Koss Totem Mani 2 76 Users Manual

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LOUDSPEAKERS: Does the Totem Mani-2
still rate as one of the worlds truly great
speakers? We also look at an economy
speaker from an old friend, Castle. And an
affordable speaker with a Heil tweeter.
get out hands on the newest Squeezebox,
and find that a computer can bury many a
“high end” CD player
PLUS: Paul Bergman on speaker
impedance, and how to measure the
impedance of your own speaker
No. 76 $6.49
ISSN 0847-1851
Canadian Publication Sales
Product Agreement
No. 40065638
Box 65085, Place Longueuil,
Longueuil, Qué., Canada J4K 5J4
Printed in Canada
ASW Speakers
FIM Accessories
Perfect Sound
Nitty Gritty
Gradient Speakers
LAST record care
Audiophile CDs
Audiophile LPs
ASW Genius
“It has all the volume you could
ever want, its bottom end goes
down to bedrock, and its top end is
delightfully smooth.
UHF No. 73
Audio Excellence, Toronto
(905) 881-7109
Audio Two, Windsor
(519) 979-7101
Arcadia Audio, Brampton
(416) 994-5571
Waroc Information, Bolton
(416) 937-9276
also available in silver
Just May Audio
111 Zenway Blvd., Unit 9
Tel. : (905) 265-8675 • Fax : (905) 265-8595
www.justiceaudio.com • sales@justiceaudio.com
Speaker Impedance 18
by Paul Bergman
What it means, how impedance affects
performance, and how you can measure your
speakers’ own impedance
Montreal 2006 22
by Gerard Rejskind
A leisurely tour of the venerable Montreal show,
now in a new venue
Touring the New/Old Show 25
by Albert Simon
Another way of seeing (and hearing!) the show
Future High-Res Discs 50
Blu Ray? HD DVD? And what about the audiophile?
The Listening Room
The Totem Mani-2 Signature 30
It was 14 years ago that this astonishing
loudspeaker wowed us. Now the Signature version
does it again
The Elac 204 Speaker 34
An inexpensive bookshelf speaker that comes with
the fabled Heil tweeter
Castle Richmond 3i Speaker 36
It looks rather like the superb (bu!t no longer made)
Castle Eden, only with both dimensions and price
tag scrunched down
Headphone Amplifiers 38
We slip on our cans and try some amp options: the
Lehmann Black Cube Linear, the CEC HD53R,
and the built-in phone amp of the Benchmark
DAC1 converter. We also listen to a new headphone
The Squeezebox 3 44
Can you get high fidelity by getting a digital signal
from your computer to your stereo system over the
air? And if so, how? Is it better than just listening to
your iPod?
Power on the Go 49
Imagine a portable charger that can adapt to all the
electronic stuff you own or ever will own
The Totem Man 52
We used the same title last time we talked with
Vince Bruzzese…when Totem was still a startup
Is it like looking for the Unknown Soldier?
Lightfoot 63
by Reine Lessard
Gordon Lightfoot is back after a near death
experience. Reine looks at the way he changed a
corner of the musical landscape
Software Reviews 70
by Reine Lessard and Gerard Rejskind
Editorial 2
Feedback 5
Free Advice 7
Classified Ads 41
Gossip & News 77
State of the Art 80
Cover story:A new look at the contemporary version
of the Totem Mani-2, which we once called one of
the worlds finest speakers. In the background: a
cloudscape of the imagination.
Issue No. 76
UHF Magazine No. 76 was published in May, 2006. All
contents are copyright 2006 by Broadcast Canada. They
may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form, or by any
means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying,
recording, or any information storage or retrieval system,
without written permission from the publisher.
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Tel.: (450) 651-5720 FAX: (450) 651-3383
E-mail: uhfmail@uhfmag.com
World Wide Web: www.uhfmag.com
PUBLISHER & EDITOR: Gerard Rejskind
EDITORIAL: Paul Bergman, Reine Lessard, Albert Simon
Québec: Reine Lessard (450) 651-5720
Alberta & BC: Derek Coates (604) 522-6168
Other: Gerard Rejskind (450) 651-5720
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The all-digital issue
Until this issue, Albert was taking the widely-admired product photos
appearing in UHF with a Nikon camera on Kodak Portra 160 film. As of this
issue all his photos are digital. UHF has acquired a Sony R1 digital camera.
Yes, I know, that means we have in a sense dumped analog (film) for digital,
but in fact that ship sailed a long time ago. The magazine has been printed
digitally for something like a decade, which means that our nice “analog”
film negatives got digitized anyway before placement in our all-digital pages.
The difference: digitization is now taking place right in the camera instead
of a desktop digitizer.
Albert is delighted with the results. I think you will be too.
All color, except…
Issue No. 75 was UHF’s very rst all-color issue, and both our readers and
our advertisers took note. Oh, except for the eight-page insert in the centre
of the magazine, the one for our Audiophile Store. That remained black and
white, and on cheaper paper besides. It has been that way for many years,
with the economy paper intended to hold costs down.
But was it holding costs down, or is labor even more expensive than pre-
mium paper grades? After the last issue went to press we asked our printer
rep: if we dumped the insert and just added eight more color pages, would it
be more expensive? Or cheaper? We got the answer the next day: it would
be cheaper!
That’s why the insert is gone. We scrambled to nd color pictures of all
the accessories found in our store, and the store catalog is now on full color
pages. So now we really are all-color, except…
Except that audio manufacturers haven’t got the word about color. Check
out the stack of three headphone amplifiers on page 38. Can you believe that’s
a color picture? There isnt a hint of a tint in any of them. Of course when
you plug one in you’ll probably see a tiny, barely visible blue diode glowing
its little non monochromatic note. Whoopee!
Even Apple, that champion of high style in consumer electronics, knows
only two colors, one of which is white and the other of which is not. Good
thing the iPod (on page 45) has a color screen. As for the tragically misnamed
iPod Hi-Fi on page 78…well, I rest my case.
And speaking of the iPod…
We’ve already mentioned that a 60 Gb iPod, the largest one available, is
part of our reference arsenal. We’ve also mentioned that we continue to reject
compressed music.
A major article in this issue (High End Hi-Fi From Your Computer) explores
in some detail how a home computer can become your main music source, and
why you dont have to leave great sound and musical sensibilities behind. The
review involves a device known as a Squeezebox, the aforementioned iPod,
and the very computer this issue was created on. You’ve read other reviews
of this sort, but this one includes one important difference. In listening, we
used exactly the same criteria we use to review even the best high end com-
We figure you wouldn’t settle for less, and neither will we.
About this free edition
UHF lives in great part from the sale of the full edition of the magazine. But we
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I’d like to thank you for publishing
the component-by-component descrip-
tion and especially the photo of the
Omega system on the UHF Web site.
I have long been curious to see a photo
of any of your three systems, but since
they are working tools I had assumed
that they were, shall we say, less than
presentable. Given all the equipment and
accessories you review, I had a mental
image of ankle-deep piles of mismatched
interconnects and cables strewn about
the room.
It’s also reassuring to see that you
have the same aggravating room prob-
lems as your readers (what appears to be
a doorway just left of the left speaker, the
turntable sitting askew on its platform to
allow for access, etc).
The combination of the Omega
system photo and the similarly appreci-
ated UHF No. 75 State of the Art article
has given me a sort of speaker position-
ing awakening. I had always understood
and agreed with your advocacy of
placing the speakers on either side of a
room corner (if possible), but I had not
conceived of being asymmetrical within
that placement (i.e. I had always assumed
that the corner should be exactly midway
between the two speakers). Unless
my eyes are deceiving me, the Omega
system speakers are not centred about
the corner, but are shifted rather signifi-
cantly to the left. True?
Given such an asymmetrical corner
placement, should each speaker never-
theless be about the same distance out
from the wall (as appears in the Omega
system), or can that also be different?
Given a decent hi-end system and
acoustics, and a stereo image that
appears to originate midway between
the speakers from the sweet spot”, how
far off axis should one be able to sit and
still hear that image as being centered
rather than increasingly originating
from the nearest speaker? All the way
out until a speaker is directly in front of
you? Beyond even that?
Given the size of standard equipment
racks and the W-8, it looks as though the
inside edges of the Omega Reference
3as are about 2 m apart, but only about
30 cm out from the wall (that seems
really close). Given that the Omega
system is in a “large room” just how far
from the speakers is your listening posi-
tion? I would imagine relatively close.
My Totem Mani-2’s are centered
about the narrow wall of a long, narrow
room (8.4 m x 3.5 m) having at best
mediocre acoustics. They are placed
way into the room, about 1.25 m from
the back of the speakers to the wall. I
have always assumed they needed that
much room for their prodigious depth.
In your recollection from the review
you performed (quite a few years ago
now), is that distance too great? (For
reference, my speakers are about 1.8 m
apart centre-centre, and I sit 2.8 m away
from them — and with experimentation
I think that the 2.8 m is about 0.6 m too
far away.)
I had rejected an Omega-like speaker
placement when I rst bought my house
due to the constraints of the room, but
if the Totems can be significantly closer
to the wall (particularly in a corner-
centered placement), then it’s worth a
try experimenting with such a place-
ment to see if I can improve the width
of my currently very narrow sweet spot.
By necessity I’ll almost be in the near-
field (another great UHF article), but
that might help negate the poor room
acoustics. Jeff Tennant
Jeff, for anyone who missed it, we should
mention that the photos of our Omega system
appeared on line in our ephemeral Virtual
Room, which opened the week before the
Montreal show and remained open through
mid-April. It has since closed, but we expect
to bring back new incarnations of it.
We should add that the Omega system
was particularly easy to photograph, but the
Alpha system is a lot closer to the way you
imagine our systems to be.
You are right that the speakers have
been placed asymmetrically in the room, but
then the walls on either side are not quite
identical. You noted that there is a doorway
to the left, but there is also a doorway on the
right... actually a large archway to an even
larger room. These are not necessarily bad
things. An open doorway does not reect
sound, and thus it can be thought of as a
broadband absorber. The speakers are indeed
quite close to the rear walls, about 50 cm
out, a distance that was determined by ear.
Speakers we review are first listened to at the
same distance, then adjusted by ear as well.
The speakers are actually quite far apart,
about 4.5 metres, and we listen, typically,
from about 4 metres back.
The Signature version of the Mani-2 is
reviewed in this issue, and we found that a
distance of about 65 cm from the rear wall
was about right, though that will vary from
room to room. By the way, how far off you
can sit off-axis and still hear a stereo image
depends on speaker placement, acoustics, and
especially the speakers themselves. With our
Reference 3a speakers you can get away with
being well off-axis. The same would be true
of well-placed Totem Mani-2’s.
Of all the many enjoyable things on
your Web site, the tour of the Virtual
Room was the best. I would love to see
the same treatment to the other two
rooms you maintain.
Thanks for all the good advice.
Jay Valancy
First, let me say we appreciate the
opportunity to have UHF Magazine
review our speakers again after so much
time. This new range of Energy speak-
ers is in our opinion one of the best we
have ever made and still continues to
provide Canadian audiophiles with the
best sound available for the money. We
were therefore surprised to read that
your team was unimpressed with the new
Reference Connoisseur RC-70 speakers.
This is one of our most popular speakers
and has, to date, received terrific reviews
Box 65085, Place Longueuil
Longueuil, Québec, Canada J4K 5J4
highlighting their tremendous imaging,
dynamics and musicality.
Tom Norton, of Stereophile and
Ultimate AV fame, had a totally different
opinion of the RC-70 than your team.
In his review Mr. Norton is quoted as
saying, the RC-70 had superb overall
tonal balance” and that the “top end of
the RC-70 is as open, airy and as detailed
as you could wish for. Mr. Norton’s
comments regarding soundstage repro-
duction and midrange accuracy are also
different from what you found. He said,
“the RC-70’s sounded neither ‘in your
faceforward nor recessed, and produced
a detailed, well-focused soundstage…
Voices were…beautifully served by
the RC-70, with soaring female voices
and male vocals that were rich and full
We are not sure if your opinions
were biased due to your experience and
appreciation of the old Reference Con-
noisseur model, or if you were looking
for something else from these speakers.
Your comparison of the original Refer-
ence Connoisseur to today's RC-70 is
like comparing a 20-year-old muscle car
with today's muscle car. They are very
different in every sense, and making
a direct comparison is like comparing
apples and oranges. While both may
be good or excellent cars, they do things
very differently, and this must be taken
into consideration.
Today’s Reference Connoisseur
product had more challenging standards
to meet. Twenty years ago it was only
about the sound. Efficiency, dynamics,
low distortion and power handling were
less of a concern. Today, our speakers are
used in a number of different configura-
tions, from state of the art two channel
systems to high-powered multichannel
systems. The Reference Connoisseur
Series must have the efficiency to be
driven with modest-powered amplifiers,
plus must have the dynamic range and
power handling to handle the demands
of movie soundtracks. A three-year
development program was necessary to
redesign every component in order to
meet these standards. The new tweeter,
midrange and woofers for the Reference
Connoisseur Series are ground-breaking
in their ability to perform to the high-
est musical standards, while providing
ultra low distortion with high power
All of us here feel the new RC-70
surpasses the performance parameters
that were established by the original
Reference Connoisseur. The RC-70 still
has the captivating, immersive sound of
the original, but has improvements in
almost every area.
In your review you mention that the
frequency response curve “is amazingly
flat, one of the best we have ever mea-
sured.” Then you suggest that comes at
a cost: phase accuracy. Flat frequency
response of the speaker system is made
up of both magnitude and phase rela-
tionships of the individual drivers.
Since you mention the RC-70 has at
frequency response, it would suggest
that the phase relationship between the
individual drivers is also correct.
Also, another point is the place-
ment of the microphone in trying to
recreate the square wave that you were
measuring. In a two-way speaker, the
microphone distance can be at a shorter
distance and still deliver a somewhat
meaningful measurement. With a multi-
source speaker system like the RC-70,
a small microphone distance from the
speaker would result in a meaningless
test, with measurements that do not
reflect what the speaker is truly recreat-
ing. The only way to perform accurate
acoustical measurements, especially with
multi-driver speakers, is a microphone
distance of at least 2 metres. As you
probably know, such a microphone
distance requires the use of an anechoic
chamber, which negates the influence of
room boundaries when the microphone
is placed at greater distances from the
We are still not certain why you
were not able to get good results from
the RC-70, even though the response
curve suggests the speaker should be
excellent. Maybe the room you placed
the speaker in was too small for such a
full range speaker system? We do know
that the RC-70 is denitely suited to
larger rooms than the previous Refer-
ence Connoisseur model, as it has more
extended response and output.
As you can tell, we are very disap-
pointed by the tone of your review
and by some of the comments, which
we feel, are unfounded. We think the
Energy brand and its loyal customer base
deserved better. Scott Goodman
Energy Speakers Brand Manager
Kudos and, better, bravo for a singu-
lar and superlative publication. I quite
eagerly digested my very rst issue ever
of UHF about a week ago. I am still in a
very pleasant state of shock!
Having quite regularly sampled both
The Absolute Sound and Stereophile for
about four decades, my mind set was
entirely unprepared for UHFs unique
raison d’être. Your guiding ethos, ethics
and modus operandi are so simple in
their fundamental elegance. To allude
to Carly Simons lyrics celebrating the
now mythic procreative capacity of 007
is simply incorrect. Not only Nobody
Does it Better double negative
intendedbut no other publication does
it! Bob Reinach
Just noticed a spelling mistake on the
cover of UHF No. 75 “redicovery.
Since most of your subscribers are prob-
ably a little more educated than most,
I expect you’ll probably be getting a
deluge of e-mails.
Still love the magazine though.
Jeff Malloch
Somehow one never thinks of running
spellcheck on a cover. Too obvious, right?
I read the comment about the “open
source” turntable in UHF No. 74. Your
writer said that this was not the way hi-fi
equipment is designed.
Yet one of the top billed turntables
around, the Teres , was designed just this
way. Interested people got together on
a newsgroup and deliberated, and this
led to a small run of parts and then a
commercial endeavor, and some pretty
over-the-top variations, not to mention
the Redpoint brand. You can check out
the process here: http://www.teresaudio.
com/project/index.html. Dominic
Interactive features
This free issue works just like the full (paid) electronic version of the magazine.
Click on a heading in the table of contents, and you'll be whisked right to the
article itself. Same thing with the names of advertisers on page 79. And if you
click on most ads in this issue, if you're connected to the Internet you’ll find
yourself on the company’s Web site.
First, let me say that I bought both of
your books on high fidelity and loved them.
I also received a copy of your magazine and
have subscribed for the next two years. I also
ordered six of the most current back issues.
I got back into hi-fi about two years ago
after 15 or so years and find myself wonder-
ing why I ever got out. My current two chan-
nel system consists of the following: Wadia
861 standard CD player, CAT JL-2 tube
amplifier, Martin Logan Odyssey speakers,
and Audio Research PH3 phono preamp.
I have a small collection of vinyl record-
ings that have not been played in years. I
have had the itch to incorporate analog into
my system. My question to you is which
turntable you would suggest to match the
Audio Research preamp? I don’t want to
spend much more than $3500 in total for
the turntable and cartridge.
I have heard good things about both
Nottinghams Spacedeck and turntables from
Pro-Ject. I purchased the Audio Research
PH3 used and plan to upgrade in a year
or so to the CAT SL1 preamp with phono
input. Any comments about this particular
preamp? I have been using an old Thorens
turntable that I had lying around, but I have
not been very happy with its performance.
I didn’t know if I should try upgrading the
cartridge first or just move on right away.
Carl Waldbillig
We’d move on right away, Carl. The
best argument in favor of used Thorens
turntables is that people all but give
them away. They were somewhat better
than average, and better than the Duals,
whose reputation remains a mystery to
us, but their tone arms were wretched,
and we wouldnt overspend on a cartridge
for a Thorens arm. Incidentally, they are
unrelated to the modern Thorens tables,
which seem better designed, though we
still have problems with the arms.
We’ve also heard good things about
the Nottingham, with which we have
however no experience. We have listened
to several Pro-Ject turntables, and there
may be a good choice to be made from
its lineup, probably in the RPM series.
Note that Pro-Ject offers electronic
speed control as an extra-cost accessory.
In our experience, that sort of upgrade
affects more than just correct speed and
is worth including.
There are several cartridge brands
we like, including Benz Micro and
Clearaudio, and we hear the newest
Dynavectors are worth a detour. You
should get a moving coil pickup, or
failing that a moving magnet cartridge
with very low inductance, and certainly
a line contact stylus. Your budget wont
let you buy the very top, but careful
shopping should score you a very good
experience. There are of course other
possible brands of turntables, including
Rega and Clearaudio, to name but two.
You may want to choose a model that
is available with local service, because a
top turntable that isnt aligned properly
is not going to give you what you pay
for. And little things are going to count,
because you have a high resolution
system. We can presume that adding the
SL1 preamplifier will let you hear with
even greater clarity anything that may be
wrong with the source. On the positive
side, your system’s resolution will make
you very glad you’re listening to vinyl
I have a question concerning acoustics,
or more precisely treating my listening
room for low frequencies. I have a very
good sound system that reproduces highs and
the midrange marvellously well. The low
frequencies have good impact, but theres a
sort of boominess around 80 to 100 Hz (hard
to be sure), suggesting a resonance.
I wonder whether you know of some
way — for example some sort of panel —
that could reduce this phenomenon, or better
yet eliminate it. I have already built panels
two inches thick of different shapes, using a
Masonite sheet on which I had glued with
liquid tar a very heavy black paper, all nailed
into a frame made from two-inch wood. I
had screwed the panels to the ceiling in my
former home in Repentigny and the results
had been very good. But now I live in the
Gaspé. What do you think?
Marien Desrosiers
Marien, if your home-built panels
gave you good results it is certainly
because the acoustical problems you
then had were in a different part of the
frequency band. From what you say
your new room has a problem in the
extreme lows. Here the solution is more
Why more complicated? It’s because
sounds in the range of 80 to 100 Hz
have a very long wavelength (more than
3 metres for 100 Hz!). The long wave-
length will pass easily through a thin
panel and bounce off whatever is on the
other side. A panel that can deal with
such frequencies needs to be…thicker.
In the case of our Alpha room, the home
of our original reference system, behind
one wall is a bass trap nearly a metre
deep! A radical solution to be sure.
It’s possible to build a freestanding
bass trap with well-chosen dimensions
(it might be 1 m by 75 cm by 60 cm,
for instance, with no dimension that is
a multiple of another dimension), built
from materials that are relatively non-
resonant put permeable to sound. You
would ll it with mineral wool, so that
air vibrating within the cavity would
rub against the fibres and be dissipated
as heat.
However certain articles of furniture
can also help absorb bass, at least to a
point. A well upholstered sofa can help,
as can a bookcase full of books. Finally,
changes in speaker placements can have
a great influence on what you hear. Since
moving speakers is free, that is where we
would start.
My equipment consists of a Roksan
Radius 5 turntable, a Rega Fono, a Rega
Box 65085, Place Longueuil
Longueuil, Québec, Canada J4K 5J4
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Planet 2000, Reference 3a MM de Capo-i
speakers, a Moon I-3 amp, an Inouye line
filter, Atlas Navigator cables, GutWire
power cables, and Puresonic Competition flat
speaker cables.
My question is what to upgrade now?I
am thinking of trading up to a Moon I-5.
Is there a big enough difference between
these two integrated amps? The sound of
this system is very nice at low to moderate
volume, but loses something above a certain
volume. I don’t listen at extreme levels but
would like to get a little more volume before
the sound starts to harden up. Pete Doan
We found pretty much the same
thing you did when we reviewed the
Moon I-3 in UHF No. 71, Pete. We liked
it a lot, but when we raised the volume
we could tell we were listening to a small
amplifier. It will perfectly suit a lot of
music lovers, but you’ll be happier with
the I-5. Ironically the I-5 is less powerful
than the I-3, but current is as important
as power, and subjectively the I-5 appears
to have four times the power.
By the way, there is now an updated
version, the Moon I-5.3.
I have just come across your magazine
and am impressed. I don’t believe the local
bookstores here carry it.
I have four Linn LKs Aktiv on 5140 and
5120 speakers, primarily for home theatre.
Would you recommend upgrading these amps
to something else in the Linn line, keeping
the Aktiv speakers, or blowing out the whole
thing, at no small cost? Jay Avril
No small cost indeed, Jay, and a move
to be undertaken only if you have reason
to believe that you made a mistake going
with this Linn system in the first place.
And we don’t think you did. We like the
idea of biamplifying, and although this
is not a Linn invention it was Linn that
made it so simple.
The bad news is that the company in
January discontinued not only the whole
LK line, but also announced it was drop-
ping the Aktiv system entirely. We dont
approve, but the marbles belong to Ivor,
not to us.
If you’ll be staying with Linn, you’ll
need to move while LK products remain
in stock. Linn does make a chassis that
will power your crossover modules so
that you can use them with an amplifier
that does not have a slot for them. You
may then want to look at an amplifier
upgrade. That can be one of Linn’s
newer amps, though of course at that
point you can choose your manufacturer
and still remain active…er, Aktiv.
Im in search of a quality bookshelf
speaker and have narrowed my short list
to the Reference 3a De Capo-i’s. My room
dimensions are 12’ X 10’. My system is
centred on the longest wall, so I don’t have
much choice but to place my speakers near
the back wall with the rack in between. Since
the De Capos are rear-ported, would this
seriously hinder sonic performance? I could
place them at about a foot from the rear wall
and not much more.
I haven’t heard it yet, but I would also
consider the Veena. Is it rear-ported too?
Would it be too big for my small room?
Michel Fleury
620 rue Latour
Tel.: (450) 676-6898
Fax: (450) 676-6153
info@sracoustique.ca www.sracoustique.ca
Call us about the remarkable HD series
of high denition speakers for home theatre!
You hadnt heard of SR Acoustique speakers
until now? UHF Magazine has.
Read its evaluation on our Web site.
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Probably not, Michel, because the
Veena is not substantially larger than
the MM De Capo, and indeed its woofer
is smaller. The notable difference, of
course, is that the Veena doesnt need a
stand. We prefer the De Capo, but since
our review Reference 3a has announced
a tweeter change.
Both the Veena and the MM De
Capo are rear-ported, which means you
cannot place them up against the wall.
However in a small room a distance of
a foot (30 cm) or slightly more from the
wall is likely to be adequate. Placement
close to a wall adds loading to the rear
port, and therefore moves the low fre-
quency cutoff higher. At the same time
the megaphone effectof the wall-floor
boundary can emphasize the bass that
is reproduced. A distance of less than
30 cm from the rear wall would probably
not give pleasant results.
My entry level system consists of an Atoll
CD50, Atoll IN50 amplifier and a pair of
Polk Audio RTi38 bookshelf speakers.
I’m considering either adding a Goldring
GR2 (or Rega P3) turntable, or getting
a pair of second-hand Totem Model One
speakers (in good condition for about $1000).
Which purchase would give me the most
significant increase in sound quality?
Bo Jiang
We are tempted to point out the obvi-
ous: the Totems will add immensely to
the sound of your system, but if you try
to play an LP on a loudspeaker you are
likely to be disappointed! For that you
definitely need…a turntable.
Consider these factors. First, can
your amplifier drive the Model One to
a level you will nd satisfactory? The
IN50 is the smallest of the Atoll ampli-
fiers, rated at 50 watts per channel into
8 ohms. Whats more, its power into a 4
ohm load is just 40% higher, at 70 watts,
which suggests that it has limited current
capacity. If you do get the Model One,
chances are the amplifier will be next on
your upgrade list.
Then consider how much of the
music you like is available on LP. In the
case of the classical repertoire, adding
either the Goldring or the Rega opens
up the possibilities of bargains galore.
The same is true of classic jazz (Shelly
Mann, Ray Brown, Herbie Hancock, the
Modern Jazz Quartet, etc.), but possibly
not current artists.
Being a rank beginner audiophile, I occa-
sionally (all right, it’s all the time) become
quite confused, especially when it comes to
cables, power cords and power converters.
One persons advice: power cords first! The
next: no power cords until you clean up the
juice with a power converter! The next: the
power converter will screw up everything,
dont do it!
I’m lost. It seems to me that the power
converters would be a good thing. I can’t see
that the juice coming from my (upgraded)
home outlet is going to benefit my system
until it’s gone through some sort of trans-
formation, otherwise it seems that I’m just
getting whatever level of performance is
available at the outlet, no matter how good
the power cord. I hate to waste money on the
wrong thing, so which should be first? Do I
just go all out and do both?
My system includes a Cary 2A3-Si,
Linn Ikemi, and Soliloquy SM-2A3’s. Then
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there’s the question of speaker cable and the
connections between the CD/amp. Is my little
system worth the really good stuff? I don’t
want to spend more than I can afford, yet I
want to get the best results and sound I can.
Everybody I talk to has an opinion, they’re
just all different! Arlan Sanford
Of course we have an opinion too,
Arlan, and one more opinion on top of
the ones you’ve already heard is pos-
sibly not what you hoped for. Still, if we
explain why we think what we do, you’ll
be in a better position to make sense of
the other advice you’ve received.
Perhaps we can begin with a light
bulb joke that ran in our pages some
years ago:
Q: How many hi-fi gurus does it take to
change a light bulb?
A: None, because there’s no point in
changing the bulb until you’ve installed the
right cables.
Sound familiar?
The truth is that all of these upgrades,
if theyre done right, will make your
system sound better, and if you can
afford them all, then do them all, no
question. If you cant reasonably do that,
then spend the money in the order that
will give you the biggest audible differ-
ence for each upgrade.
The cheapest upgrade is not even on
your list: changing the duplex outlet in
the wall. Hardware store outlets have
been getting worse and worse with the
years because despite inflation their price
keeps dropping. The connection they
give you is dreadful. The reason hospi-
tals dont have those is that a poor con-
nection can result in arcing and sparks,
and sparks are what you dont want in a
ward where there’s oxygen flowing. You
also don’t want a dodgy connection on a
piece of medical gear that cost a couple
of million bucks. We suggest you settle
for nothing less.
With that done, let’s have a look at
what a better power cable can do for you.
The upscale connectors on a good cord
will, like the better outlet, give you a
tighter connection with less noise gener-
ated by the connection itself, and with
less loss of voltage too. Whats more,
a power cable that’s any good will be
shielded. That prevents it from picking
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up radio-frequency noise and feeding
it into the system through the ground,
and it also prevents certain components,
particularly digital components, from
radiating digital noise where it can get
into places it shouldnt. Though some
power cables have price tags that can
induce cardiac arrest (another reason
they use hospital grade connectors,
perhaps), some affordable ones offer both
shielding and good connectors.
Shielded power cables, by the way,
have generally more capacitance than
the cheap cables that no doubt came
with your gear, and that is already
enough to filter out a little of the high
frequency hash that comes from the
power company. To nish the job its
useful to add a good power filter, but as
you already know good ones don’t come
cheap. Some of them, what’s more, can
actually make your system sound worse,
hence the warning from some experts. In
particular, filters that limit current can
adversely affect power amplifiers.
And we haven’t yet gotten to the
speaker cables and interconnects. If
youre using the cheap junk that is avail-
able free or almost free, then changing
it is virtually an emergency measure.
I have just completed the removal of
the Valhalla board, AC motor, switch and
associated cables on a Linn LP12 turntable
and replaced them with the Origin Live
Advanced DC motor kit. The results are
nothing short of impressive and seem (by your
description) to be very similar in character to
the improvements realized with the Lingo
I was wondering if you had ever heard
the mod, and how it compares to the Lingo.
I’m sure Linn is not in favor of this type
of behavior but I would guess some UHF
subscribers (like me) wouldn’t mind seeing a
comparison of the available PSU options that
can drive the LP12. Considering the cost of
Lingo upgrades, these alternative mods start
to look pretty good. Nick Dudley
Nick, many years ago we did a direct
comparison between a stock Linn LP-12
and an LP-12 that had been upgraded
with a subchassis made from a more
exotic material. The one with the new
subchassis sounded better. Now here’s
where it gets interesting. One of our then
staff members, Henry See, was looking
for a good turntable, and he was offered
either of the Linns at the same price.
Despite the fact he had participated
in the comparison, he chose the stock
Now why would he do that? He
explained the reason for his choice:
the upgraded LP-12 did sound audibly
better, but it wasnt a Linn anymore.
There was reason to believe that Linn
would be offering more upgrades in the
future — indeed it already was — but if
Henry bought the modified LP-12 none
of those upgrades would ever be avail-
able to him. In retrospect he was right.
Todays Linns, even those that have not
had the full tilt upgrades, sound way
better than the modded LP-12 Henry
turned down.
To be sure, what was true then may
or may not be true in 2006. Linns turn-
table sales are today a tiny fraction of its
business, and it isnt certain that future
upgrades will amount to more than
tinkering. A third party improvement
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Free Advice
may now, therefore, make sense. Or it
may not. It’s your choice which horse to
bet on.
A true test would require having two
LP-12’s that are absolutely identical,
getting one of them modified, and then
having both properly adjusted by some-
one who didnt have a vested interest in
the outcome. It’s not the sort of demo
any store is likely to offer.
I recently wrote to you questioning if I
needed to have my speakers connected to my
tube amp even if I was listening to it via the
headphones. You expected that my headphones
would provide sufcient load on the amp, and
that the speakers did not need to be connected.
But I expect that one day I will turn on the
amp and will have forgotten to either attach
the speakers or the headphones, and then…
So, I would like to make a pair of 8 ohm
resistors. Can this be done easily from a pair
of speaker binding post soldered up to a 8 ohm
resistors, or is it more complicated than that?
If it is a DIY project, how do I do it? I don’t
trust the guy at The Source. Tim Leeney
We’re not sure why you want those 8
ohm resistors, Tim. You cant leave them
connected all the time, and the danger
remains that you might turn on the
amplifier when none of the loads is con-
nected: speakers, phones or resistors.
That said, we can understand why
youre wary of the people at The Source
(full name, for the benefit of non-Cana-
dians, is The Source by Circuit City, the
sign afxed to what used to be Radio
Shack stores). The resistors you’re likely
to nd there have a power rating of a
quarter watt, and we’re being optimis-
tic. Put any amount of power into one,
andpoof! Followed by possibly another
poof from a tube in your amplifier.
You’ll need a power resistor from an
electronics supply house, and you may
have to put several resistors together to
get the rating you need. When we made
up the dummy load we use in amplifier
tests, we purchased three large precision
24 ohm resistors and connected them in
parallel (24 divided by 3 is 8). If we had
found 2 ohm resistors, we could have
wired four of them in series (four times
2 ohms is 8).
I just replaced my aging Dual turntable
with a Goldring GR2. I also replaced my
Rotel RQ970 with an ASL Phono LUX
DT. The Dual had a Grado Green cartridge
with a 5 mV output. The GR2 uses the
Goldring 1012GX, with a 6.5 mV output.
The ASL phono stage has 41 dB of gain. Is
this combination too much gain? I don’t know
the gain on the Rotel, but with my old combo
I had to turn up the volume much more to
get an equivalent output level (as CD). The
current Goldring/ASL combo is at least the
same, but probably slightly more than what
I get from most CD’s.
What are the drawbacks of this combo?
Should I be looking for a lower gain phono
preamp, or should I stop worrying and enjoy
the music? Tim Leeney
We suggest enjoying the music, Tim.
It’s normal to hear some hiss when you
turn up the volume on a phono stage. A
worse sign would be hum that is louder
than the hiss. The output voltage from
even a moving magnet phono pickup is
a thousand times lower than that from a
CD player or other component. What’s
important is that the noise not be notice-
able from listening position even in a
quiet room.
The output difference between the
Grado and Goldring cartridges is not
significant, a mere 2.3 dB. Even so, it
could be accounted for merely by dif-
ferences in testing methods of the two
companies. Those figures are what are
called “nominal output.” Translation:
well, we had to say something.
Free Advice
I just picked up your magazine for the
rst time and love it. I especially enjoyed
The High Fidelity Digital Jukebox (in
UHF No.74) and looked up your previous
articles on the CEC DA53 and the iPod.
I would like to know what would be
necessary to make a “hi-fi” system with this
technique. I would start fresh and abandon
all my mid-fi and at this point would use a
CD or DVD player and stream music via
Wi-Fi or LAN. Thus I am most interested
in playing music from digital sources. I would
like to start building my system, so could you
list the components in order of necessity? I
already have a computer, iTunes (I use Apple
Lossless) and a network. Derek Sou
Derek, this issue includes a review of
the Slim Devices Squeezebox, which may
be one key to getting the best possible
sound from your computer. The Squee-
zebox connects by Ethernet or Wi-Fi,
and it can feed a digital signal into a
genuine hi-fi system. Using the Apple
Lossless codec is the right choice in our
view. Anyone not able to use iTunes
can download the Free Lossless Audio
Codec (FLAC), available for all com-
puter platforms including Linux, Unix,
Solaris, plus some we’ve never heard of.
It’s at http://flac.sourceforge.net. Actu-
ally, if your computer is near your music
system and it has a digital output, you
dont even need the Squeezebox.
The idea of getting a digital signal
from the computer or the accessory box
is to avoid letting cheap computer gear
handle the digital-to-analog conversion.
That means you’ll need a good quality
external converter, which could turn
out to be your most expensive single
component. If you want to be able to play
CDs directly, look for a good CD player
which also has a digital input.
Then add what you can afford in
the way of an integrated amplifier and
loudspeakers. Both should be made by
companies that also make the products
you wish you could afford.
First of all I want to tell you how much
I love reading your magazine. I am very
Free Advice
familiar with many of the audiophile maga-
zines, and I think yours is the most objective
and informative of all of them. It makes me
proud to know that such a great magazine
comes from Canada.
Now on to the CEC DA53 converter.
After reading your review in UHF No. 72,
I purchased a DA53 and it is very good. As
you noted in your review, it certainly adds
punch to CDs. Like you, I was most interested
in its versatility and particularly its ability
to be used with an iPod.
The only problem is that I haven’t been
able to figure out how to connect it to the
iPod. I would still like to know how you guys
connected an iPod to the DA 53.
John Lorito
In fact, John, we jumped the gun on
the question of connecting the iPod to a
DAC. We had no difficulty connecting
our computer to the DA53, and we made
the assumption that, since the iPod can
connect to a USB network, the two were
made to go together. That doesnt appear
to be true.
But we haven’t given up. We have
talked with two accessory companies
(one of them Grifn, which brings out
clever iPod accessories almost daily)
about making an adapter to get pure
digital from the iPod. We know the
signal’s in there, and it appears that
theres at least one device, Apples penny
dreadful iPod Hi-Fi, that can get
access to it. We hope to crack the secret,
and we’ll let you know how we do.
If the Cambridge DiscMagic/DACMagic
are a matching pair, why is the DAC input
limited to coax BNC, when the transport has
an XLR output?
Furthermore: this may be relevant (it’s
from Audio Asylum):
Join the two “hot” wires from the AES
plug side into the single “hot” on the RCA
side. Keep ground on AES to ground on the
RCA side. It works but is not ideal, as an
AES cable needs to be 110 ohm impedance
and an SPDIF (coax) is 75 ohms. Be aware
that the SPDIF digital signal is a +0.5 v to
-0.5 v signal and an AES signal is +5.0 v to
-5.0 v, but this should not be an issue, because
most DACs wont bother about this..
Does the above DIY make any sense,
or is the transformer to match impedance
absolutely necessary, if not advisable?
James Tay
The Audio Asylum instructions you
quote for matching a balanced output to
an unbalanced input wont work, James,
and it’s obvious on the face of it. Mix
together a positive voltage and a nega-
tive voltage of the same value, and what
do you get? Zilch. Whoever posted this
hasnt tried it, or else loves the sound of
If you want to try a more rational
method for adapting balanced to unbal-
anced, these are the pin readouts: pin 1
is ground, pin 2 is “hot” or positive and
pin 3 is negative (it’s the inverted version
of the signal on pin 2). However there is
absolutely no point in using the balanced
input or output on one component unless
the other component is also balanced.
We should also add that a lot of “bal-
anced” components are not balanced at
all, because the goofs who designed them
dont understand what balancing is or
what it’s for. And if “balancing” has been
accomplished by adding an extra circuit,
perhaps an op amp chip, you can guess
what the result will be.
I have been reading your reviews on two
integrated ampliers, the Copland CTA-
405 and the Audiomat Opéra, and they both
seem like they offer a lot of refinement for the
money. Could you please guide me towards
the best sounding of the two regardless of their
price difference?
I also noted that in both your reviews on
these amplifiers there was a moment where
they seemed to sound more enjoyable than
the reference system, and on that particular
note it seems that the Copland definitely had
the edge over the Opéra at sounding better
than the reference system. Is it possible that
the Copland 405 is better than the Opéra?
Please help me buy either of these as to the
best sounding amplifier of the two.
Laurent Shriqui
You aren’t the rst to ask this, Lau-
rent. We should explain that the two
amplifiers were not reviewed on the same
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system. The Audiomat Opéra, with its
much larger power supply, was listened
to on the Omega system, because we
thought (correctly as it turned out) that it
could handle our Reference 3a Supremas,
with their push-pull passive subwoofers.
The Copland CTA-405 would no doubt
have had a more difficult time deliver-
ing the current needed, and so we made
the decision to listen to it in the Alpha
system, with our Living Voice Avatar
speakers. The Copland’s excellent per-
formance pointed up what we had been
suspecting: that an upgrade of the Alpha
system might be in order. That has since
been done.
I have the following eight-year old
system: Linn Classik, Linn LK100 and
Linn Keileigh speakers. I have a budget of
about £2000. Could you suggest what the
best upgrade route would be?
Darren Gibson
We wish we could make all of this
section available free, but our accountant
has this little thing about us staying in
business. Ah well!
But the rest of the issue can of course
be seen whole. You have your choice of
the print version or the electronic ver-
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Signature Audio, Vancouver 604-873-6682
Commercial Electronics, Vancouver 604-669-5525
General Audio, Calgary 403-228-9130
Audio 5.1, Edmonton 780-432-3232
Sarah Audio, Edmonton 780-485-9770
The Gramophone, Edmonton 780-428-2356
Audio Two, Windsor 519-979-7101
Hi Fi Fo Fum, Toronto 416-421-7552
Take Five Audio, Mt. Forest Ontario 519-343-4451
Radio St. Hubert, Montreal 514-276-1413
Brooklyn Audio, Dartmouth 902-463-8773
Web sales www.hisupply.ca
Exclusive Canadian Distributor
Europroducts Marketing, Ltd.
Tel: 604-522-6168 Fax: 604-677-6263
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What is the impedance of
your loudspeakers? Is
it 8 ohms? Or 4 ohms?
Perhaps you know that
it is not just a single number, but what
difference does it make anyway?
At the very least you are no doubt
aware that a speaker with a very low
impedance can present a problem for an
amplifier, and potentially can damage it.
Think about the fact that short-circuit-
ing an amplifier output can either break
it, or blow a fuse, or trigger a protection
circuit. The lower the impedance of
a loudspeaker, the closer it comes to
being a short circuit. Some amplifiers
can drive a load of 2 Ω or even 1 Ω, but
most will not. (The Greek letter Omega
is of course the symbol for resistance).
In any case, low impedance may not be
your only worry.
With this issue, UHF intends to begin
publishing impedance curves for loud-
speakers reviewed, and for that reason
I have been asked to explain speaker
impedance, and also to suggest a simple
manner of measuring a speaker's imped-
ance. “Simplein this case means using a
minimum of specially-purchased equip-
ment, though in day-to-day operation it
is less simple than using a purpose-built
instrument that can spit out a complete
impedance graph in a few seconds. Yes,
impedance measurements result in a
graph, not just the single figure usually
found in loudspeaker literature, but let
me begin with some basic concepts.
What is impedance?
If a loudspeaker were to be driven
by DC (direct current) we could speak
simply of its resistance. The speakers
internal wiring has a certain (low) resis-
tance, as does the fine wire that makes up
each driver’s voice coil. However loud-
speakers are intended to be driven by AC
(alternating current), whose frequency of
alternation is that of the sound we are
attempting to reproduce. Thus we need
to take into account the speaker’s induc-
tance and capacitance. The voice coil is an
inductor, and the internal wiring may be
as well. Inductance can be thought of as
a resistance that is frequency-dependent,
with its ohm value rising as frequency
drops. Most crossover networks include
capacitors, which introduce capacitance.
A capacitor can also be thought of as a
frequency-dependent resistor, whose
ohm value rises with frequency. Since a
capacitor’s impedance characteristic is
exactly opposite to that of an inductor, it
is easy to see how capacitors and induc-
tors can be combined to make filters.
I shall add, without great elabora-
tion, that these are not the only factors
determining the impedance reflected
back to the amplifier. For example, as
a woofer cone moves back and forth,
acting as a linear motor, it also acts as a
generator, actually generating a voltage
that is opposite to that coming from the
amplifier. That this complicates things
is an understatement.
It must also be evident that, in a
speaker that combines resistance, induc-
tance and resistance, the total impedance
cannot be a single number, since it will
inevitably vary with frequency. This is
not typically taken into consideration by
designers of amplifiers, who test their
designs by loading them with an 8 ohm
resistor, possessing neither capacitance
nor inductance, and having a constant
impedance at all frequencies.
The ideal, and the practical
The closer a speaker is to a pure
resistance, the more confidence an
amplifier designer can have that his
product will behave in the customer’s
home exactly as it did on the test bench.
That said, few loudspeakers are very
much like resistors at all, and so in fact
amplifiers must be designed to operate
with impedances that are vastly different
from that ideal resistor. What is more,
the designer cannot know in advance the
characteristics of the speakers that will
be used with his product.
To see what he (and we) are up
against, let us look at the impedance
curve of a small two-way speaker, which
has a famous name I do not propose to
reveal. It is shown on the next page.
The curve has been drawn by a
technique I shall describe presently
(see Measuring Impedance on page 20).
Most speakers, I might add by way of
explanation, have a considerable peak in
impedance at the point of resonance of
the woofer and cabinet. The one I have
arbitrarily selected has only a small rise,
centred around 100 Hz, which would
be the practical lower limit of its bass
The manufacturers nominal imped-
ance rating is 4 Ω, but you need only
glance at the curve to see that it deviates
from that rating quite considerably. It
dips to about 3 Ω at 16 Hz, which should
present little problem for an amplifier
designed the least bit competently.
Speaker Impedance
by Paul Bergman
Rather more formidable is the higher
part of the curve, specifically the imped-
ance at 6 kHz. As you can see, it rises
well over 20 Ω. What will this mean for
the poor amplifier?
Let us consider first a solid state
amplifier, the type most people use. It
is common for an amplifier to have
But that’s as far as the article goes
in plaintext. Do by all means check out
either the print or electronic edition.
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Impedance and damping factor
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Measuring impedance
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eu feugait ulputat, volortisisi.
1000 Ω
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Good enough UHF uses them!
This remarkable cable is from Atlas.
Unlike so many cable companies, this Scottish
company keeps markups reasonable.
Navigator All-Cu is made from strands of pure
copper, each drawn from a single crystal.
So are the connectors.
The Navigator All-Cu passed a blind test
in UHF No. 71.
Can it pass your test?
It seems forever that the Montreal
show has been at the Delta hotel,
right downtown. The Delta was
a great venue for hi-fi companies
looking for solidly-built rooms whose
acoustics you could work with. It wasn’t
so good for those needing vast space,
and the show had long spilled over into
adjacent hotels. This time organizer
Marie-Christine Prin intended to attract
other consumer electronics firms: Sony,
Toshiba, Nikon, perhaps even (snicker!)
Apple Computer. Hence the shift to the
Centre Sheraton, also downtown.
I was the one snickering about Apple,
but guess what…Apple was there.
UHF was not, however. Unlike the
varied hotel rooms at the Delta, the
Sheraton rooms are too small for what
we do. We made up for it (sort of) by
putting a “virtual room” on the Inter-
net, (complete with a system that could
be seen and examined, if not actually
heard), which remained open through
mid-April. Our absence meant that both
Albert and I had plenty of time to tour.
Albert’s account follows this one.
The official guide to the show, by
the way, had a hopeful photo of a Nikon
camera, but Nikon wasnt there. It could
have been worse…imagine Nikon hadnt
come and Canon had! On the other
hand Sony did have some cameras there,
including the DSC-R1, which Albert and
I had a great demo of. After the show we
bought oneand the product pictures in
this issue (except for the show pictures)
were taken with it.
For several years the show has been
afliated with a good cause, research
into children's diseases. Proceeds of the
official show CD have gone to that cause.
This year the cause also had an official
spokesman, actor Rémy Girard, shown
on this page with Marie-Christine.
Girard will be familiar to worldwide
movie audiences as the man in the hos-
pital bed in the Oscar-winning film The
Barbarian Invasions.
Did the show’s shift in venue and
orientation pay off? At show’s end
Marie-Christine told me it denitely
had, and I talked to a number of exhibi-
tors who were ecstatic…the ones in the
large rooms and salons. I also talked to
less happy exhibitors, who had found
the hotel rooms too squeezed, the
entranceways to them too narrow, and
the acoustics…well, it’s a hotel, isn’t it?
I have no idea whether the happy ones
or the unhappy ones predominated.
Notwithstanding the shows ambi-
tions to be a sort of mini-CES, this is a
consumer show, not a trade show, and it is
therefore normal for local dealers to be
major exhibitors, albeit with the support
of their suppliers. And thus there were
large rooms backed by such stores as
Audioville, Coup de Foudre and Codell.
Not at the show was the largest of these
dealers, Audio Centre. I had heard before
the show that this suburban store would
move back to its old building (very old,
in fact) to save money. Rumor said that
it was just…gone.
I’ve often deplored that the Totem
Mani-2 loudspeaker (reviewed in this
issue) is never heard at shows. It was there
this time, in the Audioville room (see the
photo at lower right on the next page),
driven by Conrad-Johnson gear. As usu-
ally happens when it is demonstrated,
visitors commented on how amazing it
was to hear a small speaker lling that
huge space.
The official show CD, a music
sampler, is produced by a local high
end recording company, Fidelio. The
company had brought not only its own
CDs but also its Nagra master recorder,
shown on the next page. I got to hear the
master tape of a new percussion SACD
the company was launching. It’s tough
for other exhibitors to compete with
Montréal 2006
by Gerard Rejskind
Aurum Acoustics (from
Newfoundland) was back with
the final version of its astonish-
ing tri-amplified loudspeaker (it
comes with its own amps, four
of which are single-ended tube
units). Now that the system
(including the manifestly
excellent CD player/pre-
amplifier) is entering
production, our inter-
est in doing an in-depth
review has definitely
perked up.
Aurum is not the
only high end company
situated well outside
metropolitan centres.
From Mascouche (a
medium-sized town just
far enough from Mon-
treal to qualify as more
than just a suburb) came the
Revelation Mistral S-5 (its pic-
ture is on page 25). It caught my
attention because, like the Reference 3a
speakers in our Omega reference system, it
is a two-piece speaker: a smaller two-way
unit sitting on a massive subwoofer. When
I heard it, driven by Exposure electronics,
it had a simply huge sound.
From closer to us came an amplifier and
a pair of small speakers, under the name of
Merikaudio. The company is in Longueuil,
which in case you don’t know is the Mon-
treal suburb where UHF is located. The
amplifier is not yet in its final form, and the
matching preamp is
still on the draw-
ing board, but
they may bear
One of the nicer rooms
belonged to a Canadian com-
pany not that well known even
in its home country, LaHave. Its
Wedge speaker is on page 28. It’s
pleasant musicality kept me in
the room for a while on the third
The amplifier at bottom left
caught my eye too, because I
had noticed it in an ad in our
last issue. It’s the Audio Space,
and it’s next to the JAS Odin
loudspeaker. Yes, the speakers
have ceramic woofers. The price:
C$7800. I must say that the demo
I heard was worth sitting down and
listening to for a bit.
I’ve often heard the huge wooden Edgarhorn, shown at
left, at CES. I had never been very happy with it, but it actu-
ally sounded quite good this time, with natural tonal balance,
though (as is often the case with very large woofers) little in
the way of a real stereo image. Dr. Bruce Edgar was there, and
as you’ll see from the next report Albert was impressed with
neither the speaker nor Dr. Edgar.
In Vegas I had heard an oversized “bookshelfspeaker
called the Escalante Fremont. This time I heard a smaller
model, the Pinyon (above right). It looks rather conventional
until you look closely at the metal-clad enclosure and the
ring radiator tweeter. Like the Fremont, it sounded truly
Also sounding rather interesting was the Mirage OMD28.
The new OMD series replaces the OM series, which replaced
the M series. The $10K speaker has carbon fibre woofers and
midrange, and a dome tweeter facing upward into a diffuser.
Seeing how the company was rather disappointed with our
review of one of its speakers in our last issue (see Feedback in
this issue), I refrained from suggesting a review.
Regional show though this might be it does manage to pull
in a few high end celebrities. VTLs Luke Manley was here last
year. This year William Andrea of Mimetism was here (his
integrated amplifier got a warm review in our pages in issue
No. 74), and so was David Berning (you can see him on page
26). Berning had
brought his newest
preamplifier. His
monoblock power
amps, alas, were
not quite done
yet, though he
had prototypes in
unfinished form.
Also present
was Linns Martin
McCue, who was
show i ng some
products that will
arrive in stores soon. That includes
the Artikulat speakers (shown on page
27), and the new Majik strictly two-
channel component series. I’ve already
asked to review the Majik CD, which
will replace both the Genki and Ikemi,
with a price situated about midway.
Before you ask, like the older models it
will still have HDCD decoding.
I’m always happy to see (and espe-
cially hear) Sonus Faber speakers, and
there were two new ones at the show. The
Anniversario (extreme right) is gorgeous,
as youd expect, and it sounded luscious
too. I saw but didnt hear the Guarneri,
next to it, bearing serial number 002. Its
projected price is C$14K, but if it’s any
consolation the stand is included.
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Look at t he beaut if u l
a visitor as
he walked
into the room, calling his
friend over to a table display,
completely oblivious to the
music being played. There
it is. I think I’ve cracked the
mystery of why there are
so few female audiophiles.
While men and women may
equally love listening to
music, men have that unique
tendency to also want to
read about, to talk about and
to argue about…the gear.
This article is about them and the gear, and most impor-
tantly about the sound and the music they listened to and
their reactions to it. Warning: you will read about personal
opinions. If you don’t like personal opinions and prefer a
detailed account of what was played and displayed, you might
consider putting this magazine down and delving into the
complete list of exhibitors and components available in the
official brochure.
You may nd praise in the next paragraphs, and occasion-
ally harsh comments. However, this is not a listening test, by
any means, and we wont blame anything unless we mean it
specifically for the purpose of improvement.
You must listen to these speakers,said Michael and
Jimmy, as soon as we met in the lobby. “Theyre shaped like
huge horns, and the sound is so natural and smooth,they
added, pointing to the name of the Edgar-
horn Titan II speakers on the
brochure. Off we went.
Along the way we stopped
by the Totem Acoustics home
theatre demonstration. Neatly
placed on the walls, front
and back, the new, discreetly
styled, 3.5" deep Tribe 1 and
2 speakers gave an absolutely
spectacular performance of
Hero, with the dramatic contri-
bution of the Storm subwoofer.
Played on the Arcam DV 78
player with Arcams AVR, the
sound was riveting and carried
tons of impact
while outlining
the nest details.
I did return
to that room
more than once during the next days,
with different visitors, and their
reaction was always the same:
they remained speechless. That
such quality (and quantity!)
could issue from such diminutive
speakers was amazing.
We were no less impressed
by the Simaudio room, where
we listened to an excerpt from
Holsts The Planets, played on
the Andromeda CD player and
power supply, the P-8 controller
and preamplifier, the W-8 power
amplifier and the large Dynaudio
Confidence C-4 speakers. Before
leaving the large room, Michael and Jimmy wanted to have
their picture taken in front of the huge Simaudio monobloc
power amp on display.
(Can you ever, ever imagine a female audiophile asking for
a souvenir shot such as this?)
In the small Fidelio room, everything was quiet and refined.
The first track of Nemesis, their latest album of percussion, was
playing on an Esoteric deck through a Nagra PL-P preamp and
a pair of pyramid-shaped Nagra PMA power amps, into Verity
Audios shiny black Parsifal speak-
ers. “I feel good,” said Michael, as
we were going out into the hallway
“Just a few minutes in that room
and I feel so relaxed.
Soon after, Jimmy really wanted
us to listen to the Revelation speak-
ers, and as we walked in we noticed
the energetic sound of the K&D
Sessions handled with authority
by the Revelation Mistr