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Positive Feedback ISSUE 7
J. Karl Meinhardt:
And since they also claim their output for full rated power, I added them up. If you do, it seems that each pair is claimed to deliver 320 watts, or 960 watts, and when you add on the additional 160 for the center channel it comes to 1120 watts. That seems to be their claim. I don't know how else to read it.
Elsewhere on that same page they do state their Power Consumption is at 530 watts. They also state that is in (STEREO MODE RATED POWER). It is the only phrase that is in all Capital Letters on the page, so that we might pay attention. It seems you omitted those words.
There are some vagaries here that are not of my doing. When they make these statements of power output, they do not specify constant average power, r.m.s. (root mean square); or measurements of peaks the individual amplifiers are able to deliver. They also fail to specify what the power consumption is for all seven channel output when played simultaneously.
Your email ping raises many questions about to what degree of rigor the published "specifications" of the industry should be held. I am in sympathy with your confusion, for on closer look it seems these conflicting statements are in contradiction, and managed to trip me up. Thanks for your keen eye and investigative reporter's instinct. I hope we might be able to keep the smoke and mirrors out of published specifications. And I'll forward this exchange to Marantz, to my knowledge one of the manufacturers with the highest integrity, for their comment.
I believe that the combined Sony mods (clock, Blackgates, tube output), reviewed in these very pages, are considerably less than $2500, plus mfg recommended ancillaries. That, to me, would have been a more logical, interesting, and comparative review.
BTW, those ancillaries would also include additional moneys for hi-rez shelving, and isolation. In the context of such a system, one would probably need to figure an additional $500-$1000.
This is easily the most informative and entertaining article I have ever read on the history of recording technology, and it answered many questions I have had for years (such as the technical reasons behind the sudden and dramatically improved high-frequency response and clarity of records that I noticed as a teenager in the mid-1970's).
I also enjoyed Mr. Pearsall's position on the many examples of "regressive technology" which corporate clowns have unleashed on gullible consumers over the decades. I still prefer the sound of well-recorded records to that of CD's, and I have thousands of them of all speeds and vintages which I play on a roomful of radio-station turntables. (I like records so much, that I bought a Presto 6N lathe in 1985 with which to cut my own!)
Please let Mr. Pearsall know that I really enjoyed his article,and appreciate his obvious expertise, clear perspective, and entertaining writing styleIf he ever writes a book along these lines, I'll be the first in line to buy it!
All the best,
I would like to make one suggestion and poise a question for your critical response. The suggestion is to include, if known, the source material for the LP; i.e., was the LP cut from an analog or digital tape? The question isfor those LP's cut from a digital source (and I suspect all three of the LPs Tom reviewed are in this category), how can the LP sound better than the CD? Is it because a D/A conversion must be made for the LP to be cut? Are there other variables involved I don't understand? In other words, explain how (and, maybe, even more importantly, WHY) an LP would ever be cut from a digital source.
Contrary to your assumption, I believe at least two of the three LPs in my review are "AAA" affairs. In the case of the White Stripes, theres no questionthe band flies its analog colors proudly. As noted in the review, Elephant was recorded on all pre-1963 tube equipment, and the LPs liners are explicit: "All songs on this album were recorded to eight-track reel-to-reel... Mixed to quarter-inch reel-to-reel... No computers were used during the writing, recording, mixing or mastering of this record." No doubt, this is analog all the way.
The Lucinda Williams album is a bit trickier. I have seen photographs of the recording sessions, and the music was definitely recorded on an analog console. Neither the LP nor the CD, however, note whether the tapes were subsequently mixed or edited digitally. However, given the vinyls gloriously airy and natural sound (with Lucindas down-home, Blonde on Blondeworshipping sensibility as circumstantial evidence), Id bet my last hundred bucks that the World Without Tears LP is also all-analog. It epitomizes all of the qualities that reviewers routinely refer to as "analog-like."
Looking at the notes to Mambo Sinuendo, the "D" word does indeed rear its head. The tracks were recorded in Havana on analog tape, but they were "Mixed at Capitol Studios, Los Angeles Digital Editing by Rail Jon Rogut and Jared Smith." So this appears to be an "ADA" piece of vinyl. Not to pat myself on the back, but could this be why I found little difference between the LP and CD versions?
In fact, Im well-acquainted with the sound of ADA LPs. I have dozens of Fantasys Original Jazz Classics reissues, which in the 80s took the original session tapes of great jazz recordings from the 50s and 60s, transferred them to digital tape and pressed them on vinyl. These sound pretty good, but the digital signature is audiblethey tend to be a little sharp and airless, though still preferable to the contemporaneous CDs. This was essentially my opinion of Mambo Sinuendo as well. Given the analog mastering, the LP was slightly more dynamic and warm than the CD, but just slightly.
This (finally!) gets to the point of what youre getting at in your message, Mike. Though I generally prefer a well-mastered LP to a well-mastered CD, a best-to-best comparison of the two formats is indeed very close. There are some wonderful-sounding CDs out there. But the practices of engineers when mixing and mastering in digital have a tendency to result in CDs that are brighter and harder than the original tapes. This doesnt need to happen, but it does. For one, digital editors often have an unfortunate need to "clean up" the source tapes: remove tape hiss (thereby deadening tonality), splice tiny flaws, etc. Then mastering engineers tailor the sound to what they view as the dictates of the mass market, i.e. highly EQd and compressed and LOUD even with the volume turned down. The net result is CDs that sound sharp and clinically "perfect," but processed and unnatural.
The JVC XRCD reissues, for example, have shown how good CDs can sound when supreme pains are taken in all steps of the production chain. But they remain the exception and not the rule.
You repeatedly make the comment that this is the finest DIGITAL playback that you have ever heard. Is there an implication here that you feel that the finest analogue is still superior? Could you also please indicate the relative strengths and weaknesses of the Meitner vs the dCs combo. I look foward to your reply.
All the best,
At that time, Verdier had no US distributor, which make the project much more difficult for the UK distributor to justify...and eventually, he opted out. I don't think that I blame him! Fine turntable logistics are daunting, especially when shipped overseas. Support is tough, and communications can be intermittent, depending on the source.
We've had several turntable projects fall through for reasons like these...plus the fact that many turntable manufacturers don't seem to be very interested in reviews these days.
C'est la vie!
Glad to hear that you're enjoying PFO. We do.
All the best,
The bottom line is, you have to audition a component as you would use it. This is especially true of speakers as moving them just a foot in one direction could drastically alter how it loads into/excites the room. As such, I hope that Michael will take this into consideration when auditioning components in the future. Otherwise, he may end up missing out on something great simply because the device was not allowed to perform up to its' capacity in a less than optimized system.
This is a prevalent and unfortunate misunderstanding of Occam's work in Theology. His "razor" is not a "philosophical rule of thumb" that predicts the outcome of an investigation. Rather it is a suggestion for methodology only, and is in itself outcome-neutral.
While Drasin did not go all the way into the common error of stating "The simplest explanation is most likely to be the correct one," his reading is sufficiently close to that error that I felt compelled, as an amateur Medievalist, to correct the record.
Taken in context--and let us not forget that the context after all was Medieval Scholastic Theological speculation, and not audio engineeringwhat Occam meant to convey was "Because the simplest possible explanations involve the fewest variables, they shouldin terms of methodology--be dealt with first."
There is a long stretch between a theologian's suggesting that it makes the most sensegiven the then-prevalent felt need, which was based on both Aristotle and the Geometers, to deal with all possible explanations of a circumstanceto dispose of the simple cases first, and the reductionist determinism of the usual modern mangling of the "razor."
Hello John...You make an excellent...and important...point. Lest we perish of blood loss on the "bleeding edge," I publish!
Nihil obstat. Imprimatur!
All the best,
Hello Larry...good to hear from you again.
If I wanted to keep the hot-rodding of the Sony SCD-777ES under a grand, I would do the Superclock II, and also do Richard Kern's transport mod. This upgrades the caps in the transport section, which results in quite a noticeable gain in transparency, in addition to the Superclock II's increased resolution and detail. The combination of the two has a resultant benefit on soundstaging and imaging...particularly in image depth.
worth doing, Larry...you'll be pleased with the results I am quite sure. I certainly was.
I'd recommend that you look at doing the following Kern mods:
1. Superclock II
2. Kern SCD-1 transport mod
Possibly the Superclock power supply
For the latest, I would check with Richard and Dan if you're thinking of having this done. They live about 20-25 minutes from each other...a "tag-team project" is quite feasible.
A better IC is next on my list (I know the Pioneer Elite is pretty average, but the upgrade to a dedicated CDP will have to wait). Recently auditioned a pair of Straight Wire Crescendos that a friend let me borrow and liked them very much. I like a sound that is neutral, balanced, resolved, open, detailed, dynamic, deep and wide, and slightly warm. The Straight Wire ICs seemed to fit the bill, in my system anyway, and I am considering finding a used pair of them.
Since I obviously like the DH Labs "sound" which is very neutral and balanced to my ears, I was wondering if you had any thoughts about how the Revelations would compare to the Crescendos. Actually the MF A 300 is probably the defining piece of equipment in my system as far as the signature of the sound I have. Any thoughts about how the DH Labs Revelations might match with my setup would be appreciated. I am not very experienced about various ICs, just want to move up to some that are in the same class of quality as my speakers and the MF A 300.
Thanks for your time if you are able to offer any brief comments.
Tony, Sorry but I have no experience with the Straight Wires. I would think that the revelations may be a good choice as they are a bit darker and "non-analytical" in way that could make just the right mix with the rest of your set-up. Contact Greg at DH and see if an in-home trial is a possibility.
I am working with Ron and the folks from Music Direct on the mod to the Cary 306/200. I think I have all the right size/colour dots and I have now collected 6 onlines. What/where would be your next stop for the additional pair of onlines inside the 306/200?
Great designs, by a wonderful human being. That's worth celebrating....
All the best,
There are a lot of items in the audio world that don't even make sense to me. For instance, so much concern is made over cables (some costing thousands of dollars for a small length) when all the wiring and welds within a particular audio product are seemingly ignored. How could one cable with two connectors make any noticeable difference when connected between products that consist of dozens and dozens of wires and welds along that same signal path? It just doesn't make sense.
I was once in a listening room of Paradigm speakers consisting of about ten pairs ranging from the lowest Cinema speaker to the upper mid-level Monitor 9 speaker. They were all connected to the same CD player via a switch that allowed me to instantly listen to any pair of speakers. I listened to several different types of classical music, including vocals, and was prepared (and expecting) to hear significant differences. I was shocked at how little the differences were. In fact, if I had to value the differences between speaker pairs, each better pair might receive a higher score of about 1 point on a total scale of about 50. What was most shocking was that when I switched between the Cinema and Monitor 9 I didn't get the 10 point jump that logic would tell me, but rather more like about 3. This comparison opened my eyes (and ears) to the subtleties of the audio world.
What annoys me is that the reviews often use words like "shocking" and "drastic" to describe the differences between lesser and better products, giving me the impression that color is being seen for the first time in a world of black and white. However, a Fisher-Price toy is not being compared to a high-end audio product.
Why can't audio equipment be compared in a way that is much more scientific and objective? Why aren't actual measurements of the sound made? If our ears can hear a difference, then certainly a device can detect that difference and plot it out to prove it. Frequency response graphs are made for speakers, so wouldn't this data also show the difference among audio products?
I wish that a reviewer was given a 10 or 20 second piece of music to review, not knowing what he was reviewing (players, cable, speaker, etc.). He would listen to the piece over and over again for about 20 sessions in order to evaluate it for each of the categories that Enjoy The Music evaluates (tonality, bass, resolution, etc.). Then he would listen to the same 10 or 20 second piece over again for another 20 sessions, not knowing what or if anything had been changed. He would go through this procedure about 10 times to test 3 or 4 products. Then another reviewer would be subjected to the same analysis. Ultimately, we would discover if there would be consistency in the reviews, especially when the reviewers don't know what audio equipment combination they are listening to. For example, you could review 3 CD players in random order for 10 times so that some players might be played in repeated succession. Then the review would be valid because it would eliminate subjectivity and bias. You would then have a review that would produce the truth of the audio equipment's quality, and not what the company wants you to tell your audience. People buying audio equipment that was favorable by this review method would be able to have confidence that their money has made a good purchase, because most audio equipment cannot be properly auditioned.
Thanks for your response.
My system (from the wall): Hubbell outlet, Magnan Signature power cord, Richard Gray 400s, Wadia 860, Nordost Quattro Fil RCA, Atma-Sphere M60 Mk2 with factory power supply and resistor upgrades, Cardas Golden Reference biwires, Merlin VSM-M.
I have a few tweaks thrown in: Black Diamond Racing cones under my amps. Walker pucks on top of the amps. ERS sheets in a couple of places. Lead shot on top of the Merlins. I think I'd like to pick the speaker cables up off of the ground. I'm open to any other suggestions.
Yes, I think I forgot to mention that item, Chris. I have a set of ceramic cable suspenders that I've been using for years...dark brown, looks just like what you see on older power poles. Don't remember who makes these, but they've served me well.
My audiobuds George Cardas and Jennifer Crock often use tubes to hoist their cables and interconnects. If you've got some used/cheap medium-sized tubes, this works very well.
PFO Senior Assistant Editor Rick Gardner uses the larger glass bricks to suspend cables, also to good effect. Any of these should do you well...have fun.
All the best,