SoundStage! Feedback: May 1999

May 25, 1999

I wish you would provide more technical description in your amp reviews. I believe Doug Blackburn had a three-part column on amps and what should be in amps, but these standards are never referenced in the reviews. For my part, I suspect that there is a correlation between good-sounding solid-state amps and massive capacitance and power supplies. But your reviews don't test my suspicion. I'd like to have a better understanding of the topologies used in amps as well as an evaluation of their performance. That would allow the reader to dig through some of the hype. For example, there are questions whether class A is worth the additional cost over class AB, whether fully balanced amps are worthwhile, or whether fully dual-mono amps actually have an advantage.

...Claude Dickson

May 22, 1999

Dear Team SoundStage!,

Thanks for the great coverage!

Since I rarely have the chance to venture out of my demonstration room, I
really appreciate the opportunity to see what other exhibitors were showing. And while I thought the Congress was a dump, I am humbled by your travails at the Travelodge.

...Jeff Joseph
Joseph Audio

May 19, 1999

Thanks for your HI-FI '99 coverage and photo (May 16th). Keep up the good work!

...Mark Conti
Impact Technology Loudspeakers

May 18, 1999

Congratulations on great show coverage of the HI-FI '99. I was there as well and enjoyed every bit of the three days. I thought Patricia Barber's show was also great. Also, the Electrocompaniet room was awesome.

Your May 16 Product Coverage photos show the $600 MAC Grand Platform supporting a black box. You missed the real star of that picture -- the black box itself, the Margules Magenta ADE 24. I bought it after a demo and a good listen at a fantastic bargain of $95 from Margules himself ;-). You may want to do a review on this product in the future -- it's a
great value!

Thanks again and keep up the good work!

...Francis Sogono

May 17, 1999

Dear Guys:

Thanks for doing such a fantastic job covering HI-FI '99. Of course, it's obvious that I appreciate the coverage of Dynaudio's Evidence (and the pix of Paul Barton and the NAD Silver CD player), but I'm most impressed with the thoroughness of the coverage and the great layout. I thought it was hard coordinating all that with a 90-day lead time, but you guys did it on the fly! Fan-freaking-tastic.

BTW, I loved the saga of your Show squalor as depicted in the PODs -- that's the kind of detail that separates the true writer (who realizes that we only have lives in order to give us something to write about) and the wannabes.

All the best,

...Wes Phillips

May 15, 1999

It's 7AM on a Saturday morning, and I'm sitting here laughing out loud at your photos and running commentary concerning your hotel problems. Keep up the good work!

...Bob Kochenthal

May 14, 1999

I had my badge but couldn't make it to Chicago because my wife was scheduled to be in New Orleans this week. I have to stay home and guard the teenagers from hell.

My heartfelt thanks to you and the SoundStage! crew for letting me attend HI-FI '99 virtually.

...Wendell Narrod

May 9, 1999

Dear Greg Weaver,

May Belt asked me to provide you with feedback on the use of the Rainbow Foil; hence this letter.

I first learned of PWB from your recent article, and as I'm an avid fan of your Synergizing column (and have implemented most of your ideas), I thought I'd give the Foil a try by requesting a sample.

Initial results were disappointing in that they were highly variable. I could not detect any real difference with CDs with or without the foil, and any improvement was very subjective. I have to admit that my system nearly always sounds great to me (especially late at night, when it sounds awesome), so there was no sudden "awful to good" change.

I messed around with the Foil for about two weeks and even tried all of the experiments in PWB's "Reality - what a mess" article (feeling very foolish using photos, red pen and torch, etc.). I was about to give up on PWB when I decided to try one more test. I donned headphones and listened to classical tracks from the XLO burn-in and test disc (CD) with and without the foil, and there was a difference. Classical and jazz instruments sounded far more realistic/real with the Foil; the difference was small, but significant.

In retrospect, my initial tests were with techno CDs and hence with electronically generated/sampled music that may have made it difficult to detect a difference (with/without the foil) as I would not have had any prior idea (based on experience) of what the instruments should sound like. Switching to more traditional instruments provided a means of comparing the instruments with what they should have sounded like (based on experience). In addition, switching to headphones allowed me to pick up enough detail (my speakers are Mission 753Fs with Cable Talk 4.1 wires, which just don't give the same level of detail) to detect a difference.

So, in summary, there was a small but significant difference with CDs, tape and vinyl (in decreasing order of magnitude), and I've since ordered some more Foil and a sample of Cream Electret to hear how far Peter Belt's techniques can take me.

Finally, many thanks for your article; I would not have ventured on this path if you had not written about the product. Best Regards.

...Mike Lloyd

May 4, 1999

To Doug Schneider,

Are there any plans to review the Blue Circle BC-21 preamplifier? While I would love to own a BC-3, the cost even on a used one is a bit much for me. I am curious how the BC-21 compares to the BC-3 and also how it sounds next to the Anthem Pre 1.

I also would like to know if there was an improvement from the Classé Fifteen to the Classé CA150. And what the hey, while I have your attention -- why are there so few reviews of the Magnepans? Is there some fatal flaw in their design that keeps people from considering them as audiophile equipment? I have considered buying some but can find no reviews.

Thanks for your time.

...Nicholas Miller

Hi Nicholas. There is a scheduled review for some time in the future of the BC-21; however, it will not appear for many months down the road (perhaps six). As for the Classé Fifteen versus the CA150. I used to own the Fifteen and liked it very much. I auditioned the CA150 when it first came out and found that it was a much different-sounding amplifier and one that many people did like and see as a great improvement. I found it very clean and smooth-sounding; however, I still liked the sound of my own Fifteen, which I found fuller and warmer, but not quite as clean. As for Magnepan, we have been in contact with the company and have requested review samples. At present, they have adopted a wait-and-see policy toward web-based publications. We hope that this will change in the future....Doug Schneider

May 4, 1999

Hi Doug,

I've just finished reading your SimAudio Moon I-5 review, and you point out that the W-5 is a very good component. In fact, I have a pair of Totem Mani-2 speakers, and I really need a lot of power. Do you think the W-5 is a good match, or do you have better suggestions? In your opinion, is it a dry-sounding component like they say in Stereophile? How do you compare the W-5 against Pass Labs designs like the X-150? What are your suggestions for a preamplifier?

Thanks for your advice and your good work!

...Alexandre Fortin

I think the W-5 is an outstanding amplifier and should have no difficulty
driving the Mani-2. The "dry" sound is more a description of the
amplifier's neutrality. It does not give excessive (unnatural) warmth or
bloom to any part of the frequency spectrum. Components that do that are usually exceedingly neutral, and to some "dry." It is not meant as a criticism of the component. I've never heard the X-150, so I don't know how it would compare. However, I would suggest, if you can, trying out the W-5 at home and then letting us know how your audition turns out....Doug Schneider

May 2, 1999

To Greg Weaver,

I tried the Vibrapods with my Von Schweikert VR-4.5 speakers. Nice improvement! I replaced my more expensive MIT speaker cables with the  Harmonic Technology cables. Big improvement! I ordered my free sample of foil -- and another improvement! I ordered some more foil, and they sent some samples of other foils and some Cream Electret. After creaming and foiling just about everything in here, the sound I am hearing is beautiful; it just sounds more real. I don't know why and I don't really care -- it works for me. Thanks!

...Dave Meredith

May 1, 1999


Greg Weaver's great article "System Zap Arrestor" reminds me greatly of a tweak posted over a year ago on my Enjoy the Music website titled "Zap That Static Clean!" The point for my writing today is that Greg left out, as I initially did in my article, a VERY IMPORTANT piece of the puzzle. A gentleman named Dilip suggests, as I do, to include the following:

"The standard practice is to connect the (antistatic mat/wrist band etc.) grounding wire/conductor to ground through a 1 Meg Ohm series resistor. This ensures dissipation of any static charges but prevents one from getting a solid ground connection in case one happens to be touching a live surface at the same time -- thus from getting a shock."

This addition of a 1 Meg Ohm resistor should definitely be included within the project. Simply insert it inline within the wire for best results. Of course, what really matters is that we all...enjoy the music.

...Steven R. Rochlin