To get all the M40.1 is capable of, and to get the best room integration in the bass, I think you need a fairly large room for it. On the other hand, I think that the Super HL5 is built to the same level of quality and performance as the M40.1 given its design envelope, and it will integrate better into a smaller room than the M40.1. My current living arrangements allow me to use a large speaker like the M40.1 to excellent effect, but if I were to retire to a small condo they probably wouldn't be the best choice. In that situation the Super HL5 would be a better choice, or perhaps even one of the smaller Harbeths.

You are essentially correct about the M40.1 versus the Super HL5 comparison, however, as the M40.1s do sound 'bigger' and have more ultimate resolution. But I have to say that the Super HL5s never cease to amaze me, they are a truly wonderful speaker.

Kind regards,

Jeff


Hey Jeff,
What's happened to you? You were the guy we could trust, who wrote from the heart, who seemed to understand it was about the music. Now I read this review, that I fell asleep halfway through, where you're pompoming like an ad man for Leben. Did you lose your way reviewing all those accessories? And what's with that mediocre source, do you really think that belongs with the gear you've assembled? What's happened?

Please come back to us...

Hey back at you, Cschnyder

It seems that the Leben RS-30EQ phono stage article has certainly evoked an extreme range of feedback, going from "it's the best article I've ever read" on one hand, to yours, which suggests my ethics are compromised, describes my writing as boring, and questions the quality of my associated equipment. Sigh. It sucks to not be appreciated.

It sounds as if you've been reading my scribbling about Hi-Fi for a while, which I do appreciate, and so you know I cover a wide variety of topics in my writing. In essence I like to tell people about things that I've come across that I'm impressed with—thus the enthusiasm that is evident in my articles. I don't like to spend time writing about something I think sucks—I value my time, I don't find it edifying, and life is just too short for me to want to spend it that way. It'd be like writing about a meal that gives you a bad case of gas or the trots—who wants to relive that?

Instead I've focused on those topics that I've found to be particularly interesting and fun. Sometimes it's the unexpected discovery of something unusual & fun, like the Sonic Impact T-Amp, which I wrote about with enthusiasm back in the day. Sometimes it's a DIY project of particular merit that I become aware of, like the high-performance home-brew Moonshine interconnects & speaker cables on the cheap that my buddy Pete Riggle introduced me to. Sometimes it's about the joy of vintage Hi-Fi gear, like back when I wrote an enthusiastic series of articles about restoring a vintage Garrard 301 turntable. I've written with enthusiasm and admiration about Don Garber and his fine handcrafted Fi electronics, which I consider to be works of craftsman art, and Don's important contribution to the American SET Hi-Fi scene.

I'm always in the process of investigating things that I think might be of interest to readers with interests like mine, and sometimes they work out well and you get an enthusiastic article as a result, and sometimes they don't work out so well and they get trash-canned as an article so I can move on to something more worthwhile.

Take for example the ‘mediocre source' you refer to in the Leben RS-30EQ article—the KAB Broadcast Standard Technics SL-1200MK5 with all of the KAB performance upgrades. You may not be aware of it, but the Technics has a long and interesting audio history much like the Garrard 301 does, and at the present time there is a resurgence in interest in it, particularly in the UK. Like the Garrard 301 the Technics is built like a tank to a very high standard, and can considerably benefit from performance enhancing modifications, also like the Garrard. The Garrard 301 was also considered to be a mediocre source by some people, and that's ok, but I have found them to be musically brilliant when implemented with care.

I took particular note of the Technics when I noticed that a number of Garrard 301 owners had sold their 301s and replaced them with the Technics, which they said they preferred. As you might imagine, that piqued my interest, so I purchased a hot-rodded Technics to investigate, and at full retail mind you. So is a hot-rodded Technics a Garrard killer or is it a dog? Or is it simply mediocre, as you have suggested? That is my very reason for investigating it, and why it shows up in the Leben RS-30EQ article —I'm putting it through its paces to see if there is a story worth telling.

You can expect me to be enthusiastic when I come across something I really like, whether it is when restoring vintage Hi-Fi gear, or covering high-performing DIY projects, or covering unusual products that really deliver, or covering important contributions to Hi-Fi like the SET movement, or writing about exceptionally musical gear like Harbeth and Leben. When I find things I really like I vote with my wallet and buy them (assuming that I can afford them), like the Leben and Harbeth currently, or like other gear over the years.

I love the audio hobby and all that makes it up: the history, the gear, the music, and the people. I like to write about things that other people haven't yet written about, those wonderful little discoveries I make along the way, to break new ground when I can, and to introduce the people behind those wonderful products I come across, who normally labor away in quiet obscurity following their muse. People like Keith Aschenbrenner of Auditorium 23 in Germany, Don Garber of Fi in America, Tom Evans of TEAD in the UK, Alan Shaw of Harbeth in the UK, Taku Hyodo of Leben in Japan, and many others. If I lose that enthusiasm for audio that I have, then it will be time for me to throw in the towel and to quit writing about it. But for now, I shall write for a little longer I think, for there are more stories worth telling about the people, gear, the history, and the music in the Hi-Fi world, and yes, many of them will be enthusiastic, because that's just who I am.

I think if you stay tuned you will not be disappointed.

Kind regards,

Jeff Day


Hi Jeff,
Thanks for the great reviews, always an enjoyable read. Based to a large extent on your comments I am building a system around Leben gear. I have recently purchased an SME 10 turntable, CS300 amp (not the XS) and a RS30EQ, all of which are waiting for me when I return home in a few months (I work in Saudi Arabia - and can't wait to get home to try my new system!). I hope you can help with a question on valves for the CS300. In your latest review of the RS30EQ you recommended trying the Gold Lion EL84 tubes in the XS version. I wanted to get some better valves and keep the stock Sovteks for spares so emailed Leben's UK agent to ask if the Gold Lion valves would work with my CS300. Unfortunately he would not comment beyond "Leben recommend Mullard, GE and Hitachi". Maybe a silly question but for a valve newbie such as myself, can you comment on whether the Gold Lion valves would be suitable for the CS300?

Kind Regards,

Paul Carlton


Hello Jeff,
my name is Giuseppe and I'm writing from Italy. I read several review from you especially on Leben products. I had the opportunity to try in my system the Leben CS200P power amp. My speakers are the new Zu essence. I was impressed by this combination. The amp was connected directly to the speaker without any preamplifier. I hear also the CS-300 or CS-600 but the small CS200P seams far away superior to all of them. I wonder why I don't read any review of this superb amplifier. Have you heard it? What do you think? Do you know more information about the new Leben pre rs-100? Do you think it will be a good match with CS200P?

Thanks and regards,

Giuseppe D'Agata

Hi Giuseppe,

I've not heard the CS200P, but I'd love to some time. I would be delighted to write about it should the nice people at Leben offer it, but so far they have not.

I haven't heard anything more about the new pre so I'm afraid I'm not much help there.

Best,

Jeff Day


Hi Jeff,
The Tom Evans and the Leben pre amp both got your highest appreciation/recommendation at 6 moons. I am still waiting for the Leben Line pre-amp but the reviews on the Tom Evans Vibe did trigger my attention. How did you compare them ? Do you still own the Vibes ?

thanks,

wim
the Netherlands

Hi Wim,

The Tom Evans Vibe is an excellent preamplifier. The TEAD Vibe pre & Linear A amplifier has remarkable synergy with Avantgarde loudspeakers, and if you own Avantardes it would be my first recommendation.

I no longer own the TEAD gear, as I sold it when I sold my Avantgarde loudspeakers, as the TEAD gear didn't synergize with my new Harbeth loudspeakers as a reference as well as did the Leben gear. But for Avantgarde loudspeakers I still believe to TEAD to be the best choice.

Best,

Jeff Day


Jeff,
Just saw that your system now consists of primarily Leben equipment on the electronics front. I remember that you previously were very happy with Tom Evans equipment...what prompted you to make the switch?

I recently switched out my Supratek Chenin for the Tom Evans Vibe (v6) and MicroGroove Plus phono preamp. Definitely much more detailed, dynamic, and better soundstaging; but I definitely do miss the tube warmth sometimes. The solid state can make some recordings sound a little "harsh", for lack of a better word.

Thanks,
Winston

Hi Winston,

The Tom Evans Vibe is an excellent preamplifier. The TEAD Vibe pre & Linear A amplifier had remarkable synergy with the Avantgarde Duo loudspeakers I used to own, and for those who own Avantardes it would be my first recommendation for electronics. It's a very impressive combination.

A while back something totally unexpected happened to me: I heard a pair of Harbeth loudspeakers, fell in love with the way the present the music, and now have two pairs - the Super HL5 and the Monitor 40.1, that I use for on a daily basis in my primary audio system, and my AV system. I couldn't afford to keep my Duos too, as an additional reference, although I would have like to.

The TEAD gear that sounded so remarkable with my Duos weren't as good a match with my new Harbeths, sounding a little like you describe in your system, and at about that same time along came the Leben gear. The Leben gear with the Harbeths turned out to be a synergistic match much like that of the Duos and TEAD were, and the combination caused me to rethink what my audio priorities were, much like the TEAD & Duo combination did in its day. Like with the Duos and Harbeths, I couldn't afford to keep all of the TEAD and Leben gear so had to put the TEAD up for sale. It sucks not being wealthy! I hope that answers your question.

Kind regards,

Jeff


Dear Audio Colleagues,
John Potis Family Relief Fund established

John Potis, a well-known, well-liked audio reviewer who wrote for Soundstage, 6moons, and Positive Feedback Online, died suddenly at age 49.

He is survived by a wife and 2 daughters, age 12 and 9.

A Potis Family Relief Fund has been established for contributions to help his family.

Cash contributions can be made by sending a check or a money order to:

Potis Family Relief Fund

13510 Blenheim Rd N

Phoenix, MD 21131

Contributions can also be sent through PayPal to john.potis@comcast.net

Donations in kind also can be made by contacting:

Eric Luebehusen

Phone: 202-720-3361

Email: cheric@comcast.net

Donations in kind will be auctioned on Audiogon and the entire proceed will go to the Potis Family Relief Fund.


Hallo Jeff,
Whatever happened to the equipment you used to own, like your Fi 2A3 monos, your Avantgarde loudspeakers, your Garrard 301 turntable and your Tom Evans Audio Design preamp? Did you sell all this gear? And if so, why?

Best Regards,

Josef
Munich, Germany

Hi Josef,

I still have my Fi2A3 monos, but sold the Duos, Garrard 301, and the TEAD gear. The reason for the changes are that I fell in love with the presentation of the combination of Harbeth loudspeakers and Leben amplification.

The TEAD and Avantgarde worked together like magic, there was a lot of synergy, but the TEAD and Harbeth didn't have as much synergy going for it as the Leben and Harbeth, so a change in amplification was necessitated when I moved to the Harbeth speakers. I've kept the Fi monos in hopes that I'll run across a pair of sensitive speakers that I really like, but for the moment I'm not using them too much.

Selling the Garrard 301 was a moment of stupidity for me, and one which I've regretted. I checked into replacing it with the Shindo version of the Garrard 301, but at least for now, it's out of my price range. Sigh.

Best,

Jeff


cHIPster,
Just finished your Luxman DU-80 piece and it was just fantastic! The ease of presentation, and slowing down of time you speak of is something I've experienced after tweaking my set-up to deal with energy dissipation and AC nasties. And it is an eerie experience. One that has you feeling like people are in the room with you and that electronics are not responsible for what's happening sonically. Though I highly doubt that what I've experienced can hold a candle to what the Big-Daddy Luxman can accomplish, I do understand what you were attempting (and you did) to get across.

Your writing seems more passionate and evocative to me. I think I understand why, and I can only hope you continue to be inspired by Ghosts. Your piece was outstanding throughout, but one phrase really stuck out to me...

"However I think it is safe to say that no one reviewing a Luxman component or contemplating such a serious purchase need worry about any Luxman piece receding sheepishly into the mists amidst the background noise of the universe, the residue of the big bang, singing in dull harmony... O-R-D-I-N-A-R-Y."

Did you just bring the concept of the eternal echoing of the "Big-Bang" into a hi-fi piece!?!? YOU ARE THE FUCKING MAN!! Please keep up the great work Bro. I'm just know getting into your chipstern.com play-place. A lot of cool shit Bro. I'm looking forward to digging deeper as time goes by.

Hope this note finds everything Rainbows and Unicorns in your world Chip. Take care, and I'll see ya on the other-side brother.

~ peace,

Jason C. Scott


Hi David,
I hope things are going well for you in these trying times. We're hanging on, but I've never worked so hard in my life!

Thank you for posting Max Dudious' review of the Parasound Zamp v.3.

It has not been my custom to write a "manufacturer's response" to reviews in recent years because I think they always sound gratuitous, with the manufacturer restating the juiciest sound bites from the review without adding value for readers. In this case I feel compelled to share a few thoughts with you.

Naturally, I'm delighted to receive the exposure for any product, but this review was something extraordinary and worthy of recognition.

Max's writing is immediately engaging and creates a context and historical and technical-lite perspective for the product that should appeal to readers at any level of interest and experience. This review is not only informative, it's downright entertaining. I wish I could write like this.

I want to praise the extent of attention that "Max" has lavished on a power amplifier that sells for only $350. This review must represent one of the highest words/selling price ratios in audio reviewing history. It's my belief that value always matters; while we're all trying to accommodate to harsher economic realities, a reminder of how much musical enjoyment one can achieve on a shoestring budget is virtually a public service.

I trust that your readers appreciate Max's efforts. I think he's a tremendous asset to Positive Feedback.

Sincerely,

Richard

Hello Richard...

Many thanks for your very kind words. I would agree with you about the quality of Max's work. When Max and I first crossed paths years ago... he was a reader of Positive Feedback in its paper 'n ink days...I was impressed with the quality of the essays that he sent me. I love superior writing, and Max does that... meticulous wordsmithing is what he does. I really enjoy his stuff; it's highly engaging, and he has developed a unique voice in fine audio journalism.

So... we're agreed. This review is an awful lot more than the usual review-and-write-by-the-numbers.

Which is what we try to do here at Positive Feedback Online.

All the best,

david

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