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The Beginnings...
The sound of aloudspeaker is ultimately determined by the quality and consistency of its component parts. At Polk Audio, unique drivers and crossovers are used to achieve acoherent, seamless and balanced musical presentation. For an explanation of how we use these parts to make superior sounding products, please contact Mark Suskind.
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Should hi-fi components be compared to the sound of live unamplified music?

John Atkinson ponders the problems.





High-end news from the US and UK, including loudspeaker measurements at the

1989 WCES from Peter Mitchell.



The return of Sam Tellig. His topic? CD players from Adcom, Magnavox, Onkyo, and Yamaha.



Thomas J. Norton, Dick Olsher, and John Atkinson report from the 1989 Winter Consumer

Electronics Show.



Alvin Gold reports on the sound of two new tonearms, the Roksan Artemiz and Linn EKOS EQUIPMENT REPORTS

Theta DS Pre DIA preamplifier (LL)


Accuphase DP-80L/DC-81L CD player (JA)


Audire Noble amplifier (DO)


Electrocompaniet AW100 amplifier (DO)


Inouye Synergistic Power Line Conditioner (JA)


Ortofon 540 cartridge (TJN)


Shure VST Ill cartridge (TJN)


Audioquest 404i-L cartridge (TJN)


Nitty Gritty Hybrid Record/CD cleaning machine (JA)



California Audio Labs Tempest II CD player (JA)


Sony DAS-703ES D/A processor (JA)


Magnavox CDB472 CD player (JA)


Magnavox CDB582 CD player (JA) The Mod Squad Prism CD player (JA)

138 138

Sonographe SD1 Beta CD player (JA) Yamaha CDX-1110U CD player (JA) Adcom GCD-575 CD player (JA)

138 138 138

Onkyo DX-G10 CD player (JA)


Audio Control Industrial SA-3050A spectrum analyzer (BS)


Rogers LS3/5a loudspeaker (JA)




Riccardo Chailly, the new conductor of the Concertgebouw Orchestra, talks with Barbara Jahn.



Christopher Breunig examines recorded performances of Shostakovich's Symphony 10.



Robert Deutsch listens to recent recordings.




195 4


207 213






99 225



Larry Archibald expresses acogent handful of thoughts.

MARCH 1989

VOL. 12 NO. 3

Stereophile, March 1989



Audiophiles have been waiting for it with bated
breath; manufacturers and retailers with acute anxiety; yes, the April issue of Stereopbile will contain acompletely updated "Recommended Components." Briefly describing more than
300 turntables, tonearms, cartridges, CD players, preamplifiers, power amplifiers, tuners, tape recorders, and accessories, all of which we can vouch for on sonic grounds, "Recommended Components" distills the wisdom of the magazine's contributors into one easily digestible, take-with-you-to-the-store package
The Audio Anarchist, Sam Tellig, has been listening to amplifiers, specifically the Krell
KSA-80 and the B&K ST. 140. His report on this comparison will appear in April, while the equipment report section of the magazine fea-
tores Larry Archibald on a$12,000 loudspeaker from Altec Lansing, yours truly on some mort. affordable bookshelf speakers, as well as Linn\ new EKOS tonearm, Dick Olsher on Talisman's Virtuoso Boron high-output cartridge, Don Scott on recent FM tuners, and Bill Sommerwerck on surround-sound processors and Dolby stereo decoders. The April issue will also include the index to every review and article that appeared in Stereopbile in 1988 that was
promised for this issue. (Sorry)

On the music side, Dick Olsher will be talking to recordist Peter McGrath, who has been engineering some stunningly natural recordings for Harmonia Mundi USA; Gordon Emer-
son talks with cellist Janos Starker; and Mort Frank reviews two new Beethoven symphony cycles, from Bernard Haitink and Riccardo Muti.
Finally, don't forget that Stereopbile's next high-end hi-fi show, to be held at the Dunfey San Mateo hotel near the San Francisco International airport, takes place from April 21 to 23. We will be publishing apreview to what will be happening at the show--which we hope will feature public demonstrations of the Infinity IRS V, Wilson WATT/WHOW combina-
tion, and the Martin-Logan Statement--in next month's issue.


Publisher Larry Archibald

Founder and Chief Tester J Gordon Holt

Editor John Atkinson

Assistant Editor Richard Lehned

Senior Contributing Editors

Thomas J. Norton

Sam Tellig

Dick Olsher

Contributing Editors (hardware)

Amis Balgaivis

Ken Kessler

Martin Colioms

Peter W. Mitchell

Gary A. Galo

Bebo Moroni

Alvin Gold

Markus Sauer

George M. Graves II

Don A. Scott

Larry Greenhill

Bill Sommerwerck

Jack Hannold

Peter Van Willenswaard

Musician in Residence Lewis Lipnick

Contributing Editors (records)

Leslie S. Berkley

Beth Jacques

Christopher Breunig

Barbara Jahn

Kevin Conklin

Igor Kipnis

Robert Deutsch Gordon Emerson

Gary S. Krakow Robert Levine

Mortimer H. Frank

Richard Schneider

Robert Hesson

Bernard Soil

Business Manager Gail Anderson (505) 982-2366 Circulation Manager Kathleen Rose (505) 982-2366

Advertising Representatives East of the Mississippi dForeign: Nelson &Associates (Ken Nelson) (914) 476-3157 Yonkers, NY West of the Mississippi &National Dealer: Nelson &Associates (Laura J. Atkinson) (505) 988-3284 Santa Fe, NM Production Manager Rebecca Willard
Production Andrew Main, Janice St. Marie
Ad Copy Manager Martha Payne
Art Directors Michael Motley, Michael Picón
Cover Illustration Jim Wood Support Staff Allan Mandell, Danny Sandoval,
Beverly Kier-Smith
Typesetting Copygraphics

©StereophIle -- Vol. 12 No. 3, March 1989, issue Number 110. Stereophile (ISSN #0585-2544) is published
monthly, $35 per year for US residents by Stereophlie, 208 Delgado, Santa Fe, NM 87501. Second-class postage paid at Santa Fe, NM and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: send address changes to Stereophlie, PO Box 364, Mount Morris, IL 61054.

Subscriptions US residents (800) 435-0715, (800) 892-0753 (Illinois). From outside US call (505) 982-2366

FAX: (505)989-8791

Stereophile, March 1989

The Chicken and the Egg

John Atkinson

tis inarguable that the quality of magnet/ ically recorded sound has improved
immeasurably in the last 101 years. 101 years? Yes, according to afascinating account in last May's issue of the Journal of tbe Audio
Engineering Society, it was in 1888 that the Cincinnatti-based engineer Oberlin Smith experimented with recording information on steel wire by drawing it across the comer of an
electromagnet around which acoil had been wound. Smith only carried out experiments without producing apractical recording system, and it wasn't until 1898 that the Dane,
Valdemar Poulsen, was granted aGerman patent for a"Method for the reception of news, signals, and the like" For some reason, the magnetic recording of music didn't seem to be a high priority, probably because it was obvious that the technology didn't begin to rival Edi-

son's and Berliner's mechanical grooves on technical grounds. (Those were the days: the cassette still doesn't begin to rival the LP when it comes to quality, yet it has now become the main medium for recorded music.) Only in 1936 did AEG and BASF (then adivision of the IG Farbenindustrie chemical giant) record Sir
Thomas Beecham and the LPO in concert in aprogram of Vaughan Williams, Delius, Mozart, and Rirnsky-Korsakov on tape. (In conjunction with BASF, Chandos released alimited-edition "50th Anniversary of Tape Recording" cassette of this concert in 1984; it is well worth seeking out.)
By the time of WW II, recording on tape was commonplace in Germany, and Richard Lehnert reviews a1944 Munich tape of Des Fliegende
transfened to mono CD by Rodolphe, in this month's record-review section. The

Stereophile, March 1989


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Alittle bit different.

recorded balance is remarkably true to Wagner's to be the only ones in the audience who even

music, but, as Richard points out, the sound noticed this sonic travesty, let alone be bothered

suffers from the ills you would expect from by it. Yes, Iam regularly exposed to very high

what was still an early technology. Midrange quality sound; witness my review of the new

climaxes are distorted, highs are grating, and Accuphase CD player in this issue. But no, I

there is an abundance of dropouts. These days, don't think that my sensibilities have been fine-

you would think such technical deficiencies tuned by exposure to the highest of high-end

to be athing of the past, of course.

components to such apoint that perfectly

Of course? Let me digress. My wife is aballet respectable reproduced sound quality fails to

nut and is determined to educate me in the satisfy. It also wasn't just that Iwas expecting

dance. So far she has dragged me along to two the real thing, live music. Rather, Iam sure that

performances by the Albuquerque-based South West Ballet company and one by the Paul Tay-

everyone else in that audience just heard what they recognized as "reproduced" music These

lor Dance Company. Iam gradually learning to people, persistently exposed to the very poorest

differentiate the good from the bad, but as I standard of quality--TV and radio sound (FM,

started from avery low base of knowledge -- not just AM)-- heard asound in the auditorium

none --at least some of the time Iforget the that was no different in kind from what they

subtleties of the dance and enjoy the music, expected reproduced music to sound like. Iam

courtesy of the New Mexico Symphony (a convinced that the public has been trained to

transfigured ensemble since the dynamic Neil anticipate so little quality from recorded sound

Stulberg took over as Music Director). Imagine that they are now not bothered by the fact that

my horror, therefore, when we discovered as they often receive no quality whatsoever.

we took our seats for the most recent perfor-

An unfortunate fact of modem life, you must

mance that the company was to dance to music be thinking, but what relevance does it have

from acassette! This in the 1500-seater audito- to Stereopbile readers? Well, when you talk to

rium that serves as home to the Symphony!

professional audio engineers, it is hard not to

The ballet was by Balanchine, the music by be convinced that we have reached aplateau

Tchaikovsky (the third piano concerto) via the where the fundamental performance of nearly

house PA system--two huge (and presumably all aspects of the recording/reproduction chain

expensive) enclosures either side of the stage is so good that any further improvement would

and another flying over the proscenium arch. be unnecessary. Improvement might even be

We were treated to some of the most abysmal undesirable in that it would increase costs with-

reproduced sound Ihad ever heard. It could out bestowing any perceived benefit. Occa-

have been used to demonstrate everything that sionally, therefore, particularly when Iread a

could be wrong with a1989 music reproduc- letter like the one from Donald Bisbee that

tion system: the soundstage was nonexistent, kicks off this month's "Letters" column, com-

everything coming from asingle point in space plaining about the unpleasant fact that those

(I think this is technically refer rcd to as "mono"); components our writers find to be the best-

the noise level competed with low-level instru- sounding are also the most expensive, Iwonder

ments for your attention; clarinets sounded like if audiophiles bave become unnecessarily

oboes, oboes sounded like screaming cats; vio- fussy about sound quality. But when Ihave an

lins screeched to the point where you wished experience like that recent ballet performance,

that Stradivarius had devoted himself to some Ibecome even more convinced that to strive

other craft; some piano notes sounded as if for the best possible performance, no matter

accompanied by an out-of-tune xylophone, what the ultimate cost, is the only acceptable

others as if the hammers were made of sponge philosophy for any kind of audio engineer.

rubber; there were no highs or lows; and at levels above mezzoforte, the sound degenerated

When Ihear an engineer promulgating the idea that audiophiles are suffering from some kind

into aroar of clipping distortion. Amore com- of mass self-delusion, an opinion that appears

prehensive example of noise, distortion, resonant to be commonly held among the establishment

coloration, and tonal imbalance would be hard audio-engineering cornmunity, Iremind myself

to imagine. The 1944 recording, even in mono, that it's those very same engineers who are

is aparadigm of excellence by comparison. responsible for the kind of sound that has

The puzzle was that my wife and Iseemed lowered the American public's expectations of

Stereophile, March 1989


······.... ······


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quality. Whenever you are told by an engineer attempting to put it back together again dur-

or audio writer that something is probably ing the mix is doomed to failure. Think of the

good enough, or that no one will notice asys- Second Law of Thermodynamics--think of

tem's problems, or it is not worth spending Humpty Dumpty!

more money, or that audiophiles have unneces-

An interesting letter this month from Hank

sarily high expectations, reach for arope.

R. Bernstein comments on one of the conclu-

Except that hangin's too good for 'em.

sions Idrew in last November's essay: that it is

Iam sure that in Oberlin Smith's time, it was possible to judge the quality of ahi-fi compo-

felt that if only the technical problem of the nent using music that has no original reference;

recording process could be overcome, then rock or jazz using electric instruments, for

everything would be perfect. But even with example. Mr. Bernstein feels very strongly that

perfect recording equipment, questions arise this is fundamentally unsound in that the

as to how it is used, as Iendeavored to describe reviewer is then unable to communicate any

in this space last November. That "As We See real description of the component's sound to

It" essay outlined opposing philosophies con- areader: "In the end all that reviewer can tell

cerning how to record classical music. First, me is that he liked or disliked what he heard:

and one to which Iadhere in my own record- that the sound of the electric guitar seemed to

ings, is to treat the recording process as docu- come from aproper position on the stage, that

mentary, where the recordist attempts to cap- the effect was quite dramatic as the sound was

ture as faithfully as possible on atwo-channel made to cascade across the listening stage at

recorder such aspects as instrumental timbre some propitious musical moment, that the

and balance, the ideal relationship between the component under consideration reproduced

direct sound of the instruments and their these engineered effects well, or better than

associated reverberation, and the positional brand X component which he had reviewed

information necessary for an accurate stereo or listened to the month before."

image to be reconstructed. (You can see from

Without the absolute reference standard of

Barbara Jahn's interview with Riccardo Chailly in this issue how much aworld-class conduc-

unamplified acoustic music in its performance venue, astandard suggested by.l. Gordon Holt

tor likes this philosophy.)

in last October's "As We See It," Mr. Bernstein

Second, and aphilosophy which has dominated suggests that the reviewer's conclusions are

the world of classical recording since the early useless to the reader. He goes on to say that,

'60s, is to record the orchestra as though it were with the absolute sound used as areference,

agiant rock band. Every instrument or, at best, however, the reviewer can offer the reader

group of instruments is given its own micro- observations about reproduced sound that are

phone; the engineer tries to minimize the meaningful: "He may tell me that the music is

acoustic leakage from one mic to another; the recessed, as if Iwere in Row Rinstead of Row

output of each mic is fed to aseparate track on D; that the timbre of the cellos is true but that

amultitrack recorder; and for the mixdown to the sound of massed strings is abit more brittle

stereo, the engineer assigns aprecise position . than what one would hear in live performance."

along the line joining the two loudspeakers to

In broad principle, Iwould not take issue

each track. Artificial reverberation and tonal with any of Mr. Bernstein's reasoning. However,

equalization are often added, to "sweeten" the Ihave to point out from apractical standpoint

sound, and, just as with atypical rock record- that a reviewer who assesses components

ing, the producer "balances" the level of all the solely on whether they help asystem more or

tracks to produce what to his or her ears is the less closely resemble the sound of live, urtunplified

"best" sound.

music will paradoxically very quickly fall into

Itried to explain the reasons behind this error! This, of course, is not because the abso-

recording philosophy in Von!! No.11, pointing lute sound of live music is not something to

out that its protagonists regard the recording which we all aspire, but because it is almost

of classical music as adifferent art form from never available in the context of recorded

the live performance of the same music. Fun- music except in very broad background terms.

damentally, however, Ihave to say that such a

If this sounds confusing, let me examine the

stripping down of amusical event to its bare implications of the statement that it is more use-

essentials at the time of the sessions and ful to the reader to be offered the observation

Stereophile, March 1989


that acomponent makes aclassical recording sound as if the listener were "in Row Rinstead of Row D" at alive performance. As apiece of anecdotal information, describing what happened
when acomponent was inserted in a"reference" system, this statement can't be criticized. However, as avalue judgment it falls short of the mark, for it assumes that the record used to form the observation has within its grooves the ability for aperfect system to reproduce the sound of live music in the listener's room.
"ain't so, fella. Only if aclassical record has been made with everyone involved--from musicians to recording engineer to producer to cutting engineer--concerned with the accurate preservation of every aspect of the original sound and performance, will this assumption
be correct. Otherwise, the listener has to use arecording that is no different in kind from a multitrack rock recording to judge the sound
of acomponent, and that record will have probably been considerably altered from the "sound of five unamplified music" in just about every way. Attempting to use the absolute sound--love that phrase!--as areference, you may think that you can make value judgments about ahi-fi component because you already know what aclassical recording should sound
like--the real thing. In actuality, as the recording doesn't have that potential, you need first to assess its quality by listening to it through components that you need already to know the sound of when compared with the sound of live music You need knowledge of the chicken before you can assess the quality of the egg, but you only have access to the quality of the chicken if first you know all about the egg.
Confused? Consider the statement that a component makes the sound "recessed" when compared with the real thing. There are two, not one, value judgments that can be drawn: the first is Mr. Bernstein's: je, that the component makes the sound more recessed; the sec-
ond is that the component more accurately allows the intrinsically more recessed sound within the grooves of the LP to be reproduced. Which is correct? You have no way of knowing. Read Robert Levine's review, for example, of the new Michael Tilson Thomas recording
of Mahler's Symphony 3on CBS Masterworks in this issue, where he notes that it "sounds as if each solo instrumentalist ...had aseparate microphone on his lap," resulting in "the most crisp, spotless Third imaginable." Isuggest that

areviewer using this recording to assess the quality of components would downgrade neutralsounding components on the grounds that they made the sound less like the sound of live music; le, it would sound too bright. Components that are intrinsically too dull will be unjustifiably upgraded for the opposite reason.
This causal dichotomy holds true for every aspect of sound reproduction, not just tonal balance (Visitors to either of Stereophile's 1987 hi-fi shows will remember that Idevoted a whole hour's lecture to just how arecording's ability to create astereo soundstage is altered by the microphone technique used!) The conclusion must be obvious: use only those classical records in listening tests that have been made according to philosophy #1 above. Use program material that is intrinsically neutral in tonal balance, that has the instrumental balance that the composer intended, that is uncolored, and that has the capability to create atrue stereo image.
OK, name some records that you know conform to this standard.
Name one. Difficult, isn't it? In fact, Ican only think of one commercial orchestral recording that gets close to this ideal, Sheffield Lab's Firebird, with Erich Leinsdorf conducting the LA Phil (CD 24), and even that is flawed: it was recorded in what Ifeel was an unsuitable acoustic, too dry and with too small avolume for such adynamic work. In fact, you have to realize that recording engineers, even when they aim for honesty in recording, are always forced to compromise some areas of reproduction in favor of others. Les Berkley, for example, reviews a new Hungaroton production of Alessandro Scarlatti's oratorio Judith this month, where the engineers chose to use microphones that were timbrally accurate. However, they also used amic technique, probably dictated by the wry nanifes of those microphones, that destroyed any sense of areal soundstage. Many of the Wilson and Reference Recordings are similarly timbrally accurate, at the expense of the stereo
Il was intrigued to reul in the November/December 1988 issue of The Absolute Sound that pianist and educator James Boyle is offering acommercial cassette, realized by some of his students at Caltcch, which appears to be based on my series of lectures on how different stereo microphone techniques affect the reproduced soundstage. Readers interested in acquiring this tape should contact Mr Boyle at Performance Recordings, 2135 Holmby Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90025-5915. 1M: (213) 475-8261.


Stereophile, March 1989

image, while recordings that aim to preserve image position and well-defined image depth

the accuracy of the soundstage nearly always with Magical Ring, Ithen know that any clas-

seem to require the use of microphones that sical recording will reproduce with the max-

color instrumental tone quality, sometimes imum image specificity of which it is capable.

more than alittle. And many recordings, particu- The reverse, Mr. Bernstein--if, say, Iuse atypi-

larly those made with large numbers of micro- cal orchestral recording from one of the major

phones, both add coloration and destroy any companies as my benchmark record--will not

semblance of arealistic-sounding stereo image be true.

What Iam trying to lead you toward is a

Similarly, Iuse Wilson, Reference, Water Lily

recognition that it is too simplistic--and pom- Acoustics, and Sheffield Lab classical record-

pous--to insist that equipment reviewers ings to assess departures from tonal neutrality,

unthinkingly adopt the dialectic involving log- pink noise to look for the presence of resonant

ically inconsistent comparisons to live sound. problems, pretty much any modem rock album

This inevitably leads to the reviewer becom- to assess the ability of amplifiers and speakers

ing trapped in an endless loop. Rather, it is more to present tight, well-defined midbass, good

fruitful for reviewers to base their value judg- organ recordings and sinewave sweeps to

ments on specific recordings that they already investigate low-frequency extension, drum and

know have aparticular character in one area of percussion recordings to investigate "jump fac-

reproduction. Areviewer's initial task is one of diagnosis, and any recording is appropriate for use, not just those that can be compared to live

tor" and overall dynamics, in fact any record-
ing where Ican break the logical judgmental loop due to the fact that Ihave independent

sound, if it aids the reviewer in this phase of the knowledge of how the recording should sound.

review. (How else could you justify the use of As an aside, it is for this reason that Iregard it

non-musical test signals, for instance?)

as essential for reviewers to be actively involved

The Clannad Magical Ring album that I in making their own recordings, because this mentioned last November, and that Mr. Bern- gives them that knowledge absolutely. (Though,

stein suggests Iabandon as atest record on the as has recently been pointed out with respect

grounds that it doesn't have averifiable source to Dick Olsher's use of his recordings of his

sound, is such an album. While it would be wife's voice, this removes the capability of

pointless to use this recording to examine a readers to repeat his test). Which of all these

component's departure from tonal neutrality, parameters is most important Ibelieve to be a

Iuse it specifically to examine asystem's ability personal choice, associated with the listener's

to throw awell-defined soundstage with width musical taste. J. Gordon Holt, for example,

and depth. The fact that it has no absolute refer- would agree with Mr. Bemstein's apparent feel-

ent is irrelevant in this respect: asystem's imag- ing that it should be tonal neutrality; as would

ing ability can be benchmarked with any Peter Mitchell, who, when asked by Bud Fried

recording that contains pure intensity-stereo at the 1989 WCES (full report in this issue),

information, and in actual fact, panpotted multi-mono rock recordings tend to be more informative than atypical classical recording, as almost none of the latter are recorded so as

replied that "good frequency response is a
'necessary but not sufficient condition' for great sound. Other things are important, but if the frequency response is irregular, the other

to encode this information. (The only excep- qualities don't matter because the speaker

tions are recordings made in apure, coincident- won't reproduce the real sound of music."

figure-of-eight manner or in avariant of the M-S technique, and these are rare beasts indeed.)

But the most important thing for areviewer is to use as wide arange of recordings as pos-

In addition to the intensity-stereo lateral imaging contained on Magical Ring, the fact that

sible in order to frame value judgments which can be communicated intact to someone else.

its producer has used sophisticated artificial As, again, Peter Mitchell pointed out in arecent

reverberation enables agood system to present considerable image depth. There is no need for

"Industry Update" feature (December 1988, p.47), merely to compare the sound of acom-

acomparison with live "images" here; the fact ponent with the reviewer's memories of live

that the recording possesses the requisite sound can lead to error unless be or she uses

information makes it asufficiently sensitive asufficiently varied selection of recordings.

test. If Ihear the attributes of specific lateral

So where does my idea, as expressed in

Stereophile, March 1989



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November, of the reviewer using his visceral response fit into this neat framework of diagnosis and judgment? And how does live music fit into it?
As follows: The whole business of diagnosis described above seems designed to allow the reviewer more to get ahandle on what a component is doing wrong than on what it does right. The latter, however, is more impor-
tant--the fundamental purpose of ahi-fi system is to enable its owner to enjoy music in the
home--and the listener who is sensitive to the
music has ashortcut to discovering it. But in order for alistener to become musically sen-
sitive, it is incumbent on him or her to regularly experience the real thing. How can you make yourself receptive to Mahler's music, as opposed to the sound of Mahler's scoring, if you don't expose yourself to the music as the composer originally intended it to be heard? If, then, alistener who regularly attends live music finds that acomponent somehow destroys his or her ability to enjoy the music--and this is true of
all kinds of music--then all else is irrelevant, even tonal accuracy. AsJ. Gordon Holt emphasized many years ago, acomponent must have the ability to allow the music to raise goosebumps

on the listener's arm. Mr. Bernstein states that areviewer must provide his reader with an intelligibly stated standard by which he will judge components coming before him. Ultimately it's goosebumps, Mr. Bernstein. Goosebumps.
A change for Mr. T
Finally, Iwould like to take this opportunity to welcome the irrepressible Sam Tellig back to Stereopbile in anew guise. Having written about affordable equipment for the magazine since 1982, when in what was the second official Audio Cheapskate column in Vol.5 No 102 he offered some thoughts on good movingmagnet pickup cartridges, Sam felt that it was time to expand his horizons. In his new role of the Audio Anarchist, he will be wandering farther afield in search of sonic excellence (though Iam sure his fundamentally cheap nature will shine through). In this issue, he reports on his experience with four of the latest CD players, ranging from the inexpensive Magnavox CDB582 to a$2500 Onkyo. Welcome back, Sam! 111
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We regret that resources do not permit us to reply individually to letters, particularly those requesting advice about particular equipment purchases. Were we to do this, asignificant service charge would have to be assessed--and we don't have time to do it anyway! Although all letters are read and noted, only those of general interest are selected for publication.

Editor: Must Stereopbile make aStereofool of itself by constantly recommending grossly overpriced products?
Merely increasing the price of an item will not make it sound any better! So how come on
p.71 of the December '88 issue Iread about Mandrake phono leads that cost f500 per meter (or Si per mm!)?
Even if these wires are custom-made out of exotic (superconducting?) material, can you explain how you can put $1000 into ameter of thin wire? And just what adifference in sound it actually makes?
Idoubt that anyone at your magazine could really hear the difference between these and other cables even if they could see them. This kind of "sound improvement" is 1% inspiration and 99% desperation, written by people who know as little about cables (as in Dick 01sher's recent review) as they do about money.
Donald Bisbee Columbus, OH
Why no affordable products?
You spend entirely too much text and too many reviewer hours evaluating the latest versions of contenders for penultimate component honors, while leaving too many of your readers in the dark about the performance (often enough even the existence) of components they could actually afford to bring home.
Thus we see re-reviews of the Quad ESLs ad infinitum, the CAL Aria and Versa Dynamics turntable ad nauseam, and of the same ol' products by Rowland, ARC, Krell, etc., ad yawnum. And we wait--is it two years now? Or longer?--for areview of the Systemdek; the Spendors are dropped from the "Recommended" list because of lack of recent auditioning, and you apparently have never heard of the affordable preamps from Bryston and Belles. (Come on, Sam!)
Both of the latter manufacturers, local rumor

has it, make economy preamps that will run all over the comparable Adcom, Hafler, NAD, and Carver models abounding at our local mid-fl chains in terms of soundstaging, smoothness, detail, and transparency. Yet these are not reviewed in Stereopbile, or mentioned with intent to review, much less recommended. I'd love to see you substantiate or undercut the credibility of the rumor.
Idon't criticize your reviewing asizable amount of expensive equipment. It's nice, even if Ican't afford it, to know how close certain equipment can come to the sound of live music, what the state of the art actually is. Unfortunate though it may be, the best designs and parts cost lots of money and (apparently) allow recorded music to sound much more "real" than the equipment Ifind affordable. Nor would Ieven think of denying those who can afford to buy the state of the art their oppor- · tunity to learn what new contestants have
entered the arena. And Ido think you cover affordable equipment reasonably well.
But really, the kind of people who can afford the WAMM system can also afford to take the time (Lord knows their dealers will welcome their visits)to listen to whether some manufacturer's latest version of its kilobuck amp is actu-
ally an improvement or not. And you can spend the space you would've given to the review of
the revision in telling me whether it's worth going to the trouble of borrowing that economy amp or preamp for ahome comparison
with an Adcom (or other "cheap" piece). In other words, we who have less money are
the ones who more urgently need your help to narrow (because, in the end, it still comes
down to our listening) the field of choices. Is it worth adrive to Iowa or Chicago from Minneapolis to hear the cheapest Thiels? Ithink so, because of your writing. But the Systemdek? Idon't know yet ...
Thanks for, like, letting me share your space, and for keeping Stereopbile interesting.
Doug Stevens Minneapolis, MN

Stereophile, March 1989





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40 times better?
Is the $8000 Sony CDP-R1 IDAS -R1 combination reviewed by JGH in December 40 times better than a$200 Magnavox? And why can't we have aCheapskate column in every issue?
Jim Griggs
Volcano, HI

Editor: With reference toi. Gordon Holt's review of the $8000 Sony CD player, the CDP-Rl is by no means state-of-the-art when it comes to tracking. My Philips 880 and my Technics 770 both track all 50 bands of the Verany disc with only ahandful of clicks, and aMagnavox 460 Iused to have did the same. Seems single-beam lasers are better trackers than multiple-beam devices.
Bernard A. Engholm Carlsbad, CA


Stereopbile is truly the most frustrating mag-

azine Ihave read in the field of audio in 49

years. Iam renewing against my better judg-

ment, with hope that you will find something

in audio gear that is good and reasonably priced.

But Idoubt it.

Audio, Higb Fidelity, Stereo Review, and

musician magazines (varied assortments) have

been more enjoyable reading, more satisfying,

and more helpful.

Frank Lidonni

Brooklyn, NY

So much for speaker placement?
Editor: Iread with enjoyment Mr. Lewis Lipnick's' review of the Martin-Logan Sequels in the December 1988 issue of Stereophile. Mr. Lipnick did his usual precise job of describing the physical and musical attributes of yet another interesting piece of stereo gear. Well done!
In his review, Mr. Lipnick used one column to describe the care he took in placing the speakers for the best sound. In great contrast
to that, Iwas amused to notice (on p.182 of the same issue) an advertisement from GNP in Pasadena that showed the same Martin-Logan Sequels parked snugly at each end of alarge cabinet, with their backs to the wall. So much for speaker placement.

Ifelt atweak's mild superiority at such crass

behavior until Irecognized that my own speak-

ers had been placed in my own living room

with far greater concern for looks than for

sound optimization. Apparently, Ifind room

aesthetics at least as important to me as musical


Ido recognize that Iam writing to Stereo-

pbile and not to Home Entertainment. 1am just

wondering--which is the path most taken?

Anybody care to take any bets? Are you good

speaker manufacturers listening?

Anyway, thanks for the best stereo magazine.

Iam looking forward with great anticipation

to the coming of your High-End show to my

city in April.

Stephen Pratt

San Francisco, CA

JA's idiosyncrasy?
Editor: Ienjoy readingJohn Atkinson's reviews, commentaries, and the like; it seems we share many of the same likes when it comes to equipment reviews, and his reports are very informative (sometimes over my head!) and are for the most part clearly written, with enough wit to keep the reading enjoyable. Ihave one gripe, though. Do you--John--know what it has to do with? You mean you can't guess? Do you want ahint? Do you know that I've already given you some? Yes, it's those blasted rhetorical questions of yours that keep popping up like mushrooms all over the place in your writing! In the December '88 issue, Icounted four in the "Coming Attractions" report alone, and that's out of four paragraphs, with two in just the first paragraph. Iwon't take up your time going through other writings; suffice it to say one need only look for the sign of the "?". It's probably not so strange, but this "style" seems to have crept into the writings of others on the reviewing staff of late. At least Idon't remember it quite as much even just several issues ago. No big deal.. .but just thought I'd bring it to your attention. Maybe I'll end with arhetorical question of my own: Who edits the editor?!
Stew Glick Springwater, NY

Ricbard Lebnert. And Iedit bim.
Whither records?
Editor: Having been areader for almost two years now

Stereophile, March 1989


The Car riegre Iwo is designed by and manufactured exclusively for Madrigal Audio Laboratories, PO. Box 781, Middletown. CT 06457 ITT TLX 4942158

and enjoying the magazine, Ihave recently

been bitten by the used record-collecting bug!

Could you inform me of the best places to write

to (newsletters, stores, etc.) for information

about and purchase of used classical and jazz


Ken Clybor

Wheeling, IL

fly our two "In Search of Black Diamonds"

surveys, in Vol.!! No.! (San Francisco area)

and Vol.11 No.4 (NYC). Immortal Perfor-

mances Records and Tapes, 1404 W 30tb St.,

Austin, TX 78703, conducts record auctions

by mail. Recollections, 012743 Eighth Street,

Berkeley, CA 94 710 (Tel: (415)548-7786), publishes an excellent catalog of rare secondhand

classical andjazz LPs. It might also be worth

contacting Music By The Sea, 542 Coast High-

way 101, Leucadia, CA 92024, who conduct

abusy mail-order record service. Stereophile

will also be happy to print short lettersfrom readers who know of good dealers in used

classical andjazz records, particularly in the

Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia,

and Atlanta areas.


Whither Gordon?
Editor: I've noted with only passing interest the occa-
sional outcries from long-time Stereophile readers over the relegation ofi. Gordon liolt to an emeritus status as "Founder and Chief ltster." The obvious implication seen by these alarmists is the insidious transformation of the
publication into some hideous mutation which no longer holds true to the principles of jour-
nalistic integrity--or whatever. Up to now I've not had any real concerns even remotely related to such paranoia. After all, amonthly format with lots of equipment and music reviews is enough to keep most casual readers happy.
With the December issue, however, asingle,
one-sentence footnote has me wondering. In Richard Schneider's review of the Blomstedt/ San Francisco Symphony recording of Hindemith's Matbis der Maier, 7kauermusik, and Symphonic Metamorphoses, the reviewer makes note of the fact that the other London recording recently done by the same assemblage is acombination of both the fourth and fifth Symphonies by Carl Nielsen. Afootnote pops up with the initials JA: "A brief listen to the Nielsen 4at Lewis Lipnick's leads me to suggest that it is worth avoiding."

Now, I'm not always acautious shopper when it comes to purchases of new recordings. Most tend to hit the shelves of the retailers well in advance of most reviews. So occasional impulse buys are an adjunct to my usual pattern of careful attention to well-considered and responsible reviews. In the case of the Nielsen pairing, however, Iheld off obtaining it even though it was performed by alocal orchestra and conducted by aman who had done some impressive work in Dresden. What Idid was to read three favorable reviews in national publications and to listen to recommendations from people who are in the habit of engaging in critically comparative auditions of various recorded works. When Ifinally got the CD and played it, my reaction was, "Why did Ibother waiting? This is afine recording." Yes, there are acouple of spots where overzealous multimiking results in minor distractions. But the overall performance is dynamic and beautifully wrought. Moreover, in comparison with the parsimonious Karajan/Berlin Philharmonic recording of the Fourth only, this disc has one of the most coherent performances of the Fifth that I've heard. A distinct bonus, especially when the latter piece can easily be allowed to wander and completely lose any semblance of interpretive focus.
So what's my beef, aside from disagreeing with JA? 'lb alarge extent it's the fact that Idon't even know what I'm disagreeing with. Aone-
sentence put-down certainly is unenlightening and, frankly, somewhat irresponsible. My primary gripe, however, is that the job of reviewing hasn't been properly left to the reviewer. One reason Idon't read TAS with any regularity is the constant opinionated potshots with which Harry Pearson peppers his publication under the guise of footnotes. Even worse is the nauseating toadyism engaged in by virtually all TAS writers ("Oh, you're so right, Mr. Pearson, your guru-ship! Pardon me for hav-
ing an independent thought!"). Idon't think Iwant to see Stereopbile go down that road. I would certainly think that the editor who allows Dick Olsher to indulge himself in meta-
physical meanderings on speaker cables can leave the music reviewers alone.
That said, Ido have acomment for the real
reviewer, Richard Schneider. Idon't agree that there are no other "viable Mathis rivals." The fine 1960s recording by Constantin Silvestri
and the Philharmonia Orchestra (Angel S

Stereophile, March 1989


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35643) comes to mind immediately. Perhaps more relevant, however, is the 1973 performance by the London Symphony conducted by Jascha Horenstein, now available in aremastered CD version (Chandos CHAN 8533).
While I'm on aroll, Mr. Editor, Sir, why can't we see consistent appearances of the Audio Cheapskate? Can't Sam Tellig meet adeadline? Ican't believe he's running out of inexpensive equipment to audition.
Jim McClanahan Clovis, CA
Witb hindsight, Mr McClanahan is right that myfootnote appeared to be an unsupported put-down. Ibad eagerly anticipated Blomstedt 's London recordings after becoming enamored of bis superb Ein Heldenleben with the Dresden Staatskapelle for Denon (33C377561). But Iwas so deeply disappointed by the Nielsen 4 recording in particular by tbe leaden, unmagical beginning to the first movement, that discretion abandoned me and Ilaunched into print.
The presence of Polk
Editor: This must be the first of 1000 letters regarding the advertisement on the inside front cover of the December '88 issue of Stereophile. You've sold out! It is irksome to think that you allow that company to advertise in Stereophile. I've listened to bis speakers, and, like many other audiophiles, do not believe in ginunicic products.
I've always considered, until this day, the products advertised in your magazine to be the state of the art in audio, not in promotion. You've let me down. Kevin Szymanski
Cleveland, OH
The condemnation of Carver
Editor: Upon seeing Carver advertisements once again in Stereophile magazine, Iwas prompted to comment on Carver products and general perceptions. At first Iwas skeptical (or worse) of Bob Carver and his "inventions." Before ever even "bothering" to audition any Carver products, Ihad several excuses of why they did not merit the effort (not sold at the local high-end salons, advertising that appeared to contain more puffery than substance, inconsistent or incomplete specifications listed in the advertisements, too much gimmickry).
One day Idecided to "waste some time" and

audition various Carver components. Idid not like everything that Iheard, but Idid like afew products very much. It was surprising how different each amp sounded; there were also reception differences in the tuners, and soundstage differences with the preamps. And remember, these were only Carver components.
The point of this letter is that not all Carver products (or others, for that matter) should be condemned because aportion of the entire product line is lacking in some area. Ibelieve that Carver's marketing strategy has also turned people away from their products. Instead of blasting aproduct (Carver or otherwise) unjustly, spend some time evaluating the product based on its individual merits. You may even surprise yourself, just as Idid.
R. D. Nickolett, II West Allis, WI
Carver & LP sound
Editor: Iwas very pleased to see aCarver ad in the December issue. Irealize that there were differences between Stereopbile and Bob Carver. Bob Carver, King of 'Controversy, Master of Understatement; ads you love to love and love to hate (I hate the labels but love the audacity). It's awonder the Silver Seven wasn't called the Astounding Amplifier. But seriously, what had all this to do with omitting these products from product reviews? What happened to scientific objectivity? If these products are crap, then print that, but don't censor this stuff by omission. This is the worst sin to inflict on your readers--a great disservice! I2M not aCarver fan (no chance to form an opinion), nor am I in his employ, but Ifeel frustrated about deliberate withholding of information/opinion, whether good or bad, about these products.
Incidentally, that "smooth-blended" LP sound is phony!' And who wants to listen to the scratches and pops on top of that? Isuspect that much of the snob appeal of LPs comes from the enormous financial investment in them. Sure, CD sound isn't perfect, and Ifully expect that when solid-state-ROM with multi-hundredkilohertz sampling rates comes down to massproduction, the CD collectors will be throwing rocks at that new-tech sound.
R. Gloria Granada Hills, CA
IYes, Iattend several live classical concerts ayear.

Stereophile, March 1989


Thiel & service
Editor: Please consider this apaean not only to the sound of the Thiel CS3.5 speakers, but also to the soundness of Thiel's service arrangements.
Ifound that the tweeter of one and the mid-
range of my other speaker were collapsed. While they could be pulled out with avacuum cleaner, there were apparently permanent
creases. Aphone call was made to Thiel on a Friday afternoon, and the receptionist said that Iwould be called back. Having dealt with other electronic equipment concerns, Iwas amazed when afellow named Dave returned my call a
short time after 5pm and apologized for making me wait two hours.
After he asked the obvious question, "Do you have cats and kids?", Ifelt that sinking feeling which accompanies another decision to spend quite abit of money to repair damage from the onslaughts of small beings. Although the answer to his question was "Yes," without
hesitation Dave said that Thiel would honor the 10-year warranty. He offered to send replacement drivers, as well as pay for local labor since the dealer where Ihad purchased the speakers two years ago was quite adistance from me. When assured that Icould handle the labor myself, he gave explicit directions and spent some extra time patiently and eagerly answering other questions for me. Ireceived the drivers by UPS second-day air. He only stipulated that Ireturn the damaged drivers.
A company like this deserves to be recognized and, in this small way, rewarded with good publicity. Thank you for your attention, Thiel, and Stereophile for introducing me to
their products. Robert Lichtenstein, Ph.D. Chester, NJ

Bob to design his new Silver Seven tube amp? LA did suggest, in Vol.10 No.3, ". ..Istill await Bob Carver's assault on state-of-the-art amplifier design, based on his perceptions of musical
reality. ..Come on, Bob, show us the best you can do in amplifiers." It would seem that he took you guys seriously by doing just that. Will you now reciprocate by reporting on this new amplifier? I, for one, would like to see what you
think of the Silver Seven. Can it really be as good as the ads say? And what about some of the other Carver equipment, such as the ribbon loudspeaker? Is it really an audiophile
product? Now to another subject. In the Letters sec-
tion (M)l.11 No.12), Ben A. 'Ripper described the poor performance of the Thiel CS3.5 on low organ pedal (serious breakup), and JA responded that this is". ..common to any speaker that uses EQ to extend low-frequency response."
Ire-read the report on the speaker in Vol.10 No.1 by Anthony H. Cordesman. He raved about the bass performance of this speaker (". ..its full-bass range is actually deeper, better controlled, and more dynamic than most subwoofer systems"). But in afootnote, JA seemed to back off from that abit by saying that the woofer was working hard near the lower end of its range. Was that away of hinting at poor deep-bass response at high volume? If so, why not come out and say it plainly? If this speaker really breaks up as badly as Mr. 'Ripper says, I would consider it aserious weakness that any report should address in no uncertain terms
(yes, Ido listen to alot of organ). And is the statement about the compromised low-frequency response of speakers with EQ really true? What's the story here?
Gene D. Robinson Harrisonburg, VA

fiel & Carver
Editor: As Iwas thumbing through the newly arrived Stereopbffe (Vo1.11 Noe12), like Ialways do when it arrives, to see what goodies await within, I got ajolt. What was this? An advertisement from Carver Corporation. No, it couldn't be, because JA had written in Vol.10 No.5 that no further advertising would be accepted from Carver Corp. But there it was. What's the expla-
nation? Is this aone-time-only phenomenon, or has the feud between Carver and Stereopbile been resolved? Could it be that this feud led

Margins of Reality
Editor: Mr. N.Vong's rambling and largely irrelevant diatribe, "Pseudoscience vs Reality" (November 1988)--unfortunately typical of much of the skeptical commentary on this difficult topic-- belies any familiarity with the book he declaims, or any respect for the scientific objectivity he defends. Categorical dismissal of evidence inconsistent with personal belief systems can hardly advance the scientific dialogue on any issue, however complex, and he offers only a few substantive points that merit any response:


Stereophile, March 1989

First, the main concerns of the book Margins of Reality are not "religion, magic, and var-

If Mr. Wong would now care to read the book he has critiqued in the abstract, or to

ious mysteries," but the summary, for an in- inform himself of the details of our technology, formed lay audience, of more than adecade of protocols, and results, we would welcome his

extensive engineering research on the interaction of human consciousness with various physical devices, systems, and processes, with particular attention to the demonstrable anom-

objective comments on any specific issues. Robert G. Jahn, Brendaj. Dunne Princeton University, Princeton, NJ

alous aspects of such interactions. By actual Price & Reality

page count, more than 80% of the text is de- Editor:

voted to technical discussion of the experi- After reading Tom Wong's letter "Pseudoscience

ments and theoretical models, and their directly pursuant consequences. The remainder
is simply an attempt to set these results and their scientific implications within 2 broader historical and philosophical context. Indeed, if the book has any special character compared
to others in the field, it is that it is rooted in experimental fact.
Second, Mr. Wong's intuition notwithstand-
ing, the benchmark experiments are indeed

vs Reality" in Vol.11 No.11, which responded to my letter"Margins of Reality" in Vol.11 No.7,
Itelephoned Mr. Wong to ask whether he had even seen the book Margins of Reality, which his letter had criticized so violently.
He hadn't, and said that this didn't matter because my letter had described the book quite well. Ibought some extra copies and sent him one. Subsequently he 'phoned, and we had a pleasant conversation. The dogmatic tone evi-

microelectric in nature. The primary noise dent in his letter was now moderated, and he

source is acommercial microelectric board agreed that he would read the book thoroughly.

based on thermal electron migration across a Incidentally, Tom Wong's call had inter-

reverse-volted solid-state junction. Obviously rupted my reading of the Nov. 22 New York

some of the downstream circuitry involves Times. Ireturned to the front page of that

larger-scale signals to count and display the day "Science Times" section and saw this head-

effects, but this is hardly acompromise of the line: "3 Scientists Say Travel in Time Isn't So

basic process. While we have not specifically Far Out."

included 5V doorbells in our assortment of

Ithought to myself, here on the one hand is

feedback modes, very similar effects have been 'Rim Wong, who cannot conceive the possibil-

obtained on various pseudorandom circuits, ity of minds affecting microelectronic events,

on amacroscopic random mechanical cascade, and here on the other hand are respected mem-

and on certain analog optical and mechanical bers of the academic establishment publishing


apaper (in Physical Review Letters) with acom-

Third, the experimental results displayed in plex mathematical analysis to establish the pos-

the book are not "selected" in the pejorative sibility of "wormholes" in space that would

sense Mr. Wong implies. They are quite repre- permit time travel and upset the apparent laws

sentative samples of ahuge database that is of causality.

summarized in the appendix, and has been pre-

The Times says this paper was written by

sented in full in an extensive sequence of ar- Drs. Kip S. Thorne and Ulvi Yurtsever of the

chival publications and supplementary tech- California Institute of Technology, and Dr.

nical reports, fully referenced in the book's Michael S. Morris of the University of Wiscon-

bibliographies. In particular, seven referenced sin, after ayear of study and consultation with

publications, totaling 170 pages, have appeared other astrophysicists. Dr. Robert M. Wald of the

in "reputable" (sic) engineering, physics, and University of Chicago told the Times that "han-

psychology journals, while some 25 technical dles" similar to the above-mentioned "worm-

reports, totaling over 2000 pages, have been holes" are known to exist on the quantum

distributed to amailing list of over 1300. These level, and that "events within the 'quantum

reports contain every shred of data--positive, foam' can be manipulated ...producing effects

negative, or inconclusive--acquired in this observable in ...the everyday world we can

program to the date of issue. Alisting of these see and touch." And Dr. Thorne wrote that the

reports, as well as the reports themselves, is possibility of time and space travel through

available to any interested respondent.

such wormholes depends on whether the

Stereophile, March 1989


"averaged weak energy conditions" can be violated, which might be determined by aprogram of experiments. It is interesting that, in
Margins of Reality, authors Jahn and Dunne also turn to quantum theory to explain psi phenomena.
Time travel through wormholes seems more outré than psi influence on random microelectronic events, yet always it is psi that most raises the hackles of the technical/academic establishment. In 1956, the magazine Astounding Science Fiction published an article on the Hieronymous Machine, aPeter-Belt-reminiscent psi device that had been granted aUS Patent (#2,482,773). Reacting to reader's comments, ASFs then-Editor, the celebrated John W. Campbe11, 2wrote in the March 1957 issue:
"Our Western culture is the only culture that does not accept the reality of psi powers in one form or another. ..[it] has rejected psi powers as part of reality for about two centuries or so [and] is very, very sure they are impossible,

2It was reading the pint John W. Campbell's editorials in the

',Os-- yes. Iam that old--that stimulated my interest in mag-

azine editing as away of life. And am Ialone in thinking that

though Astounding may have become more "modem- when

it metamorphosed into Analog in the early '60s, it also lost

acertain something?


[and is sure that] the history of the preceding 100,000 years is all wrong."
Tom Wong's letter suggested Icancel my Stereopbile subscription, buy a$499 (or perhaps $299) rack system, and upgrade it by psi. Now he may suggest that Idiscard the rack and use awormhole to visit Beethoven playing his "Hammerklavier" sonata. 3
Edison Price New York, NY
Reality & Wong
Editor: After reading JAs comment following my letter "Pseudoscience vs Reality" in Vol.11 Nall, I was alittle startled to learn that, contrary to my letter, Mr. John Crabbe was far from joking when he made the allusion to apossible psychokinetic process affecting the behavior of audio circuitry as apossible explanation for people hearing differences when there should
3 And, of course, to church in Leipzig on Sundays to hear Johann Sebastian play the organ. Maybe Stereopbile should sign an exclusive contract with NASA (for Iassume it will be they who will monopolize wormhole travel, the government being the only organ iZat ion capable of funding the creation of the necessary rotating black hole) to offer such tours to its readers.

be none, and vice versa. Imay have been under the naive impression that any primary hypothesis should be the most probable and normative explanation, not the most improbable and paranormal. Or perhaps, this time, Mr.
Crabbe reached alittle too deep into the bottom of his hypothesis barrel. Even the infamous Enid Lumley at TAS would probably keep this one to herself in the ultra-lunatic fringe. This whole affair parallels somewhat loosely what Isaac Asimov once lamented: What's obvious to one person isn't always so obvious to another.
I'm also more and more convinced that besides consistently churning out "inconclu-
sive results," the scientific investigation into the paranormal is also consistently involved in scandals concerning its propriety. According to abook titled ASkeptic's Handbook ofParapsychology, edited by Paul Kurtz, Chairman of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP), parapsychological research, even on the rare occasion when results are claimed, is riddled with flawed scientific protocol, personal bias, data manipulation, and outright fraud (mostly in the test subjects). So many graphic examples of

research deficiencies are given in this book (including the particular REG psychokinetic experiments that Mr. Price was raving about-- see postscript) that, after areading, even committed occultists would probably have to squint harder than Clint Eastwood to see their mystical and religious auras--if they don't lose grips trying to read something too concrete and factual for their minds. After athorough historic analysis of spiritualists, mediums, and psychics, Paul Kurtz made this concluding remark: "The same psychological processes seem to be present in our age and earlier ages. There is often
willful deceit and fraud on the part of psychics or mediums, and the hunger to believe in a spiritualistic or paranormal universe and super psychics on the part of credulous believers. The more things change, the more they stay the same!" It's quite understandable why parapsy-
chology still has ahard time making the ranks among other sciences.
JA's comment that "one man's pseudoscience is another's belief structure" was, perhaps, too tempered. In rough street slang, how about: one man's Inillsbit is another's wasted time and money--or should it be one woman's, when referring to acertain actress who is laughing


There can be but one justification for amore expensive TV monitor . Amore life-like picture That's why Tera conceived and engineered the Model 629a --winner
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all the way to the bank for her various advocacies in the name of metaphysics. Evidently, with even lightweight BS garnering such market potential, there must be hordes of real suckers for star appeal and fantasy, with reason and realism not even taking aback seat in their minds. Figuratively speaking, human cognitive functions must be taking permanent residence in the hearts of some people rather than their brains. But, sorry, no apology; I'm confident that being judgmental, in this case, is ademonstration of moral resolve--not prejudice.
Actually, my gripe is really toward people of high visibility who are seriously dogmatic on matters that are clearly wrong, illogical, stupid, ambiguous, or (bear with me) one-dimensional. Riled by all these easy targets, Isometimes feel like askeptic who has been turned into ahitman, pitted against the suppliers of unchecked ammunition destined to the terrorist nation of charlatans, and sanctioned by what seems to be the law's deliberate policy of vagueness on these issues.
In anticipation of those who will argue that what's wrong, stupid, or illogical is never obvious or "black and white," please pardon my omission of any immediate or graphic illustration to the contrary. Truthfully, what's really important isn't in the arguing or disagreeing itself, but, as Isaac Asimov once wrote: "We owe it to ourselves as iewecuble human beings, as thinking human beings, to do what we can to make humanity rational."
Certainly, there are those who believe that groups such as the Flat Earth Society are merely under another "belief structure," and that those who believe the Holocaust never occurred are just expressing their honest opinions. Perhaps I'm really vehemently opposed to the "L" word (spelled "1 -i -b-e-r-a-1 -i -s-m") and can't get over the self-evident fact that there are still plain lies and half-truths in this free (and responsible?) country, and that everything isn't merely a harmless "matter of opinion." We may have uncensored pluralism galore, but no real consensus to even separate night from day. By now, it's undeniable that I'm not an adherent of social relativism, either.
In Charles L. Reid's book, Choice and Action: An Introduction to Ethics, he wrote: "One argument against sociological or descriptive relativism is that the appearance of dissimilarities is diminished by noticing how some apparent disagreements in values are really dis-

agreements over questions offact - (my emphases). Then logically, any apparent disagreement in value this subjectivist (yours truly) has with JA could be diminished by some universalizable facts. I'm confident we can both agree on one fact: We want Stereophile to improve and continue to be amagazine of the highest journalistic integrity!?
Tom Wong Alhambra, CA PS: On the night of November 7, 1988, Mr. Edison Price called me from New York City to question whether Ihad actually read the book Margins of Reality that Icriticized in my aforementioned letter to Stereophile. Igave him an honest answer, and we exchanged addresses and telephone numbers. However, Iwould like to point out that reading or not reading Mr. Price's book is not really germane to my criticism of his book-recommendation letter to this magazine. Ithought Iwas very clear when using his references to the book and, if not, I make no apology for expressing my opinion of pseudoscientific practices and their protagonists in general
More of afrontal assault?
Editor. Mr. Atkinson's rebuff of Mr. Holt's argument ("As We See It," November and October '88, respectively) seemed more afrontal assault than awell-reasoned reply. But for whatever reason, the reply misses the point. Taken by itself, Mr. Atkinson's position is simple enough, and undoubtedly quite correct. People, singly as consumers and hobbyists, or collectively sitting on a"relatively formal listening" jury, can and will make value judgments about the quality and likeability of the reproduced sound they hear. I've done that every time I've purchased anew component. Iassume everyone else has, too.
But the position of areviewer is distinctly different from my own as consumer and hobbyist. The reviewer must provide his reader with an intelligibly stated standard by which he, the reviewer, will judge all components coming before him. Your magazine rejects number crunching as the objective standard. In its place, Mr. Holt suggests that the standard is unamplified acoustic music in its performance venue. Though not without some faults which Mr. Atkinson highlights, it is astandard with which Ican live Certainly it is far superior

Stereophile, March 1989




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to a"standard" based solely on each reviewer's unique visceral response.
Even if the purely visceral reviewer is able to recreate his evaluation two months later and still arrive at the same conclusion (which is by no means anecessity), his reasons and results are useless to me, the reader. Whether his listening material is "totally artificial" rock or asolo violin, Ishall be no better informed. In the end, all that reviewer can tell me is that he liked or disliked what he heard: that the sound of the electric guitar seemed to come from aproper position on the stage, that the effect was quite dramatic as the sound was made to cascade across the listening stage at some propitious musical moment, that the component under consideration reproduced these engineered effects well, or better than the Brand X component he reviewed or listened to the month before. At best, all I, the reader, can do with such areview is to reconstruct the reviewer's test and see if Iagree. Unfortunately, Ihaven't the time, the facilities, or availability of components to do that. While Iwill surely listen to components Imight buy, Iuse reviews to help narrow the field.
Mr. Holt, on the other hand, offers me observations about reproduced sound which can fit areference Ialready have. He may tell me that the music is recessed, as if Iwere in Row R instead of Row D; that the timbre of the cellos is true, but that the sound of massed strings is abit more brittle than what one would hear in live performance Imay not agree with his conclusions once Ihear the component under consideration (any more than Imight agree with the visceral reviewer). But--and it's abig "but" --over ashort time Ican learn what the more objective reviewer considers the standard, and thereafter more fairly judge his reviews and the components he considers. Imay learn that what JGH says sound like real violas to me sound abit fiat, or that what JA (if Imay make so bold)says sound like real violins to me sound abit bright. But with that information Ican evaluate their reviews and thereby more fairly judge the components they critique.
The main point of Mr. Holt's October article was that manufacturers have forsaken the standard of live music as the goal to be achieved by sound reproduction. Iagree, the new sound of components and source material is too glitzy, too bright, too piercing to be pleasant.
Mr. Atkinson counters by asserting that re-

cordings themselves are an art form, and perhaps he is right (though the quality of that art form may not be all he asserts it to be). Yet reference to anew art form creates more problems than it solves.
Consider the position of areviewer of modern design art (which others may call graphic or commercial art). Modern design art has only itself as areference. Each piece must stand or fall exclusively on how it makes the viewer feel. All areviewer of any such piece can tell his audience is how the work affected him and why he believes he was thus affected. Even if he compares the subject work to another painting previously reviewed and seen by the reader, that reader is no better informed. Every work stands alone, every work is its own standard. Even if the reviewer and Iagree that of all the myriad possibilities we only like modern design paintings which fall within the boundaries of possibilities A-G, Istill can judge nothing by his review. He may think it fits within A-G and Imay not. There is no outside standard by which to measure. So, as areader looking for guidance, should Itravel to afaraway city to see painting Xor hear component Y, Iam still left adrift.
There is a wonderful record of modern music by Kreiger (CRI SD 483) featuring electrically produced sounds miraculously propelled around the room. Ihave listened to this record on many systems and enjoyed it on each. But which system brings out the sound closest to the composer's intent, Ihave no way of knowing. There is awonderful record by Arturo Delmoni called Songs My Mother Taught Me (Northstar DS0004), featuring aviolin and
piano. The latter is arecord by which Ican fairly judge asystem or component because I know what it's supposed to sound like--and for me, sounding like live is what it's all about.
Iintend no disrespect when Isuggest that Mr. Atkinson abandon Magical Ring as atest record and use only records with averifiable source sound. Even if no source material or reproduction equipment can ever fully realize the original, and even if the hall acoustics are as unknown as the brand of fiddle, at least I have areference, one which has stood the test of time and is likely to survive into the future. For himself, I'm sure Mr. Atkinson will never buy acomponent or system which makes Magical Ring sound bad. But that, of course, is a decision he makes as hobbyist and consumer,

Stereophile, March 1989


not as areviewer.

Hank R. Bernstein

Ialso find each issue filled with some remark-

Warwick, MD able letters from readers who are passionate

about one or another aspect of areviewer's

See 'As We See It,' p.5, forfurther discussion praise or pan of aproduct or musical perfor-

on this thorny subject.

--JA mance. The variety of commentary reminds

me of the sort of random musings one finds on

Not Class A Cable?

public walls; "gramofitti," if you will. Now, it


looks like it's my turn to jump into the mire.

After reading TAS for 8years, Ilike Stereophile.

In his Vol.11 No.6 review of the DCM Time

Iam tired, however, of seeing the speaker cable Frame TF1000 loudspedce4 InotedJÁs descrip-

report each month. And Idon't agree with Mr. tion of aconstant-velocity stream of air, capa-

Olsher's giving the TARA Labs cable aClass A ble of being produced only by afan, as repre-

rating. Ilistened to them at aGNP dealer in sentative of an acoustic "DC" component. The

California, where they sounded good, but reader most likely would infer from this that

when Iwent back to the MIT Shotguns Iwas aloudspeaker is not capable of reproducing a

back in Class A. More bass, more air. Even both voltage step function, which has aDC compo-

dealers at the same time said the TARA Labs was nent. This reminded me of an article which

not Class Aspeaker cable. That's what Ihate appeared in alate 1977 edition of Audio. The

about those guys at TAS--they're always right. topic then centered around the behavior of air

So IA-B'd some Radio Shack 18-gauge solid- as atransmission medium. Discussing ahome-

core cable with the original Monster. In the brew acoustical polarity meter, the author

bass, Monster won. The upper mids and highs described air as a"capacitive" medium which

on the Radio Shack won. So Itied them togeth- time-differentiates waveforms, producing, for

er--bingo! Lows-mids-highs jump out of asys- example, positive and negative pressure spikes

tem like you would not believe Igive it aClass instead of squarewaves from aloudspeaker

Bor C. Just twist the 18 gauge on the Monster being fed asquarewave signal. As proof, he

tightly. It took me three days to break the cables cited his experience with attempting to repro-

in. Stranded and solid sounds good. Together. duce a120Hz squarewave from an unbaffled

No matter what the engineers say.

8" loudspeaker, and concluded that this was

Bill Glenn not possible due to the capacitor effect (sic) of

Ridgecrest, CA the air.

What he completely failed to consider is that

Speakers, fans, & DC

the low-frequency response of areal, piston-


type loudspeaker, unbaffled, looks exactly like

Congratulations on your fine and thoroughly aperfect differentiator, with afarfield pressure

entertaining publication. Not only do Ienjoy response (vs frequency) of +6dB/octave (above

the excellent equipment reviews, Iuse them its fundamental resonance). 4As aresult, be-

as practical guides for purchases and recom- cause this system radiates greater power at high

mendations. Ibelieve Ihave greatly benefited frequencies than at low frequencies, the wave-

from your reviewers' attention-getting com- form takes on a"spiked" characteristic attrib-

mentary on component performance on an, utable to the high-frequency leading and trail-

er.. .absolute scale, as well as on more mun- ing edges of asquarewave. But, more to the

dane issues like cost-performance. For exam- matter at hand, the corollary conclusion er-

ple, several Stereophile recommendations I roneously drawn was that aloudspeaker could

have purchased are Celestion loudspeakers, the never produce a"DC" component, because a

VP! HW19 Il (ET-2 arm), and the PS Audio 4.6 capacitor (the air) will not pass DC.

preamp (with optional power supply). Iside

This brings me back to the point of the fol-

with JA about the SL600s: although they may lowing, rather lengthy, discussion, and that is,

not be the last word in analytical detail, they what is "DC" in an acoustical sense? Is it a

are consistently the most musical speakers I constant-velocity mass flow, or ambient air

have ever had the pleasure to enjoy (for almost pressure, or neither? Part of the confusion here

four years now), and have served my catholic is the sloppy manner in which both acousti-

musical tastes extremely well (subwoofered at

80Hz, Imight add).

4Acoustics. Beranek, McGraw·Hill (1954), 9.210.


Stereophile, March 1989

dans and lay persons use acoustic terminology What, for example, is meant by "particle velocity," "acoustic pressure," and "sound"? It wouldn't do here to take the time required to develop the acoustic wave equation and the Navier-Stokes fluid flow equations in order to point out their substantial differences. Let me begin, instead, by resorting to asimple description of what happens in asimple, one-dimensional plane acoustic wave.
Air is an elastic, compressible fluid. Two things immediately derive from this: 1) The restoring force responsible for propagating a wave in air is simply the nondirectional elastic opposition created when afluid is compressed. The wave propagates by virtue of the continuous, homogeneous nature of the air, which allows energy to be transferred from one molecule to another. 2) Because fluids cannot support shear loads, sound waves in air are necessarily longitudinal waves; the molecules transmitting the wave move back and forth (oscillate) in the direction of wave propagation, producing alternating regions of compression (higher than static air density) and rarefaction (lower density).
Aplane wave is the simplest type of motion propagated through fluids, and worthy of discussion here as it represents the type of wavefront associated with any sound source at large acoustic distances from that source. A plane wave may readily be produced in afluid confined by arigid structure, such as apipe, by the action of avibrating piston (eg, loudspeaker) placed at one end of the pipe. If this pipe is constant in cross-section and infinitely long (or terminated by aperfect absorber), the relationships between particle velocity of an elemental mass of air, the density change, and resultant pressure change can be obtained by use of the one-dimensional acoustic wave equation.
In anutshell, the wave equation indicates that the particle velocity of avolume element (an imaginary deformable box) containing air molecules is the direct result of acceleration of that elemental mass due to an imbalance of forces (a pressure gradient), which in turn is due to compression of the air by the loudspeaker. If the loudspeaker were apiston with unlimited stroke and constant velocity, the instantaneous particle velocity would eventually equal that of the piston itself. But since the loudspeaker reverses its direction, and produces ararefaction for every compression, the

air particles in the elemental mass reverse their direction and move through their equilibrium point to some new value of displacement. And so the cycle continues as long as the piston oscillates. The average (actually root- meansquare) particle velocity is that value assriciated with the oscillatory movement of the elemental air mass about its undistributed, or rest, position.
On the average, there is no net change in the mass of the particle element, but because the volume of the element changes due to the compressible nature of the air, there occurs achange in air density above or below the static ambient value, and acorresponding change in pressure above or below its static value of about 14.7 lbs/in2,multiplied by aconstant related to the specific heat nature of diatomic gases. The root-mean-square of this oscillating pressure change is the value of acoustic pressure.' This is not the same as dynamic (momentum-induced) pressure generated by amoving fluid, such as could be assumed from JA's use of the fan analogy. For that, we need the aforementioned Navier-Stokes equation.
As aresult of all this mechanical activity, the energy radiated by the loudspeaker is propagated to infinity by the wave motion in the air, and eventually converted to heat by molecular friction. Sound radiation, therefore, is a damping mechanism which removes energy from vibrating structures. But if sound is energy transmitted by wave motion of amechanical medium, wherein is the "sound" produced by astatic value of local air pressure, je, "DC"? Returning to the discussion of the Time Window, it would appear that the only sound associated with the reproduction of avoltage step function is that radiated at the instantaneous occurrence of the function. 6 This leads to another question, namely, what happens to the energy delivered to aloudspeaker supplied with aDC voltage? The answer would seem to be that it is all dissipated as heat within the voice-coil. But there's an additional term that should be mentioned. If that loudspeaker were radiating into aperfectly sealed, constantvolume enclosure, the air-pressure rise in the enclosure due to the incremental change in vol-
5Conversion to sound pressure level (Lp or SPL) is alogarithmic operation using the sound pressure associated with human hearing sensitivity as areference value, with the answer in decibels.
6The mathematician Dirac had afew things to say about step functions; where is he when we need him?

Stereophile, March 1989


urne produced by the speaker, minus thermal losses, could be considered an energy source upon removal of voltage from the speaker. In that sense, air can act as acapacitor-like energystorage medium, but not in an acoustical sense.
Stephen Coyne is basically correct in his letter in Stereopbile Vol.]] No.11 in stating that "DC" is represented by a semipermanent change in the barometric pressure, but Idisagree slightly with acouple of his points: 1) Whether or not aspeaker itself can produce DC is not a function of the room in which it resides; rather, as Isee it, it is related to its ability to produce anet permanent change in air volume (hence the density) of an enclosed air space (a constant control volume). Clearly, per Mr. Coyne's discussion of driver displacement due to an applied voltage or current, this is possible with any airtight infinite baffle or acoustic suspension system in aroom. It is just as clearly not possible with reflex-loaded drivers or dipole panel radiators, as the net volume change within the control volume is zero. In actual application, of course, the "control volume" of alistening room is not acoustically defined at zero frequency because of atypical room's inability to support astatic pressure differential with respect to surrounding rooms. Mr. Coyne stated it more simply: rooms are "leaky."
2) The air-particle displacement due to an acoustic plane wavefront is very small, even at high sound-pressure levels. Air molecules, under vibration due to an acoustic pressure gradient, simply do not move several feet except in the immediate vicinity of extremely nonlinear events such as rocket engine burns or warhead explosions. Also, for agiven soundpressure level, mean particle displacement is independent of frequency and wavelength. This is probably not intuitive to anyone who has observed the relative cone displacements of awoofer producing 30Hz and atweeter producing 5kHz. But it must be remembered that the majority of the particle motion in the nearfield of asmall piston radiator (small compared to the wavelength of the sound radiated) is not related to radiated acoustic power, or to sound pressure in the farfield. Rather, it is the reactive component of fluid motion which returns its stored energy to the driver during the completion of the pressure cycle. 7
As if Ihaven't gone on long enough, let me
- But don't bother to tell ghat to Pioneer's ad agencv.

offer one more counter to the "fan" analogy. Per my earlier discussion, sound pressure is produced only if, due to the particle velocity, there results an incremental change in elemental volume with no net mass flow. Afan, perforce, produces amass flow or it ain't afan. Further, JA is correct in stating that, ceterisparibus, acoustic particle velocity is proportional to piston velocity, but particle velocity is not per se the determinant of intensity, sound power radiation. Acoustic power, and correspondingly intensity, are products of the in-phase components of pressure and velocity. In the near-field of aloudspeaker (le, [2Pi xrilambda] is much less than 1, where ris the distance from the source) the velocity component can be very large, but the phase shift between velocity and pressure is also large. The result is that only a small percentage of the available air velocity contributes to the radiated power, and pressure in the farfield. This is easy to see by observing the large cone displacements (and hence, velocities) associated with an unbaffled direct radiator, which at low frequencies produces only aminute amount of radiated power.
lb conclude, Ibelieve it's important to examine some of these issues if only to increase our general awareness of the science (and art) of sound reproduction.
Dan Lilley Indianapolis, IN
DC, speakers, & fans
Editor: Speakers hypothetically can produce DC if DC is defined as astandard acoustical (longitudinal, pressure) wave of infinite period and infinitesimal frequency.
The perspective of Stephen Coyne's letter (published Vol.11 No.11) is absolutely correct in that if aspeaker cone in an airtight enclosure becomes displaced from its resting position in an airtight room, then the pressure in that room will rise above or fall below its initial pressure, and will stay at the altered pressure until the cone returns to its initial position.
The fan-produced airstream is apoor analogy to aDC wave, because wave motion itself does not result in anet transport of mass (matter) in the direction of wave propagation. The airstream itself certainly transports matter, and if the molecules of air impact an eardrum or other pressure sensor, pressure will be detected because of the conversion of air-molecule


Stereophile, March 1989

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momentum into force over the area of the sensor, but so would force exerted by afinger or aweight. That same pressure sensor would respond equivalently to the DC wave produced by adisplaced speaker cone. Just because all mechanisms elicit aresponse from the sensor doesn't mean all mechanisms are the same.
According to Colloms, in High Performance Loudspeakers, the force on the speaker coil is F= Bli, where B is the flux density, 1is the length of wire in the flux, and iis the current. So, aDC current (resulting from aDC voltage) causes aforce that is constant until the wire of the coil starts to come out of the gap. Equilibrium occurs when the force divided by the cone area equals the external pressure. At that point, the cone displacement is constant, as is the pressure in the room.
Amore rigorous way of describing what JA was taught might be that voltage change, (or, rather, current change) leads to adiaphragm position change, which leads achange in position of air molecules (particles). This change in position requires acceleration and velocity. It forces molecules together (if the diaphragm moves into the room) and creates alocalized region of higher-than-ambient pressure. If the voltage reverses, as in asignal with frequency greater than zero, the molecules adjacent to the diaphragm are pulled apart, and alow-pressure region is established behind the high-pressure region, etc., etc., and the sequence of alternating high-pressure and low-pressure regions propagates into the room according to the physics of diffraction.
In the case of astep voltage and current, the initial voltage change causes abroad-band high-pressure (or low-pressure) pulse to be propagated, followed by aconstant maintenance of pressure (high or low)--a DC pressure. Particles initially move as aconsequence of diaphragm movement, but after the initial pressure transition, they have no net movement (just random, thermal motion). Using your own words, the particles move only as voltage or current changes. If the voltage alternates, particles move back and forth; if the voltage is constant, particles don't move.
Ernest Feleppa, Ph.D. New York, NY
Ithink my misunderstanding arose from a consideration of the fact that a DC voltage applied to adrive-unit produces aconstant-

velocity motion until, as indicated by Dr

Feleppa, the voice-coil moves out of the mag-

net gap. But the fact remains that a loud-

speaker which acts as a high-pass filter of

some order or another depending on its prin-

ciple of operation, cannot reproduce the sonic

equivalent of aDC voltage step.


Phase noise?
Editor: Ihave been much intrigued by an advertisement for MIT cables, printed in your July 1988 issue (pp.54, 55) and doubtless in other issues. In this ad, two graphs purport to show "phase noise" performance of MIT's M1-330 cable compared with an anonymous brand of solidcore cable In my very considerable experience of testing audio cables, using pulse and sinewave methods up to 250MHz, Ihave never
seen anything like the illustrated effects, so I set about trying to duplicate them.
Somewhat misleadingly, there is no scale shown directly on the graphs, but those familiar with digital storage oscilloscopes will notice
the datum and cursor markers and values (A, T, dA, and dT), from which Ideduce that the scale on both is 50mV per division vertical and 20Ons per division horizontal.
Further, there is no clue as to the transmitting and terminating impedances at the ends of the cables, which, especially at these frequencies (up to 30MHz at least), is vital infor-
mation for interpreting the graphs. My guess is that the pulse is sent from alow impedance, roughly equal to the characteristic impedance of the cable, and is being received in ahigh impedance.
Itherefore set up atest using avariable pulse
generator (output impedance 50 ohms, risetime 5ns), and two oscilloscopes, one a100MHz,
400Ms/s digital storage, and the other a250MHz analog. Cables tested were two types: RG58 coaxial (50 ohm characteristic impedance) and QED 79 speaker cable (PVC insulation, about 80 ohm characteristic impedance), both samples about 1.2m long.
With signals of acouple of volts or so, Isaw nothing remarkable except abit of ringing due to the mistermination and the poor dielectric of the QED cable. With the QED cable only, however, when Ilowered the signal level to the 150mV or so of the MIT tests, Ifound all sorts of pulse trains, principally consisting of up to
1ps of 20MHz at up to 60mV peak-to-peak

Stereophile, March 1989


rMUM Jleilt PHI! .4111», most ra nsparent cone speakers Ihave heard. ...As far as I'm concerned, it redefines the art of miniature speaker design. John Atkinson. Stereophile, Sep 1988.
This is without doubt awholly remarkable loudspeaker, and astunning endorsement of the Well developed metal cone bass units. ...on current showing the state of the art miniature, bar none. the author's knowledge, the most awesomely dynamic and articulate miniature ever made. Alvin Gold, Hi-Fi Choice, Jun 1988

speakers are arevelation. Their dynamic performar in advance of anything I've heard before. ...And what aproduct, Few new companies in the hi-fi field can boast aspeaker that leapfrogs existing references and sets new standards of technical and musical excellence. David Praket Hi-Fi Answers, Mar 1988.
The AE-1 has an 88dB/W sensitivity, and is designed to handle --and Imean handle-- something like 200W. But those are just numbers --the reality is quite extraordinary. ...As astonishing as the dynamics of the AE-1 are, so too is its bass extension, which has depth and fullness quite out of line for aspeaker this size. Alvin Gold, Stereophile, Aug 1988.

· --

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f111111r '1151 LWi. 'r

amplitude. "Good heavens," Ithought, "this must be the phase noise MIT is going on about." Ifigured this must be due to some funny characteristic of PVC dielectric.
Ithen noticed that the pulse trains followed acyclic pattern, the pattern repeating every 25.6p,s. This rang warning bells, since 4' cables do not do things on atimescale of 25ps. At first Isuspected Iwas picking up aradio station, but turning off the DSO killed the signal completely and left clean pulses from the generator (still with ringing, of course). Clearly, the interference was radio-frequency emissions from the DSO. This ties in with the fact that the shielded cable did not pick it up. Iwas now left with asignal which, try as Imight, did not show the "pretransient noise" shown on the MIT graphs.
Since MIT is presumably not claiming that something is happening before the signal arrives at their oscilloscope, the noise they show must start as the first part of the signal arrives, the main part arriving after adelay of over 100ns, equivalent to 20m of cable. So three conclusions suggest themselves:
I) MIT is suffering from some form of RH

problem, as described above; 2) Just to the left of the graphs, the signal has
just undergone astep change and the phase noise is the resultant ringing--undesirable, but awell-understood effect and easily cured by impedance matching;
3) MIT really has found acable so bad that it suffers from nonuniform dispersion and delay exceeding 10Ons/m, and some interesting properties besides.
Can MIT comment and perhaps elucidate their tests? Ialso find their comments on time alignment and phase correctness very hard to swallow; Ican demonstrate phase-correct signal transmission down 20m of RG58 at 60MHz, so Iam not quite sure what MIT cable is supposed to add to the fund of human knowledge. Likewise the other cable firms advertising "low phase shift" and "intertransient silence."
Richard L. Black Sevenoaks, Kent, UK
We sent acopy of Mr Black's letter to Bruce Brisson of MITfor comment, but we didn't receive areply in time to appear in this issue.

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Stereophile, March 1989

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INDUSTRY memllaateleletiatee

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/ /Al

USA: Peter W. Mitchell
Undy's home-recordable CD, discussed in this space last July, is proceeding toward its commercial introduction about ayear from now. The patented dye polymer coating that is the basis of the re-recordable CD was developed by Optical Data Inc. (ODI), aTandy-owned subsidiary in Oregon. Teijin Ltd., amajor Japanese synthetic materials manufacturer, has been licensed by ODI to produce blank discs for the system, and according to Infoworld (a computer industry newspaper), Teijin is working with Japanese hardware manufacturers to produce the disk-drive mechanisms. The technology has also been licensed by Philips/DuPont Optical (PD0), owner of giant CD pressing plants in North Carolina and Europe.
After delaying and strangling the marketing of DAT recorders, major record companies are
now gearing up to oppose the recordable CD. In any case, ODI expects the new medium to be abig success in computers, where each $5 blank CD will be able to store up to 500 megabytes of data, equivalent to adozen hard disks or hundreds of floppy disks. So in the long run, even if the record industry finds away to block the sale of audio-only CD recorders, computerCD recorders (and perhaps video CD recorders) will be readily available, and separate adaptors will enable them to handle audio signals.

CES: The View From a Spectrum Analyzer
.1n c,pecially bountiful crop of new loud-


speakers sprouted at this year's Winter Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Elsewhere in this issue you'll find CES reports by the usual crew of Stereophile reviewers and editors. Idecided to join the reporting fray this year, but with agimmick. In addition to listening to loudspeakers, Idid aquick measurement of frequency response using pink noise and a portable Ivie IE-30A real-time spectrum analyzer. Such measurements usually correlate well with my own perceptions of aspeaker's tonal accuracy; it will be interesting to see whether they illuminate the comments of other listeners.
The Ivie displays the response on an array of LEDs, with ahorizontal resolution of onethird octave and avertical resolution that can
be set to 1, 2, or 3dB. The 1dB setting is the most useful, since differences of 1dB can be heard, but Iused the 2dB setting (with atotal range of ±12dB) in order to be sure of encompassing the amplitude range of every speaker. In addition to the 13 curves shown here, some other measurements were taken but were erased from the analyzer's memory before being copied onto paper.
Each speaker was measured at adistance of 1to 1.5 meters on-axis, close enough to minimize room effects, though Isuspect the 60Hz peak in many of the curves may be aroom problem. Because of the need to do the measurement quickly without obstructing the flow of CES dealer traffic into the demo rooms, pink noise was fed to both speakers in apair, and either the left or right speaker was measured-- the one whose response appeared less likely to be affected by reflections from walls and furniture. Inevitably the microphone picked up some off-axis output from the other speaker in the pair, especially at low frequencies where most speakers are omnidirectional; this accounts for the elevated bass and low midrange in some of the curves.
In speakers with vertically arrayed drivers, the response often varies drastically with height. Most of the CES demo rooms were set
up with rows of upright chairs, putting listeners' ears higher than asoft sofa or easy chair would. Noticing my measurement, acouple of manufacturers specifically mentioned that their speakers were optimized for aheight of 36"; but when demonstrating with chairs that yield
ahigher listener position, it's up to them to raise or tilt their speakers to compensate. Since my goal here was to measure what people heard, the

mike was held at the height at which we listened. The TDL representative asserted that since
his speaker is dead flat in the top octave, the droop above 10kHz in the analyzer's curve must be an error in my measuring microphone Ican't rule out that possibility, since the mike hasn't been back to the factory for recalibration in over ayear. So these curves are best viewed as ameasure of relative, not absolute, response.
The main thing to look for: asmooth curve that can be fitted to astraight line, especially in the midrange, with up-and-down deviations of no more than 2dB. Aslight downward tilt
reflects the low- frequency reinforcement provided by off-axis sound from the other speaker in the pair. But many speakers exhibited amore pronounced tilt, reflecting atendency of speaker designers to favor amellower, more "musical" tonal balance that offsets the brightness of recordings.
For convenience, the flattest curves are plotted first. Subjective comments are based on tests with afew familiar CDs (including one recorded by Brad Meyer and myself, Titanic 162, with James Johnson playing Bach on the Flentrop organ at Harvard's Busch-Reisinger Museum). Ialso checked each speaker's deep bass using one of the Pierre Verany test CDs (PV-784031) described here in September. Track 20 of this disc contains rapidly warbled sinewave tones at regularly spaced frequencies from 16Hz up.
One caveat should be noted: Iconsidered excluding PSB from the following report, since Ioccasionally write for the company. (Like Len Feldman and Martin Colloms, Iderive part of my income from consulting and writing for manufacturers.) But since Ihad no part in designing PSB's speakers and have no direct
stake in their success, it seems fairer to mention potential conflicts of interest than to exclude products that might interest readers.


Stereophile, March 1989

IIII1111 1 II111111 1 11111111 1
-11141 tea

1 1111111 1 I1111111 1 11II1111 1 111


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Allison Al.1311 \e'·
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Fig.1 1/ 4 -octave response of 13 loudspeakers, measured at the UCES

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Thiel GSM (52450/pr): The featured speaker in the Thiel room, and my first opportunity to test it. Exceptionally fiat response, with sound to match: clear and detailed, with excellent imaging. The 3.5's only important limitation is its inability to handle deep bass at high levels,
necessary to reproduce Mahler climaxes. At levels above 90dB, severe distortion set in below 50Hz. Reportedly this will be remedied in the CS5.
PSB CS 260 ($1100 /pr) and PSB 40 Mk.0 ($400/pr): Both models have transparent, airy imaging, with accurate string tone and remarkable resolution of detail in complex sounds. Distortion was noted below 50Hz in the CS (formerly Cirrus) 260. The lack of deep bass in the budget-priced 40 Mk.11 is disguised by a subjectively pleasing midbass hump.
TDL Monitor ($4600 /pr): An impressive
English transmission-line system with superbly balanced sound, excellent definition of cornplex textures, and moderately airy imaging.
Highs extended rather than sweet. Good dynamics and very clean bass, with low distortion
down to 25Hz and useful output to 16Hz. Slimmer than the TDL Reference Standard that made astrong impression at the New York Stereo-

¡chile show. Snell B ($3500/pr) and Snell K/11 (5465/pr):
The prototype Bmade apowerful initial impression, though the speaker needs refinement and is several months away from production. Bass was awesomely deep and clean, subjectively
flat to 16Hz at high levels without distortion. The treble was abit too bright and crisply etched for my taste; interestingly, this is not reflected in the on-axis analyzer curve. The K/II (curve not shown), anew version of Snell's smallest and cheapest spealcec was demonstrated behind large grille frames and produced a pleasingly large sonic image. But its tonal balance was too lean; apparently it needs the bass support of near- the- wall installation.
Sumo Aria ($3000/pr): Large panel speakers driven by avoice-coil, designed by Canadian Paul Burton (not to be confused with Paul Barton of PSB, also Canadian). Gorgeously musical sound, with liquid midrange and sweet highs. Burton's own curves show the 10kHz droop, 16kHz peak, and amidrange irregularity that he expects to iron out soon. Subjectively the
speaker's only important flaw was its inability to play loud. Claimed sensitivity is 86dB, but that seems optimistic; loud peaks appeared to

Stereophile, March 1989


PURTITTELell years mire iwiaIre·CMYOTM3.1 has been personally fashioned by Nelson
Pass and the Threshold appearance styled by Rene Besne. Today, Threshold products are still constructed for serious
music listeners under the direction and
responsibility of these corporate founders.

rite: O
therZii77771 d r 7,77 ,e 71 Threshold Corporation, c/o InConcert, 12919 Earhart Avenue, Auburn, California 95603. Or call : 1(800) 888 8055.

for those who find music-- an essential part of life
Threshold products are exclusively distributed by
dIelmon ol threshold Corporahon

dim lights and clip amplifiers. Crigler Bros. Slant Six ($1700/pr): Who-
ever the Crigler brothers of Mobile, Alabama may be, they know how to make agood-sounding speaker. The Slant Six is abasic two-way
with ahighly refined crossover in aslant-front box of triangular cross-section that can be mounted on stands or installed on amatching woofer cabinet. The sound was open, clear,
and airy with good depth, smooth treble, and aslight thickening of low-midrange textures. The optional woofer delivered undistorted bass down to 25Hz. The measured response varied drastically with height, being somewhat
irregular at head height in the demo room (as shown); in another measurement taken afew inches lower (not shown) the response was much flatter.
Focus High Definition monitor ($1450/ pr): Great imaging, with lots of air and depth,
accompanied by extended (but not peaky) highs. The balance was abit bright, but the clarity of soundstage was impressive. The 8" bassreflex woofer produced usable bass down to 31Hz with moderate distortion.
VMPS Super Tower HI ($4700/pr): The speakers were near one end of arelatively long room, and chairs were set up at the opposite
end where boundary reinforcement yielded powerful bass fundamentals down to 20Hz. But at that distance the tonal balance was so mellow that vocals and midrange details lacked definition. At amid-room position 8' from the
speakers, the midbass was still overly rich, but the sound became impressively smooth and clear, with acrisp and extended top end.
Tannoy DC3000 ($1800/pr): This "dual concentric" design (like KEF's Uni -Q, with tweeter mounted in the center of the woofer) produced mixed results. The bottom end was
clean and solid down to 25Hz, and the highs were clear, smooth, and sweet, but midrange textures were dark and unclear.
Allison AL130 (MOO /pr) and Allison AL110 ($340/pr): The AL130 is the largest, and the AL110 the next-to-smallest, of six conventionallooking boxes designed for people who don't like the prisms and other unconventional shapes that earlier Allison speakers employed to optimize the coupling of woofer output to room boundaries. While the AL130's bass was impressively distortion-free and its imaging was good, its midbass seemed recessed and
violins abit pinched. The budget-priced AL110

(curve not shown) struck me as afine speaker for beginners, with impressive air and depth, well-balanced sound, and imaging that is surprisingly unimpaired by shelf-mounting close to awall.
3a Midi Master (curve not shown): Another
height-sensitive design. In the CES demo, seated listeners were aligned with acrossover suckout, and the speakers sounded somewhat hollow. Analyzer curves revealed much flatter responses at both higher and lower positions.
Fried D/2 ($4000/pr assembled, $1100 kit), G/3 ($2400/pr), R/4 (51050/pr): Irving "Bud" Fried demonstrated the imaging and dynamics of the D/2 system: focus and dynamic punch were impressive, but at high levels the deepbass output was accompanied by grille noise. The G/3 sounded more lifelike overall, and the analyzer revealed asmoother response curve. The R/4 speakers (curve not shown) sounded muddled and unimpressive with their backs parallel to the wall, but the analyzer revealed
their on-axis response to be uncommonly flat; and when we toed them in toward the stereo seat, their imaging and tonal accuracy improved dramatically.
At the end, Bud Fried asked whether Iam one of those people who think that frequency response is aspeaker's most important parameter. My response used the language of acollege logic course: good frequency response is a"necessary but not sufficient condition" for great sound. Other things are important, but if the frequency response is irregular, the other qualities don't matter because the speaker won't reproduce the real sound of music.
Digital radio again
In November 88, this column described ICT's plan to compress eight stereo programs of digitally encoded audio into one video channel for nationwide distribution via satellite relays and local cable-TV systems. ICT reserved a room at the January CES but didn't show up. Instead, awidely rumored competitor, Digital Radio Laboratories of Lomita, CA, turned out to be real and perhaps more advanced than ICT. DRL, like ICT, proposes to sell a$200 tuner that would receive and unscramble the cable signal, select adigital broadcast, and decode it.
DRL promises 16 commercial-free stereo programs (32 channels) for only PS/month, with sound quality that may be abit better than the ICT system's. DRL's CES demo used aDAT

Soereophile, March 1989

.4 3

Loudspeaker System deliven

The McIntosh XRT 22 is the purest expression of the loudspeakers scientist's endeavors. It is the one right combination of component parts that has eluded the diligent searcher for the loudspeaker bridge to the dominion of reproduced musical reality. The high-frequency radiator column is an illustration of the right combination. The 23 tweeter elements can reproduce 300 watts sine wave input power at 20 kHz, with the lowest measured intermodulation distortion. Because each tweeter mechanism handles asmall quantity of the total power, extremely low quantities of distortion are developed. The total column radiates the energy in a half cylindrical time co-ordinated sound field. The low distortion, transparency of sound. coherence of sound images. definition of musical instruments. and musical balance is simply a revelation that you must experience.

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tape as its source, but Brad Meyer brought a DAT dub of familiar CDs that enabled us to check DRL's transmission scheme with both high-level and low-level sounds. As far as we could tell, DRL's method of combining 16 programs of digital audio into one video channel
causes no detectable change in sound at either high or low levels--unlike ICT's scheme, which in aprevious test seemed to add some low-level noise and slight high-level congestion.
While ICT reportedly uses digital data compression to reduce the average word length by
60%, DRL uses both data compression and special modulation techniques to accommodate abit rate greater than the channel bandwidth. The secret is in how the video signal is "modulated" by the ones and zeroes in the digital code. It is analogous to the problem of using
amodem to transmit computer code through the 3000Hz bandwidth of avoice-grade telephone line Until recently, modems used simple
modulation methods and could transmit only 1200 (or at most 2400) bits per second', but more complex modulation schemes let new modems send 9600 bits/s over the same phone line. DRL's system evidently sends 32 channels of 16-bit digital code (a total of 22 megabits/s) through a6MHz video channel.
Experimental digital broadcasts are scheduled for this spring in the Los Angeles area. But since DRL has neither awarehouse full of tuners to sell nor firm contracts with cable companies to carry the signal, nationwide digital radio service is unlikely to begin before 1990.
Next month: news about FMX.

UK: Ken KeilliOr
Empire-building is back in the British psyche Despite adiminution of this country's political clout over the last 50 years, the UK is fighting back with financial territorialism-- if such athing exists. Along with the near-daily reports we receive about British purchases of foreign companies (especially American), there's been some serious action in the hi-fi sector.
Iwouldn't say that the conglomerates which are appearing in the UK are some hyper-patriotic response to 20 years' worth of taunts about Japan's market supremacy If it is, so much the better--it's always nice to see patriotism leading to something constructive--but it's much more sensible to put it down to good business sense. But if the build-up of alliances is adirect response to Japanese domination, then we have along way to go; not one of the British hi-fi empires is even within spitting distance of the size of aToshiba or Matsushita. (That's not to say that our non-hi-fi electronics firms can't compete. Amstrad is growing like aweed, while GEC, Thorn-EM!, and afew others can count
an awful lot of zeroes to the right of the first digit.) What's been happening is that the healthi-
est British companies, both manufacturers and distributors, are buying up complementary firms, both healthy ones and smaller firms that have hit choppy waters. And in addition to adding more names to the company directories, these firms are turning over figures that will forever silence detractors of the British hi-fi scene Ican report to you from recently published
figures (see Table One) that the UK specialist sector can boast nearly 20 "declared" companies doing over £1 million per annum. Remember, that's pounds, not lira, Deutschmarlcs, or dollars, and I'm talking real hi-fi, not clockradios or computers. More to the point is the run-down of the heavies, with ten companies turning over £3m, and more than half of those over £5m. Do the conversions to local currency (1.8:1, $:£) and you'll be abit more impressed.
Of more relevance to hi-fi consumers are the takeovers, because it means that previously
small and/or weak companies now have the backing of bigger operations. The credibility which is aby-product of such alliances can only help the marketing men in the export territories. The run-down goes something like this, with speculative remarks being strictly my own fevered imaginings:
As is probably widely known, KEF's parent

Stereophile, March 1989



Good things come to those who wait. These days, serious audiophiles searching for the right highperformance cable face along, difficult road. Each manufacturer has their own story. And it takes time to sort out all the different designs before deciding which cable to buy.
When Monster Cable decided to enter this market, we took the opportunity to examine the various technologies. Pick out their strengths. Identify their weaknesses. And design an extraordinary series of cables that deliver unprec-
edented performance for the serious audiophile.
Introducing the MESigma Series--. The MESigma Series is Monster's latest musical revelation. Representing the ultimate extension of Monster's Bandwidth Balanced 'technology, the MESigma Series delivers the highest level of audio interconnect and speaker cable performance.
In every area of cable performance, we designed for one key objective: abalance of sound. To that end, the MESigma achieves abalance of such sonic qualities as precise imaging, overall naturalness, three-dimensionality, and asense of space without sacrificing any key sound parameters. Our goals were met. And surpassed.
New Monster "Balanced Impedance" technology. Both the ME2000 Audio Interconnect and the ME2 Speaker Cable incorporate several innovative new technologies.
Consisting of separate multi-gauge wire networks featuring Monster's advanced "time-compensated" windings,

the conductors are grouped around our advanced Magnetic Flux Tube'", with aspecial termination to create a"balanced impedance" throughout the entire audio range.
The World's Reference Standard Cable Termination. MESigma's sonic improvements require anew approach to termination technology. Using amassive ground contact crimped with over 20 tons of pressure, we feature aspecial copper-to-copper, cold-welding process using no solder or other extraneous metal that can cause sonic degradation.
With amore direct hook-up of MESigma's conductors, all the subtle nuances and power of your music are transferred to the speakers through an uncompromising connection that ensures absolute accuracy and signal integrity.
Sonic rewards worth the price of admission. With signal phase integrity now maintained, all the depth, range, and power of your music are reproduced with unequaled accuracy. You'll hear singers and soloists projected to apinpoint spot in front of your speakers. Instruments and vocals that seem to "float" space. With arealism that breathtakingly captures the essence of the original performance.
Although not inexpensive, the MESigma Series represent the highest level of sonic performance money can buy. We invite you to audition these extraordinary cables at aMonster M·Sener dealer. And prepare yourself for a thoroughly enjoyable musical experience.

Absolute Audio orge. CA GNP Pasadena, CA Paris Audio Woodland Hills. CA. West Los Angeles. CA Sound Factor Encino, CA, Pasadena. CA

Upscale Audio

P.i'k CA Wilson Audio Video Ent. Woodland Hills, CA David Rutledge Audio Palm Springs. CA Stereo Unlimited

··· Audio -Visions .*. E3abylon. NY Hais Stereo Trenton, NJ Lyric HiFi New York, NY. White Plains. NY Sight and Sound

Mot, ,r A '.,, ·

.". Sound by Singer New York. NY Soundex n ow Grove. PA. Berwyn. PA Sounds of Distinction Atlanta. GA

Woodbridge Stereo

:: 'Age, NJ, West Long Branch, NJ, Princel ·. Listening Room Scarsdale. NY NIFI Heaven Green Bay, WI

Sound II No Dartmouth. MA Tweak Shop Santa Rosa. CA Absolutely Sound' ',lie. MD Jamieson Stereo Toledo. OH Paul Heath Audio

C' ,,cano. IL Glenn 00000 Audio and Video Champaign, IL, Normal Quintessence Audio Naperville, IL Audio Visions Tampa. FL

House of Stereo Jacksonville, FL World nt Sound s,u,

sco. CA

114 MONSTER CRBLE · Technology You Can Hear.
Monster Cable Products. Inc.101 Townsend Si., San Francisco, CA 94107 Phone 415 777-1355 Telex 470584 MCSYUI FAX 415 896-1745 Monster Cable is distributed in Canada by Evolution Technology, Phone 416 335-4422

company AGI controls Boothroyd-Stuart, which manufactures Meridian products. Meridian has always been regarded as an innovative company concerned with style, domestic acceptability, and ergonomic advancement. It is, in effect, one of very few rivals for Bang & Olufsen who, whatever you may feel about their products, created and now own avery lucrative market niche. (B&O's UK turnover in 1987 was over £25m, which is quite amazing when you consider that the UK is the best place on earth for affordable homegrown hi-fi, and
that the hi-fi press has done nothing to further B&O's cause.) Meridian has had ashaky past, ablend of rave reviews, reasonable sales, and the usual run of supply and reliability prob-
lems, but it has managed to maintain the esteem of the industry Although relative autonomy has been maintained, you can assume that KEF will whip Meridian into shape, while KEF will ben-
efit from the company's expertise in electronics. Meridian is now refining one of the most advanced, multi-room remote-control systems on offer, so they just might emerge as the classy alternative to the Danish high-tech mid-fl market standard. (Incidentally, from February 1, Meridian, previously imported to the US by Madrigal, will be in charge of their own distribution in this country.)
The Goodmans axis is the current European
industry leader for both turnover and brand acquisition, but it should be pointed out that asubstantial portion of Goodmans' fl8m+
turnover comes from badge-engineered low -fi imports, including midi-systems and portables, as well from the manufacture of OEM in-car
drive-units for the major automobile manufacturers. The Goodmans name still graces domes-
tic loudspeaker systems of their own making, but the company has also acquired MordauntShort and Tannoy, both healthy companies in their own right. You might find it puzzling that aspeaker maker as established as Goodmans would want two more speaker lines, but the companies are complementary. 'annoy, for munple, does very well in the professional sector (studios, public address systems, etc), while Mordaunt-Short has cachet in the hi-fi sector which both 'annoy and Goodmans lack. The latest company to join the fold is Creek, one of the darlings of the specialist press. Creek has asolid reputation for integrated amplifiers, sort of like Nairn for the pooç with aloyal following
for its conservative, high value-for-money

Selected UK companies' turnovers for 1987

1987 turnover





El&W Loudspeakers £I1,110,869

($33,974,500) ($ 20,555,100)


£9,967,267 £7,288,004

($18,439,400) ($13,482,800)





Mission Electronics £6,562,908


Linn Products



Thnnoy Quad Electro-









Mordaunt -Short

£1,907,94 I


Musical (British)







Swisstone (Rogers) £1,557,272


A&R Cambridge




Monitor Audio Boothroyd-Stuart












SME Goldring

£697,110 £399,716

($1,289,700) ($739,500)

Figures are quoted from the MBA Report on the Britisb Hi -Fi Industry as quoted in Vol.2 No.4 of the healthily radical UK trade magazine Private Eye- R (published by)ohn S. Vizor & Associates, PO Box 68, Stratford-upon-Avon, 0/37 8QU, UK.
011-44-789-87666). US dolLir equivalents have been calculated at £1. $1.85 and have been rounded off to the nearest $100.
products. Creek will be operating under the aegis of Mordaunt-Short, who first demonstrated their interest in aline of electronics with last year's Mordaunt-Short-built integrated amplifier. As M-S's Chris Short is one of the canniest, most intelligent men in the entire industry, he could turn Creek into aworld-beater.
One of the hottest of all the multi-make concerns is also the hardest to describe. The Hi -Fi Markets/Natural Sound Systems axis has its fingers in distribution, retail, and now manufacturing, but I'm damned if Iknow what company belongs to which division. Abit of history is in order, provided Ican climb the family tree.
In anutshell, Hi -Fi Markets is the house that NAD built. More precisely, NAD is the house that Hi -Fi Markets built, if you accept that NAD's global success began in the UK. Headed by Malcolm Blockley, who helped to establish Marantz and other makes in the UK, Hi -Fi Mar-
11986 figure.

Stereophile, March 1989


A remarkable combination of exceptional performance, flexibility and value.
The GFP-555's musical performance is outstanding--by any measurement or listening criterion. For example, Stereophile* calls it "one of the most satisfying preamps around in terms ot overall tonal balance...You can go back to it after afew weeks and still feel it to be basically right; it reveals most associated equipment as more colored than itself."
At the same time, the GFP-555 is surprisingly affordable. Again, from Stereophile: "It is unclear from close examination why it should cost only $500. outperforms several competitors from the $2500 bracket."
Here are just afew examples of how we did it. The GFP-555's gain path includes the most innovative state-of-the-art linear amplifiers ever used in high fidelity components, and is simple and direct from input to output.
The speed of the gain stages is almost fifty times faster than CD or LP signals. And the noise and distortion measurements are incredibly low. Direct coupling makes possible afrequency response from below 1Hz to beyond 400,000 Hz.
Superb construction, incorporating regulated power supplies with large filter capacitors, provides superior performance no matter how widely the musical signal or AC line voltage may fluctuate.
As for flexibility, you can listen to any source while taping from another There's an unusual number of inputs and outputs, plus adjustable phono gain and capacitance.
If you'd like the full story of this remarkable preamplifier and the review from Stereophile*, please write. Of course, the fastest way to hear its demonstrably superior combination of sonic performance, flexibility and value is to visit your nearest Adcom dealer
11 Elkins Road, East Brunswick, NJ 08816 201-390-1130 Distributed in Canada by PRO ACOUSTICS, INC., Pointe Claire, Quebec H9R 4X5
"Vol. 9No. 7(November 1986)

kets started out by creating a network of independent dealers who received, in exchange for amembership fee, protected lines to stock in their shops. Given exclusive access to makes such as NAD and Boston Acoustics, the retailers were then spared the vicious cost-cutting endemic to the UK, thus assuring them of decent margins on at least some of their lines. Additionally, the buying power for anetwork of 150+ outlets enabled Hi -Fi Markets to supply the network with discounts on other, nonexclusive lines. Hi- Fi Markets also supports the
dealers with lots of advertising, point-of-sale material, and other incentives, and it turned out to be good business for those who joined and knew how to make the most of the relationship.
What really made the company, though, was the runaway success of NAD, which it distributed
and publicized with an effectiveness yet unmatched by any other brand in the budget sector. Hi -Fi Markets remains the UK distributor, but it is linked to Natural Sound Systems, which distributes other lines of electronics including Onkyo. Additionally, Blockley runs Sansui Electronics
UK Ltd. This, you might think, is madness, distributing three competing lines, but events have proven otherwise. For starters, NAD no longer owns the entry-level sector; Rotel and
other makes have chipped away at its monopoly. More important, though, is the upgrade
market, the thousands of customers who bought NAD 3020s years ago and are now ready to move up astep.
NAD has been less than successful when it comes to moving upmarket in the UK, its more expensive products failing to win hearts the way the still-running '3020 did adecade ago. With Sansui, which has always maintained street credibility in the budget-to-mid sector, and with Onkyo--never successfully distributed here until NSS took it on--Hi -Fi Marlcets/NSS can cover the affordable sector three ways.
The company's latest acquisition is yet another line of electronics, one which will not only allow Hi -Fi Markets/NSS to move even further upmarket, but which will also add the requisite amount of Britishness needed to attract the still large xenophobic market. Ialso heard that Malcolm Blockley has long wanted to have aUK manufacturing base, so this move satisfies another need. The acquisition is Cam-
bridge Audio, and therein lies another tale. Because of aset of unfortunate circum-

stances I'd rather not publicize, despite having apromising product line, Cambridge went into receivership. In what appears to be record time, Hi -Fi Markets beat all comers in picking up Cambridge, and there were quite afew prestigious makes looking at this innovative company. Cambridge had made its mark as aproducer of world-class CD players, including the innovative CD2, and highly regarded, affordable amplifiers, the products of top designer Stan Curtis. As seems to be an integral part of being asmall British company, supply and reliability problems plagued Cambridge, but none could deny the brand's potential. With ahardas -nails boss like Blockley at the helm, Cambridge might finally realize its full potential, especially as Curtis's services have been retained. And because Cambridge products sell in the sector just above NAD, Onkyo, and Sansui, Hi -Fi Markets can now cover another sector without stepping on its own toes. Best of all, it means that the future of Cambridge is virtually assured, and that owners of existing models needn't worry about back-up. Distribution of Cambridge products in the US remains in the capable hands of Celestion Industries Inc. of 49 Doug Brown Way, Holliston, MA 01746.
The real ace-in-the-hole in UK potential is Blockley's captive PR person, one Andy Giles. Beyond any doubt the best public-relations wizard in the industry, Giles is capable of marketing just about any product that lands on his desk, and has been instrumental in both Hi -Fi Markets' and Natural Sound Systems' past successes. Cambridge, prior to the change of ownership, had pretty good marketing, but nothing like that which Giles can provide. Plans are already afoot for new models, as well as the long-awaited delivery of the Mk.II version of the flagship CD player (though this will not now reach the US until the Fall).
The race is now on for empire-building on agrand scale, with the conglomerates--now that Hi -Fi Markets manufactures in the UK-- likely to enjoy much of their growth through exports. Fillet you know who buys what next, but Ireckon we have along way to go before this game of Monopoly is finished.

Stereophile, March 1989


Here sthe current list of exhibitors and manufacturers displaying and demonstrating at the Bay Area High End Hi -Fi show.
A&S Speakers Access to Music Acoustat Acoustic Energy Apogee Aragon Arcicl Audible Difference Audio Excellence Audio Products International Audloquest Audio Research B&K B&W BEL Both.' Vidikron California Audio Labs Cardas Carver Castle Celestion Chesky Records Classé Audio Conrad-Johnson DB Audio dbx Denon Discrete Technology Dynavector Elite Electronics

Entec Eplk Euphonic Technology Focal Forté Hafler Harmonla Mundi Image infinity IRS KEF KLianmtbaenraKable Lexicon
Linn LiveWire Luxman Magnepan Mark Levinson Mamie Acoustics Martin-Logan May Audio Marketing MB Quart Merlin Mirage Mission Mod Squad Mondial Monitor Moore Frankland MS Brasfield Muse Electronics Museatex NAD Naim Nelson-Reed Nikko NItty Gritty Onkyo Performance Audio Perreaux

Phantom Acoustics Pioneer Elite Proton PS Audio PSB Speakers Quad Reference Recordings Rotel Shadow Sonographe Sony ES SOTA Sound Connections Sound Goods Sound Technology Spectral Stax Stereo Plus Straight Wire Sumiko Synthesis Tara Labs TDL Theta Thiel Threshold Triad Design Vacuum Tube Logic Vandersteen versa Dynamics VPI industries Wadla Western Audio Wilson Yamaha








SATURDAY, APRIL 2211 am to 8pM SUNDAY, APRIL 2311 am to 6pm
Come up to the best in high end hi-fi


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Sam Tellig

Ionce told Larry Archibald it might be worth, say, a10% loss in sound quality
with CD not to have to jump up and turn over the damned record. Sometimes aCD saves you from popping up twice--Mahler's Fifth or Bruckner's Seventh on asingle disc instead of three LP sides--or three times--Mortres Magic Flute on three CDs instead of 6LP sides. That might be worth a15% sacrifice.
Idon't know that you will need to lose even 10%. Unless, of course, you have aturntable like aVersa Dynamics 2.0 or aGoldmund Ref-
erence. Now, if only the cost of CDs would come
down. That may happen soon. The New Ibrk Times
reports agrowing CD glut. (Goody-goody. Goody got it and he has to get rid of it.) Joe Epstein, of Berkshire Record Outlet, hints of impending CD cut-outs. (How do you "cut out" aCD? Gouge ahole in the edge of the disc?) The Wall StreetJournal reports that GE has developed anew resin, which will make it possible for CDs to be molded quicker--that should worsen the glut! And sale prices for "full-price" CDs have already dropped to as little as $9.99 per disc in New York.
There's more encouraging news. Designers such as Dan D'Agostino, of Krell, and John Bicht, of Versa Dynamics, are turning their attention to CD. Both Dan and John are looking into transports--or rather, the whole "front end" retrieval system, which includes the laser assembly. Audiophiles may
be paying as much attention to CD transports as to turntables. ..and perhaps as much money! Expect to see top-loading players with innovative clamping and damping mechanisms, which may obviate the need for such devices as CD Rings.,
IThe probk-m with CD Rings is you can't always irmove them without disc damage if you change your mind ...or change players and then change your mind. We need to see hard evidence--tests, not testimonials--as to what CD Rings do or do not do when used with avariety of players. Vim might try piggybacking a CD-Ringed disc--or aringed Mod Squad CD Damper--atop anaked disc. Warning: this %yin not work in all players, and might jam some. If my ram are not mistaken, you get an effect similar to ringing each individual disc without actually having to do so.

The transport does make adifference--or, to put it another way, not all digital outs are
created equal. Recently, at Definitive Hi -Fi in Mamaroneck, NY, afew of us Thursday night 'philes were listening to CDs through Mike Moffat's Theta outboard digital processor. We tried different players. There were differences.
It's hard to say something definitive (ouch), but subjectively it appears that sturdier players retrieve the encoded data with fewer errors.
Sony transports sounded particularly good. Now, some promising players. These players--from Magnavox, Adcom,
Yamaha, and Onkyo--are in four different price ranges. Strictly speaking, none is competitive with any of the others, so all comparisons will be "unfair." But what the hell? What's interesting is what you can get for your money, and whether it's worth spending the money for amore expensive player. If you're expecting asurvey of players in aparticular price range, forget it. No one could listen to them all, anyway. More interesting to make unfair comparisons. And more in the spirit of The Audio Anarchist.
Most of my listening took place through the line stage of the Forte Model 2preamplifier. Three of the players, all except the Magnavox CDB582, had variable outputs, so Iauditioned these directly into aThreshold SA/3 or B&K
ST-140 power amp. Interestingly, the B&K amplifier was better at revealing differences than the Threshold. Interconnects were Discrete Technology Platinum and the very promising new Audio Prism Ultima ($160 retail for a1m pair). Speaker cable was $5.75/yard Naim Cable, which sounds at least as good as, if not better than, some very costly cables with bullshit stories attached to them. Speakers were Martin-Logan Sequels.
Iran the dropout tests of the second Pierre Verany test disc on each machine. Ialso tested acouple of damaged discs in each player. Then
Isent all the machines to Santa Fe, except for the Onkyo, which weighs 60 pounds. Santa Fe already has another DX-G10 So the Onkyo DX-G10 they measured is not the DX-G10 I
heard. [See "Follow-Up" in this issue. --JA]


Stereophile, March 1989

Magnavox CDB582 CD player

Magnavox CDB582: $249
This machine is basic and uncluttered--no frivolous features like Favorite Track Selection, unless you count the headphone jack with no volume control. It comes with an uncluttered
wireless remote, but lacks digital out. The transport looks improved over previous generations of inexpensive Philips-made players, and the
drawer lets you use 3" CDs without adaptors.
Soundstaging was good, but not spectacular. It shrank during tough-sledding passages, like the fourth movement of Tchaikovsky's Manfred (get Riccardo Chailly's stunning per-
formance--London 421 441-2). At the same time, dynamics became compressed--as they do, say, on acheap receiver. Bass extension was good for aplayer in this price category, but the bass was not particularly tight.
Resolution of low-level detail was fair--I have yet to hear aPhilips-made machine with really great resolution. Ithink the Philips fog helps explain why modified Magnavoxes have enjoyed such popularity.
But it wasn't the fog that bothered me so
much. My sample of the CDB582, furnished from adealer and not via North American Phil-
ips, exhibited aroughness and coarseness on strings that Idon't recall hearing with, say, the Magnavox CDB650. And, as of early January,
you could still find CDB650s around, here and there, in small quantities, for around $270. That is abuy!
One aspect of the 582's performance was truly outstanding: its ability to track. The 582 played through track 35 of Disc 2of the Pierre
Verany test disc set--these tracks simulate dropouts. Anything beyond track 27 is beyond "standard values but inside the theoretical [sic] correction capabilities of CD players." The 582 even played track 36 without glitching too much. There are only 38 basic tracks. Moreo-

ver, the 582 played four out of five damaged discs in my collection, including two discs no other player has been able to flawlessly track.
If only the sound quality had been abit (or even two bits. ..hell, Idon't know) better, I could recommend this machine most enthusiastically at the piddling price. Maybe Igot a bum one--you expect sample-to-sample variations at this price point. Ishould also say, in
fairness to Philips, that Ihave not heard abetter machine at the price (I have seen the 582 selling for as low as $179.95), and Ihave heard far worse You may have better luck.
Adcom GCD -575: $599
Igot two samples of this machine--early pro-
duction and late production. Late production is better, Ithink--the sound is smoother. Victor Campos of Adcom told me about the changes, most having to do with tighter tolerances and afew parts upgrades.
Never mind the tech stuff, this is avery goodsounding player for the money--devastating to most of the competition at the price in that once Iheard the Adcom, most of the other players were unacceptable. What makes the
Adcom so devastating is its low-level resolution -- ie, clarity. This is from a16-bit Philips DAC with 4x oversampling. Iwonder why 1 haven't heard this resolution from Magnavox and Philips machines.
Soundstaging is very good, and imaging is excellent. Ambience retrieval, too, is most impressive--just short of the very best you can get with aCD player and far better than what you might expect for the price Instruments are very clearly localized, and there is air around them--they don't exist in avoid, as they do with some CD players.
There are limits to the performance, of course Dynamics are somewhat reined in. When you

Stereophile, March 1989


Ohm CLS Drivers Make Your
Speakers Disappear
From Our $5000 Walsh 5 to Our $600 Sound Cylinders the Critics
are Impressed.
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Audio 6-88
"The Walsh 5is one of the cleanest speakers available...I perceived remarkable depth and spaciousness to music well recorded in aconcert hall. This spaciousness did not result in a vague mass of sound: image loc: tion is sharply defined and accurately placed ...They are a masterpiece of the speaker designer's art."'
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"The sound of the Ohm Sound Cylinders was smooth, balance and thoroughly enjoyable, well beyond what anyone would exp from such asmall, light speak( Its dispersion was subjectively complete, and we were never aware of the speakers as distini sound sources, no matter how much we moved around the room ...these speakers certair offer impressive value for theft
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". ..the various frequencies emerge in their natural phase relationship--more than in cc ventional designs. To what ex this accounts for the speakers fine sound may be debatable, there is no question that the C Sound Cylinders represent at excellent bargain, with aciar and richness of sound rarely found in aspeaker of this sizi price." 4
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Adcom GCD-575 CD player

get to the fourth movement of Tchaikovsky's Manfred, this machine, like many, gives up--it cannot deal in atotally satisfactory way with the dynamics.
Parts quality looks good for the price except for the drawer mechanism, made by Sony, which looks like it belongs on acheap machine Every time Iused the drawer, Ithought it might break
--but it didn't. Even more disturbing was the poor shock resistance. This player skipped when Iwalked up to it! And Ihad it on aMission Isoplat with aVP! Magic Brick on top. (The Adcom is shipped with no transport screws. Maybe that's amistake.)
Adcom is known for innovation. The GCD575 has, in effect, its own built-in line amp, which gives avariable output of up to 5.3V, with an output impedance of 100 ohms. You control the output level with a.conveniently located volume control on the lower-right cor-
ner of the front panel. The Adcom GCD-575 can probably drive any power amplifier di-
rectly. You could have adynamite duo: GCD575 and GFA-535 power amp for under $1000 list.
Another novel feature is AFPC (Analog Fre-
quency/Phase Contour). Switching this gives you adip in the presence region, boosting frequencies below IkHz by about 1dB, cutting frequencies above IkHz by an increasing amount to -3.2db at 20kHz. This is akin to aslight LF boost upward with the Quad 34 preamp's tilt control. Ifound this feature occasionally useful, but it's no substitute for adequate weight in the bass.
The Adcom sports apolarity reversal switch that works via remote. Julian Hirsch says he couldn't hear any difference with the switch in or out. Ibet you can! When the setting was right, there was more air around the instruments. More space.
What causes me to hesitate about this player is the flimsy factor--the rickety drawer and the player's exceptionally poor resistance to shock (this on the two samples Ihad, plus another sample Iexamined. well as on Julian

Hirsch's test sample). Sonically the Adcom GCD-575 is awinner at the price, but not so good that Iwould be tempted to switch from something like aMagnavox CDB650. Isuppose my real complaint is that Adcom did not choose to build this player to ahigher price point.
Yamaha CDX- 1110U: $1199 This machine (at $1199 list) is one of the new generation of Yamaha "hi-bit" or "pseudo" 18bit players, as the competition calls them. I've been trying to sort out the technical claims-- Yamaha's vs the competition's (je, those manufacturers who offer players with "true" 18-bit DACS). Ihave failed.
Briefly, an oversampling digital filter generates additional bits beyond the 16 bits of the basic CD format. In the Yamaha scheme, 18 bits from the oversampling filter's output are wired through switches to the inputs of a16-bit DAC. When the two upper bits are not being used, which is most of the time, the 18 bits are shifted so the two unused bits are ignored and the 16 lower bits are used instead. The analog gain then needs to be reduced by 12dB accordingly.
The question is whether this "bit-switching" causes distortion. Onkyo, in a"white paper," contends that it can, while Yamaha, not surprisingly, contends that it doesn't. On the contrary, says Yamaha, their bit-switching scheme actually acts as adynamic noise reducer. Acynic might wonder whether Yamaha uses this scheme because 16-bit DACs are cheaper than 18-bit DACs. But I'm not the Audio Cynic--just the Audio Anarchist.
Yamaha's poop sheet makes abig fuss over the fact that the machine delivers such alow level of digital signal leakage that no analog filter is needed to clean up the digital mess. ..ah, noise But Yamaha supplies afilter anyway--via asecond pair of output jacks. This is weird, because analog-out from the player sounds much better with just the digital filter, just as Yamaha says it does. According to Yamaha, there is virtually no phase shift with just the digital filter.

Stereophile, March 1989


How Hi is your Fi?



P.O. Bo\ 770

Fairfield, Iowa

(800) 4-AMRITA

Yamaha COX-1110U CD player

Ihear aclearer, cleaner, more focused sound. Why, then, spend money on the extra analog filter and extra pair of jacks? Inscrutable! If they
didn't do this, maybe they could afford to put in apair of true 18-bit DACs. Ah ...but Yamaha
claims that the bit-shifting is sonically beneficial. You can see how easy it is to get bogged down.
Let's not, for we would then lose sight of the fact that this is asuperb-sounding player-- probably the most analoguey player Ihave yet heard.
Why so analoguey?
The Yamaha CDX1110 has ambience aplenty --the kind of life, light, and air that analog freaks have been craving. There is abloom
around instruments--especially noticeable with an amplifier which itself has plenty of bloom, like the B&K ST-140. (Through the Threshold SA/3, all the CD players tended to sound more alike.) Whether or not this spaciousness is specious--a partial byproduct of the bit-shifting process--I don't know and don't care. It's lovely. Enjoy it!
This spaciousness is combined with an exqtfisitely smooth, sweet, and delicate high end --rather like areally neat high-end cartridge! Again, lovely.
Sounds too good to be true, huh?
Well, on the downside, the Yamaha CDX1110 does not have all the low-end body and lowend punch of some more expensive players. Mid there is something vaguely uncertain about
the way notes emerge from the silences. In the December 1988 issue of Hi -Fi News
& Record Review, Paul Miller writes about
machines that do not offer atotally quiet background. You can't hear hiss, but there's avague
sense that something is "going on" in the background.
Paul wasn't talking about the Yamaha, and

it would be unfair to single out this excellent machine for special criticism when the same comment might be made about many, if not most, other CD players. But Idid find this sense of something "going on," and Ican't help but wonder whether or not it has something to do with bit-shifting. It especially makes me nervous when Yamaha talks about the bit-shifting scheme operating like adynamic noise reducer. Noise reduction is probably one reason why Iso passionately hate cassettes--it takes away from the certainty and the solidity of the music
All this may be moot, of course, if Yamaha goes to true 18-bit DACs in their next generation of players. Meanwhile, this does not take away from what Yamaha has achieved right now. This is one fine-sounding player. It might even be the best Ihave heard to date at any price.
Tracking, if you are keeping track, is excellent. The CDX1110 tracked through track 35 of Disc 2of the Pierre Verany test set with nary a glitch, hiccup, or warble.
And the CDX1110 has one unusual feature I must mention: the analog outputs are not fixed, they are variable. And the volume control, conveniently adjustable from the remote control, is said to operate in the digital domain--a benefit, says Yamaha, of all this shifting bit business. So maybe it is aboon rather than abane.
Incidentally, Ipreferred the Yamaha with my discs naked--no rings. Ifelt the rings were rolling off the exquisite highs. ,
2If you decide to de-ring your discs, use arazor blade to gently pry up the ring along the outer circumference of the disc-- enough so you can slide scissors underneath and cut. Now, holding the disc firmly in its jewel box with ahandkerchief, slowly peel off the ring. Remove any residue adhesive with the gentle masking tape sold in paint departments. Do not use solvents. lk- ringing is not always successful. If you like the way Cl) Ring> sound with your present player, leave them on.

Stereophile, March 1989


Onkyo DX-G10 CD player

Onkyo DX -G10: $2500
"This is aCD player?" asked my UPS delivery
man. "I thought it was aThreshold or aKrell or something."
The Onkyo DX-G10 weighs 60 pounds! And lists for $2500.
It is by far the biggest, heaviest CD player I have had in my system. And it's beautifully made, too. Elegant, uncluttered design-- Yamaha could certainly take some lessons. Piano-black side panels--beautiful. Welcome features include alarge knob for variable forward and reverse--why didn't someone else think of that? The Onkyo DX-G10 has another terrific feature: you can dim or turn off the display with apush of abutton on the remote. What ablessing to those of us who often listen in the dark.
Sonically, this player--which has true 18-bit DACs with 8x oversampling--is most impressive. Dynamics are particularly rewarding. This player can really open up and let it rip on passages like the final movement of the Manfred. The bass is firm and tight. Instruments are precisely localized, and, unlike the Yamaha, emerge from abackground of silence.
The DX-G10 strikes me as having the creamytextured smoothness Ihave come to associate with Onkyo products. The sound is unfatigu-
ing, quite lovely at times, and yet it can become uninvolving. Never irritable, just bland. Ijust wish there were more air and sparkle, more life.
There were times when Ireally loved this player's solidity in reproducing the dynamics of apiano. But even there Imissed asatisfying sense of the acoustical environment in which that piano was located. Have we got some phase shift going on here?
Features on this player include apolarity switch to change absolute phase (useful), and the aforementioned display dimmer. All the controls functioned flawlessly except for one glitch. Sometimes, unpredictably, adisc would

not load--the display gave areading of zeros and the machine would not play. Ihad to shut off the machine, clearing the microprocessor. This worked every time--I was then able to play the disc. A minor glitch, but still not a problem Ishould have encountered in a$2500 machine. The DX-G10 tracked up to Track 31 of Disc 2 of the Pierre Verany test disc set, started to hiccup on Tracks 32 and 33, and faltered badly on Track 34. The Magnavox CDB582 did much better at one-tenth the price.
This is agood player--beautifully built and exquisitely designed. Iwish Ihad found it less lacking in life, light, and sparkle. As it is, Imust tell you that Ipreferred the Yamaha at less than half the price.
Each of these four players is attractive in some ways--the price of the Magnavox, the clarity of the Adcom, the sweetness and spaciousness of the Yamaha, the authority and dynamics of the Onkyo.
But none of them completely blows me away, although the Yamaha did pass my ultimate test: Iwas never once tempted during a listening session to turn the player off and listen to LPs! All the other machines ultimately had me fleeing to my turntable. On the other hand, Istill like my turntable set-up better than the Yamaha CDX- 1110.
Idon't think you will go wrong with the Yamaha, assuming that its DACs are properly trimmed. (I would try to find adealer who could verify for me that they are--that way he will have earned his 40 points.) But if you already have aCD player and don't have to buy anew one, you might just sit tight.
You might wait for interesting CD transports and black boxes (outboard decoder units) to come on the market. Wait, too, for manufacturers to provide individual calibration charts

Stereophile, March 1989


Write to: ZSE, 805 Woodman Avenue, Winslow, IL 61089

showing that each player's DACs are linear. it for the whole shifty bit business to settle down. Wait and see what Dan DAgostino and John Bicht come up with. Or Stan Warren, Paul McGowan, or John Beyer. If 1988 was the year of the kludge, then 1989 could be the year of the black box--CD separates.
Or you could be like my friend Frank. He imagines that he's purchased certain products -- right now he's imagining that he bought a pair of hard-to-get English speakers which he has read areview of but hasn't heard. This is ideal, since the speakers can sound better and better as Frank imagines more and more. When he tires of these speakers and gets excited about

something else, he doesn't have to trade them in. He only needs to start imagining the next product. (Sometimes he actually gets to hear aproduct, which spoils everything. He then has to read the reviews to latch on to something else. You can see why Frank likes products which are unavailable. He's "owned" aFinial now for several years.)
Why not take acue from Frank? Imagine that you own one of these four CD players--take your choice. Cut out apicture of it and place it next to your present player. Then, several months from now, when the imagined player has been superseded by another model, cut out that player and pretend you own it, too. $

Every once in agreat while aproduct comes along that offers performance which rises above the current variety of clever designs and marketing hype When this occurs the new level of performance achieved can be readily heard by both the ardent audiophile and the novice listener.
Paradigm is abreakthrough loudspeaker that provides a level of musical truth that simply must be heard
Oh yes, the price for such glorious performance? Well that's even more remarkable
1 I
music ...above all.
In the US AudiaStream Corporation, MPO Box 2410, Niagara Falls, NY 14302 In Canada Paradigm Electronics Inc., 4141 Weston ai #5, Weston, ON M9L
Stereophile, March 1989

What's ATransfer


Magnetic Field Powuf
G'esitVI-R 4.0t
Sim Sewn *Cum% Tee Trans.". Ftmt.,

Good question,

but before Iget

deeply into the

answer, let me tell

you alittle bit

about amplifiers


in general. Every amplifier

known to humankind changes

the audio signal just alittle bit as it passes

through from input to output This is

because, simply, no amplifier is absolutely

perfect, and each must, because it exists in

the real world, slightly modify the audio as

it goes through.

Most modern amplifiers change and

modify the audio signal very little, but all do

it, and the subtle changes, different in each

evoluhon Distributed in Canada b` lechnotoçv

amplifier design, are responsible for the characteristic 'sound' or 'sonic signature' of different designs. And each is ever so subtly unique.

Audio Signal In Input

Audio Output Signal Out Speaker

eee Amp el>

This audio signal
Nsnever exactly the same as this one.

The TRANSFER FUNCTION is simply the scientific expression of the exact way the
audio signal is changed as it passes through. If you know the transfer function, and if you can give that same transfer function to ten
different amplifier designs, they will all sound the same.


Does that mean a dirt cheap amplifier can be made
to sound the same as a$5,000 reference amp?
Iwish it were so, but no, not by along
shot. In order to successfully give an amplifier aspecific transfer function, the basic design must have fundamental performance characteristics that equal or exceed the reference amplifier from which the original transfer function was obtained.
For example, the 'dirt cheap' amp must have alower noise floor than the reference; it must have instantaneous current and voltage rise time speeds as fast or faster; it must have an intrinsic input impedance equal to or mater than the reference.

Its output voltage swing must be greater, its phase shift must be less, and of course, its output power must be at least as much.
Then, and only then, can the reference transfer function be successfully cloned into the `copy-cat' amp, and unfortunately, the 'dirt cheap' amp becomes not so dirt cheap anymore.
Output current, heat sink metal, output voltage, and power... that's where most of the money is in an amplifier design.
But, Bob, how can your new M-4.0t amplifier at $799
possibly deliver almost as much output current into 2ohms as the
big Krell?

Carver M-4 Ot
Threshold SA-2

Absolute Maximum Output Current, continuous, per
channel, 2ohm reactive load, both channels operating 28 25 22

Ihave agreat patent, the Magnetic Field Power Supply, apower supply that can easily deliver five times as much current as any other power supply of the same manufacturing cost That's how. And my patent doesn't run out for another 11 years.
Until then, or until my next ad, Warmest regards,

P.S. If you'd like to know more about my transfer functions, write to Carver Corporation, in care of me, at P.O. Box 1237,
Lynnwood, WA 98046.


Carver Corporation, P.O. Box 1237, Lynnwood, VVA 98046

as Vegas! Swarming crowds! Bright lights! Showgirls! Excitement! Music! This must be the fabled Las Vegas Strip! No, it's the Las Vegas Convention Center during the 1989 Winter Consumer Electronics Show. Actually, like all CESes, the winter affair is spread out among several venues: the Convention Center, home to everything from digital watches to video; the adjoining Hilton Hotel, holding more of the same; the Sahara Hotel, embracing the "Adult" Video vendors; and the Riviera Hotel, hosting Specialty Audio exhibitors. There's actually agood deal of overlap: some audio products were to be found in the "Zoo" (the, ah, affectionate name for the Convention Center), and some video products were shown in the Riviera. To my knowledge, however, no audio manufacturers confused "esoteric" with "erotic" and set up shop in the Sahara. It's not exactly awell-kept secret that Specialty Audio, once the glamor-child of the CES, is now the orphan. At the Summer CES in Chicago it had been squeezed into the tiny rooms at the McCormick Center Hotel. The rooms at the Riviera in Las Vegas, on the other hand, while still far from ideal, are definitely superior to those in the McCormick. The Winter CES is

now, in this writer's opinion, the premier CES for auditioning new audio products. Unfortunately, amassive remodeling and expansion at the Riviera is beginning, and will reach full steam shortly; by 1991 it will be the largest privately owned hotel in the world--its main building, at 42 stories, will be the tallest in Nevada. Ihave no firsthand knowledge as to whether or not this will interfere with next year's CES; it would be afirst-class calamity if CES moved Specialty Audio back to the Sahara. Their one show there, in 1986, was asonic disaster.
Ishould have known what Iwas letting myself in for when Iagreed to cover loudspeakers for this show report. Every year there are more new loudspeaker designs than those in almost any other product category. Inevitably, Imust have missed something. I'm reasonably certain Isaw everything of (audio) significance at the "Zoo." Time limitations prevented me from checking out the exhibitors at the Golden Nugget, adowntown hotel where asmall gaggle of manufacturers hold their own little mini-show each year, but JA managed to cover it. I'm certain Iat least stuck my head into every room in the Riviera. But there were the inevitable overcrowded rooms, over-loud rooms, and excru-

Stereophile, March 1989

dating rooms. Imade anote to return to all but the latter two categories (from which Ifled in
sheer panic), but there is never enough time at aCES, so Ididn't get back to some. So, apologies to those Imissed. Before Ibegin, afew "housekeeping" notes: with rare exceptions, I'll only cover new products. All prices quoted are per pair unless otherwise stated, and availability dates and prices of products not yet on the market should be considered tentative-- the manufacturer's best estimate as of early January 1989.
Every show, it seems, sees the establishment of a"trend" in loudspeaker design. This show was no exception: the trend was the threepiece loudspeaker system. That is, two satellites and a(non),-subwoofer. You already know about such systems from Bose and Cambridge Soundworks 2(unless you just returned from along visit with your guru in Tibet). Now we also have systems from AR, Boston Acoustics, and Design Acoustics. The Bose Boston Acoustics, and AR systems all appear to be variations on atheme by KEF (Models 104 and 107) after an idea by Elipson. Specifically, they incorporate atotally enclosed woofer or woofers connected to the outside world by vented ports. They are, in essence, tuned resonators, their success dependent upon the designer's skill. None of them (save the KEF, which also incorporates external equalization) is in any way competitive with atrue subwoofer. But, Isuppose, they fill some perceived market need.
But on to the stuff you really want to know about. Here, in no particular order, is the scoop on the latest from the wonderful, wacky world of loudspeakers. (There were, as usual, acouple of really wacky ones, which I'll get to in due course.)
B&W introduced the Matrix 802 Series 2 Much as the older 802 paralleled the 801, the new Matrix 802 uses two 200mm bass drivers, in contrast to the Matrix 801's single 300mm woofer, and claims abass extension down to 27Hz in contrast to its larger sibling's 20Hz (with B&W's bass alignment filter). The $3600 802 Matrix appears to use the same mid- and high-frequency drivers as its big brother, and is 3dB more sensitive. (That noise you hear in the background is Stereopbile's own Bill Sommerwerck grinding his teeth and bashing his
ISee DO's subwoofcr review in the January 1989 issue. 2Actually, the Cambridge Soundworin is afintr-piece system, with two subwoofers.

head against the wall. Last year he bought six --count 'ern--six 801 Matrices (three pair) to use in his surround-sound system. He could have saved Sit, and left himself some room to actually cohabit his listening room with his loudspeakers, had the 802 Matrix been available at the time.)
Hales Audio is not aname likely to be familiar to most audiophiles--certainly it wasn't to me. Their System Tivo is their first effort (in the manner of Versa Dynamics, their System One will come later). It consists of two 7" woofers mounted symmetrically (above and below) an inverted, ICevlar-dome tweeter. A cutaway mock-up of the loudspeaker cabinet revealed avery solidly constructed, heavily braced (and well-finished) system with good-quality crossover parts. The drivers, too, are quality units-- the woofers appeared to be Dynaudios, the tweeter aFocal. The price struck me as rather on the high side at $2300, but the sound was very well balanced. In short, anew company with anew product worthy of attention.
SOTA is already on the market with their $1595 Panorama loudspeakers. Here they an-
Thomas J. Aorton, Dick Olsher, and John Atkinson report on the 1989 Winter Consumer Electronics Show

Stereophile, March 1989

flounced aless expensive stablemate with a more conventionally shaped cabinet, the Vista. Retailing for S995, it has a7" Kevlar-cone woofer and Y4"tweeter. The introduction was rather low-key however, and the Vista was not to be heard in the SOTA suite--where the Panorama had appropriated the sonic duties.
Acoustic Research was on hand with their full range of loudspeakers (including the aforementioned STC 660 three-piece system). The AR display, in fact, was the design highlight of the show. The entire room was set up to resemble an old-time Western town, complete with horses (not real ones, alas), and the whole AR staff gussied-up as mean, gun-totin' hombres. Along one wall of this large room was arow of Western storefronts, each one ademo room. As Imoseyed into the local saloon (or was it the General Store-1 can't recall) Iwas confronted by the upcoming AR Spirit Series. It's aline of six models, all save the largest designed for stand-mounting. They don't look particularly impressive, but are supposedly designed with attention to detail: frameless grilles, 36c-m thick,
AR Spirit speakers are designed in the UK by ex-journalist David Berriman.

dual-density front baffle, and direct-driven woofers in the two-ways (designed for asmooth, natural rolloff, thus eliminating the need for crossover components in the woofer circuits). One of the smaller models was on demo (I believe it was the least expensive), but sounded well-balanced and reasonably open for such asmall, probably inexpensive design. Isay "probably" because no prices have been set as yet. The whole line was designed in the UK by David Berriman, and originally made for AR's European market. The US versions will be manufactured here. Availability is expected by
summer. The AR exhibit was in one of several large
display areas on the Riviera's lobby level. Close by the AR suite were two rooms which were highlights of the show. In one, Fosgate /Audionics combined their surround-sound system with projection television from Barco Electronics. The stunner here was the showing of
an extended NHK (Japanese) High-Definition Television video tape on alarge screen--I'd guess perhaps 9'x15'. Whereas in most projection TV setups with surround sound, the sound clearly dominates, in this demo Irecall little about the sound--the picture was so stunning that it shut out everything else. Alas, the compatible HDTV systems Ihave seen don't come close in quality to this dedicated design, and our FCC has mandated that any system chosen for the US must be compatible with existing NTSC sets. The only way you'll ever see the real McCoy in your home is via fiber-optic cable,
apossibility being pursued in some quarters. Two rooms down from Fosgate/Barco, Wil-
son Audio was making astunning impression in more ways than one. The primary attraction here was the introduction of the Series VI
WAMM. The general configuration remains the same--WAMM groupies will recognize it immediately--but the design changes are considerable. First of all, the midrange enclosures (located above and below the tweeter module) are now larger, built with sloping front baffles for time alignment, and made of the same mineral-loaded material used in the WATT. When Ifirst saw the WATT at aWinter CES a few years back, Icommented to Dave that he should use apair of WATTs as midrange drivers in an updated WAMM. The new midrange boxes aren't WAT'lb (they're smaller and more rectangular), but are cut from the same cloth. Perhaps they could be called mini-WATTs. Or perhaps

Stereophile, March 1989

"WATM"? 3In any event, the internal design of these midrange systems is also changed, as is the crossover of the complete system. The front baffle of the mid-woofer cabinet (not the separate subwoofers) is also made of the WATT's cabinet material. The never-svelte WAMM is now even more weighty-2000 pounds for the four-piece system. Aton of fun. Price? If you have to ask ...0K, so it's $80,000 (including Dave Wilson's personal setup services). The sound? Easily the most imposing at the show, and in many (but not all) ways the best. But it depended on where you were seated. Ilistened from the back row, which Iwas told held the "reviewer" seats. Afriend who attended the demo twice (and sat in both the back and front rows) reported that the sound in back was indeed the best. In front, to put it charitably, it was disappointing. The WAMM is a"voiced" system, and is naturally at its best in the seat used for that voicing.
For those interested, Wilson was using (if my notes are correct) the Ken Chan Koetsu pickup (this modified by Sound Chamber in Hong Kong), the Versa Dynamics 2.0 turntable/arm, Vendetta Research phono preamps driving a custom, John Curl-designed, line preamplifier, Krell amplification (References on the fullrange units, KMA-200s on the subwoofers), and MIT cables throughout.
There was other news from the Wilson suite as well. The WATT will soon be available in a Series II configuration from $5700; earlier units can be updated. Among the changes in the Series II are aclaimed improvement in midrange linearity, aslightly fuller sound with more low-end impact, and an increase in the minimum impedance (in the 2.2kHz to 2.6kHz region) from 0.4 to 1.7 ohms. The Series Ils were not on demo. Also new--CDs from Wilson Audio! The market demands were apparently too strong. Ipicked up two new Wilson recordings on CD and also purchased the same discs on vinyl. Iplan to compare them soon. But not now; we must move on (reluctantly) from the Wilson Audio suite and get on with the report.
Alt« Lansing has built on the technology developed for their flagship, the five-way active Bias 550 (to be reviewed next month in Stereopbile), with another, considerably less expensive model, the 512. Also self-powered, this
3Wilson Audio lbeny

four-way, five-driver system is tri-amped, its internal amplifiers totaling 400Wpc. The front panel has driver-level adjustments, and the bass crossover point can also be varied from 80 to 250Hz. When Iheard them they did not appear to be at their optimum, but with the adjustments available there is aconsiderable margin for success or failure in the setup. Price, $4500. An unpowered version, the 511 (at $3000), may also be externally tri-amped.
Carver now has two 'Amazing" models, the Platinum edition at $2695 and the smaller Silver at $2195. Though these are substantially more expensive than the original, they also include an electronic control system. This device provides asonic hologram generator, asub-bass generator, and anew "Gundry Perspective" control. This last is the most intriguing, and is said to psychoacoustically vary the listener's distance from the loudspeakers. For those who just want the loudspeakers without the extras, you'll have to wait afew months when aversion of the Silver may become available sans electronic processors.
Opus 3now has aline of loudspeakers available through May Audio. But the important news is that May Audio will be distributing their superb LPs and CDs. The reports reaching me
of Opus 3's demise may have been premature. Infinity has anew RS series of mid-priced
loudspeakers, six models ranging from the 2001 ($238) to the floor-standing 6001 ($1058). All have newly developed woofers of injection-
molded graphite. The midrange domes use a polypropylene skin reinforced with hollow graphite spheres. EMIT tweeters are used in the top two models. Their display was not con-
ducive to serious auditioning when Iwas there, much business being conducted. Infinity, incidentally, appears to save their big guns for the Chicago show, their more popularly priced models for Las Vegas. Audio Research, Counterpoint, and Versa Dynamics, however, were all using IRS Betas in their setups, and Infinity president Arnie Nudell was seen several times in the halls, apparently checking closely to
make sure his next-to-the-top models were making agood showing. They were at their best in the Versa Dynamics room (with VTL/ Manley electronics).
I'll make an exception, at this point, to my stated intention to discuss only new developments. Precise Acoustic Laboratories had their Monitor 10 set up in adedicated room,

Stereophile, March 1989



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Getting what JA thought to be agood sound in aroom that, strictly speaking, was too small, Counterpoint was one of anumber of exhibitors using Infinity IRS Betas.

driven by Spectral electronics (including the Spectral CD player/preamp) and demonstrated by designer Keith Johnson. The sound here was strikingly good--clean, naturally detailed, and spacious. Keith uses an unusual low-frequency design with this system. The ported cabinet is apparently tuned to alower frequency than called for by standard alignments. This is said to optimize the overall, in-room response, not the anechoic performance. It appears to work remarkably well. The bass end was stunning in its depth and impact, especially for arelatively small, mid-priced (81595) loudspeaker.
The Avance Delta 2loudspeaker from Denmark made impressive sounds in the. Just Speakers4room. This is amedium-size, standmounted, two-way system in the shape of a truncated pyramid. The drivers-6.5" Kevlar woofer and soh-dome tweeter--are both from Scan, and the cabinet is cast from an inert fiber concrete. Avance makes acomplete line of speakers, some larger than the Delta 2, but only
4Just Speakers is asupplier of raw drivers and parts from a number of manufacturers and appears to be primarily awholesale operation.

the latter was on display. It was one of the best small loudspeakers Iheard at the show. The Scan tweeter is arelatively new design, smoother and sweeter than previous tweeters from that source, and the Kevlar midrange appeared to
combine low coloration with reasonable bass extension and weight for so small an enclosure (14 liters). No US importer had been found as of my visit, but some had expressed interest.
Nestorovic Labs' 'type 5AS Mark Ill has been updated several times since DO's review nearly three years ago (Vol.9 No.5). The de-
igner, the genial Mile Nestorovic, played one of his Nagra-recorded master tapes (Seattle Symhony, Ibelieve) over the 5ASes, and the results were impressive. At $3000/pair, aretest might be in order.
There's been a rethinking of high-end models at Kindel Audio. The PLS-As and PLS-
Bs have been well received, but apparently the shippers took adislike to them and damaged afair proportion. The new top-of-the-line MQLS- 1(81850) should be available by the time you read this. It's atwo-piece system with amoderately large subwoofer module on the bottom and atall, narrow mid/tweeter cabinet

Stereophile, March 1989


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Flanked by the new VMPS Super Tower Ill speakers, from left to right are J. Peter Moncrieff of IAR, Clark Johnsen of The Modern Audio Association and author of The Wood Effect, Brian Cheney of VMPS, and Neil Levenson of Fanfare and The Absolute Sound.

on top. The subwooter is avented, dual-10"
driver system with aclaimed F3 (3dB-down point) of 26Hz and strong output to 20Hz. The upper section has an array of four 6.5" drivers --two on top, two on the bottom--and asin-
gle 1" dome at the center. The response of the four midrange drivers is staggered so that all of
them respond in the lower part of their range, but only the inner two in the upper portion (between the 2pi/4pi transition). The system sounded very open in alimited audition, perhaps alittle laid-back but with avery detailed yet sweet high end.
VMPS was on hand with its new Super Tower Ills (84695/pair). Big changes from the earlier version include asymmetrical midtweeter array (the leaf supertweeter is now in the middle instead of at the top, where it fired over everyone's heads), and anew cabinet design with curved front edges for reduced diffraction. This change also has the incidental but welcome effect of improving the cabinet's appearance, as does the new, light oak finish. VMPS's cosmetics have moved smartly from the '50s to the '80s in one swell foop. Brian Cheney played me his German cowbell and alphorn recording--heady stuff. Irequested excerpts from the Willow soundtrack (Virgin Records America, 790939-2), and Brian proceeded to rock the walls with this spectacular recording. 5

Vandersteen showed the improved model 2Ci (111195/pair) which seemed, on abrief audition, to be more open at the top than its predecessor. Iunderstand apair has been sent to JA for evaluation. Iasked Richard Vandersteen about the rumored Model 3. There really is such an animal in the works. It will be abit taller than the 2Ci (no stands required) and will sell for around $2500/pair. Richard said it just might be ready for the Stereopbile show in San Francisco in April. Here's hoping.
One of the more striking new loudspeakers, at least in concept, was shown by Sumo. Known as the Aria (no relation to California Audio Labs' CD player of the same name), it is atall, wide, planar system of radically new design. The driver consists of asingle-element, full-range loudspeaker. Its "cone" is aflat, thin, polyester membrane, driven at its center by what appears to be aconventional voice-coil. It is said to react as apoint source, rather than as apiston, with true coherency. And it did sound coherent. Prototypes of this same system had been shown in Chicago and needed further work. The design shown in Las Vegas appeared to
5Ihad just bought this album the day before at the local lbwer Records--got their last copy--after hearing it in Dave Wilson's suite on the WAMMs. The record had been mixed down over WATIii and Entrc subwoofcrs with impressive sonic results--which is why Dave had used it. Musically, however,
can't say, having only heard parts of it as of this writing.

Stereophile, March 1989

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address most of the problems. The loudspeaker is the work of designers Paul Burton and Moray Campbell at Highwood Audio in Canada, and is being distributed by Sumo. The only problem Isee is one of perceived value: the Aria will sell for $3000, and appears to be afar less complex system to manufacture than some considerably less expensive systems, both planar and conventional. Still, smaller, less-expensive
versions were shown in Chicago and can be expected in the next year or two if the design principle proves successful.
Thiel showed their existing line of loudspeakers. The much-fabled CS 5, however, was not yet to be seen. It might be ready for Summer CES in Chicago, according to Tom Thiel (Tom is General Manager, brother Jim heads up
design). So don't look for it in the stores just yet.
Another new company, Crigier Brothers, showed their new Slant Six loudspeaker. You may not be familiar with the Criglers by name, but they originally formed two of the three principals of MCM, aloudspeaker company you may have heard of. When the third principal, Jim Hauer, moved north to Dayton, Ohio with the company's name and designs (it eventually became Focus), the Criglers remained
behind in Mobile, Alabama and began working on new designs and tending to their (still operating) retail business. The Slant Six is their first product to be introduced for national distribution (a larger system is in the works). It is basically atwo-piece system (6.5" woofer, metal-dome tweeter) abit taller than atypical two-way but still requiring (short) stands. The front is sharply raked. If you took aSpica TC-50 and stretched it to about three times its present height, you'd have arough idea of the shape it is very solidly built, with a1.375"-thick cabinet. The price of the two-way will be $950 with stands. Also available is amatching 8" subwoofer, whose cabinet is designed to sit under the Slant Six and take the place of the stands (its narrow front matches the Slant Six, but it extends deeper in the rear to obtain the necessary volume). With subwoofer, the price is $1699. While one choral recording Ilistened to sounded abit forward through the midrange, anumber of other discs demonstrated avery promising sound--clean, sweet, unexaggerated highs, extended bass (I heard it with the subwoofer), and fine soundstaging.
Loudspeaker news at Conrad-Johnson

revolved around anew, bookshelf-sized version of the LM210, the CM205 ($995). C-J had
a"silent" display, so no audition was possible, but the new speaker is said to incorporate all of the qualities of the '210 save for some reduction in low-end extension. Except for styling (which some may prefer), Ibelieve that the LM210 might still make more economic sense, at least for the dedicated audiophile who wouldn't dream of putting this "bookshelf' system on areal bookshelf. You still need stands, which will bring the total cost of the '205 up to nearly the price of the '210.
Ihad planned to visit with Monitor Audio's head honcho, Mo Iqbal, to get the scoop on his latest tweeter, asophisticated dome of aluminum/magnesium alloy anodized with gold. But Ididn't get back to the MA suite until the last day, by which time Mo was winging his way back to the UK. Sorry, Mo. But Idid get to hear the new model based on this tweeter design. The tweeter appears to be derived from the one used in the R852/952 loudspeakers (still on my list of the best dome tweeters around), but the application of gold is said to further improve stiffness (the first breakup mode is claimed to be 28kHz, 5kHz higher than in the earlier design). A brief audition of the new Monitor Audio 1200/Gold MD demonstrated superb HF detail without excess, and no obvious grain, tizz, or other nasties. Iwas not seated in the "sweet spot," however, so judgment of the other qualities of this new design will have to wait until we are able to do afull review. The 1200 is anarrow, floor-standing column combining what looks to be about a7" woofer (the literature does not say) with the new tweeter. Cabinet finish is typical of Monitor Audio,
which is to say bettered by no one. It doesn't come cheap, however, at $2250.
Sound-Lab demonstrated their A5/B5 combination. The $5000/pair A-5 is the smallest of Sound-Lab's single-diaphragm cylindrical radiators, the B-5 ($2500 each) is their smallest flatpanel electrostatic subwoofer. A single B-5 flanked by apair of A-5s was set up (Sound-Lab had brought apair of the B-5s, but there wasn't room for the full system), driven by the previously unheard (by me) MFA tube electronics. The overall balance was impressive, but soundstaging--both imaging and depth--was less so. Isuspect this system simply must have more room to breathe than was provided by asmall hotel suite, where it formed avirtual room-

Stereophile, March 1989


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divider. Visually, the arrangement was imposing, but less intimidating in the natural, light finish seen here than in the black seen at an earlier CES. 6
Permit me abrief digression to cover two items of anon-loudspeaker nature. Reference Recordings announced the first of what may
be aseries of laser video discs. Produced by a man who must be world's most knowledgeable videophile, Joe Kane,' it is atest disc designed to assist the home-user in proper setup
and calibration of the videophile's monitor and audio system, and includes some impressive demonstration material as well. If you're into laser video, this disc is amust-have. It will retail for $59.95. On adiffetent note, Audio-lècimica
announced that they will be marketing the

passing an accident, Isuppose.
I've saved the highlight of the show for last: Snell Acoustics demonstrated aprototype of their Model B, alarge, floor-standing, four-way system designed to compensate for common room-mode problems. This is particularly true in the bass, where two 10" woofers are placed in anear-floor position to compensate for the 'Allison effect" (a common midbass dip caused by mounting woofers above the floor). The two woofers are also staggered in position-- one in front, one in the rear--to further smooth any inevitable location-caused anomalies. The Model B is alarge (bigger than the Type A), four-way, ported design; in addition to the two woofers, it includes an 8" midwoofer, 1.5" mid-tweeter, and 0.75" super

0C9 pickup (reviewed in the February 1989 Stereopbde by yours truly) in the US under their Signet banner. Price is expected to be S700, a welcome $200 reduction from the price
charged by other "gray-market" importers. Every show, it seems, sees the introduction
of the unbelievable product or two. Loudspeakers seem particularly prone to the bizarre Waterworks Acoustics was in attendance
with their Soundpipes. Made of what appears to be PVC piping about 5-6" in diameter, curved at the top like aship's ventilation stack, the System l`vo (there is asmaller System One)
incorporates two 5" woofers and a dome tweeter in asymmetrical, over-under configuration. It must be seen to be appreciated. A subwoofer is available. Water resistance is claimed. It wasn't being properly demonstrated, so Ican't comment on the sound; you'll have to paddle down to your nearby Waterworks Acoustics dealer to hear them for yourself.
Compared with our next entry, the Soundpipes came across as aserious audiophile effort. Acompany called Amtech Video Audio Manufacturing has taken your ordinary track
lighting, removed the light sockets, and installed loudspeakers therein. Honest. Separate modules are available for woofer, tweeter, and midrange. According to the literature, you can "stack woofers, tweeters, midranges in any

tweeter. The dispersion of the latter is said to eliminate the need for arear tweeter. Flat response is claimed to 18Hz, with a119dB capa-
bility (at 1meter) at that frequency. Ican't vouch for the latter, but other observers reported aclean 16Hz tone from the system. More to the point, on demonstration the system revealed astrikingly real sound. Balance was superb, soundstaging precise, and bass could only be described as awesome. Kevin Voecks, Snell's designer, conducted the demo. It was pre-programmed, with 18 varied selections (committed from CD to DAT for convenience) played in acompletely darkened room. The latter, in my experience, always helps, but most of the credit goes to the loudspeaker. It's agood thing it was demonstrated in the dark; the ridiculous grin on my face
throughout the demonstration would have been very embarrassing. But don't expect to find the Bat your Snell dealer just yet; these were engineering prototypes. Afinished system is still six months to ayear away, price forecast at $3500.
The Triad System Ten is the work of designers David Cornwall and Robert Grodinsky. Readers might recall that Bob Grodinsky marketed aline of electronics under his own name in the early '80s. Their System Ten has been designed with special attention to minimizing

sequence or position you desire." Ididn't get to hear them--the room, believe it or not, was

the effects of stored energy. This three-way system has three rather ordinary-looking drivers,

too crowded! Sort of like slowing down when a10" woofer, and 4" midrange dome tweeter,

housed in an elegant truncated pyramid of a

6Which may have been the A-3/B-3 combo. Idon't rece.
7See Kanes interview with Robert E. Greene in Vol.I No.2 of The Perfect Vision.

cabinet with gently curved top and sides. The sound was dynamic and punchy, yet open. 'Iliad has been known in the past primarily for

Stereophile, March 1989


1988 Stereophile magazine reader survey -- ·91°. of Magneplanar
owners said they would buy Magneplanars if they had it to do over again. 8°. said "maybe" and less than 100* said "no." ·More Stereophile readers owned Magneplanars than any other speaker brand.
1989 Inside Track survey conducted with dealers, Magnepan was rated: #1 in Distribution Policies #2 in Prompt Resolution of
Problems #2 in Quality of Sales Reps

tho feeling is mutual!
Striving for quality since 1971

1645 Ninth Street White Bear Lake, MN 55110
'If you are one of the 1°. who are unhappy with your Magneplanars. please let us know why.

their satellite/subwoofer systems aimed at the video sound market. The System Ten, at $2500, just might give them an entry into the audiophile market.
This is where I'm supposed to do my best Siskel and Ebert impersonation and pick the Best Sound of Show. It's atoss between the WAMM and the Snell B. The Snell B clearly made the biggest impression on this reviewer, but Icouldn't avoid reflecting on the cost of the WAMM during my audition of that imposing product. To be fair to the latter, it had to fill a room at least six times the size of that holding the Snells, with an audience of at least 30 people soaking up the sound.
Another year, another Las Vegas CES. Shortly before the show, Ireceived aletter from an old friend, who's not really into audio, asking me to recommend a good loudspeaker. The requirements? It had to mount on the wall and cost less than $150/pair. I'm still pondering what to write in his "Dear Wayne" letter. We sometimes forget that the larger manufacturers have to deal with just this sort of attitude from the great General Public Fortunately, the high end is under no such limitation. They keep pushing at the physical barriers separating today's loudspeakers from the ideal. Such efforts are invariably costly--we'll never see audio Nirvana for $150--but as long as customers are willing to pay the price, the effort will continue. One thing is certain, however: Stereopbile is unlikely to run short of interesting loudspeakers to review in years ahead.
--Thomasj. Norton
Dick Olsher
The Sun Sets on the Finial Technology laser l'urntable: Dateline January 6, 1989, Las Vegas, Nevada. In the parlance of acrapshooter, the Finial Laser Ibrntable "sevenedout." At apress conference, Finial surprised everyone by announcing the cancellation of any marketing plans for the 'table. Ironically, this came on the heels of an initial production run of some 35 units and aclear vindication of the technology that went into the 'table. According to ex-GE executive Jacques Robinson, the company's chairman, Finial concluded, on the basis of acost analysis, "that the unit is too expensive to produce." Retail price estimates of only three months ago were in the vicinity of about $4000. Currently, Finial believes a

price tag of $8k to $10k to be more realistic. Finial no longer sees the 'table as being afford-
able by a"large" number of audiophiles, and does not consider that an annual production of 300 units would produce asatisfactory return on investment. The technology, however, is available for licensing, and Finial is looking at alternative applications.
Unquestionably, the 'table is hellishly complicated, difficult to build in small batches, and very expensive. Yet, in the context of aGoldmund Reference or aVersa Dynamics, it does represent exceptional value, and the underlying technology works very well indeed. Asample from the initial production run was on hand so that those of us assembled at this public execution "could actually see and hear the real thing, and how great it sounds." The Laser Ibrntable excelled in the playback of old and worn records. An old, '70s-vintage, chronically abused Jim Croce album sounded brand new. Because the groove angle (as determined by reflection of alight beam from the top portion of the groove wall) and its associated radius of curvature are used to determine the modulation velocity, the optical 'table is not bothered by such surface damage as scratches. And ticks and pops are effectively suppressed by afastacting "Noise Blanker circuit." The demonstration even included aCD vs LP single-blind comparison. And Iclearly preferred the sound of the LP Oh, in case you're wondering, the initial production run is not for sale. It will be relegated to collecting dust on the shelf. Isuppose that Finial is not anxious to give competitors achance to study the design in detail, but Isee this more properly as atombstone to the audio crime of the century. We've had this juicy bone dangled in front of our collective psyches
for three years now--only to have it rudely yanked away.
Analog News: In spite of the ever-growing digital specter of doom and gloom in the '905, there was aspate of new and mostly affordable turntables. Bill Firebaugh of the Well-litinpered lab has been very busy fathering two new 'tables. Joining the Well-Tempered 'table ($1695 w/arm) are the WT Record Player ($795), which includes asimplified version of the WT arm, and acost-no-object 'table/arm at $5000. The budget 'table gives up little of the established WT technological base: the plinth is damped, the belt-driven platter is made from

Stereophile, March 1989


acrylic, the armtube is sand-filled, the arm pivot is damped with silicon fluid, the motor mount is isolated from the plinth, and the WT bearing has been retained.

Arcia's Onyx, designed by Rodney Herman.

Bill Firebaugh's no-holds-barred attempt on LP replay, the WTT Signature, will cost $5000.

Anew line of Dual turntables is now available in the US, imported by Ortofon Inc. Of most interest in the line, whose prices range from $180 to $750, is the CS 7000 ($750), also

Dubbed "the next best record player," the

Model 1.0 from Versa Dynamics reflects most

of the technology of the Model 2.0 at amore

"affordable" $6000 price point. The Model 1.0

features asimplified Versa arm, azero-clearance

spindle bearing system, and avacuum hold-

down system. The air compressor system is

new, and partly because of the reduced air-flow

requirements of the 1.0, it is very quiet and can

be conveniently placed within the listening

environment. And I'm told by reliable sources

that the 1.0 sonically gives up very little, if any-

thing, to its much more expensive big brother.


È , 10

dubbed the Golden 1. This is athree-speed,
semi-automatic, belt-driven 'table, complete with adecent dynamically balanced tonearm,
floating subchassis, wood plinth, and beautiful black piano lacquer and 24-carat gold trim.
On the third floor of the Riviera it was difficult not to bump into one of the May Audio Marketing suites, as they occupied no less than six rooms. And no wonder--May Audio and Nizar Akhrass now import WBT connectors, QED accessories and electronics, Deema record accessories, Castle speakers, Target
audio products, RATA turntable stands and the lbrlyte mod kit for the Linn, Alphason,Jeck-

M I Float headphones, Kristlin products,

Haropa. Opus 3records, CDs, and speakers,

Goldring cartridges, and apartridge in apear

tree Joining the Alphason line is amoderately

priced turntable ($900) designed along the lines

of the more costly Sonata. The Solo features

a three-point hung suspension, a mineral-

loaded elastomer platter, and aspecially devel-

oped bearing material that is claimed to reduce

"The next best record player": Versa

noise levels with continued playing.

Dynamics' Model 1.0.

Basis Audio announced the introduction

of the Basis "Debut Gold Standard," an up-

Rod Herman is at it again. Having severed his ties with SOTA, he has designed and engi-
neered anew budget 'table, called the Onyx, for Arcici. The plinth is lead-packed, and nonsuspended. Vibrational isolation is accom-
plished with damping pads made of aSorbothane-derivative material. Belt drive is achieved
via a magnetically shielded synchronous motor. The platter is 1" -thick acrylic. A $160 isolation stand is included in the package, which is projected to retail for $895.

graded version of the original and by now twoyear-old "Debut." Changes in the motor and pulley are claimed to increase torque delivery to the platter without increasing the noise level. The platter and bearing have also been improved and "have resulted in lower friction,
lower noise, and atenfold increase in the precision of the rotating assembly." Retail price of the new model is $6900.
Imanaged to get acloser look at the Sim-
plyPhysics Aviator tonearm. This is atangen-


Stereophile, March 1989

tial air-bearing arm using acrylic for both the arm and airtube. Forced air exiting through holes in the top of the fixed airtube creates a laminar boundary between the tube and a lightweight glide The horizontal mass appears
to be much less than that of similar designs, and at $950, complete with pump, it would appear to compete sonically with much more expensive arms.
Dynavector has come up with an improved magnetic circuit for its line of moving-coil cartridges. Dynavector points out that conventional design assumes that the magnetic force
is constant and unaffected by armature movements; the output voltage of the coil is presumed to be strictly proportional to the velocity of the stylus or cantilever. However, cantilever movement produces atime-varying change in the magnetic force which then intermodulates the output voltage. This effect can appar-
ently be minimized by the addition of ashorting wire or ring on the front yoke of the mag-
netic circuit. The model XX -1 ($1295), ahighoutput MC with asolid boron cantilever, incorporates aswitchable "flux damper," or shorting
wire in the cartridge body itself. If this is such asignificant improvement, then I'm not sure Iunderstand the benefit of being able to switch it off.
Moving-coil cartridges by Benz of Switzerland are now available in the US from Panther Enterprises. Benz is the outfit that manufactures the van den Hul and Carnegie cartridges, so expect similar cartridges at amore favorable price.

ating in parallel at 36MHz in a64x oversampiing technique (equivalent to the computing power of 100 PCs), then the price begins to make alot of sense.
Theta Digital introduced the DS Pro processor ($3200), the processor-only version of their DS Pre digital preamplifier reviewed by Lewis Lipnick in this issue. The Pro does not have the control functions of the Pre, and therefore needs aline-level preamp.
Even Krell has entered the field. Krell Digital's DSP-1 processor uses four Motorola
DSP56000 chips and 64x oversampling. Burr
Brown's fastest 18-bit DACs are used. Pure class-A current-to-voltage converters are used at the DAC outputs. The entire processing chain of the DSP-1, after the feed from the laser is decoded, is completely dual -mona There are two Motorola 56000 processors, one Burr Brown DAC, one current-to-voltage convertor, and one balanced analog gain stage per chan-
nel. As you can imagine, the projected price tag
is ahefty $6500. Krell, however, has gone one step further than the competition and is also offering amechanical counterpart to the DSP1--the MD-1 CD Transport. Of course, you may use your favorite CD player with the DSP-1 or opt for the best transport money can buy (a mere $3000 or so). You're bound to get a chuckle out of the MD-1; there's aclear visual resemblance here to an analog turntable. It's atop-loading system--the CD spins freely in the center of the unit, held down by aweighted puck, and there is even adust cover in the

The Digital Frontier: Digital signal processors are proliferating. Such devices are based on the assumption that even expensive CD players do not provide the ultimate in digital
filtering and digital-to-analog conversion proficiency. At present this is avalid assumption. Typically, CD players employ cheap (read slow
and non-linear) DACs and do not possess the computing power to perform sophisticated digital filtering. These processors take over the digital data stream from aCD player's digital output socket and do the rest of the processing.
The Wadia 2000 processor was in evidence at anumber of suites. It packs alot of technical sophistication, and, at about $6500, is one of the most expensive devices of this type that Iknow of. But when you consider that it uses
premium 18-bit DACs and four DSP chips oper-

Krell Digital's top-loading (I) MD-1 CD transport
works. In the tradition of the finest analog 'tables, the entire Transport is isolated from mechanical vibrations (I wonder, though, if the dust cover will introduce airborne acoustic feedback from the speakers). The unit is built around an all-metal Philips industrial-grade CD transport and laser mechanism. The laser uses aglass lens rather than aplastic one to improve

Stereophile, March 1989


Synergistic Power Line Conditioner
Audio, Video or Computer Applications

Power line disturbances, by way of voltage transients or noise can damage today's sensitive electronic equipment. These disturbances have been shown to drastically impair the quality of audio reproduction in all applications, regardless of equipment price.
The SYNERGISTIC POWER LINE CONDITIONER was designed to effectively protect electronic equipment by suppressing voltage transients, RFI, and noise -whether pulsed, continuous, and/or intermittent.
Virtually any electrical or electronic equipment that feeds interference into, or picks up interference from the power lines will be adequately
The S.P.L.C. is unique in that it comprises two totally independent power line conditioners in one enclosure ensuring absolute isolation between each pair of outlets for a total capacity of 1800 watts.

The rugged construction and unique "star" grounding technique employed in the S.P.L.C., will provide years of reliable and safe operation.
Specifically designed for very low impedance and highly reactive loads, the S.P.L.C. is well suited for audio, video and data processing equipment.
Other features include extremely low insertion loss, visual indicators for transient protection, non-magnetic chassis and a5-year limited warranty.
Inouye Enterprises Limited
Canada: Box 1005, Delta B.C. V4M 312 U.S.: 187, 810 Peace Portal Drive,
Blaine WA 98230
Phone: (604) 946-0779 FAX: (604) 946-1405
Distributed in Canada and U.S. by:
Artech Electronics Ltd.
Canada: 699 Meloche Ave.. Dorval. Quebec H9P 2S4 U.S.: P.O. Box 1165. Champlain N.Y. 12919
Phone: (514) 631-6448 FAX: (514) 631-1212
Dealer Inquiries Welcome

focusing and increase the useful life of the optics. Apparently the plastic lenses tend to cloud up after several years of use.
Amuch more modest offering comes from A&R Cambridge. The Arcam Delta Black Box is designed to improve on the sound of budget CD players and offers selected dual Philips 16bit DACs, 4x oversampling and digital filtering, discrete class-A analog circuitry using audio-
phile-grade caps and resistors, and afully regulated power supply. Retail price is also modest, amere $650. See JA's review last month to find out how it sounds.
Oh yes, there were also afew new CD play-
ers. Kinergetics unveiled the KCD-20B. This is a16-bit version of the superb KCD-20A (14bit machines are no longer available), and is
based on the 680 Philips chassis using selected digital filters and DAC chips. Price will be $1195.
Melos Audio introduced the CD-T8 ($2295): an 8x oversampling, 18-bit deck using an alltube analog section. The player (surprise!) is
based not on the ubiquitous Philips chassis, but on the Sony 507 (better transport).
Finally, SimplyPhysics is doing something about that flimsy Philips transport. The !sodrive ($99.95) is atwo-part mod for any of the Philips 560, 471, 472, 473, and 650 players. The
Isodrive replaces the Philips upper disc clamp and bearing with amachined brass rod and bearing assembly (or, in the 560/650 players, with amachined Delrin thrust point). The new bearing snaps right into the same fitting used
by the Philips bearing, and should be easy to install. Next, a5" -diameter plastic disc is placed in the drawer on top of the CD you wish to play. This disc has aslightly raised lip and alow-
friction upper surface; as it is pushed down over the CD by the upper bearing, it flattens and dampens the CD. The Isodrive is also claimed to center the CD to the true center of spin. Rick Roberts of SimplyPhysics is adamantly opposed to what he calls the ring runaround: the Sims Vibration Rings, aka Monster
Cable CD Rings, aka Euphonic Technology CD Rings, alca Audioquest CD Rings. First, he claims that it is impossible to apply the rings accur-
ately enough to truly stabilize the CD. Second, according to Rick, the rings start oozing glue around their edges, which eventually spreads out over the disc surface, trapping dirt; also, the
glue lets go with time, decentering the rings even more Does anyone out there care to comment on the ring problem? Is it real or imagined?

With 4,500,000 CD players sold in 1988, it should not take agenius to figure out that CD sales are also heating up (even though, according to the figures published by the Electronic Industries Association, this gives a market penetration of only 13% of US households). With that kind of market demand, even the staunchest of analog labels now offer CDs. Dave Wilson of Wilson Audio now offers the audiophile achoice, and Iagree completely. If you have not done so already, you should investigate the direct-to-digital, 64x-oversampled jazz CDs from C.hesky Records. Producer David Chesky is quite proud of the musical value and sonic quality of these recordings.
A new and exclusively digital label on the block is Dorian Recordings. Sharing space at the show with Aural Symphonics and using their system, Ispent some time listening to a sampling of Dorian CDs. Played back through apair of Martin-Logan CLSes with Nelson-Reed subwoofers on the bottom, these CDs consistently provided aspacious and natural soundstage. My favorites were The English Lute Song (DOR-90109) and Solid Brass At The Opera (DOR-90108).
Preamps and Amps Galore: The recent trend toward tube/transistor hybrid circuitry has depleted the ranks of the all-tube manufacturers. For example, Counterpoint and Audio Research no longer build pure tube designs. This has led some pundits in the industry to coin the term "token tube" designs. A good example of this is the new Audio Research SP-14 prearnp ($2995). It is all-FET except for asingle 6DJ8 tube in the phono section. Let's face it, this is asolid-state design with merely the slightest tube-sound infusion. Also new from Audio Research are two good-looking power amps--the Classic 30 and 60. Both feature aFET input stage and a6550 output stage
Audio Research $2995 SP-14 preamplifier

Stereophile, March 1989


driven by a6FQ7 phase splitter. The "classic" touch here involves the operation of the 6550 tubes in atriode mode, with the screen grid tied to the plate. The tubes are cooled by avery quiet fan and the amps are touted for their inherent reliability.
Counterpoint's Models 3.1, 5.1, and 7.1 are leaving the line, as is the concept of all-tube designs. Three new hybrid preamps are taking their places: the SA-1000 ($835), the SA-3000 ($1795), and the SA-5000 ($3000). The use of hybrid circuits allows at least 70dB overall gain from the phono input to main out with very good signal/noise ratio. Even a0.5mV nominal MC cartridge can be driven directly into these preamps.
The new Conrad-Johnson PV- 10 represents the latest implementation of the circuit topology pioneered in the Premier Seven. At $995, the PV-10 will be the least expensive preamp in C-J's line. According to Lew Johnson, the PV- 10 is more than aworthy successor to the PV-5, and, at almost half the price of the PV-5, is said to be sonically superior. This alltube design has zero feedback circuits in both line and phono stages, and passive RIAA equalization in the phono stage. The low-impedance regulated power supply uses no electrolytic
Conrad-Johnson's DF -10 combines CD player and line preamplifier
caps (a source of component failure in the past). Instead, expensive polypropylene and polystyrene caps are used exclusively for line filtering and bypass. Also new from C-J is the Model DF -1 CD-player/preamp ($1385). The CD-player section represents C-J's best effort to date, while the FET-based line-level preamp section draws heavily on the Motif line of electronics. Thus, in amodestly priced package, you've got the nucleus for aCD-based system. The preamp section can accommodate two high-level inputs (eg, tape deck and tuner), and also provides atape output. This strikes me as agreat concept, and should appeal to those audiophiles who have kicked the analog bucket.
C-J's PV-10 preamp should find stiff compe-

tition from anumber of sources: Quicksilver Audio's new preamp ($1195), known simply as the Preamplifier, appears to be extremely well built, is all-tube in design, and even uses atube regulator. Additional competition in the same price point is offered by the MFA Magus A-2 preamp ($895) and the Lazarus Cascade Deluxe ($1200).
MFA's $895 Magus A-2
Manley is Vacuum Tube Logic of America's new flagship line. This "reference series" combines much-improved cosmetics (how about stainless-steel covers!) with afew technical improvements over the standard line For example, the Manley 350 monoblocics ($66001 pair) differ from the VTL 300 monoblocks in their slightly higher power rating, and in the Manley's three separate power supplies for the input, driver, and output stages. Also, both the Manley 350 and 150 offer feedback controls and afront-panel selector for bias readout.
The YBA line of electronics is now available through Sumiko, the exclusive US distributor. Designed by Yves Bernard Andre, about as perfectionist an audiophile as you'll ever find, all products in the line are the result of extensive listening, exclusive use of custom passive parts, and careful system integration to assure that the final product is sonically identical to the prototype Three levels of design are available each level consisting of an amp and apreamp. Prices hover around $6000 for Level 1, $3000 for Level 2, and $1600 for Level 3. After Yves Ber-
YEIA's Level 3power amplifier from Sumiko features minimalist design philosophy and much attention to the sound of "passive" components


Stereophile, March 1989

nard gave me the "grand tour," and Iobserved the personal way in which he relates to the various parts in the chassis, Ihad little trouble believing that the design as awhole must sound wonderfully musical. Hook forward to reviewing asampling from this line.
The Futterman is back! Dallas-based and immodestly named Prodigy Audio Laboratories introduced the Monoblock 150 amplifier--an updated version ofJulius Futterman's capacitively coupled, output-transformerless circuit. Improvements in the output stage and power supply are claimed to have improved the bass performance and reliability At $7000/pair they are not cheap, but welcome back anyway!
Prodigy's Monoblock 150 amplifier--a Futterman by any other name!
Sumo introduced the Andromeda II, a$1499, 200W/8-ohm solid-state amp, and, according to Sumo, their "finest high-end amplifier." Sumo also announced that Great American Sound (GAS), the progenitor of such products as Ampzilla and Son of Ampzilla, has been purchased by Sumo's parent company and is being restructured to operate as asister company. The first order of business will be the establishment of factory-authorized service centers around the country to take care of the needs of current GAS owners.
New from Boulder are the 250AE ($3590/ pair) and 500AE ($5590/pair) amplifiers. They are based on the discrete, high-performance op-amp circuit topology of the 500, but without some of the professional touches such as input attenuators. The amps can be used in either stereo or mono mode. In stereo, the power output of the 500AE is 150W into 8 ohms; in mono, apair may be bridged to produce 500W into 8ohms.
Platinum, adivision of Agtron and anew guy on the block, offers afull array of solid-

Sumo's Mk.II Andromeda
state amplification. Agtron, amanufacturer of analytical laboratory electronics and photometrics, apparently also harbors anumber of audiophiles, including president and CEO Carl Staub. So Agtron is off in anew direction, but what is really arefreshing change is that here is anew high-end manufacturer with an already-established design, manufacturing, and service base. The Platinum FHT line was designed with computer-aided time-domain circuit modeling, which allows iterative analysis of circuit behavior in response to dynamic stimulation. This system is claimed to have the ability to quantify and analyze the effects of such things as capacitor dielectrics, dissipation factor, and group-delay distortion effects. The FHT preamp ($3000 w/phono module) is not only based on this time-domain design, but also uses premium passive parts, class-A gain stages, an external power transformer, and four separate and regulated power supplies. It all sounds very good; Ilook forward to hearing one of these.
The Classé Audio DR-5 preamp ($1995) is descended from the DR-7. It is moving- coilcapable and balanced in construction. The DR8 amp, at $2395, can put out 280W into 2 ohms, and is also bridgeable for awhopping 850W into 2ohms.
Classe Audio DR-5 balanced preamplifier
Dan D'Agostino must really be asci-fi nut, because he's at it again. From the Forbidden Planet (home of the Krell race) we now have

Stereophile, March 1989



"Hear the sound of one hand clapping."

Introducing new Kiseki. Handcrafted cartridges lovingly produced by asmall number of masters in the old tradition. No expense has been spared in the design and execution of these joyful expressions of the art of cartridge making.
Imagine cartridge bodies hewn from solid blocks of polished stone, rare hardwoods and exotic alloys. Sapphires, diamonds and rubies form jewelled cantilevers artfully shaped by lasers. Styli are first precision-ground: then, in a unique process using human hair, buffed to perfection.
The magic of Kiseki lies in the ability to resolve the zen riddle that is music: Delicate. majestic...intimate, powerful... refined, explosive! . . controlled, emotional...natural. Kiseki replaces recorded confusion with clarity and in so doing, recreates real music.
e. Blue Gold. Magnesium alloy body, aluminum with boron overlay cantilever. Kiseki Jewel stylus. Ataste of handbuilt greatness Light. delicate, and smooth with alarge soundstage. S600.
 Purpleheartwoed Sapphire. Purpleheartwood body. pure sapphire cantilever. Kiseki Jewel stylus. Vivid, detailed, rich. resonant. Best Buy. Hi-Fi Answers 1988. $975.
o Agaat Ruby. Solid agate body. 4.5 mm ruby cantilever. Kiseki Jewel stylus. $1250. Strikingly beautiful. both visually and sonically. Sweet, lyrical, and refined. Never shrill or abrasive.
 Black Heart. Black Heartwood body. boron cantilever, hand selected Kiseki Jewel. hand tuned after run in Relaxed, composed. and supremely musical. $4.000.
o· Lapis Lazuli. Carved Lapis Lazuli body. solid diamond cantilever, hand-tuned after run in. allow several months for special order. Price: Upon request.
Kiseki is pronounced kiss-say'- key

P.O. BOX 5046 BERKELEY, CA 94705 415-843-4500

SP...R.(11110e. March I()s`

the Altair amp. The Altair is actually afirst for Krell, being their first class-AB design, and is rated at 100W/8 ohms, 200/4, and 400/2. It's diminutive in size and heft, but not in price--a cool $5500--and is aimed mainly at the European market and at those who want both Krell sound and the convenience of being able to shelf-mount their entire system. Krell also introduced anew affordable preamplifier, the KSP-7B, to be priced at $2200. Unusually at this price level, the main outputs of the '7B, which replaces the PAM-7, are balanced.
Krell's first class-AB amplifier, the 100W/ channel Altair

(already available in the UK) to the US. There's afull line of electronics under $1000 which promises to offer excellent value.
Not to be outdone, Mission Electronics, which just opened aUS subsidiary, is expanding its Cyrus line of audiophile products. For example, the Cyrus Il at $799 is areally goodlooking integrated amp with a50W/8 ohm rating.
New from Hailer are the Iris Preamp and digital FM Miner. The preamp features adiscrete, class-A J-FET design and, of course, the IRIS remote. IRIS stands for Infrared Integrated System and uses infrared-activated digital circuitry to interface with Cadmium Sulfide photo resistors to yield 0.25dB volume and 0.1dB balance resolution without compromising the sig-
nal integrity. The high-powered infrared emitters in the IRIS eliminate the need to precisely aim the remote at the preamp, and after along
demo by Jim Strickland Iconcluded that this is avery flexible, user-friendly device.

FM Acoustics Ltd. of Switzerland showed
off their superb line of electronics, still as expensive as ever. There are two new amps: the 810 at (you'd better sit down for this one) $22,000 and the 610 at $12,500. There is also
anew preamp, priced at amere $55op. Because
FM Acoustics had impressed me previously as being specification-oriented, Iwas quite surprised by the following excerpt from one of their Technical Bulletins: "In low-noise circuits such as preamplifiers each transistor is additionally selected by ear because it was found that even transistors that have the same spectral noise density and other technical parameters can still sound different"
After a pleasant chat with Bob Carver, I listened very briefly to the Carver M-4.0t ($1000) monoblocks (supposedly the sonic clones of the tubed Silver Seven) driving apair of the Amazing Silver Edition speakers ($2200/pair). Guess what? The overall sound was quite tubey: soft and liquid on top, loose on the bottom. Carver kindly agreed to provide me with apair of the Silver M-4.0ts and the Amazing Loudspeaker Platinum Edition ($2600/pair) for afull review.
A visit to the Acoustic Research suite meant blending into the Old West, complete with authentically attired, gunslingin' sales staff. AR, really trying to make waves, introduced the Spirit line of speakers and electronics

Odds & Ends: Even though JA instructed me to concentrate on electronic products, Ican't help commenting on acouple of new and very exciting loudspeakers. First, the Aria, anew
type of planar design from Sumo. Designed and manufactured exclusively for Sumo by Highwood Audio in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, the speaker features the first full-range dynamic moving-coil driver. Aspiderless voice-coil (fer-
rofluid is used to center the voice-coil in the gap) is used to vibrate the center of astretched rectangular mylar membrane. A lot of work went into controlling and minimizing the atten-
dant drumhead resonances. Flat response is claimed from 40Hz to over 20kHz. The pair I
heard had very good bass quality and imaged extremely well. At $3000 /pair, this promises to be an excellent value.
The new Model A-5 from Sound-Lab is a full-range electrostatic design along the lines
of the A-3, and the first to employ curved side baffles to reduce front-to-back dipole cancellation and improve the impact of the lower rnids. At $4995 /pair, it promises to outshine the A-3 at aconsiderable savings in cost.
The best sound at the show? Unquestionably, the live brass band Iran into at the Convention Center. After that, and with only acouple of exceptions (one being the sound at the Versa Dynamics/Manley /Cardas suite), everything at the show sounded like afar cry from

Stereophile, March 1989



Product News

How to Achieve Peak FM Reception
Here finally is aserious indoor FM antenna for people who demand peak performance from their tuners and receivers. The AudioPrism 7500 is the first full size, half-wave length antenna
with appropriate length elements (T-T) for optimal FM reception. The AudioPrism 7500:
·Achieves Higher Gain (5.1 dBI) and Clearer Reception than All Other Indoor Antennas
· Brings in More Stations than Most Cable Systems
· Brings in More Distant Stations with less Noise than Electrically Amplified Antennas
· Exhibits Superb Rejection of Multipath Interference
· Receives Low Angle Transmitter Signals to Reduce Flutter & Fading
· Is OmnidirectionalDoesn't need Constant Tuning Adjustments
· Features Coaxial, TwinTuned. 1/4 Diameter. Pure Aluminum J-Pole Configured Elements
· Has aClean. Unobtrusive Design to Integrate with All Types of Decor and Audio Cabinetry. A Stable Wood Base Uses Only 1s.f. Floor Space.
· Is Covered with Standard Black or Beige Fabric. Ask Local Dealers About Custom Fabric Coverings.
Suggested Retail: $149.95

The Ultimate Sound Connection
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live music. Generally, the sound was overly detailed, bright, and etched. Iwonder if there's an audiophile agenda at work here--give the audiophile what he most craves. I'll just hope that's not the case, and remain an optimist by attributing what Iheard to show conditions.

there being abass honk audible in some seats. The speakers, driven in this instance by apair of SA-20s and Counterpoint's cost-no-object SA-9/SA-11 remote-control preamplifier combo, usually require the listener to sit at least 8' away in order that the sound from the vertically

--Dick Oisher widely-spaced drivers integrates properly. Yet

the Counterpoint room was one of the few, in

John Atkinson

my opinion, where music could be enjoyed. Perhaps it was due to intelligent use of RPG Dif-

As Editor, Iexpected to have amore relaxing fusors. Certainly the Haitink Shostakovich 13,

show of it than ibm or Dick:8my reporting task the "Babi Yar" symphony (London 414 410- 1),

was simply to report on what, if anything, they missed, spending most of my time in interest-

featured adeep, well-focused soundstage and neutral tonalities (except when the bass drum

ing conversation and the enjoyment of music drove the room into overload).

It was only when Iarrived at the show that I Another exhibitor to feature LP out of choice

realized that Iwould only know if they had missed something after the show, when it

was the room shared by V'I'L, Cardas, and Versa Dynamics, where IRS Betas were again

would be too late for me to hear and see it. I therefore had to attempt to see everything after all! Phooey!
First, despite nearly every manufacturer and retailer confirming that the Fall of 1988 had been very bad for high-end business, everyone

featured. Sounding sweeter in the treble than any of the samples J. Gordon Holt reviewed for Stereopblle, the Betas were driven by Manley 500W monos on the mid/treble panels and Manley 350s on the bass. Front end was aVersa 2.0 fitted with aBenz cartridge feeding aMan-

seemed in an upbeat mood. Apparently highend sales had picked up in the pre-Christmas period and everyone expected 1989 to be abetter year all 'round than '88. The overall mood reflected the fact that the lack of sales in 1988 wasn't due to the fact that consumers didn't

ley Reference preamplifier, and cabling was, naturally, by Cardas. Miles Davis's classic Kind of Blue album sounded about the most natural--and musical--as 1have heard.
Audio Research had avast mausoleum of ademo room, but also both remained loyal to

have any money; it was more due to the fact that although they did have money, they weren't going to commit to pricey purchases until the future looked alittle more settled.

analog--using an Oracle/SME/Benz front end--and chose to use IRS Betas. Ilistened to anumber of recordings in their room--it was my first opportunity to listen to the SP15 pre-

Second, it was noteworthy that, despite the launch at the show of an interesting bunch of new turntables, almost every exhibitor was

amplifier aild Classic 150 power amplifiers-- and the one that stuck in my mind was the new Chesky LP of Ravel's Daphnis et Chloe, per-

using CD to demonstrate their amps or speakers. It appeared that Wadia and Theta had loaned many exhibitors samples of their D/A processors--I remember the days when it would have been Linn or Oracle that brought large stocks of their front-ends to ashow for

formed by the Boston Symphony under Charles Munch. Dating from 1955, the original two-
channel master was made at 30ips; the record was cut by John Dent using Tim de Paravicini-
designed tube cutting amplifiers. The big news from Chesky in Las Vegas was the launch of

the same purpose--and the rooms that primarily played LP were rare indeed. Counterpoint's Michael Elliott was using an Oracle/vdH EMT/ SAEC LP player to get good sounds from the soundtrack to the Coppola movie One From

CDs made with a6MHz-sampling A/D convertor that, according to David Chesky, "is to Colossus as ajet is to apropeller plane." The releases include asuperb 1962 performance of Brahrns's Symphony 1, from the London Sym-

the Heart even though he was using IRS Betas in avery unsuitable room, the listeners being

phony Orchestra conducted byJascha Horenstein, engineered by Kenneth Wilkinson and

only 4-5' away from the mid/treble towers and produced by Chuck Gerhardt, as well as

Chesky's first original recordings, of small-

8My late father's name was Harry. Wouldn't it have been aneat thing for this report ill had been named after him?

group jazz. One of the latter, featuring veteran trumpet player Clark Terry, sounded convinc-

Stereophile, March 1989






ingly natural in The Mod Squad room, played on aPrism CD player and reproduced via Vandersteen 4A loudspeakers driven by Audio Research Classic 150s. (The room acoustics had been extensively modified with ibbe 'naps and RPG Diffusors.)
News from the Moddies themselves at the show was that the Line Drive Deluxe AGI that so impressed me in the January issue has had to have aprice increase, to $1095. It is also now available with the Phono Drive as asingle component, the Duet, costing $2595. ADuet cos-
metic upgrade kit, for those who already own separate Phono and Line Drives, consists of a double-height faceplate, anew top plate, and
extra feet, and will cost $595. As well as the Clark Terry album, Ienjoyed atrack from a Canadian CD in the Mod Squad room that had been recommended by The Absolute Sounds
Michael Fremer: "Cowboy Junkies," from the album The 7kinity Sessions (BMG 8568-R-R), features adelicious solo female voice (unfortunately with LF airconditioner accompaniment) recorded with aCalrec Soundfield mic
direct to R-DAT. Certainly one of the most "real" recordings Iheard at the show.
To return to analog, you could also hear real records in the Apogee room, where Jason Bloom had asystem set up around aBasis turn-
table fitted with an Airtangent tonearm carrying aKoetsu Rosewood Signature cartridge. Cello electronics--Jason Bloom said that he didn't want Apogee to be associated with just one line

of electronics--drove 53735 Duetta Signature speakers in bi-amped mode via the new Apogee DAX electronic crossover. The DAX, which costs $3995, can be operated in both balanced and single-ended modes, and offers control of treble/woofer balance and ashelf of ±2dB at 5kHz to allow for the rake of the speaker panels, with six numerical readouts showing what the user has selected. The sound here was about the least hi-fi Ihave heard in ahotel room: effortlessly smooth, yet revealingly detailed, with extended highs. This was the room where Iheard my personal "Best Record of the Show": an album of solo violin music performed by Arturo Dehnoni9and produced by Jason with Water Lily Acoustics' Kavi Alexander. Recorded in an abbey, the image of the violinist was presented with, in the immortal words of the Audio Cheapskate, "palpable presence."
The Wilson Audio Specialties room was also, of course, where analog was to be heard, and Iduly took my turn in exposing my psy-
che to the WAMM Series Six. Weu, Ihave to say
that, when it comes to reproducing the sound of David Abel and Julie Steinberg playing two of Bartók's Six Roumanian Dances, this system faithfully created for me the illusion that areal violinist and pianist were there in the room. But at what cost! $80,000 for the speak-
9Arturo Delmoni will be giving afree recital at Stereopbile's San Francisco show, due to take place April 21 through 23

The Mod Squad room featured their Prism CD player and Duet preamplifier, with ARC Classic 150s driving Vandersteen 4As

Stereophile, March 1989


ers, with probably another $40,000 for the rest of the system. And the illusion of reality broke down, Ifelt, with larger-scale music. Still some work to do, David and Sheryl Lee--but you're getting closer and closer to that elusive absolute
sound. Following this experience, Ivisited the Kin-
ergetics room, where the affable Tony Di Chian was producing musical sounds from afar more modest system. A Kinergetics KCD-30 CD player fed the latest version of their KBA-75
stereo class-A power amplifier») driving Spica Tt -50s supported on dedicated speaker stands that enclosed apair of Kinergetics BSC-100 subwoofers driven by their matching amplifier/controller/crossover. As Iwalked in, Tony was playing asolo guitar track from the Harmonia Munch Tarantule-Tarantelle album, which sounded, if not real in the sense of musicians being in the room, as is characteristic of the WAMM, then believable, albeit on asmaller scale. Iasked Tony to play my own piano recording on the HFN/RR Test CD. Having played the disc in anumber of other rooms and having been surprised at how different the piano sounded on otherwise good-sounding systems, Iam pleased to note thin the sound in the Kinergetics room was stunningly true to the sound of the original Steinway. Nice one, Ken and Tony!
Now that I'm launched on the subject of digital replay, California Audio Labs launched apremium version of their Tempest II CD player. The Tempest Special Edition is priced at $3995, compared with the standard version's $2995--not $2200 as LA quoted in his review of Thiel speakers in January. The SE uses selected Burr Brown 18-bit DACs and an 8xoversampling digital filter and, according to CAL's Art Paymer, offers "a 20% improvement in detail resolution over the standard Tempest." Ihad the chance to listen to the 64x-oversampiing Wadia 2000 "decoding computer" in a number of rooms and Ihave to say that Iwas impressed. The Wadia, which uses AT&T DSP chips to implement the digital filtration and oversampling, with the filter coefficients stored in replaceable ROMs, must be up there with the Theta DS Pre processor in being close to the state of the art in reconstructing an analog signal from the digital data stored on CD. Yet Ihave to admit to some surprise as to how different
10 The changes involve the addition of independent voltage regulators on the left- and right-channel low-level circuits.

these two processors sounded in the VMPS room, where Brian Cheney had set up both fed with the digital output of aSony player. The
new VMPS Super Tower III speakers were being driven by Classé DR-3 amplifiers, and Brian had arranged for the room to approximate alive-end/dead-end environment. Despite arather warm balance overall, the sound was exceptionally transparent, and differences were readily audible. Both decoders seemed to be champions at the traditional hi-fi performance aspects: inaudible noise, irrelevant distortion, etc.; and both effectively presented the music. But they differed in the manner in which they handled that music. The Wadia's presentation of my own piano recording seemed to emphasize the acoustic space, the ambient soundfield on the recording, while rendering the piano rather mellow-sounding in comparison with what Iremembered the actual piano tone to be. The Theta, with the VMPS speakers, seemed more true to the tonal quality of the Steinway. Maybe both, maybe all CD replay systems, should still be regarded as works-in-progress when it comes to state-ofthe-art CD sound.
VMPS distributes the John Curl-designed
Wndetta Research amplification, and launched anew version of the SCP2 phono preamplifier which has become both J. Gordon Holt's and my reference. The SCP2A has revised power supplies, with five times as much reservoir capacitance, giving atotal of 20,000g per channel, and separate secondary windings for positive and negative voltage rails. The SCP2A now has zero loop feedback. Still dual-mono
in construction, adouble-width front panel now straps the two channel modules, though
the two power transformers remain independently housed. The retail price is to be $2250.
Madrigal Audio Laboratories announced a plethora of new Mark Levinson products at the show, the No.25 dual monaural phono preamp, No.20.5 class-A monoblock power amplifier, and No.27 100Wpc power amplifier. The Na27, to be priced at $3495, is asmaller cousin
of the No.23 class-AB amplifier, retaining the latter's dual-monaural construction and burstproof protection. The No.25 is built in an identically sized enclosure to the PLS -226 power supply for the No.26 preamp, and carries the
No.26's phono board, providing it with four regulated voltage rails, one each for the positive and negative supplies of each channel. The


Stereophile, March 1989

The fully loaded Mark Levinson preamplifier system: from left to right, No.25 phono preamplifier, No.26 line preamplifier with balanced-input board, PLS-226 power supply

user can power the No.25 from the second output socket on the preamp's PLS-226 supply, but Madrigal has found that the best performance is obtained when the No.25 is powered from
an independent PLS-226 supply. The '25 is available in two versions, High Gain at $1875 and Low Gain at $1800; the PLS-226 costs $950; owners of phono -equipped No.26s can buy just the No.25 enclosure and mother board, their dealer then transferring the phono
card from '26 to '25. The empty space in the '26 can then be fitted with the Mark Levinson balanced line-input card, to be used with the XLR input sockets already present on the rear panel.
The No.20.5 is adirect descendant of the No.20, an additional $1000 bringing the price per pair to $11,500. All differences between the two are contained on the plug-in AP-4 card,
which carries the audio input circuitry, second voltage gain stage, and current mirror, and
replaces the earlier amplifier's AP-3 card. (All except the earliest-production No.20s can be upgraded by changing this card.) We have a '25/'26 combination and apair of '20.5s in Santa Fe; areview is planned to appear in the very near future.
The English Meridian products were distributed by Madrigal, but it was announced in Las Vegas that from February 1, their own subsidiary company will handle US distribution.
The split appeared to be amicable, and was due both to Meridian's parent company, AGI, who also own KEF, needing to rationalize their US operation and the possibility of future Madrigal products aiming at the same market sector as
Meridian. For me, one of the most exciting

products at CES was anew loudspeaker from Meridian, the System D600, comprised of an aluminum-dome tweeter with two 160mm polypropylene bass/midrange drivers in a reflex enclosure That this is more than aloud-
Meridian 0600 "intelligent" loudspeaker features digital inputs

Stereophile, March 1989

eDE q°
MARCH 1989

Flip THE Side

Equipment Supports from The Sound Organisation

Hi-Fi furniture is much more than a convenient housing for your hi-fi components. The type of cabinet you select will actually affect the overall performance of your system.
The most obvious example of this involves the turntable. Some years ago the common wisdom was that, to combat acoustic feedback and other environmental problems, aturntable should be placed on avery massive cabinet. Unfortunately, while a heavy cabinet moves very little, its movement is at a very low frequency, usually below the cut-off frequency of the turntable suspension. Thus this vibration passes right through the turntable suspension and is fed directly into the hi-fi system. The disastrous effect this has on the performance of the system has now been documented repeatedly by the hi-fi press around the world. Today it is accepted that turntables should be placed on arigid, low mass table. Rigid to prevent movement, low mass so that any vibrations will be at a high enough frequency to be filtered out by the turntable's suspension.
It has also been documented that other components are affected by vibrations as well. Cassette decks, CD players, and even amplifiers and tuners all have mechanical components that are susceptible to microphonic problems. Even when mechanical parts are limited to switches, volume controls, and circuit board connectors, it has been found that performance improves when the component is placed on a low mass, rigid support.
The Sound Organisation, asmall British company, manufactures acomplete line of equipment supports that allow you to get the best performance from your hi-fi system. These range from simple Turntable Tables or Wall Shelves to complete Stacking Systems that can be assembled in dozens of configurations and rearranged as your system changes. (The photo shows only one of the possibilities. Several different base units are available and any number of stackers can be added as required.)
All Sound Organisation supports, even the simplest Turntable Substand, are constructed to the highest standards and incorporate a rigid, welded steel framework. Each laminated shelf is supported by pointed spikes that decouple it from the mass of the framework.
For additional Information on Sound Organisation products and the name of the dealer nearest you
contact: Audiophile Systems, Ltd., 8709 Castle Park Dr., Indianapolis, IN 46256 (317) 849-7103
Aldburn Electronics, 127 Portland Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5V 2N4 (416) 863-0915

titcreophile. March 1989

speaker is apparent from the soft green digital display at the top of each speaker's baffle. The D600 is an active speaker, each carrying an electronic crossover and three power amplifiers dedicated to the drive-units: 70W each for the tweeter and upper of the two woofers, 140W for the bass. But it is more than even that, as the D600 is intended to be the heart of asystem. Its rear panel carries two analog and three
digital inputs (two coax, one optical), the latter feeding aphase-locked loop synchronization circuit, a4x-oversampling digital filter, and dual 16-bit DACs.
The '600 comes with afull-function remote control, the 609, that offers source switching, analog control of volume featuring 64 steps, channel balance, an HF tilt control, control of bass shelving to add adegree of room optimi-
zation, all affecting both speakers or just one. ACD player with aserial data output and apair of D600s would be all that would be required
to set up acomplete remote-control CD system. The '600 can also communicate with "intelligent" sources: add aMeridian 204 FM tuner/timer, and this too can be controlled by the loudspeaker remote control, the speaker display indicating what station has been selected and its frequency, etc.
The potential for multi-room systems is obvious, but for Stereopbile readers, the pri-
mary aspect of such aproduct will be sound quality. Well, Ihave to say that Iwas impressed. Whether it was the fact that this was asystem effectively without interconnects or speaker cables, Idon't know, but the sound (from the Hogwood Messiah recording on L'Oiseau -Lyre)
had awealth of detail apparent, without any upfront "glare." Highs were smooth and extended, and the stereo imaging was excellent, being stable and precisely focused. Ilook forward to receiving apair of D600s for review.
The Swiss Revolt company has also been
turning their attention to multi-room and remote-controlled systems, but the product of theirs Ifound most intriguing at the show was anew loudspeaker system. Larry Archibald and Iwere sat down in front of acurtain and asked for opinions on the sound of their new speaker, which was being used in conjunction with a Revox "Piccolo" subwoofer. In particular, Revox was interested in how we found the stereo imaging. Ifound the soundstage wide, but not that well focused. There was an impressive "big" quality to the imaging, but it was hard to

pinpoint any particular instrumental or vocal image. You can imagine our surprise when the curtain was pulled back to reveal asingle centrally placed speaker. The Stereolith "Duetto," which will cost 81095 in white or black lacquer or 8795 in avinyl finish, is atwo-channel speaker, but has only one enclosure.
The intention of designer Walter Schupbach was to produce a single speaker that reproduced afull-sized "stereo" image. How it attempts to achieve this is not exactly clear from the supplied literature, and you will see that Ifelt it did not exactly achieve this goal. But for non-audiophiles who want a"big," spacious sound with the minimum of space taken up in their living room, the Duetto, which can be ceiling-mounted above alarge-screen TV monitor or projection TV, will, Iam sure, be very popular. Expect to see it in the Sharper Image catalog real soon.
Revox's two-channel, single enclosure Stereolith speaker
Back in the land of audiophile speakers, Martin-Logan announced new versions of their CLS and Sequel electrostatics. The 82925/pair CLS Series II features an improved amplifier interface, with abetter transformer, which, in conjunction with an increased excursion ability for the membrane, results in 2dB increased sensitivity, 2dB more power handling, and about athird of an octave lower bass extension, with alower Q. In addition, the Series II speaker has a"soft contour" switch, which shelves down the response between 2kHz and 20kHz to allow for some flexibility in matching other components in the system.

Stereophile, March 1989


Quattro II... Numbers that count.

The STAX CDP Quattro II is hardly the sole 18-bit, 8-times-oversampling compact disc player on the market. What makes it preferable
to the others? Readers of this publication can no doubt recall that the most
demanding listeners found earlier 14-bit and 16-bit designs notably defi-
cient in the retrieval of low-level details, particularly those conveying the ambience of the recording site. As maker of the world's most revealing headphones, STAX has demonstrated an understanding of the nuances of recorded sound that, culminating in the unequalled
SR-Lambda Signature, uniquely qualifies this company to extract more information from the compact disc medium.
The heart of the Quattro II is its 2ladder-network-type 18-bit
DIA converters, externally bit-trimmed for full accuracy and low-level linearity--one per channel, to prevent phase differences between left
and right signals. The most obvious virtue of the 8-times-oversampling approach is that the filtering of the digital output can be kept simple,
resulting in atreble as precisely detailed as it is lacking in so-called
digital asperity. Similarly, the down-to-DC bass response delivers the performance the digital format has always promised.
Other niceties abound. The master clock, the base timer of digi-
tal data reconstruction and DIA conversion, is run from an isolated power supply to avoid timing glitter. This clock generator is not located in the player section, permitting ajitter-free resampling (DIA) timing
pulse to be fed directly to the DAC sample-and-hold 1-V converter. The fixed direct output proceeds immediately from this I-V point--no
DC-cut capacitor or DC-nulling feedback servo.
Digital audio is,
simply put, numbers into
music. Whatever compact disc you choose, the STAX Quattro II allows those
numbers to count for more --more information, more detail, to move you closer
to the original musical experience.

Pictured: CDP Quattro II high.resolution compact disc player. Photo: Ken Fabrick.
For afull-line brochure, please send E5.00 to: Stax Kogyo, Inc. 940 E. Dominguez St., Carson. CA 90746


(The original CLS Ifound to be very demand-
ing on the rest of the system if the overall balance was not to become too forward in the treble.) The Series II Sequel has appeared with almost indecent haste after the original model--Lewis Lipnick's review for Stereopbile
only appeared last December--but designer Gayle Sanders felt the changes important enough to be implemented right away. The dynamic woofer now has asealed-box alignment, to give better time-domain performance, while the speaker is supplied in bi- wirable
form. Abass control has been added to allow tailoring of the woofer output to better interface with the listener's room, and the EHT sup-
ply has been made "stiffer" so that fluctuation in the line voltage up to ±15% will have no effect. This has been achieved with only a$100 increase in the price of the speaker, to $2300.
And the Statement, Martin-Logan's $40,000 statement in speaker design? Gayle informed me that they are in production, with the first system due to ship in January. We are keeping our fingers crossed that Stereopbile readers will be able to hear the Statement, along with the Wilson WHOW and the Infinity IRS V, at our show next month in San Francisco.
With one exception, Japanese manufacturers were quiet about DAT. The exception, however,
made enough noise for all, for it was Nakamichi launching what was both their first consumer R-DAT recorder and the first to be officially sold in the US despite the threats of lawsuits by the RIAA. Indeed, Nakamichi seem
almost to be courting litigation as, contrary to the "gentleman's agreement" among DAT manufacturers that consumer machines would not be able to record digitally at 44.1kHz, the CD sampling frequency, the new Nakamichi 1000" will record directly from aCD player's

digital output. If the CD has its copy-protect

flag set, afront-panel LED lights to show that

that is the case, but the Nakamichi continues

to record. In fact, the only thing it will not do

at present is to record from an analog source

at 44.1kHz, which seems to me to be astrange

omission: the ability to prepare amaster tape for CD production without going through any

kind of sampling-frequency convertor would

seem to be an obvious task for aDAT recorder.

Will the RIAA sue on the grounds that sales

of the Nakamichi 1000 will represent lost sales

of LPs and CDs due to teenagers copying them

on to DAT tapes? Well, they could try, I'm sure,

but as this beautifully made two-box

Nakamichi is to be priced at $10,000 ($4600 for the self-calibrating 16-bit A/D and 20-bit D/A

digital processor, $5400 for the remote control

and transport, which features Nalcamichi's pro-

prietary "F.A.S.T" tape-loading mechanism),

it is hard to see that the RIAA will have acase.

And if the RIAA doesn't sue, then surely a precedent for sales of consumer R-DAT

machines in the US will have been set if they

do decide to take legal action when some other

manufacturer introduces a$1000 machine.

Finally: the show marked the 50th anniver-

sary of television in the USA and Monster

Cable's 10th anniversary. Monster celebrated

the occasion by launching their most expen-

sive cables yet, the M.Sigma Series M2000 inter-

connect which, complete with Monster's ihr-

bine Connectors, is priced at $750 for alm pair,

and M.Sigma Series M2 speaker cable, again

priced at $750 but this for an 8' pair. (The original Monster Cable sold for $0.65/ft back in


--John Atkinson

II Yes, the coincidence between the model number and that of the original Nakamichi state-of-the-art analog cassette machine of about 15 years ago is intentional.

el»! -
II 1

ez ·····imi


:,10111:111 ààà

.} ,

Nakamichi's desirable Model 1000 R-DAT transport and digital processor

Stereophile, March 1989



If human ingenuity could

build the perfect 16-bit digital-to-

analog converter, there would be no need for Denon's new 20-bit approach to building CD Players.


Unfortunately, 16-bit players have

always been susceptible to distor-

tion-inducing non-linearities and

quantization errors. This means

they can't maintain accurate

spacing between all of the 65,536

amplitude levels available from

the 16-bit samples of the Compact Di sc .
Enter Denon's "Delta" sys-

This oscilloscope trace confirms the even spacing of amplitude levels in Denon's 20-bit system.

tem. It combines the world's first 20-bit 8x resampling digital filter with the first true 20- bit

linear converters to process each 16-bit sample to four additional digits of accuracy. (That's

something like using 3.141593 as the value of "pi" when everyone else uses 3.14.)

This is no mere computational trick: Denon

20-bit CD Players literally extract more music from

the Compact Disc. They exhibit better dynamic

range, lower noise, and lower distortion during

quiet passages. In the process, Denon 20-bit

machines reveal more of the low-level detail that

defines musical timbre. On well-recorded CDs,

you'll hear more of what makes afrench horn

sound like afrench horn.

There's more. Since the days of Denon's early digital recorders, we've understood that

not all digital bits are created equal. The digital word's Most Significant Bit (MSB) contrib-

utes 32,768 times the amplitude of the Least Significant Bit (LSB).

That's why every Denon Compact Disc Player since 1983 has included the Super Linear

Converter --acircuit we use to hand-adjust the MSB of every Player for superior accuracy.

Recognizing the wisdom of Denon's approach, independent academic papers have now

identified D/A conversion error in the MSB as the primary culprit behind audible distortion

in Compact Disc Players.

With Super Linear Converters, the 20-bit "Delta" circuit, and Denon refinements in

power supply, laser transport and chassis design, the new Denon DCD-3520 and DCD-1520

elevate digital playback to anew level of musi-

cality. In the process, they achieve the closest

approach yet to true 16-bit linearity.



Dena. Amen.. lot 222 New Rood Ro.s.p000y. N107054 (7011575.7810

MR Cambridge/Audio Influx Carver Corporation

RR a2, Box 478

PO Box 1237

Highland Lakes, NJ 07422

Lynnwood, WA 98036

(201) 764-8958

(206) 775-1202

Acoustic Research/Teledyne 330 Turnpike St Canton, MA 02021 (617) 821-2300

Chesky Records PO Box 1268. Radio City Station New York, NY 10101 (800) 426-8576

Altus Lansing Consumer

Classé Audio Inc,

Products Milford, PA 18337

9414 Cote de Liesse Rd Lachine, Quebec

(717) 296-4434

Canada HOT 1A1

Amtech Video Audio Mfg.

(514) 636-6384

4848 Vogelsang


Sacramento, GA 95842

2800R Don rAve

(916) 331-5133

Fairfax, VA 22031

Apogee Acoustics

(703) 698-8581

35 York Industrial Park Randolph, MA 02368 (617)963-0124

Counterpoint 10635 Roselle St San Diego CA 92121

Arcici Inc.

(619) 598-9090

2067 Broadway, Ste 41 New York, NY 10023 (212) 724-6021

Crigier Brothers/ Audible Difference 3963 Cottage Hill Rd

Audio Research Cora

Mobile, AL 36609

6801 Shingle Creek Parkway


Minneapolis, MN 55430 (612) 566-7570

Dorian Recordings 17 State St Ste 2E

Audio-Technica US Inc. 1221 Commerce Dr

Troy, NY 12180 (518) 274-5475

Stow, OH 44224 (216)686-2600

Dual/Ortolon 122 Dupont St

Avance/Just Speakers, Inc. 3170 23rd St

Plainview, NY 11803 (516) 349-9180

San Francisco, CA 94110 (415) 641-9228

Dynavector Systems USA Inc. 2217 S Grand Ave

SAW Loudspeakers PO Box 653 Buffalo, NY 14240 (416) 297-0595 Basis Audio 47 Green Heron Lane

Santa Ana, CA 92705 (714) 549-7204 FM Acoustics PO. Box 854 Benicia, GA 94510 (707) 745-4444

Nashua. NH 03062

Finial Technology


707 East Evelyn Ave

Benz/Panther Enterprises

Sunnyvale. CA 94086 (408) 720-9800

8825 Urbana Ave Arleta, CA 91331 (818) 909-0294 Boulder Amplifiers 4850 Sterling Dr

FosgatelAudionics 55 W. 100 St Heber City, UT 84032 (801) 654-4046 Futterman/

Boulder. CO 80301

Prodigy Audio Laboratories

(303) 449-8220

4345 Lindberg Dr

California Audio Labs 7231 Garden Grove Blvd Garden Grove, CA 92641 (714) 894-9747

Addison. TX 75001 Ste F (214) 980-2628
Great American Sound see Sumo

Hatter Ca 5910 Crescent Blvd. Pennsauken, NJ 08109 (609) 662-6355 Hales Audio Loudspeakers PO Box 1028 Pleasanton. CA 94566
(415) 846-1520 Infinity Systems Inc. 9409 Owensmouth Ave Chatsworth, CA 91311 1818) 709-9400 Kindel Audio 3615 Presley Ave. Riverside, CA 92507 (714) 787-0662 Kinergetics Inc. 6029 Reseda Blvd Tarzana, CA 91356 (818)345-2851 Krell Industries 20 Higgins Dr Milford, CT 06460 (203) 874-3139
Lazarus Electronics 15046 Friar St Van Nuys, CA 91411 (818) 242-1215
MM Levinson/Madrigal Ltd 2081 S Main St Middletown. Cl 06457 (203) 346-0896 Martin-Logan 2001 Delaware Lawrence, KS 66046 (913) 749-0133 May Audio Marketing Ud. 76 Main St Champlain, NY 12919 (518) 298-4434 Melon Audio 723 Bound Brook Rd. Dunellen. NJ 08812 (201) 968-8771 Meridian 14120-K Sullyfield Circle Chantilly, VA 22021 (703) 818-3028 MFA Systems 3178 Fowler Rd. San Jose, CA 95135 (408) 274-5679
Mission Electronics Corp. of America 5985 Atlantic Dr x6 Mississauga, Ontario Canada L4W 1S4 (416) 673-3777
The Mod Squad 542 N Highway 101 Leucadia. CA 92024 (619) 436-7666 Monitor Audio 1755 Plummer St .Unit 20 Pickenng, Ontario Canada L1W 3S1 (416) 831-4741 Monster Cable Products, Inc 101 Townsend St San Francisco, CA 94107 (415) 777-1355
Nakamichl U.S.A. 19701 S Vermont Ave Torrance, CA 90502 (213) 538-8150
Nestorovic Labs 8307 NE 110th PI Kirkland, WA 98034 (206) 821-0225 PlatinumlAgtron 475 Edison Way PO. Box 20456 Reno, NV 89515 (702) 329-8993

Precise Acoustic Laboratories 200 Williams Dr. Ste. B Ramsey, NJ 07446 (201) 934-1335

Ouicksilver Audio 3707 Merrimac Circle Stockton, CA 95209 (209) 477-6428

Reference Recordings Box 77225-x San Francisco, CA 94107 (415) 355-1892

SimplyPhysics, Inc. 4230 Glenchase Lane Houston, TX 77014 (713) 537-5083

SOTA Industries PO Box 7075 Berkeley, CA 94707 (415) 527-1649

Snell Acoustics 709 1/2 Micheltorena St Los Angeles. CA 90026 (213) 662-9000

Sound Lab 6451 Mountain View Dr.

Park City. UT 84060-6128 (801) 649-0172

Sumo 21300 Supenor SI Chatsworth, CA 91311 (818) 407-2400

TDL 652 Glenbrook Rd. Stamford, CT 06906 (203) 324-7269

Theta Digital Corp. 6360 Van Nuys Blvd

Ste 5

Thiel Audio Products Company 1042 Nandino Blvd Lexington, KY 40511 (606) 254-9427 Triad Design Inc. PO Box 99 Fairview. OR 97024 (503) 666-3666
VMPS Audio Products Co. 3412 Enc CI El Sobrante, CA 94803 (415) 222-4276

Vacuum Tube Logic/Manley 4774 Munetta SI.a9 Chino. CA 91710 (714) 627-7204
Vandersteen Audio 116 W Fourth St Hanford, CA 93230 1209) 582-0324 Versa Dynamics Orchard House. Cedar Grove Rd Media, PA 19063 (215) 356-1235
Wadia/Duntech 4821 McAlpine Farm Rd Charlotte NC 28226 (704) 542-8600 Waterworks acoustics 3365 Fernside Blvd Alameda, CA 94501 (415) 522-0374

Well-Tempered Lab/ Transparent Audio Marketing RI 202, Box 117 Hollis, ME 04042 (207) 929-4553

Wilson Audio Specialties 100 Rush Landing Rd Ste 101 Novato, CA 94945 (415) 897-8440 YBA/Sumilco, Inc. PO Box 5046 Berkeley, CA 94705 (415) 843-4500

Stcreophile. March 1989


Alvin Gold

Sorne months ago, one of the mainstream British hi-fi magazines published an editorial explaining why they would no

Roksan keeps its reputation, at least so far as product names are concerned. Artimez, indeed!
What does it sound like to you? An Olympian

longer publish group reviews of turntables. The god? Awatery Australian beer? No, with aname

magazine concerned was New Hi -Fi Sound, like that, it has to be the real thing.

whose format includes agroup test of 8or 10

With the number of new arms being released

products of one type each month. Their rea- down to atrickle (launches never were two a

son for dropping record players wasn't any per- penny, but they're fewer and farther between

ceived inadequacy--they still produce tests of now), most are concentrated at the budget end

cassette decks--but the increasing difficulty of the market, or go straight for the top end.

in putting together sufficiently large groups of This reflects their respective manufacturers'

black-vinyl record-playing roundabouts. By desires to make enough of aliving either by

their reckoning, the situation has passed the selling lots of arms, or by selling relatively few

point of diminishing returns. That's the wrong with good margins. But Roksan, as usual, is

phrase, but you know what Imean.

doing things their way: the Artimez is aimed

Nevertheless, and with acertain amount of squarely at the unglamorous and competitive

difficulty, agroup of some 25 or so assorted middle market area.

new, revised, or previously ignored record

The Artimez is asimplified version (ha) of an

players, arms, and suchlike were assembled for arm--the ultimate Roksan arm--yet to come.

atest Iwas responsible for, and we only just That model, due for release this year, is to be

missed several additional models. Ifound this called the Cambyses, and will offer amore

wholly remarkable, and not alittle pleasing. sophisticated version of the Artimez bearings

Almost in the very month that PolyGram and amore user-friendly arm-cueing device.

announces that classical LP production on the How the latter is to be achieved isn't clear.

famous Deutsche Grammophon label is to

As befits the progeny of ayoung, vigorous,

cease, we have as catholic aselection of new design-oriented outfit like Roksan, the Artimez

and exciting record-playing components as I is ashowcase for new thinking. As befits the

have seen in half adecade or more. So some- popular image of the technical press, flounder-

one has done his or her sums wrong. There ing around in atechnological pea soup and sad-

were important models at all price levels, dled with the stereotyped role (I always thought

designed to appeal to the audiophile or to the stereotypes suited hi-fi reviewers particularly

more general user (in rare and welcome cases, well) of disseminating rationalist obfuscation,

both), and there were also the Well-Tempered Idon't intend to get too heavy on this one. The

Turntable and Arm. Yes, we had all sorts here. ideas behind the design can't be ignored, though.

One of the stars, if only because the com- The front of the arm consists of awide-diam-

pany's outstanding success with their first eter armtube with the headshell press-formed

product is bound to excite close attention to from the collapsed end of the tube, the novel

anything they do, came from the outfit whose features here being the forging process and the

first product was the oddly named Xerxes turn- strength of the headshell contributed by the

table, aresounding success that has not been two thicknesses (2mm) of metal involved.

matched by their second product, the Darius

The other end of the arm Ifind harder to

loudspeaker. The burning question of the come to grips with. There are some important

moment is whether their tonearm continues plus points, for example the low center of grav-

in the tradition of innovation in the service of ity of the counterweight section (I'll have more

art that Roksan achieved with the Xerxes itself. to say on this shortly), and the placing of the

In this country, the Xerxes is now the clear vertical bearings in the horizontal plane of the

number two, outselling all other expensive record, reducing the lifting effect of the arm

turntables as convincingly as it remains outsold over warps and stuff like that.

by the eternal Linn Sondek itself.

What's really unusual, however, is the way


Stereophile, March 1989



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the counterweight is coupled to the arm. More correctly, Ishould say decoupled, as it is hung from aunipivot bearing which bears into a cone-shaped depression in acarrier which can be positioned anywhere along the length of the arm rear extension. The idea is to reduce inertia at the stylus tip during maximum arm acceleration. As the arm moves sideways, the counterweight is moved through alateral arc, but in the first place at least it doesn't rotate around the arm pivot point, though it tends to catch up over an interval too long to be relevant to our argument. The same principle operates in the vertical plane.
At worst, the idea seems unobjectionable, and indeed provides adegree of decoupling without damping that might be welcomed. The Artimez arm does provide low effective
mass, but there is aproblem in that tracking force varies with vertical orientation, which shunts the counterweight toward or away from
the arm pivot. The effect, which cannot be desirable, is to modulate tracking force according to vertical orientation. As the arm rides the crest of awarp, tracking force is at aminimum. It would have been better the other way. Imust also question the design of the bearings. The bias mechanism is odd, too, but not damagingly so; we'll pass it by.
My arm sample was an early one, suffering what Ihope are only teething problems: to wit, bearings that, according to their state of adjustment, were either too tight or too slack and which always seemed amite notchy. Engineers in other companies who are enthusiastic about other aspects of the arm (the armtube/headshell receives the most consistent praise) regard the lack of bearing behavior as inherent. I'll suspend judgment. They did, after all, get avery complex bearing design spectacularly right in the case of the Xerxes itself.
If the design appears to be kind of half cocked, the sound is rather better than that description implies--between y4and 74, I'd say. The design lacks the "Linn bloom," and has aRega -like homogeneity in the midband allied to alevel of in-depth resolution that is quite special, matching almost anything on the market. Bass slam is excellent, but not at the expense of tunefulness, separation, or control.
Only two features prevent the Artimez from attaining top-level ranking. Treble quality isn't
quite right. This lack of rightness is consistent with excitability in the armtube, where the

bearings do not tether the tube at one end properly, and it makes itself felt by adding an edge of excitability to treble reproduction. This seems to add to the apparent clarity of the design, but it's afalse clarity which superimposes an unvaryingly steely quality on the music, and which results in aloss of stereo image specificity.
My feeling is that the design is inherently highly talented, but it stands to benefit from the settling-in process that will almost certainly occur as production continues. The price is attractive, however, at least in the UK. It costs £350.
Given CD and all that, Roksan may reasonably have expected to have had aclear run with
the introduction of their arm, but it wasn't to be. The heavyweight arm introduction of the year, of course, is the Linn Ekos. Visually almost identical to the Ittok, it is atriumph of the artisan, being essentially bankrupt of new thinking, especially when measured against the Artimez. Instead, it could be seen as the triumph of evolution over revolution. But it is atriumph.
The arm is not the same as the Wok because almost all the components are different. Ithink only the bias force dial--incidentally, the only item now made in Japan--is carried over from the old model. The differences extend to the
materials, interfaces, and manufacturing processes involved, but other than that the two arms look pretty similar. The Ekos has ablack finish, while the Wok is covered in bright metal, au naturel as it were. Paradoxically it looks much more expensive that way. There have even been black Ittoks, which must be almost totally indistinguishable from the Ekos. In such cases you'll have to look at the armrest. The Ekos armrest is built into the base structure, bringing the arm into line with virtually all other arms and thus simplifying installation.
Armrest apart, the differences between the
two Linn arms are small but vital, in engineering terms and in performance. But these differences make the arm considerably more expensive. The armtube, of anew and harder alloy, instead of being screwed and glued at each end, is secured by just ahigh-tech glue, amuch more elegant solution that avoids deforming and stressing the components. Linn claims this join is functionally identical to aone-piece armtube. Who am Ito argue?
The armtube and headshell are made from new ultra-hard alloys, and the bearing hous-

Stereophile, March 1989



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ing is machined from solid instead of being cast àla Ittok, which enables amuch harder alloy to be used. Asimilar story applies at the headshell end. The bearings are made to lian tolerances. Linn says that this is as good as can be achieved in practice, and even then only by selection since 4iim is the best that can be ensured for individual machining operations.
Iconfess (without prejudice) that Iwas startled to discover that this is precisely the tolerance level Rega claims to achieve routinely with their £90 arm, the RB300 (incidentally, the
component Rega claims is their most profitable). Rega also says they could make the Ekos cheaper than they could make the Ittok, but they don't, and words are cheap, n'est-ce pas?
What else has Linn done? They've changed the output plug, which is metal and reshaped for strength, an apparently minor change that Linn says had asurprisingly large audible effect. The cable can be retrofitted to other Linn arms too, but note that the wiring (as opposed to the
plug) remains identical. Finally, arm cueing is damped in both directions to reduce resonances from this source. This makes it apig to handle when lifting the arm from asuspended turntable but practice makes perfect. Or not, depending.
The new Linn arm is expensive, but if justification can be provided by the way the arm behaves, then there can be no complaints. Iconfess to finding the price--a little over twice that of the Ittok --hard to swallow unless Linn really intends making the arm in very small quantities. Rightly or wrongly, Iperceive the SME Series Vas alot more expensive to build, even if it doesn't necessarily show any resulting musical advantage. When questioned on these matters, Linn pointed out that on ascale of hardness known as the ABEX scale, their bearing rated 7against 5for the SME V, and 0(would
you believe) for the Wok, But Idon't know if this means anything except that they're interested in what SME is doing. That's significant, Isuppose.
Summarizing, the Ekos is all about building an Ittok -like arm much, much stronger, but offering all the old advantages including the practicality and lack of temperament for which
the Ittok was justly renowned. The Ekos also has the third mounting hole demanded by the Troika, and it was with that cartridge, and both Linn and Pink Triangle turntables, that Idid
most of my listening.

The new arm successfully addresses just those areas where the look was at its weakest, and make no mistake: it is avery impressive machine. The most striking advances apparent in the new arm are much more consistent and
explicit stereo imagery, and asweeter, more lucid presentation. Consistency is at the root of these things, and ties in with what can best be described as an "on rails" quality when playing music, which had much of the poise and strength exemplified by the Airtangent, though
the two are hardly comparable in any other respect.
Except this one: The Ekos is capable of one
rather remarkable feat that is bettered by very few arms, of which the Airtangent is perhaps preeminent. It reproduces acoherent and believable soundstage right down into the darkest recesses of the bass. By contrast, the Wok foundered here, with stereo images largely mono'd at the lowest frequencies. The Ekos was, in any case sharper and leaner through the bass, which made it sometimes less obvious, but considerably meaner and more potent when something came along to stir it into life. It excelled on orchestral bass and cellos and--most strikingly of all--the soft ambient cues that define an
acoustic space. It's easy to see where the stereo ability springs from.
The Ittok is also amite coarse by the finest standards, and here, too, the Ekos shows considerably greater capabilities. Though less obvious than the Ittok, it has greater subtlety and range, agreater ability to show light and dark,
piano and forte. The Ekos follows the music better and imposes less of itself in the process. In short, it is one of the finest arms available, acomment especially true of pivoted arms. This is one Linn product of which Ihave no complaints, other than that it isn't cheap
evreeeeeee enough that everyone could have one S

Stereophile, March 1989

Lewis Lipnick

Theta DSPre D/A preamplifier
Digital signal processor/preamplifier. Dimensions: 19" W x15" Dx3.75" H. Weight: 29 lbs. Price: $4000 ($3200 without control center). Approximate number of dealers: 40. Manufacturer: Theta Digital Corporation, 6360 Van Nuys Blvd., Suite 5, Van Nuys, CA 91401. Tel: (714) 997-8908.

When Ifirst set foot in the McCormick Hotel at the 1988 Summer CES, alot of the hot gossip appeared to be centered around Theta Digital's DS Pre. Even people Iran into who had previously shown their distaste for anything digital were foaming at the mouth about how musical and "analog" -sounding this product was. It is not, of course, possible to really judge anything at aCES. But my initial two encounters with the DS Pre at the show' confirmed the general consensus: this product is something special, and may well be considered amilestone in the further refinement of digital audio reproduction. Iknow the skeptics in the reading audience are probably thinking about turning to another review, reaffirming their automatic bias against anything non-analog. And Ireadily admit that Ihave been one of the enemy, since Iactually use CDs as source material in my eipment reviews. Horrors. But before you damn the DS Pre, yours truly, and digital audio in general, Isuggest you read the following review, and take alisten to aproduct that just might make you think twice.
Technical highlights
The DS Pre is asignal-processing control unit
IIn Rowland Research's suite in conjunction with C- Ipreamp. Model amplifier, and Avalon loudspeakers. Also, of course. in the Theta Digital Suite with an Audio Research D125 amp and Thiel speakers. Mata= CD-94 playas wat being used for digital SOUrCe material in both cases.

for all digital audio components having astandard serial digital output, including CD, DAT, Digital Laser Video, et al. It can be used as a line-level preamp (no phono section is included), or in conjunction with an existing preamp, its active volume and balance controls capable of being bypassed. There are two inputs for digital source material, as well as one digital tape monitor circuit access located on the rear panel, served by standard RCA jacks (this product is electronically, not optically, coupled with source material). Anovel "thruput" analog input allows addition of an upstream preamp, or any other line-level source (tape, tuner, etc). Analog output (fixed or variable) is also fed through standard female RCA jacks. The front panel has eight toggle switches similar to those used by Audio Research: four serve the digital domain (input selector, tape monitor, channel reverse, absolute phase reverse), and four control power, mute function, upstream thruput signal bypass, and fixed or variable volume. There's alarge volume control on the far right of the faceplate, adjacent to the left- and right-channel balance trim pots. There are also two red indicator lamps placed in line with the front switch array: one for power, the other to confirm digital source connection. The review unit in my listening room is entirely finished in black,
except for the gold-plated Theta logo located on the front left of the faceplate.

10 i

Stereophile, March 1989

In my discussions with Neil Sinclair and Mike Moffat, the two founders of Theta Digital, it was clear that their philosophy follows aclear divergence from accepted past practice in digital audio design. Rather than looking for new methods to cover up the sins of imperfect digital-to-analog conversion, as has been pretty much SOP so far, they have decided to take the bull by the horns and build aproduct that gets the conversion right in the first place. They claim that this will allow the listener to hear all of the musical harmonic textures and detail, without the "warm, sweet, but blurred" colorations required to make most digital material palatable. I'm not so sure that this design goal is entirely original, but the DS Pre appears to be the most successful attempt that Ihave heard so far. 2
The DS Pre uses nonswitching, 8x-oversampling digital filtration and conversion, followed by a6dB/octave, single-pole low-pass analog filter, with less than 3° of phase shift in the audio band. It also incorporates seven separate power supplies, in order to insure "that current draw in one area won't compromise performance in another." Mike Moffat claims that the DS Pre is the first digital audio component to use adigital filter with aproprietary composite algorithm which optimizes for time domain, group delay, transient ability, and frequency response. According to him, all other designs use asingle-purpose filter chip optimizing only for the latter. He also claims that the Theta-designed filter, which appears to use aDSP chip per channel, each served by two ROMs (Read-Only Memories) to hold its coefficients, has atenfold increase in computing power over all others. The DS Pre is capable of 80 million computations per second, reserved, Iam told, mostly for phase and time error correction. 3
But perhaps the most revolutionary feature of the DS Pre is the fact that its digital filters are programmable, allowing the owner to easily upgrade the unit in the field as software becomes available from the manufacturer. Changing the filter is easily done (if /can do it without screwing up, it must be easy); simply
2Ihave not yet had the opportunity to audition the Wadia dig. ital processor, which appears to be the Theta's only serious competition.
3The V/adia is capable of 72 million computations per second, used mostly Ibelieve, to implement its 64x oversampling digital filter.

remove the cover, pull out the four ROMs, and replace them with the upgrades. The idea of variable software programmability is astroke of genius; rather than having to send aproduct back to the manufacturer for upgrades (we all know about those hassles), the owner will be able to totally change the sonic characteristics in ten minutes. 1Weakers will love it-- rather than having to deal with VTA, they can play with interchangeable ROMs. 4
The DS Pre is built like atank. In order to prevent external digital interference, the chassis is composed of solid steel, plated first with copper, then with zinc Internal layout of components is neatly done, with the four ROMs easily accessible on the main board. The unit is supplied with one Straight Wire Videolink cable, to access digital source materia1. 3Output from my review sample was single-ended only. By the time you read this, the DS Pro (digital section without preamplifier capabilities) will probably be available in both single-ended and balanced configurations. Costs of the DS Pro, at press time, are slated to be set at $3200 (single-ended) and $4000 (balanced).
System setup
Iplugged the DS Pre into my present reference system, which consists of aMark Levinson No.26 preamp, No.23 power amplifier, and B&W Matrix 801 Series Two Monitors. The DS Pre was auditioned as acontrol preamp directly into the No.23 (in single-ended mode), bypassing the No.26, and as afixed-level digital processor into the No 26's line-level input. In this configuration, connection between preamp and power amp was auditioned in both singleended and balanced modes. CD players used included aRotel 820BX2, Philips CD880, and two different Adcom GCD-575s.6Interconnect between all components consisted of Madrigal HPC, and Audioquest's LiveWire Emerald and Lapis. Speaker cable was LiveWire Clear in bi-wired configuration.
4Neil sent me an extra set of ROMs to play with that extend the bandpass to 21.6kHz (20kHz is standard). Although the new filter produced a slightly more open quality of sound, it injected anoticeably hard, glassy sheen to the upper midrange
5Since digital source material has a bandwidth of between 2.2 and 3.0MHz. Theta claims that choice of cable is critical. Iarixec Iauditioned several interlinks, and also found the supplied Straight Wire Videolink to sound best.
6The first Adcom GCD.575 began exhibiting manic problems afew months after adding it to my system. It was replaced with aproperly operating duplicate about six weeks ago.

Stereophile, March 1989

Musical & Sonic Impressions
My first impressions of the DS Pre were not so good. From the beginning, Iwas bothered by arather loud "ticking" noise, occurring at sometimes regular (every five seconds), sometimes irregular intervals. Although Neil was at aloss to explain the origin of the problem, he suggested that it could be due to apoor digital source connection caused by the smallerthan-standard Cardas RCA jacks used on the early production units, and that crimping the outer portion of the male connector might help. This made some difference, although I was still plagued with sporadic ticking. 7Neil asked me to sit tight until they could duplicate this phenomenon at their lab, which dropped rather alarge fly in the journalistic ointment.
At about this time, John Atkinson came through town, which coincided nicely with a meeting of our listening group of musicians from the National Symphony. Although the evening wasn't altogether alost cause, 8 the general consensus followed the lines of "that damn ticking is so distracting, Ireally can't make any determinations." (Murphy's Law always seems to strike at the worst possible time.) Two weeks later, Neil informed me that they had seen two other similar problems in the field with the DS Pre, and had narrowed the fault down to high-frequency RF interference. It hadn't dawned on me, but since my listening room is located about one mile from the Pentagon, with all of its microwave and security transmissions, the possibility of RF made alot of sense. The next day, Ihad anew DS Pre with an RF blocking filter in place, and acase of sonic apples and oranges.9Not only was that irritating ticking gone, but the sound was so much more musically involving and realistic. Deeper soundstage, better bass extension, more transparent, less brittle and bright, and, last but not least, asense of clarity Ihad never before heard from anything other than master tapes. Finally, Icould do some serious listening.
In my system, the DS Pre definitely does better when fed through the No.26 preamp (balanced or single-ended between pre- and
7The mystery was compounded by the fact that the Adcom GCD-575 seemed to produce much more of the irritating ticking than the Rotel or Philips.
In spite of this, we all had agood time playing records, discussing music, and generally raising hell.
9Theta has informed me that they arc including the RF blocking filter in all current production units.

power amps). Although the Theta seems particularly immune to cable interactions (output impedance is 2ohms!), it did seem to lose asig-
nificant amount of openness, musical finesse, and overall clarity when routed directly into the No.23 power amp. When Itried the same thing with an Adcom GFP-555 preamplifier, however, the tables were turned: the sound became congested, opaque, and grainy with the preamp in circuit. So it appears that the quality and transparency of the downstream preamp are of utmost importance in this case After spending several hours trying the DS Pre in both configurations, Idecided to do all listening for this review with the No.26 in line, using abalanced connection to the No.23. The DS Pre also appears to benefit from use of an Adcom ACE-515 Power Enhancer. Insertion of
this AC filtration device significantly improved overall clarity by removing aslight (and Ido mean slight) "mist" covering the sound.
Next, Idecided to do comparative listening using all three source CD players (Adcom, Rotel, and Philips). One would assume that digital information originating from different CD players would be identical, right? Wrong! While the Rotel and Philips machines sounded pretty much alike (the Philips winning by a small but discernible margin), the Adcom was
adifferent story altogether. In comparison with the other two, the Adcom sounded dull, tubby, lacked transient definition, masked ambient information the others retrieved, and produced amore distant perspective. So the theory that it doesn't make any difference what type of digital source is used with outboard D/A converters just got blown out of the water. It has been suggested to me by people with more
knowledge than Iof digital theory that flawed error correction in this sample of the Adcom could be the cause of the sonic difference Perhaps. Whether this is the case or not, Iwould advise anyone interested in purchasing aDS Pre to audition different CD Players with the Theta before making any final decisions. For purposes of this review, almost all listening was
done with the Philips CD880 in line Ialso auditioned all three source players without the DS Pre. Not bad, but no cigar.
Four grand is awhole lot of money for something that is basically already included in most digital source hardware, so naturally one might well ask if the DS Pre really gives that much sonic improvement. Iwould have to say yes,


Stereophile, March 1989

although one of my musical colleagues felt that, while it does give some improvement, it just ain't worth that many bucks. His point is well taken ...if you plan to use the DS Pre in a $3000 system. But if you've invested significant time and money into obtaining the closest thing to the original (or, some would say, absolute) sound, then it's probably worth considering. Perhaps the best-value/performance ratio can be ascertained by comparing the DS Pre with one of the most respected and established CD players now available: the California Audio Labs Tempest II ($3000 current retail price).
In comparison with the DS Pre, the Tempest II is both colored and artificial. Don't get me wrong. It's still agreat-sounding product, and with the exception of the DS Pre, remains my favorite CD player by awide margin. It's just that it is more of an editorializing "musical instrument" than the Theta. If you're one of those who prefers the euphonic characteristics of classic tube designs over neutrality, the CAL might come out on top. But in comparison with the Theta, it sounds hazy, indistinct, and defocused, almost as if one were listening through agauze curtain. It's also more frequency-dependent in soundstaging (uppermidrange material being thrust slightly forward), and prone to bring everything closer to the listener as the volume increases. Ihad not really noticed these problems before, since a lèmpest II had been part of my reference system for some time. When the CAL/Theta comparison was made, however, the latter sounded so much more open, clea4 dynamic, grain-free, and naturally spacious. Perhaps the best description of the two would be (as Al Merz, one of my National Symphony colleagues so succinctly stated), "the CAL sounds like I'm standing offstage, in the wings, while the Theta opens the door, and places me in the hall."
One of the arguments against digital in general is the lack of natural three-dimensional space and ambience retrieval. Well, that argument just went out the window, because the Theta does what no digital source before had done for me: It recreates the natural space and soundstage present at the recording site as well as anything Ihave yet heard.") Front-to-back, lateral, and vertical dimensions are remarkably well reproduced, without exaggerating or
10 Using recordings in which thave been artistic-ally involved. so as to be able to credibly compare original is reproduced.

diminishing the sizes of the ensemble or of individual performers. Skeptics who feel that digital source material doesn't contain any natural spatial information should first listen to the Theta, then open their mouths.
Dynamically, the Theta is abombshell. Both ends of the dynamic scale are accurately reproduced, without any change of harmonic coloration or souncistaging; something Ihave
yet to hear from any other digital device (except for master tapes). As good as the Tempest II is,
it simply cannot compete in this area. The problem isn't so much with the ultimate dynamic capabilities of the Tempest II; it doesn't
lack guts. But it pales alittle in comparison with the much more open and effortless Theta. Full orchestral climaxes with the DS Pre have that "live music punch" that'll blow you out of the room, assuming that your system can handle the task. (Mine sure can--the No.23 has never sounded so good; it's the first time I've heard commercial digital source material with natural dynamics, and this amp just loves it!) If you decide to audition the DS Pre, and like full
orchestral sound, Istrongly suggest that you take along the Chanclos CD of Richard Strauss's Alpine Symphony (Neeme Jârvi, Scottish National Orchestra, Chandos CD 8557) and the EMI Eminence recording of Vaughan Williams's
Job (Vernon Handley, LPO, EMX 9506). Although they sound very good with the Tempest II, the Theta gives awhole new dimension to the word "transient."
While the DS Pre is not particularly sensitive to interconnects, Ihave found its lack of colorations and superb transparency to show up the strengths and weaknesses of different cables better than the more output-sensitive Tempest II. Our musicians' listening group
auditioned complete systems (source/preamp/power amp) of Madrigal HPC and LiveWire Lapis in double-blind tests, and unani-
mously preferred the Lapis. While we all felt that it brought the entire soundstage closer to the listener, it reproduced overall harmonic textures, delineated individual musical lines, and generally sounded more "real" than the HPC. While I'm not willing to unconditionally state that the Lapis will be abetter cable than HPC in all instances (cables are much too system dependent), it is definitely the more musically believable of the two in my system.
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the DS Pre is its ability to open up the sound, placing

Stereophi le, March 1989


the listener at the microphone and unraveling complex musical material in anatural way, without sounding antiseptic In some ways, it is very similar to the B&W 801 Series Two Matrix Monitor, aspeaker Istill feel to be just about the most musically accurate currently available It doesn't take away or add, but merely passes an honest signal. The Theta may appear to produce aforward perspective in comparison with the Tempest II. But Ibelieve it to be actually accurate in this respect, the CAL tending to exaggerate soundstage depth, creating apleasant, but not necessarily accurate perspective. When auditioned head to head with the Theta, it also appears to be blur individual musical voices, covering up low-level harmonics, effectively placing abarrier between the performer and listener. At the same time, the DS Pre is not hard-sounding or brittle in any way. There are, of course, still some digital recordings that will cause earbleeds. But we all accept the theory about "garbage in, garbage out," don't we? Even with this in mind, I've been surprised at how much better most of my CDs sound with the DS Pre No, it doesn't turn ammonia into ambrosia, but the highly refined sonic performance of this product brings so much more music to my ears. It's not amatter of covering up the imperfect, but rather asuccessful method of conveying what's already there
There aren't any.
For me, the Theta DS Pre is indeed asound for sore ears. Although there are other products available which are certainly listenable, the DS Pre sets an entirely new standard of performance. No more colorations. No more artificially created euphonic sonic syrup to make the unlistenable more palatable. No more irritat

ing digital haze and grit. Iwill admit that there are still problems to be addressed in digital audio, particularly in the original AID conversion. But with the advent of the DS Pre, the nightmare of inadequate DIA conversion, with all of its attendant musical aberrations, can finally be put to rest. Aside from retrieving what is, in my opinion, the best sound ever from CD, the DS Pre offers so much more flexibility than dedicated products such as the CAL Tempest Il. Whether or not you subscribe to the validity of digital sound reproduction, or even if you're not in the market for anew audio toy, the DS Pre should be at the top of your component audition list. Iwould suggest, however, that you check your bank balance on the way to your local Theta dealer. It just might come in handy.
Postscript: JA
Lewis sent me the first sample of the DS Pre, the one that ticked," so that Icould compare it with the Accuphase CD player reviewed elsewhere in this issue, as well as carry out some basic measurements. Fig.1 shows the y3-octave analyzed spectrum of the DS Pre's output when playing the dithered -90dB tone on the CBS CD-1 test disc. Apart from the intrinsic dither noise on the disc and the higher harmonics of the signal present between 10 and 20kHz, the waveform is commendably clean, as can be seen by the high level of the IkHz band in the spectrum and the complete absence of any mains-related noise down to the -112dB measurement floor. The error in absolute level was one of the best Ihave measured, -90.31dB being reproduced as -91.5dB. To see how other top-rated CD players fare on this test, see both
II It did tick slightly in Santa Fe, hut only on its Digital Input One. All the measurements and listening to this sample were done with Digital Input Two.

11111111 1 11111111 1 II111111 1 1






Theta DS Pre: 1kHz tone at -90.31dB

with noise and spuriae


-1111 I II111111 1 I1111111 I II111111 I 1I-





Fig.2 Theta DS Pre: De-emphasis error,

first sample

Stereophile, March 1989

"Follow-up" and my review of the Accuphase in this issue, as well as the "Follow-up" section in my review of the Arcam Black Box in the February issue (p.95).
The basic frequency response of the Theta was commendably flat between 10Hz and 20kHz, without any ripples in the top audio octave. The Santa Fe sample, however, evinced aresponse error when playing pre-emphasized discs, the processor applying an inadequate amount of de-emphasis. Fig.2 shows the error

plotted against frequency, which reaches a maximum of +1.4dB at 10kHz with respect to the level at IkHz. This will certainly be audible as aslightly "thin-sounding" character with pre-emphasized discs. To judge by Lewis's remarks on the sound of the final sample of the Theta, Iassume that this problem was corrected, but if you have an early Theta and its sound is inconsistently thin, then Isuggest you contact your dealer about having it upgraded. --John Atkinson

John Atkinson

Accuphase DP-80L/DC-81L CD player
Two-box remote-control CD player/processor connected by either optical or coaxial standard EIA serial data link. Unique processor features: 8x oversampling digital filter with discrete 20-bit DACs: de-emphasis operating in digital domain; remote-control level control operating in the digital domain, offering 0-40dB attenuation in 1dB steps. Specifications: Frequency response: 4Hz-20kHz ±0.3dB. THD: 0.0016% (1kHz), 0.002% (20Hz-20kHz). S/N ratio: 120dB. Channel separation: 112dB. Maximum output voltage (DC-81L): 25V balanced/unbalanced. Output impedance (DC-81L): 25/25 ohms balanced (XLR sockets), 50 ohms unbalanced (RCA sockets). Dimensions: 18.75" (475mm) W by 55/16" (135mm) Hby 14.75" (373mm) D(both). Weight: 33.1 lbs (DP80L), 35.1 lbs (DC-81L). Approximate number of dealers: 50. Price: $13,000 (DP-80L: $4750, DC81L: $8250). Manufacturer: Accuphase Laboratory Inc., Japan. Distributor: Madrigal Ltd., PO Box 781, Middletown, CT 06457. Tel: (203) 346-0896.

Prologue $13,000! You could buy two Hyundai Excels for that kind of money. Or one 5-liter Ford Mustang. Or two-thirds of aSaab 900 llirbo. How

could the purchase of this Accuphase two-box CD player be justified on any rational grounds? What if it did offer state-of-the-art sound quality? Would it really be 50 times better than a

Stereophile, March 1989


humble Magnavox? Would it even be 4.3 times better than the California Audio Labs Tempest II? And would it approach the sound quality routinely offered from LP by the similarly
priced Versa Dynamics 2.0 turntable? Before turning to the answers to those ques-
tions, let me tell you atale. A friend of mine back in the UK finally gave into temptation a couple of years back and bought aFerrari. It wasn't new, of course, but it was abeautiful car, Pininfarina-designed; Isuppose you could call it atwo-door sedan, to distinguish it from the hairier mid-engined Maranello machines. A year or so back, when Iwas visiting the old country, my friend was taking my wife and Ifor aspin in his dream car and asked if Iwould like to take aturn behind the wheel of the beast.
Would I? What would you have said? Actually, Ifelt equivocal: bending the bodywork of one's friend's Ferrari is asurefire way of terminating that friendship! But drive it Idid.
Yes, you could buy alot of Hyundai Excels for the price of such a car, even quite a few Mustangs. And an Excel will certainly get you to the same place via the same roads as will a Ferrari. But Iam here to say that it is not the same experience. You may drive ordinary cars; with athoroughbred like that Ferrari, driver and car take on asymbiotic relationship, the tires becoming the extension of your nerve endings. The car both is responsive to your
wishes and feeds back all you need to know about the road and your relationship with it; it is almost as if you need only think about what line you want the car to take, and the deed is done.,That Ferrari redefined my attitude to driving. No, Iwill never be able to afford one
myself, but Iam glad to know that it exists. The only possible justification for high price,
therefore, is that you get more, not only than you expected but also than you knew existed.
That is the only standard by which to judge human artifacts designed without compromise, and it was only with that finally clear in my
1That Ferrari is the only car Ihave ever driven that actually felt more secure on the road above 100mph than below. (At double-nickel speeds, you're not giving the tiger anything on which to chew IThis is assuming that the roads are empty, of course. A lasting conclusion from my experience with this car was that the English toads ale not good enough for it, even the freeways being tot) crowded to allow it room to breathe. HUI on the empty roads within the body of France, or on those in the USA's desert Southwest --long straightaways, interesting curves, and rw traffic--driving such acar to its limits, or at least to the driver's, must be the nearest thing to winning Wimbledon. beating Main Pros: for the checkered flag at the Monaco Grand Prix, and having your first symphom premiered by the Chicago Symphony all in the same year

mind that Iaddressed myself to the subject of this review.
Technical highlights The Accuphase DP-80L CD player and DC-81L digital processor are refined versions of the original DP-80 and DC-81 that Ireviewed for Stereophile in Von° No.6. That $8000 player featured a2x-oversampling digital filter and discrete 16-bit DACs and had what was then the most accessible CD sound that Ihad heard. Even that well-known digiphobe Larry Archibald was moved to praise its sound. It didn't quite approach the resolving power of the original Stax Quattro, however, which was, in those far-off days--September 1987--the champ when it came to the retrieval of detail.
Identically styled and sized to the original '80/'81 combination, with champagne-gold front panels and highly lacquered persimmon wood endcheeks, the new units are very different under the skin. The player is based on adiecast aluminum chassis and now has asprung transport, compared with the original's unsprung unit, and is capable of playing 3" discs. Ahinged panel conceals all function buttons, apart from Play, Track Search (Back/Forward), and Pause. All the functions, including Open/ Close, are duplicated on the supplied infrared remote control. The power supply is hefty, based on alarge toroidal transformer at the unit's rear, and includes aline filter on the mains input. Asingle large printed circuit board carries all the circuitry responsible for controlling the disc motor and linear-drive laser sled, for extracting and demodulating the data from the disc, and for presenting it in the EIAstandard, multiplexed, two-channel serial format to the output sockets. (1Wo optical outputs are provided, as well as a75 ohm coaxial output.) Sony LSIs handle the servo control and digital processing tasks, and two 8-bit microprocessors are used, one each for mechanism control and for display/control key handling, with asingle master clock used throughout the player. Adiscrete red LED numeric display indicates play, track/index numben and time, though, as with the display on the processor unit, this is alittle too discreet, being hard to read from the other side of asunlit room.
The equally massive DC-81L features separate toroidal transformers for the digital and analog sections, again with intrinsic mains supply filtering. Ahinged flap on the front panel


Stereophile, March 1989

conceals digital source select and level up/ down buttons, these duplicated on the DP801:s remote control. Red LEDs display which of the optical or coaxial inputs has been selected, the sampling frequency of the input signal, whether or not the input is preemphasized, and the amount of output attenuation selected, in dB down to -40dB. Four
main printed circuit boards, in two layers, almost completely fill the unit's interior. On the bottom are the digital and power-supply boards, the latter carrying the rectification and
filter circuitry to provide separate regulated 5V rails for the digital circuitry and left and right DACs; left and right regulated -37V rails for the DACs; independent regulated ±19V supplies for the left and right analog boards; and a24V rail for the relays.
Fig.1 shows ablock diagram of the complete processor. The digital board takes the input datastream, identifies the sampling frequency, and automatically reconstitutes the correct clock frequency-32, 44.1, or 48kHz--using a phase-locked loop. Error correction is applied if necessary, and the data for left and right channels are separated ánd resampled by adigital filter operating at 352.8kHz. This is specified as giving 110dB attenuation between
24kHz and 328.7kHz, with less than 0.0001% ripple in the passband. The digital filter also

applies the appropriate de-emphasis (with an accuracy said to be ±0.001dB!) and adjusts the output level digitally. (This is done by multiplying the digital word representing the analog sample value by acoefficient selected by the
volume up/down buttons. For example, to reduce the level by 20dB, each digital word would be multiplied by the coefficient 0.1.)
Whenever mathematical operations are carried out in the digital domain, the result is always adigital word with more bits than the original. This therefore has to be truncated somehow, and as simply chopping off the extra least significant bits reintroduces quantization
noise, this must be done with some sophistication, rounding off rather than rounding up or down. The Accuphase therefore uses a noise-shaper circuit to accomplish this task, truncating the filter's internal words to 20 bits. The final stage on the digital board consists of two arrays of serial-to-parallel converters; the two sets of 20-bit-wide parallel datastreams, together with a"deglitch" signal per channel, are then taken via an edge connector to a mother board.
This, in turn, leads to the two analog boards, one per channel. These are shielded magnet-
ically and electrically and each is also electrically isolated from the digital-processing board by 21 optoisolators --expensive, high-speed




CITIC."4? ;!1


«Cl Mee!.

WU , Sid Verb\ I


' I

mum V@-{)-1

Fig. 1

Stereophile, March 1989


Hewlett-Packard devices--one for each bit and one for the deglitch signal. Finally, we get to the heart of the system, the D/A converter which, as in the original DC-81, is adiscrete currentmultiplying device. The '81L's DAC, however, is a20-bit device, which implies aresistor tolerance of an astonishing less-than-one-part-in 219;le, less than 0.00019% error! This, Isuspect, is where asignificant proportion of the DC-81I:s cost lies--and how do you even measure that you have trimmed aresistor to that degree of accuracy unless you already have an accurate 20-bit A/D converter?
The deglitch signal controls asample-andhold circuit, followed by acurrent-to-voltage converter. The analog output voltage is then processed by an 18dB/octave Butterworth lowpass filter to rid it of the 352.8kHz sampling frequency components and their multiples, this based on aGIC (General Impedance Converter) circuit; separate unity-gain buffers, constructed from discrete transistors, provide balanced and unbalanced outputs from XLR and RCA sockets respectively. No DC-blocking capacitors are used, the output buffers featuring DC-servo circuitry.
All things considered, the Accuphase player is built to an outrageously high standard and will probably outlast its owner, as indeed it should at this price level.
The Sound You might well feel that the system in which the Accuphase was auditioned was a little unbalanced in that its total cost was less than that of the player. Yet it is capable of giving a considerable degree of musical pleasure with high-quality sources and Ihad every confidence that its resolving power would prove equal to the task set it. Celestion SL700 loudspeakers, sitting on their own spiked stands well away from room boundaries, are driven by apair of VTL 100W Compact monoblock amplifiers (each sitting on aMission Isoplat and plugged into one half of an Inouye power line conditioner). The speakers are bi-wired with Monster MI speaker cable. The wall behind them is almost all covered, first with three layers of records, then with bookshelves up to the 9' ceiling. The speakers are sited along the longer wall of the slightly asymmetrical 20' by 16' room, and the sidewalls have bookcases strategically positioned where the primary reflection from the speakers would occur.

Three corners are fitted with ibbetraps, the floor is carpeted, and there is aminimum of flat featureless surfaces facing each other. The single listening chair is some 2.5m from the speakers, with the wall behind it alternating
between picture window concealed by blinds and 16" -diameter llibetraps, with a2'-high planter running almost the full width.
My idea was to create a reasonably live room-1 feel that totally dead rooms are not the ideal speaker environment--but with the furnishings and 'flibetraps used to ensure that
no one frequency band is too prominent. All signals are routed through aMod Squad
Line Drive Deluxe AGT passive control center, with Audioquest LiveWire Lapis interconnects used between it and the CD players as well as to feed the power amplifiers. The Accuphase was therefore auditioned from its single-ended outputs, but from my experience with Mark Levinson amplification used in balanced mode, Isuspect that using the Accuphase's balanced outputs will provide aslight improvement in overall transparency
The Accuphase units come fitted with twopin mains plugs that can be inserted into the wall socket either way around. Madrigal's Michael Wesley recommends feeling the enclosures for the level of very slight mechanical vibration and using the orientation which gives the lower level. 1have to say that Icould feel no difference either way, but this may be due to the fact that the mains waveform in this part of the country seems to be agood sinewave, with no distortion or DC offset apparent.
For comparison purposes, Iused the first sample of the Theta DS Pre reviewed by Lewis Lipnick elsewhere in this issue and the Sony DAS-R1 digital processor, both driven from the Accuphase DP-80L transport's coaxial digital outputs. (The Sony transport had ceased to work except for intermittently while in transit from). Gordon Holt's listening room, and as the DAS-Rl processor has aunique, twinoptical input, comparisons with the optically connected Sony system were not possible) The DC-81L processor, however, was driven from the DP-80L's optical data output to allow easy A/B'ing. The final reference was aCalifornia Audio Labs Tempest II CD player, which offers afamiliar, highly musical standard of CD reproduction. All the players were isolated from vibration with Audioquest Sorbothane feet.
Needless to say, all levels were carefully


Stereophile, March 1989

matched for comparisons using alkHz testtone track and amillivoltmeter. This procedure may well have introduced some sonic changes itself, as the Accuphase had to be operated with its digital volume control set to -4dB and the Theta with its analog volume control in circuit, both of which might be thought to add aslight handicap. The levels of the Sony and the CAL were matched to the other two by using the Line Drive's volume control. There was no way around these compromises, however. Amore serious source of error became apparent when the Accuphase was compared with the Theta processor, as the latter seemed to sound too bright and thin, but in an inconsistent manner. Its measured frequency response did feature atiny bit more HF energy, being flat to 20kHz, whereas the Accuphase has avery slight droop in its top octave, but it turned out that the Theta's de-emphasis characteristic was wrong, pre-emphasized discs being replayed with an error that reached amaximum of +1.4dB at 101cHz. All the comments concerning the Theta therefore involve non-pre-emphasized CDs.
It also transpired that the Accuphase's analog output has inverted polarity, which will be expected to introduce an audible difference between it and the other three reference decoders/players, which are polarity-correct. For long-term listening, Icompensated for this by reversing both sets of speaker leads, but for A/B purposes with all but the Theta (which has adigital polarity reverse switch), this was out of the question. Ihope, therefore, that Ihave adequately compensated for this factor in my comments.
So, what was the Accuphase combination's sound like?
In aword, superb.
"Superb," along with "excellent," "good," and "wonderful," is, as Itell other writers for this magazine when I'm wearing my editor's hat, aword conveying almost no meaning. I should expand on this adjective, therefore.
Tonally, the Accuphase is less thin than the sample of the Theta that Iauditioned, even taking into account the latter's de-emphasis error. It is slightly more forward than the Sony RI, however, with which it shares an awesomely deep bass, even with subwooferless Celestions. By comparison, the CAL Tempest, while true
to the musical aspects, is rather unsubtle in the upper midrange and altogether more untidy in its rendering of orchestral tone colors.

But looking at the more fundamental aspects of reproduction, there are three main areas where, historically, CD sound has fallen down. First, and foremost, is the ability routinely offered by even modest LP players to communicate the musical values of arecording. CD playback too often leaves the listener sitting isolated from any feeling of "event" or performance. The music may be there but it is rendered, to an extent that differs widely from individual to individual, inaccessible. The sound is cold, the presentation soulless. The second aspect concerns the inability of many players to present afull-bodied soundstage with appropriately miked recordings, one possessing both depth and a solid feeling to individual instrumental images. The usual presentation ranges from aflat, one-dimensional stage to one that does possess adegree of depth but with instrumental and vocal images resembling paper cutouts within that stage. Third is the absolute retrieval of detail. Though important, this is actually the least essential of the three to my way of thinking. Ican put up with asound that is slightly fuzzy around the edges if the soundstage envelops the listener and the music is present and accounted for. Other listeners, of course, will rate this aspect higher, or even highest.
As with its predecessor, this Accuphase renders CD sound with an open quality that allows the music to communicate. "Easy on the ear" sounds too dismissive, too passive a phrase, but it correctly describes the player's ability to avoid any trace of listening fatigue. As is often the case with LP, CD effortlessly follows CD. There is an "analoguey" bloom that draws you into the sound. In this respect, it is rivaled only by the Sony and CAL machines, the sample of the Theta sounding rather cold by comparison. With pedigree discs, like the Cheskys (CD19, the new 64x -oversampled Brahms 1 from Horenstein, in particular) and Harmonia Mundis, the sound--and Ihope you realize the pain it causes to say this--was better than that produced by my Linn Troika/Ekos/Sondek player, in that it was equally musical while allowing the virtues of CD--silent backgrounds and stable imaging--to shine forth. From my experience in JGH's listening room, Isuspect that it even begins to approach LP played on the Versa Dynamics player.
Imaging? Here, the Tempest II remained the champion: its soundstage was deeper than that

Stereophile, March 1989


of the other three machines, allowing you to intrinsically higher resolution, and their pre-

"hear the walls" to the best extent, and sentation is both finer-grained and detailed.

individual images had the most "rounded" The Sony in its optically coupled mode most

nature. (Its midrange balance, however, does nearly approaches the vivid resolution of, say,

push some instruments toward the listener.) Of Kodachrome 25, the Accuphase rendering

the three solid-state players, the Accuphase recorded tape hiss with fractionally more grain.

most nearly approached the absolute spatial

The optically coupled Accuphase, however,

presentation of the CAL, while having less of is slightly better than the coaxially coupled

aforward midband. On my piano recording on Sony and has the best ability of the four to

the HFN/RR Test CD, the Accuphase set back resolve the sounds of instruments with almost

the Steinway more within the acoustic of the identical sounds. Take the 1980 EMI Planets

hall than did the Sony and CAL machines, from the LPO under Boult (CDM 7690452,

approaching the analog tape in this respect, and from an analog original, and in my opinion the

also had more detail concerning the piano most natural-sounding recording of this work).

sound apparent. (As this disc is pre-emphasized, Icouldn't compare the sound of the

In the "Saturn" movement, Hoist has arranged for the music to "tick" between two contrast-

Theta.) There was slightly more action noise ing pitch centers to indicate the remorseless

apparent with the '80L/'81L, and you could passing of time. 'Rvo flutes and abass flute, dou-

also hear to agreater degree than with the other players that the piano was not quite in tune.

bled by harps, start the movement by rocking between chords containing tritones and major

(Above the low bass, apiano has more than one ninths, A/F-natural/B-natural and G/E-flat/A-

string for each note, and when played hard, natural --could you even begin to guess that

these tend over time to drift away from each the first two iterations of the tune are accom-


panied by E-major and A-fiat scales in the bass

Listening to the original-instruments Leon- and that the piece will eventually end in a

hardt Brandenburg set on Seon (RSCD-1005 declaration of C-major? (Though ahint of ambi-

06)--my favorite, with acast of soloists that guity remains, the harps insisting on reminding

includes Anner Bylsma on cello, Frans &fig- the listener of the existence of B-natural, which

gen on recorder, and Sigiswald Kuijken on of course is still a"white" note) As reproduced

violin--the Accuphase and the CAL players by the Accuphase, the manner in which Hoist

were the closest to the LP when it came to the has achieved this degree of bittersweet tonal

presentation of areal acoustic space between and behind the speakers. The tube player, how-

ambiguity2is presented with such adegree of clarity that one has no need for the score There

ever, was less good at rendering the individual images of musicians within that space, while

it all is, laid out before the listener, every instrumental sound discrete yet without its

the Sony and Theta presented shallower images relationship with the whole being destroyed.

overall. When it came to the resolution of fine detail,

When the flutes are reinforced by clarinets, for example, the Accuphase enables you to hear

the Accuphase, Theta, and Sony pulled away from the Tempest to quite alarge extent. To use

the filling out of the sound without losing sight of the individual natures of flute and clarinet

aphotographic analogy, you are often better off using acoarse-grained film, such as Tri- X, when you use alens with inherently low reso-

tonality If the epitome of poor CD sound is the dilution of instrumental tone color, the result being to render an orchestra as agiant harmon-

lution. Being made more aware of the film's grain structure actually lends an illusion of

ica, the sound of this Accuphase is the farthest from that travesty that Ihave yet heard.

sharpness, while afine-grain emulsion throws
up the shortcomings of the lens in sharp contrast. (Hal) The CAL is similar in that it disguises arelatively low resolution (within the context of this group) by the high contrast and relative granularity of its presentation. The sound may appear to be detailed, but, on close examination, the detail is, to some extent at least, illusory. The other three players, however, have

2As is always the case, the CD liner notes are toedly inadequate when compared with the original LP Imake no apology for
quoting, therefore, from asplendid interview with Sir Adrian Boult that was reprinted from Boult's My Own humpet on
the LP jacket. Boult, Hoist, and others were having dinner before the first public performance of The Planets in 1919: ". ..Geoffrey lbye put his finger on the place in Neptune where
the trombones are busy with aG sharp major chord and the trumpets are doing an Eminor one 'I'm sorry Gustav,' he said, 'but Ithink that is going to sound dreadful.' Yes. Iknow it is,' said Gustav, 'but what do you do when they come like that?' "


Stereophile, March 1989

The DAC used by the Accuphase is undoubtedly avery high-class design. Listening to the fade to noise of adithered 500Hz sinewave on the CBS test disc revealed arelatively puresounding tone, with the only discrete components audible being second or fourth harmonics one or two octaves higher. Unusually, when compared with the Theta or CAL, the Accuphase was similar to the Sony on this track in that the level of broad-band noise increased as the signal dropped below -90dB. The Theta's low-level noise remained constant in level, though the CAL's was more granularsounding than any of the other three.
One test that Ididn't have time to perform before the test sample had to be returned to Madrigal was to listen to the Accuphase's output with asignificant amount of attenuation set with its digital level control. When level changes are performed in the digital domain, quantization noise can be injected due to the truncation of the digital words output by the multiplier chip. From my tests with only afew dB of attenuation, however, Iwould suggest that the Accuphase is well-engineered in this respect.
Finally, Iassessed the Accuphase's errorcorrection capabilities using Stereopbile's standard test, disc two of the Pierre Verany set (PV.788031 /788032), which contains an exacting series of tracks cut so as to test aplayer's ability to track signals at the edge of the CDstandard envelope The Accuphase coped with all the tracks perfectly up to 35, a2.4mm dropout, when it clicked once per revolution. Track 36, a2.5mm dropout, was handled identically, while tracks 37 and 38, 3mm and 4mm dropouts, resulted in occasional muting as well as clicks. This is excellent error-correction performance, nevertheless. Looking at the performance of the player with the disc's "torture tracks," track 43, which combines a2.4mm dropout with the minimum track pitch allowed by the standard, featured one click per revolution; tracks 49 and 50, which feature two successive 2.4mm and 3mm gaps in the data respectively, both gave one louder click per revolution. Again, this is excellent performance.

1 11111111 1 11111111 1 11111111 1 11_


1 II111111 1 11 1111 1 11111111






Flg.2 Accuphase CD-81L: 1kHz tone at -90.31dB with noise and spuriae

frequency response gave .1 lower limit of -0.7dB at 4Hz and an upper limit of -0.25dB at 20kHz, with no discernible ripples in the top
octave. Unusually, and irritatingly, investigating the output polarity with araised-cosine pulse track revealed that the decoder output was inverting, something that should be taken into consideration when comparing the Accuphase with other machines in adealer's listening room.
Fig.2 shows the yr octave analyzed spectrum when the left channel of the Accuphase was reproducing the dithered -90.31dB tone on the CBS CD-1 test CD. Theoretically, atone at -90.31dB is only described by three quantizing
levels, thus should reproduce as astepped squarewave The use of dither when recording
this computer-generated tone, however, means that it should actually be reproduced as apure sinewave, overlaid with the dither noise. Any spuriae and noise apart from that already present on the disc, therefore, will be due to the player, not to the digital process. As can be seen from fig.2, the -90.31dB tone reproduces alittle too high in level, at -86dB. (The right channel was slightly better at -87dB, but neither is
as good as should be mandatory at this price level.) The lkHz band, however, is some 14dB above the 2kHz band, implying a level of second-harmonic distortion of around 20%, which is one of the best Ihave yet measured, being equaled only by the Theta DS Pre, Yamaha CDX-1110U, and one channel of the Onkyo DX-G10. 3The Accuphase can also be seen to introduce fourth-harmonic distortion at around the same level as second-, but any harmonics above that are submerged in the

Measurements The output impedance of the unbalanced outputs was right on spec at 50 ohms, as was the maximum output level at 2.5V. Looking at the

3If this distortion seems high to you, remember that this is at an extremely low level, -90dB, which will itself he inaudible in all hut the very quietest listening rooms at high play. hack volumes. As the recorded level rises above this, any har-
monic distortion will rapidly drop to vanishingly small levels.

Stereophile, March 1989



1 I1111111

1 II111111

1 11

low in level and the -80.77dB tone 0.3dB too low, this typical of one of the better-quality Philips 16-bit chip sets. Note that the CAL also shows some supply-related noise, the 63Hz band lying at -101.5dB and the 125Hz band at -102.5dB. (Both are well below audibility, however.)4


vat Theta DS Pre: lkHz tone at -90.31dB

11111111 I I1111111 1 11111111 1 11




1 11111111 1 1 111111 1 11111111 1 11


FigA Sony DAS-R1: 1kFlz tone at -90.31dB






Fig-5 CAL Tempest II: 1kHz tone at -90.31dB

intrinsic rising level of noise and higher-order rubbish. This is lower in level relative to the IkHz tone than with some other machines, however, also being similar to the Theta, Yamaha, Adcom GCD-575, and Onkyo in this respect.
Figs.3, 4, and 5show the yr octave noise and distortion spectra for the three machines that Icompared sonically with the Accuphase, the Theta DS Pre, Sony DAS -R1, and CAL Tempest II, respectively. The Theta again shows avery clean IkHz sinewave at -90dB, with just 1.2dB of expansion evident; the Sony has some third-. as well as second-harmonic distortion present on the tone, with 2dB of compression evident at -90dB; while the CAL has predominantly second-harmonic apparent, some 9dB below the level of the fundamental. The CAL shows the most low-level expansion of any of the four, the -90.31dB tone reproducing 3.2dB too

Conclusion Larry Archibald noted back in 1982, in the very first issue to appear under his publishership (Vol.5 No.1), that he felt that "consumers are fed up with the repeated cries of ecstasy over products which really have nothing to offer but
newness and are usually very expensive" Well, my opinion of the Accuphase DP-80L/DC-81L combination could certainly be construed as acry of ecstasy, and it is, without adoubt, very expensive In fact, it is the most expensive CD player yet to reach the market. But as it does offer the best sound Ihave yet to hear from compact dise the price does indeed correlate with performance. Having experienced the manner in which it achieves the apparently impossible, in that it retrieves fine detail from CD witbout destroying the musical whole by floodlighting the soundstage, to go back to a humble Magnavox or even the excellentsounding Yamaha '1110 becomes unthinkable It is not just that the Accuphase is so many
times better. The difference between the Accuphase and ordinary CD players is the difference between apainting and aprint made of that painting.
For those of us whose boats have yet to come in, it would be best to ignore the exis-
tence of this Ferrari of aCD player, its price rendering it so inaccessible that we might as well not even think about it. But if your boat bas come in, preferably with awell-stocked hold, the only players/decoders in the same sonic league as the Accuphase DP-80L/DC-81L, in
my opinion, 5are the three with which Icompared it: the Theta DS Pre ($4000 plus trans-
4The 60Hz level is very strongly affected by the positioning of the CALs power supply. The measurements for fig.5 were taken with the player proper separated some 6" above its power supply. When the player is positioned directly on top of the power supply, as would seem intuitively correct, the 60Hz level rises by almost 20dB to -83dB, presumably duc to the injection of hum from the u-ansfomier into the tube circuitry. It is essential, therefore, to arrange for the Tempest's two boxes to be physically separated to get the maximum sonic performance from it.
5Ihave yet to hear the Spectral or W2dia in familiar circumstances, although the latter did sound to be in the same class as the Theta at the WCES.


Stereophile, March 1989

port), Sony RI ($8000), and CAL Tempest II ($3000). The latter, however, is distinctly untidy-sounding by comparison, though its soundstage presentation is the deepest and widest. Should you choose the Accuphase over
one of the other three? The answer must be that it's eight of one and thirteen of the other.

The answer has to be yes--if you can afford it. Me, I'd be happy to live with any one of the
four. But as the number of CDs with true 16bit information on them begin to proliferate in the next couple of years, the Accuphase DP80L/DC-81L (and the Theta and the Sony) will be there to greet them.

Dick Olsher
Class-A biased monoblock amplifier. Power output (20Hz to 20kHz): 75W/8 ohms, 150W/4 ohms, 280W/2 ohms. Frequency response (-1dB): 2Hz-100kHz. Power bandwidth: 2Hz-50kHz. Harmonic distortion (20Hz-20kHz): 0.01% at rated power. Slew rate: 50V/its. Input impedance: 51k ohms. Input sensitivity: 1.2V RMS. Hum and noise: -110dB. Size: 11.5" W x16" Hx4" D. Weight: 25 pounds each. Price: $2100/pr. Serial numbers tested: 1015 & 1016. Approximate number of dealers: 15. Manufacturer: Audire Inc., 9576 El Tambor Avenue, Fountain Valley, CA 92708. Tel: (714) 968-1236.

The recent debate over the intrinsic sound quality of audio amplifiers would appear to be athoroughly modern preoccupation. Do amplifiers sound differently, and if so, why? On the one, hand there are the "scientists" who attempt to rationalize reproduced music in terms of measurements. According to this point of view, observed sound differences are solely attributable to readily measurable electrical performance criteria. A simple expression of this approach is the belief that sound differences between well-designed modern amplifiers, operating comfortably below overload, are caused by small frequency-response differences. When these frequency deviations are equalized out, the sonic differences supposedly disappear. More sophistication is offered
by the approach championed by Bob Carver; namely, the attempt to match amplifier transfer functions. Here, the relationship between amp lifier input and output is analyzed into anumber of components such as frequency response, slew rate, harmonic distortion spectrum, and phase response. By matching the transfer function of amplifier A to that of amplifier B, the claim is made that amp Bis now asonic clone of amp A. This smacks of genetic engineering, but proponents of this method hasten to add that it is morally justified on the grounds of offering the sound of an expensive tube amplifier in the trappings of readily affordable solidstate designs.
Obviously, this procedure should bridge the sonic gulf between the two amplifiers, but

whether it eliminates all sonic differences is not at all evident. And any apriori claims that amps with perfectly matched transfer functions must sound alike should be viewed with ahealthy dose of skepticism. First of all, there are some serious limitations. For example, you can't speed up aslow amp without amajor circuit redesign, although the reverse is possible. Second, just how close is close enough? In other words, to what degree must the transfer functions be matched before audible differences disappear? Some differences might be significant to -40dB.
But the theoretical rug is really pulled out from underneath such an approach when you consider the following: Just how well do we really know this transfer function? Do we presently know all of the pertinent parameters that influence perceived sound quality? Isubmit that we do not. In the past ten years we have discovered new forms of transient distortion (remember TIM and SID!), and our understanding of amplifier current demands into reactive loads has expanded. Isuspect that we still have alot to learn. And if that's the case, then our present analytic transfer function is incomplete, offering only apartial sonic match. Part of the problem is that our measurements may not always relate to the listening environment. Testbench measurements into an 8-ohm resistor in no way simulate the highly reactive load of adynamic loudspeaker. Thus, measurements or specifications derived in this manner will not adequately describe the performance of an

Stereophile, March 1989


amp into areal-world speaker load. One day fier performs better. Even when some knowl-

the set of essential measurement criteria may edgeable people realized that this is not true

be complete. That, however, will only happen any more, because of the standard generally

with continued input from "humanist" audi- achieved, the trend has persisted, because pro-


motion has made the market--or at least sec-

While scientists view man as amachine and tions of it--'specification conscious.' Some, of

attempt to reduce human perceptions to aset course, have discovered for themselves that the

of measurements, humanists represent the audible performance does not appear to be

other side of the coin. For them, reproduced related to the figures on the specification and

music is experienced, and its quality intuitively have concluded that specifications are value-

judged, by reference to the perception of live less--the only reliable test is to listen to it.' "

music. If "canned" music is to elicit similar

All of this was written over 30 years ago by

emotional reactions as live, then how is this illu- Norman Crowhurst. The paper was titled "Some

sion to be maximized? This is the essential Defects in Amplifier Performance Not Covered

question; static specifications are entirely sec- by Standard Specifications," and was presented

ondary. In the language of Zen, "to understand during the 1957 annual convention of the Audio

is not to understand." The answer to this para- Engineering Society in New York. Crowhurst

dox lies in the insight that to feel the music, our goes on to discuss several performance areas

intellect must be dethroned and free reign not addressed by conventional specifications,

given to our intuitive or emotional capacities. including the problems of heavy feedback de-

As the equipment puts fewer and fewer obsta- signs, amplifier clipping characteristics, recov-

cles in our path, the road to the top of the ery from overload, and testing with reactive

mountain becomes easier and easier. Awaiting speaker loads. One of his major conclusions

us there is a"beautiful view from the summit": is that performance criteria need to be coordi-

acceptance of reproduced music as asatisfy- nated to avoid, for example, aiming at an

ing truth. The designer then must think and unnecessarily excellent frequency response at

not think. He must be able to measure, but not the expense of some other desirable chracteris-

merely listenfor his measurements. He must tic. Ican only hope that, 30 years from now,

truly hear the music.

this has become commonplace.

Irecently came across apaper that surprised

On, then, to the subject of the review, the

the hell out of me, not so much because of its unusually styled monoblodc Noble power ampli-

content but because of its date. Let me quote fier from Californian company Audire. Ican-

briefly: 'All forms of distortion in amplifiers, not dispute Audire's claim that the Noble ampli-

measured according to conventional methods, fier is decended from royal lineage. It is, after

are either so far below the minimum audible all, ascaled-down version of Audire's Monarch

distortion level, or are so far below distortion amplifier, retaining the latter's circuit topology

of the same kind produced by other links in the and impressive heatsink fascia. The massive

chain--the pickup, loudspeaker, or even the heatsink is used to cool the output devices by

human ear itself--that it should no longer be air convection, thereby avoiding the use of

possible to hear any difference between the (generally noisy) fans. The circuitry is all dis-

performance of any good modem amplifier. Cer- crete, with aDC-coupled input. All gain stages

tainly, none of them should produce any audi- are true class-A, complementary push-pull,

ble component of distortion. The fact remains from input to output. The power supply fea-

that some good amplifiers are observed to tures atoroidal transformer and acapacitor

'sound cleaner' in some way than others ... reservoir of 52,000µF, which accounts for the

But work has gone on until fabulous figures of Noble's ability to swing 20A transient current

performance are achieved--distortion in the peaks.

region of 0.1% (and some even lower) and fre-

The Noble is available in two versions: the

quency response from afraction of acycle up Noble I, nominally 75W of class-A power into

to the region of amegacycle within 0.1dB or so. 8ohms; and the Noble II, 200W of class-AB

By the figures, such amplifiers should rate as power into 8ohms. However, only the Noble

audibly perfect. This trend seems to have been Iwas the subject of this report. The Noble is

followed because of abelief that abetter speci- claimed to be stable into any load, whether

fication in these regards must mean the ampli- resistive, capacitive, or inductive, and because


Stereophile, March 1989

Audire Noble amplifier
of its high current-drive capability into lowimpedance loads, it should have no difficulty in driving anything from Apogees to electrostats. Speaker connections are via good-quality binding posts. Complete with walnut side panels, the Noble strikes an elegant pose, looking as if it ought to sound very good.
The amplifiers were auditioned with Quad ESL-63 and Celestion SL600 loudspeakers, while aThreshold FET-10 preamp was used throughout. The analog front end consisted of the SOTA vacuum 'table/SME Vionearm and Surniko's Virtuoso Boron cartridge The speaker cable used in all cases was 12' runs of the TARA Labs Space & Time Phase II. Interconnects were the Kimber KCAG and the Cogan Hall Intermezzo, the latter acable which I'm beginning to like very, very much.
The Noble's first task was to drive the Quad '63s. Mozart's The Magic Flute with Solti conducting the Vienna Philharmonic (London OSA-1397) provided the basis for my first sonic impression. Ihave had adifficult time coming to grips with the miking technique employed on this recording. At times Iappear to be situated above the performers, though the solos appear in anatural perspective. There's alack of spatial cohesion between the orchestra and the rest of the performers within the soundstage; clear evidence of multimiking. Yet there's plenty of drama and beautiful singing. Especially noteworthy are Renate Holm as Papagena,

Pilar Lorengar as Pamina, and Hermann Prey as Papageno.,
My initial impression of the sound presented by the Nobles was of acool, dry, grainy midrange with aslight loss of focus and image palpability within the soundstage. After acouple of hours of warmup the situation improved slightly, but not enough to avert an initial diagnosis of "solid-state sound" syndrome. For example, the Act II.v. trio between Tamino, Sarastro, and Pamina was texturally too grainy, with aslight brightness through the upper soprano registers. The spatial outlines of the
voices were not as well resolved as they should be, and the soundstage perspective was distinctly two-dimensional. On the plus side, the soundstage was reasonably transparent and
dynamic shadings were reproduced effortlessly. There was also lots of detail, but on balance Ifound the sound quality unappealing;
there just wasn't asufficient measure of midrange smoothness, sweetness, and focus.
Ialso detected asomewhat dryish overtone
structure on David Abel's Guarnerius (Wilson Audio's Beethoven Sonata in G, Op.96 for Piano
and Violin). As David Wilson has pointed out, the Guarnerius sings with speed, focus, and sweetness. Through the Noble I, however, there
was less of the last two. The piano bass was deep, but.not as well detailed as, say, that through the Electrocompaniet AW100 also reviewed in this issue.
Moving on to the Paganini compositions for Violin and Guitar (Telefunken 6.35574), specifically the Centone di Sonate No.2 in D, the violin overtones were again objectionable; slightly bright and steely without the requisite degree of sweetness.
As usual, the Opus 3Test Record /provided
agold mine of information. For starters, Therese Juel's voice (cut Al) was overly sibilant. The
soundstage was wide and spacious, but the
IIfeel that recorded opera is sometimes preferable to live opera--you don't have to reconcile the dramatic elements of the plot with the physical incongruity of the performer, and can let your imagination provide the missing physical details. On this point. Iecho Leopold Stokowski's feelings, so ably c2,iressed during an extemporaneous address before the 1932 New York meeting of the Acoustical Society of America: "You go to Tannbauser, and the idea back of Tannbauser is that Venus, the most beautiful woman who ever existed, should tempt Tarinhauser from the narrow path of virtue. But unfortunately Venus NRN chosen because she had amarvelous larynx, and unfortunately sometimes she weighed too many pounds, and unfortunately--but Ileave that to your imagination. And so the whole evening, the whole point and meaning of that drama is changed and spoiled because you couldn't imagine anybody ¡laughter]. Well --It is such apleasure to talk to physicists. They understand everything!"

Stereophile, March 1989


depth perspective was slightly diminished. Reproduction of the double bass was very good in terms of speed, but there was aslight loss of detail resolution in the lowest registers. The upper registers of the sax and brass (cut A4) were slightly bright. Overall, the sound quality was abit hard.
Pedro Aledo's voice (Pierre Verany PV 12793), normally well-behaved, took on abright edge through the upper octaves. And there was also anoticeable defocusing of the vocal outlines.
The sense of hall on Laudate! (Proprius 7800) came right through with atransparent soundstage, but voices in the choir tended to blend together, making it difficult to pinpoint individual voices. Again, the soundstage appeared to be two-dimensional, and soprano voices were overly sibilant and bright.
Neither did Cleo Laine's voice (Live at Carnegie Hall, RCA LPL1 -5015) escape adulteration. The mids were dry, and most of the sweetness normally there was leached out of her voice.
Piano tone was the least affected by the Noble's dry nature. For example, take the Chopin Nocturnes (Volt, Connoisseur Society CS-1065). Ivan Moravec's beautiful phrasing and delicate touch were all there, but midrange textures were atad too hard.
Iran the Lesley Test with both the Quads and the Celestions. The results were similar in both cases. With the Noble Iin the chain, the character of Lesley's voice was slightly hard and grainy. In addition, the spatial outlines of her voice were not as tight as they should have been. Changing speakers and interconnects did improve the situation up to apoint. With the SL600s and the Cogan-Hall interconnects, essentially all of the brightness Icataloged earlier as being characteristic of the Quad/ Noble combination disappeared, as did some of the midrange grain and spatial blur. Much of the Noble's character, however, including the textural dryness, hardness, and 2-D soundstage, were unaffected by the change in loudspeaker. This leads me to conclude that these, indeed, represent the inherent sonic signature of this model.
As afinal illustration of the Noble l's performance capabilities driving the SL600s, let me describe how it fared on Belshazzar 's Feast (EMI SAN-324). The dynamics of this work were very well reproduced, without strain or loss of control during complex passages. Excess bright-

ness was not in evidence. However, midrange textures were astringent, insufficiently sweet and smooth. The soundstage was noticeably 2-D, and instrumental outlines lacked incisive spatial focus.
As you can see, this amplifier pushed mostly the wrong buttons for me. Its class-A operation and that wonderful heatsink radiator were very much appreciated during the cold Santa Fe winter nights. But its performance in the critical midband failed to warm my heart, and in fact consistently irritated me. With either the electrostatic or dynamic speaker loads, the Noble Icould not reproduce midrange textures with the smoothness and sweetness of the real thing. This, for me, was its major failing. This parched and slightly grainy midrange quality altered timbral purity enough to seriously erode my listening enjoyment. There was also atendency toward brightness and hardness in the upper mids and lower treble, which indicates the need for careful integration of the amp with aparticular load. Bass control and extension are very good, as is the representation of dynamics, and the Noble Idoes achieve adecent level of transparency. But for me, that's just not enough to overcome its problems in the midrange. Finally, soundstage depth and image palpability and focus are in the category of typical solid-state performance. To paraphrase Keith Johnson, instrumental outlines are hung to dry on clotheslines between the speakers. Those serious about imaging should try a(good) tube amplifier (the VTL 75W stereo amp is agood starting point).
At $2100, is it fair to expect aproduct to provide asignificant slice of the best performance available? Ido think so, and unfortunately, the Noble Idoes not compare favorably in this respect with other (more expensive) solid-state amplifiers in Stereophile's Class Aand B"Recommended Components." It isn't just that I don't see the Noble approaching the performance level of, say, aKrell or aLevinson, it not being close in the areas of tonal purity, smoothness, and image focus. It just appears to be too expensive for what it does have to offer. S


Stereophile, March 1989

Dick Olsher

Electrocompaniet AW100 amplifier
Class-AB biased stereo amplifier. Rated output power (0.2% THD): 2x100W into 8ohms, 2x180W into 4ohms, and 2x305W into 2ohms. Output impedance: less than 0.006 ohm. Input impedance: 10k ohms. Input sensitivity: 1V Recommended source impedance: less than 1000 ohms. Max peak current: 65A. THD (measured at 1kHz at half power into 8ohms): less than 0.003%. Dimensions: 17.3" by 14.2" by 5.2". Weight: 35 lbs. Price: $2195. Approximate number of dealers: 35. Warranty: 5years parts and labor. Manufacturer: Electrocompaniet A.S., Solheimsveien 72, N-1473 Skaarer, Norway. US Importer: Music &Sound Imports, 30 Snowflake Road, Huntingdon Valley, PA 19006. Tel: (215) 357-7858.

Zymurgy is defined as the art and science of yeast fermentation, but is often used as afancy euphemism for the joy of homebrewing. You
may be legitimately wondering at this point what homebrewing has to do with audio in general and amplifiers in particular. Having recently completed aclass on homebrewing, Iwas struck by certain parallels between these hobbies. The class spanned five evenings over afive-week period and covered everything from preparation of the wort, malt extracts,
grain mashing, hops, yeasts, fermentation techniques, bottling, and recipe designs. The sessions were enriched by agenerous supply of homebrew and popcorn, courtesy of the instructor. This brings me to the first parallel: everything goes better with ahome brew This maxim is merely an extension of Hammond's Cardinal Principle of Audio: the perceived sound quality of one's system is directly proportional to the number of drinks consumed. (That's Will Hammond of KPFK's "In-Fidelity" radio program in Los Angeles.)

The final class was devoted to beer judging. Atotal of nine beers in various categories were to be judged in asingle-blind fashion. The score sheet required anumerical score in five categories, as follows: Bouquet/Aroma (10 points), Appearance (10 points), Flavor as appropriate for the style (15 points), Body (full
or thin) (5 points), and DrinIcability/Impression (10 points). A score of 40 or greater out of a
maximum of 50 points would denote aworldclass beer. The aroma of beer is defined as the smell of beer relative to the malt and grain, while the bouquet is the aroma that hops contribute to the beer. The appearance of the beer is judged by the amount of head retention, the color, and clarity of the fluid. Flavor is broken
down into the feel, taste, and aftertaste (that's right, beer tasters don't spit it out) of the beer
under test. The taste of beer is quite complex, and should be amixture of the four basic taste perceptions of the tongue: bitter, sour, salt, and sweet. The key here is the balance between the
bitterness of the hops and the sweetness of the

Stereophile, March 1989


malt. The aftertaste should be clean and pleas- ohm dynamic loudspeaker can present an

ant, never cloyingly sweet. The final category impedance modulus as low as 1ohm to the

addresses the overall impression of the beer. amplifier; exactly the sort of behavior that

Is it abeer we would personally buy and drink would go unnoticed with atest bench 8-ohm

again? The similarity to audio reviewing is quite purely resistive load.

clear. Would the reviewer be willing to spend

Electrocompaniet's current design engineer,

his own hard-earned money on the product Per Abrahamsen, is clearly amodernist who

and live with it happily ever after?

has gone acouple of steps further. One of them

Because of the diversity of the class members is attention to detail. Transistors are carefully

and the subjective nature of the judging, I matched, internal wiring is minimized, and the

expected alot of disagreement over the rela- use of active circuit protection and fuses in the

tive rankings of the beers. In fact, the surprising signal path is avoided. Not only that, but the

finding was that, with one exception, the indi- design is not finalized completely in the labo-

vidual scores were tightly bunched around the ratory. For example, alistening panel decided

average. Such precision (le, asmall standard on the extent of class-A operation, le, the point

deviation) underlines the general validity of the where the output device bias slides to class B.

subjective reviewing process. The exception This is arefreshing approach, and one Ithink

turned out to be Belgian Gueuze Lambic beer. other manufacturers should note. Electrocom-

Wild yeast is used to ferment this beer in apro- paniet's tweaking procedure places the ear/

cess "perfected" by Belgian monks over many brain squarely in the decision process. Adesign

centuries. To my taste buds, the Lambic's fla- completely predicated on lab measurements

vor was remarkably close to that of spoiled will likely fail to take into account sonically sig-

apple cider--definitely an "acquired taste:' The nificant aspects of performance that are difficult

highest-scoring beer that evening turned out or simply impossible to measure at present.

to be Young's Special London Ale, with an aver-

The AW100's input stage is aclass-A biased

age score of 40.8 and apersonal score of 43. transconductance amplifier without any overall

Other high scorers were Guinness Stout (38), feedback, loop feedback only being used around

Heineken Special Dark (36), Pilsener Urquell the output stage. The power supply shares a

(33), and Anchor Liberty Ale (34). In last place single 600VA toroidal transformer. However,

was the only entry in the American pilsener cat- separate 10,000g capacitor reservoirs are used

egory: Corona Extra, with an average score of for each channel. These reservoirs are bypassed


with polycarbonate and polypropylene film

From beer to amplifiers: Electrocompaniet capacitors to enhance their speed. Physically,

was founded in Oslo, Norway, in 1974, primar- the EC amp is fairly diminutive in size and

ily to produce a25W solid-state amplifier based weighs in at alightweight 35 pounds. It neither

on adesign by Dr. Matti Otala and Jan Lohstro. has the look nor feel of aKrell or aMark Levin-

That amplifier was the first commercial tran- son, and construction quality resembles that

sistor amplifier to embody the crux of what I of a$1000 effort (which it may very well be in

have dubbed the modern school of amplifier its domestic market). Speaker connections are

design. The essential features of such modern via high-quality binding posts, which allow the

designs are the use of low overall feedback, use of large-gauge bare cable terminations.

high slew rate, ahighish class-A/B bias, extended

Ikicked the AW 100 around for acouple of

open-loop frequency response, and ahigh months before conducting any formal listening

current-drive capability into real-world reac- tests. So Igot more than adecent first impres-

tive speaker loads. The basic idea is to minimize sion (and, Imight add, quite afavorable one)

transient distortions and maintain adequate before the final testing phase. First of all, the

current drive under all load conditions. Ocala, EC was not obviously asolid-state design; a

for example, has shown that under certain quick listen did not immediately reveal its ped-

dynamic conditions, what is nominally an 8- igree. There was no grain, hardness, or upper-

octave harshness. In fact, the upper octaves

ITo he fair. Ishould point out that this beer was downrated because ola skunk', aroma and aharsh aftertaste most likely caused by aphotochemical reaction. Beers are light -sensitive,
211d morale in clear hunks under bright lights tin asupermarket shelf will affect their ar0f1111 and flavor.

were sweet, and transients were well-controlled. The EC seemed to excel in the reproduction of dynamic shadings. The soundstage appeared to expand dynamically, with lots of


Stereophile, March 1989

headroom--almost as though an expander had been added to the system. The soundstage was

generally clean, dynamic, and always listenable. William lton's Belshazzar's Feast (EMI SAN-

slightly laid-back. But despite that, and except in the bass (where Ifelt the two to be comparable), Iclearly preferred the EC to the sound of the uninvolving Motif MS-100. Bass power and

324) brought further confirmation that the Electro was darker-sounding than the Cochrans, and not as palpable and lush in the mids. There was no sign of compression or confusion on

definition were very good, as was resolution choral and orchestral crescendos, and Iactually

of low-level inner detail. On the minus side, I thought the AW100 more powerful in the bass

was put off by aslightly artificial reproduction and better extended in the treble.

of musical textures. There was an "off' flavor to the midrange that was at first very obvious, but faded somewhat with continued exposure.

The issues of soundstage palpability, depthperspective reproduction, and textural integrity--the hallmarks of agood tube amplifier--

At no time was Ifooled into believing the per- were raised again on the Opus 3 Test Rec-

formance level of the EC approximated that of ord I. The darker mida were noted again, as

an amplifier belonging in Stereopbile's Class A category. It simply lacked the resolution

were the consistent reduction of stage depth and squashing of instrumental outlines. Pedro

powers and purity of, say, aMark Levinson No. Aledo's old and new folksongs (Pierre Verany

23. So by the time the final testing began, the PV 12793) suffered asimilar fate. Here the over-

real question was, just how firm afooting did all sound quality was clean and fast, with only

the AW100 have in Class B?

slightly hardened mida. But outlines were not

With one exception, analog program mate- as well-fleshed-out, and the depth perspective

rial was used exclusively during the final testing phase. My front end consisted of the SOTA

was reduced. What this boils down to is that, through the Electrocompaniet, the illusion of

Vacuum /SME V/Sumiko Virtuoso Boron com- a3-D soundstage, together with fine spatial

bination feeding the Threshold FET- 10 pre- resolution, is much more difficult to obtain

amp. Interconnects were the Cardas and Kim- than with agood tube amplifier.

ber KCAG, while the TARA Labs Space & Time

Next, Itried the AWI00 full-range with the

Phase Il and Cardas Hex speaker cables were SL600s, obtaining similar results. Neither did

used. Speaker loads consisted of the Celestion System 6000 and SL600s, and the Quad ESL-

my findings change with the Quad '63s. There were still aslight darkish tinge to midrange tex-

63s on Arcici stands. (The Arcicis greatly tures and the now familiar complaints about

improve the Quad's reproduction of bass stability and clarity.)

the losses in soundstage image palpability and depth.

The EC's first task was as adirect substitution for the Cochran Delta Mode amps driving the

Paganini's Sonatas (Opus 2) for Violin and Guitar (Telefunken 6.35574-DX) provide asim-

SL600s in Celestion's fullrange System 6000. ple spatial framework for evaluating soundstage

This, Ifigured, was going to be atough one for interrelationships. It is said that Paganini's early

the AWI00 to handle: the Delta Modes had musical education was on his father's mandolin;

proved to mate synergistically with the System later, as afamous violin virtuoso, he reverted

6000, bringing about an unmatched conjunc- to playing the guitar. But that the guitar was a

tion of detail, tonal purity, and palpable imag- favorite of his is not at all obvious, at least from

ery without being either overly analytic or soft. In addition to the price difference--some

the Op.2 collection. Clearly the guitar is dwarfed by the virtuoso violin writing, the former

S8000--this represented an ultimate judgment merely assigned to handle simple bass lines.

day for the EC. The results were surprising. The recording engineers must have felt that

On the Lesley Test--using master tapes of way too, because Gyorgy Terebesi's violin is

my wife Lesley singing--my spouse's sweet miked too closely. This was obvious enough

highs were very much in evidence. However, through the Electro, but the spatial perspectives

there was aslight darkening of midrange tex- were not clearly drawn. The violin outlines

tures and aslightly more chesty tonality. The were oversized, and it was unclear that the gui-

focus was very good, with the core of the voice tar and violin belonged in the same acoustic

tightly bunched in space, but the outline was space.

slightly flat or 2-D. There was some residual

David Abel's Guarnerius (Wilson Audio:

veiling of the soundstage, but the sound was Beethoven Sonata for Piano & Violin) was also

Stereophile, March 1989


darkly textured and not as well integrated and tightly focused as it should be. The Cochrans here yielded aslightly more forward perspec-
tive, lighter textures, much more palpable mids, and amore vivid and better-delineated soundstage. In general, bass lines were tight and
clearly resolved. The AWI00's overall report card was quite
favorable. It was capable of quick, clean, dyna-
mic reproduction of topnotch program material. The bass was powerful and well-articulated. At the other frequency extreme, Ifound the treble to be sweet, with excellent transient control. The AWI00 clearly transcended many
of the traditional faults of solid-state designs. It was neither harsh nor brash through the upper octaves, and proved easy to live with over the long haul.
Midrange textures were slightly dark, which may be ablessing with some speaker systems, but was acoloration Ifound bothersome. Just how much this will affect you Icannot tell. For me there was always a slight sensation of
artificiality about this amp. It generated aspacious and transparent soundstage, with very

good focus and resolution of low-level detail. There was aslightly laid-back perspective to the soundstage, but this was not as serious as its failure to properly flesh out asoundstage. It did no worse or better in this department than most solid-state amplifiers. The illusion
of 3-D is just not as convincing as that available from, for example, the VTL dual 75W amp, which, at S1950, costs about $250 less than the Electrocompaniet. If this aspect of sound reproduction is of paramount importance to you, I suggest you investigate tube amplifier alternatives.
The AWI00 betters anything that Ihave heard in Class C of Stereophile's "Recommended Components"; Iwould therefore rank it in the
bottom of Class B. There is really nothing more reasonably priced here that matches its performance capabilities in the areas of high current drive and reproduction of dynamic shadings and performance at the frequency extremes. Still, you should understand that while it is not my favorite Class Bamp, at the asking price it is worth aserious listen.

John Atkinson

Dual power line conditioner with: 1800VA capacity; two independent sets of two output sockets, transient protection fuses, and limited five-year warranty. Price: 6525. Approximate number of dealers: 20. Distributor: Artech Electronics Ltd., PO Box 1165, Champlain, NY 12919. Tel: (514)

If you ever have the need to separate those at
the cutting edge of audiopbilia nervosa from the skeptics/conservatives of the audio world, all you need do is ask whether the quality of the mains voltage available from the wall socket has any effect on asystem's sound quality. "Absolutely not," the latter group would guffaw,
pointing out to their questioner that between the line cord of any component and its audio circuitry is ahefty filtering system, consisting of the mains transformer, one or more diode bridges, and shunt arrays of electrolytic reser-
voir capacitors, often bypassed with low-value film caps to ensure alow impedance at RE Any high-frequency noise on the line will be faced with avery-low impedance pathway to ground.

In addition, most modern hi-fi components-- the exception being the output stages of nearly all power amplifiers--interpose some kind of voltage regulation between the basic power supply and the audio stages, this offering perhaps another 50-60dB of audio-band powersupply noise rejection. In fact, it is usual in cir-
cuit analysis, Iunderstand, to assume that all power-supply rails, no matter what their DC voltage, are at ground potential with respect to AC signals, so low is the power-supply impedance to ground assumed to be. Even if there is
asignificant degree of HF noise on the AC line, it will be efficiently shunted to ground long before it can have any effect on acomponent's
sound quality.


Stereophile, March 1989

Inouye AC line conditioner

And as nearly all modem electronic components are dual-rail, complementary designs, any noise which is identical on both live and neutral lines, even if it did manage to get through to the sensitive audio sections, will be rejected by those circuits' intrinsic commonmode rejection.
Yet many audiophiles, having experimented with the various power-line filters and transient spike suppressors available for use with computers,' report hearing sonic improvements with some of these theoretically superfluous devices. Ayear or so ago, in Von' No.4, Lewis Lipnick found that Adcom's ACE-515 RF filter/spike suppressor unit improved the performance of apair of Rowland Research Model Five power amplifiers, improving the sense of focus and clarity, as well as improving the sense of solidity in the bass (though the same manufacturer's Coherence One preamplifier seemed unaffected, and the Model Seven power amplifier was made to sound watery and thin). On the other hand, Lewis didn't like the effect of the Straight Wire Power Purifier 8, amuch more sophisticated unit that is said to ensure
II'm talking here specifically of units that employ simple filtering and transient suppression. Conditioners that employ some kind of ferroresonant circuit, as supplied for use with computers, are acomplete no-no for hi-fi purposes in my opinion. Even if you can stand the mechanical hum. Ibelieve they impose ahigh source impedance on the AC mains, which is the last thing you would want for an amplifier or preamplifier.

that the mains waveform is agood sinewave. Even though LL found that it reduced the levels of midrange background noise, he felt that it limited dynamics, endowing the music with an overall gray coloration.
The Inouye Synergistic Power Line Conditioner appears to be similar to the Adcom product in that it offers filtration of RFI and noise. It is built on an aluminum, nonmagnetic chassis, and fitted with alarge-gauge power cord. Internally, the line-conditioner circuitry is contained on asingle, large, double-sided printed circuit board. Following the wall power as it enters the conditioner through astandard
IEC socket, the Live voltage goes via athick pcb track to first a15A circuit-breaker, then to the on/off switch, this containing ared neon indicator lamp. Both the Live and Neutral rails are
shunted to ground by high-voltage ceramic capacitors (to provide alow-impedance ground for RF noise) and by metal-oxide varistors (to squelch transient voltage peaks higher than the mains's maximum 170V or so). Both Live and Neutral lines are divided into two at this point, each feeding two sets of two three-pin sockets via an elaborate filtering arrangement of two
heavy-gauge, air-cored coils per line, giving a total of eight, and eight more ceramic capacitors. These components appear to make up series L-C-L filters. Astar-grounding topology is used, again via thick pcb traces. Finally, each

Stereophile, March 1989


pair of sockets is further protected against transient spikes with aseries fuse/shunt vanstor/red neon/shunt varistor/series fuse network. The neons remain lit while this final
transient defense is active. Asmall criticism concerning these four inter-

Isuspect that the short length of unscreened twin cable between the Conditioner and avoltage divider/current limiter at the 'scope input was picking up RF noise radiated from the dimmer.
The main problem here seemed to be that the mains waveform in Stereopbile's part of

nal fuses, which presumably will have to be replaced occasionally: The cover is fixed to the chassis with Allen-head screws, and one screw
on the review sample was fastened so tight that Istripped its hexagonal socket with the wrench. Ihad to drill the screw out to remove the cover, which was apain in the neck. Perhaps Inouye. could look into this problem. 2
One of the factors that bothers me with any type of line conditioner is that long experience has led me to distrust anything that places any kind of impedance upstream of ahi-fi component's power supply. Amie Balgalvis has reported in these pages the favorable effects of having

New Mexico is avery good sinewave--due to alow population density and acomplete lack of heavy industry. Given that moving to New Jersey for this review is out of the question, something else was called for to reveal the SPLC's intrinsic behavior. Feeding a high-
frequency sinewave into the Inouye's mains input, between either leg to ground, revealed adeep notch to appear at 88kHz--presumably the fundamental tuning of the filter--when the response at the appropriate conditioned output was measured. Measuring the series impedance of the neutral leg and its impedance to ground at spot frequencies also indicated that the unit's

adedicated AC circuit installed directly between the house circuit-breaker and his hi-fi system; Iplan to have adedicated supply installed for
my relatively new listening room later this
Spring. Iam extremely distrustful of having anything in the line that would impede, for example, apower amplifier's need to suck cur-

response should roll off above the audio band, but in addition indicated that another notch should be present at 44kHz--except that I couldn't then find this notch with ahigh-
frequency sinewave sweep. (A puzzle!) Could it be significant that these notches
coincide with the fundamental CD sampling

rent from the pole transformer. The traditional "Christmas Tree" of two- and three-way mains
adaptors plugged into asingle socket is anathema, therefore. Inouye, however, claims avery low insertion loss for their SPLC: Imeasured a presumably negligible in/out impedance of approximately 0.75 ohms on each rail at 60Hz. While the conditioner would pass audio-band energy present on the line, it shunted compo-

frequency and its second harmonic, present to some extent in the outputs of all CD players? Ihaven't the faintest idea, except that with the CD players and digital processors Ihad to hand--the Sony DAS -R1, Accuphase DP-80L/
DC-8IL, Precision Audio DVIC-47I, Magnavox CDB472, and Theta DS Pre--I rapidly became convinced that there was asignificant, if vari-
able, degree of improvement in their sound. In

nents higher than 20kHz to ground with increasing effectiveness as the frequency

general, it was as though the black of the sonic backgrounds became even more black, to the

increased. Looking (carefully) at the AC wave- benefit of the music, with an opening up of the

form straight from the wall with a'scope, I could induce HF noise on the line with thyris-
tor dimmer switches and add some triangulation by turning on and off my trusty Black & Decker drill plugged into the same circuit.
Looking at the output of the Inouye SPLC, the sinewave remained slightly more pure with the drill operating, though it still was triangulated alittle at the moment when the drill was turned on. It was also hard to come to any sensible conclusion regarding the HF thyristor switching noise as the Inouye appeared to have no effect.

back of the soundstage. The greatest effect noticeable was with the least expensive player.
Am Ireporting on the sound of CD players with less noise on their AC mains inputs? Idon't
actually think so. Of course, you can't listen to aCD player that doesn't have aheadphone socket without apower amplifier or speaker, so identifying cause and effect is impossible. But Iam sure that the audible improvement here is not so much the reduction of mainsborne noise that would otherwise degrade CD-
player performance, but the other way around: when aCD player is plugged into the Inouye

2Under no circumstances should the SPLC's cover be removed while the unit is plugged into the wall. The entire pcb is at mains potential!

filter, RF garbage present on its power supply rails (which, if not shunted to ground by the


Stereophile, March 1989

reservoir electrolytics, will find its way to the mains supply via the diode bridge the "wrong" way around) is prevented from affecting the performance of the preamplifier and power amplifier. Here the two sets of sockets on the
Inouye start to make sense: plug the CD player into one, then use the other for the preamplifier.
My next auditioning session involved trying the conditioner with my Linn Sondek LP12 plugged into it. The Linn has afrequencysynthesized supply to provide its synchronous
motor with a60Hz AC sinewave, so any noise present on the AC line should be expected to have no effect. In addition, as with any belt-
driven turntable, the flexible belt acts as alowpass filter in conjunction with the moment of inertia of the rotating platter, rejecting any HF fluctuations in the motion of the motor. Things weren't so cut and dried, however, when it came to the listening. Half the time Ifelt that the SPLC rendered the music more stable in its pitch centers; half the time Ididn't. No conclusion here, I'm afraid.
Inouye suggests that electrostatic loudspeakers benefit from having their polarizing supplies plugged into the SPLC, with users in Canada reporting a30-50% improvement in perfor-
mance. Iintend, therefore, to pass the review sample on to Dick Olsher or J. Gordon Holt so
that they can report on its effect with Quads and Sound Labs, respectively.
Returning to electronics, Idon't use aconventional preamplifier at present in my reference system: the Mod Squad's Line Drive Deluxe AGT forms the system heart, with the Vendetta Research SCP2 dual-mono phono
preamplifier providing the urge and equalization for LP replay. Itried the effect of the SPLC on the sound of the Vendetta Research. Well, the results were not as favorable as with the CD players. With aphono preamplifier plugged into each channel of the Inouye, the sound
became somewhat less full-blooded, with less of a feeling of unrestricted low-frequency dynamics. This effect was, to my surprise, not noticeable when Itried the Inouye conditioner
with the VTL 100W monos --one plugged into each half of the SPLC--but was afactor with my Krell KSA-50. The sound of the Vils seemed to improve, however, becoming more fluid. The rather forward midrange characteristic of
this amplifier receded, the soundstage thus acquiring atouch more depth. Low frequencies did acquire atouch more bloom, though

this was not enough for the bass to sound more under-damped. To be honest, though, this effect on the VTLs' bass was almost insignificant much of the time.
To explore the effect of the Inouye with a more conventional preamplifier, Ithen used it with the line stage of aPS Audio 4.6 fitted with its M-500 power supply. (As this was at night, Ihad the dimmer-controlled lights on-- might as well give the SPLC something to get its teeth into.) After my experience with power amplifiers, Iwasn't expecting much of achange with the Inouye SPLC. The 4.6's auxiliary power transformer is amassive hunk of ironware that you would not expect to benefit from any additional AC line filtration, particularly with the relatively clean AC here in Santa Fe. I was very wrong. The difference between the 4.6 sans the Inouye and with it upstream of the preamp supply was the largest Iexperienced
with any of the equipment Ihad to hand. The sound of the 4.6 line stage is something Ialways think of as "typical" PS: open, clear, detailed, always musical, but also grainy in the lower treble when compared with true Class Apreamps. This is why Iprefer to use it in its "straight wire" setting, when it acts as apassive control center. Yet listening to »acy Chapman (Elektra 960774-1), 3with the 4.6's line stage in circuit, the Inouye rendered the sound considerably more musical. The lower-treble graininess, heard as a"cack" in Chapman's mocha-flavored vocalizing, was considerably reduced, the sound becoming smoother yet without mellowing out HF detail. The triangle on "Mountains of Things," for instance, remained as clear as crystal. Not surprisingly, Tracy Chapman led to Joan Armatrading: the superb "Willow" from her 1977 Sbow Some Emotion. Again, the effect of the SPLC was to render the singer less electronic, the music more accessible, and now asuspicion Ihad about the low frequencies was confirmed. Kick drum had more body, more "thud"; bass guitar had more weight.
Ialso used the Inouye SPLC with my dedicated headphone amplifier for most of the headphone listening to be reported on in the next issue. Here, again, Ifound the effect to be an
3It is one of the tragedies of hi-fi shows that they enable you to hear great albums like this too many times. My colleague at Gramophone, Ivor Humphreys, feels that much contemporary music i12., the equivalent of a sell-by date: after acertain number of plays. you do not need u) hear the music again. Unfortunately, the musically monotonous overkill at this year's WCES almost got me to that stage with this album.

Stereophile, March 1989


improvement. Backgrounds became adeeper grade of silent, and instrumental specificity within the souncistage improved. Any hint of aggressiveness in the treble was diminished. lb put these comments into context, the improvement was remarkably similar to that observed between the sound of an amplifier or preamplifier when it is first turned on and that when it is fully warmed-up.
Conclusion 'lb sum up my findings: The Inouye Synergistic Power Line Conditioner had positive effects on the system's sonics when CD players were plugged into it; it had, as best as Ican conclude, no effect on the Linn Sondek (though it might offer an improvement with turntables driven directly from the mains voltage, particularly in areas where the mains is particularly dirty); it changed the sound of the Vendetta Research phono preamplifier and the Krell KSA-50 in ways that Ifelt to be worse; it changed the sound of the VTL monoblocics and of my classAheadphone amplifier in ways which Ifelt to be improvements; and it effected an astonishing improvement on the sound of the PS Audio 4.6/M-500 combination's line stage. (Any improvement from its use with electrostatic speakers is still to be reported on.) As Larry Archibald offered when Idiscussed this review's findings with him, "it appears the better acomponent's power supply, the smaller the degree of improvement offered by the Inouye," which Isuppose is pretty obvious when you think

about it, as is "the better the quality of your mains and the cleanliness of your RF environment, the less need you have for such adevice" Except that this neat theorizing doesn't jibe with my experience of the PS Audio preamplifier.
Well-made, and certainly offering very positive effects with some of the equipment with which Iused it, the $525 Inouye faces stiff competition from Adcom's ACE-515 ($180), from The Audio Advisor's Tripplite LC-1800 ($308), and even from Straight Wire's Power Purifier 8($495). Stereopbile received asignificant amount of strongly dissenting mail from readers following the appearance of Lewis's mainly negative review last April (for example, see the letter from Mr. William Beuthel of Denver, CO, in Vol.11 No.11, p.27). As the SPLC's effect will be component-dependent and will also depend on the degree to which your AC mains is noisy or contaminated,* Isuggest that, if you can find adealer willing to cooperate, you try the Inouye with each of your components in your own system before making afinal purchase decision. You may find that you get the same improvement with your preamplifier that Idid with the 4.6. As for me, the Inouye's effect on CD replay in my reference system was sufficiently great that Iwouldn't want to part with it.
4 Someone living in the heart oía city, with alarge variety of thyristor dimmers. TVs with switched-mode power supplies, and electric 1110(ors of all kinds, will he in asituation very different from someone who lives in the remote depths of one of the mountain states.


Thomas J. Norton

In the first part of this survey (Stereopbrie Vol.12 No.2, February 1989), Ilooked at four moving-
coil pickups. They weren't the most expensive on the market by along shot, but you aren't likely to find any of them in your local Circuit City, either. In this episode we'll cover two fixed-coil pickups--of the moving-magnet variety--and asingle moving-coil, these pickups
ranging from $100 to $550 in price. Fixed-coil pickups have, in general, one dis-
tinct advantage over the vast majority of moving-coils ,--they require no step-up device beyond the standard phono input. Since good

moving-coil stages are generally expensive, especially those which justify the use of ahighpriced moving-coil, asignificant saving is possible if you don't already own apreamp with suitable gain. If you're of the school which believes in using alow-output moving-coil straight into anormal phono input, this may not be aconsideration, but low noise is. There is no free lunch.
The same associated equipment was used in these evaluations as in the last installment: Well-
IDiscounting, of course, high-output moving-coils.


Stereophile, March 1989

Tempered Arm on VP! HW-I9 Mk.II turntable, Klyne SK-5a preamp (without use of its switchable MC high-frequency compensation circuit), PS Audio 200cx power amp, and B&W 801 Matrix loudspeakers. Interconnects were Monster M-1000, speaker cable Monster M-1. All measurements were made at the tapemonitor outputs of the Klyne (which means that they include the frequency response of the latter, aminor consideration since it is far flatter than that of any of the cartridges). The arm rest of the WTA, which some have accused of resonating, was removed in all listening evaluations just as aprecaution; asoft (dry) sponge under the arm tube in the rest position kept the styli from plopping down onto the turntable subchassis.
Abrief comment on tonearm compatibility: In general, any of the moving-coils (here or in Part I) should present no difficulties with any typical medium- to medium-high-mass audiophile tonearm. The Ortofon and Shure pickups are, however, higher in compliance than the moving-coils. Either one, but especially the Ortofon, would be better suited to alowermass arm. (The Shure damper slightly lessens its sensitivity to amismatch.) The Well-"kmpered Arm, because of its inherently heavy damping,
appeared well matched to all of the pickups, which is why (aside from its fine sonic attributes) it was used in this survey.
In Part I, Icommented on the problem of physical clearance between cartridge and disc. Ihad aserious problem with the van den Hul MC One (its replacement has not yet arrived as of this writing), and minor difficulties with the Monster Genesis 500 and the Krell KC-100. In
this installment, only the Ortofon 540 had a clearance so minimal as to discourage VTA experimentation. Ihave not yet determined if this is a "design trend," but it could cause difficulties when using such pickups with turntables lacking any provision for flattening warped recordings. It may not always be useful advice, but, as always, your best protection in insuring compatibility is adealer you trust.
Ortofon 540: $300
Ortofon wants to be your cartridge company. Or so it seems, given their introduction of a number of totally new models in the last couple of years. They are, it would appear--much like Grado Labs--still heavily dependent upon the phono cartridge for their bottom line, unlike

Ortofon 530 cartridge, which shares a common body with the 540
several other major pickup manufacturers who are branching out into things digital and video.
The 540 is Ortofon's top-of-the-line moving-magnet cartridge. The 500 line consists of three models, different (apparently) only in stylus sophistication. The 520 has an elliptical tip, the 530 afine line, and the 540 the so-called Fritz Gyger II. The latter appears to be similar in concept, though not identical in shape, to the van den Hul. Fritz Gyger, the designer of the Fritz Gyger II (to state the obvious), is apparently also responsible for the design of the so-called Replicant stylus, used in Ortofon's flagship MC3000. All three of the 500-series pickups are also available for P-mounting, for the information of our two subscribers who are into such bizarre activities.
Output voltage is specified at 3.0mV at 11cHz, 5cm/s lateral velocity, while cartridge mass is amodest 5.0 grams. Optimum downforce is said to be in the 1.25-1.5gm range.
The Sound: One of the problems in acartridge survey of this nature is that you run the risk of being hypercritical of perfectly good middle-of-the-road cartridges. The 540 is a very respectable performer about which Imay be more critical than it deserves. Isimply never really warmed up to it. Its measured performance, as we shall see, was impeccable. It did nothing really "wrong" and never offended, but somehow it never really moved me in the ways in which the better moving-coils or, more to the point, the comparably priced Grado MCZ (review to come soon) did.
Iadmit to acertain ambivalence concerning the Ortofon, however. It does have anumber of definite strengths. Its high-frequency response

Stereophile, March 1989


was extremely clean and properly balanced. Sibilants were particularly well-controlled. Hard transients--plucked guitar strings, the details lending character to various percussive instruments, and the like--had anatural clarity,

dip so common in other pickups around 5.0kHz was entirely absent here, the only notable deviation being aslight rise at 8-10kHz (+1.2dB in the worst channel). It must be noted, however, that the 540, like most moving-magnet pickups,

neither dulled nor excessively etched or overbright. In the low end, the 540 had arespectable solidity, although it tended toward leanness and detail at the expense of extension and weight. Midbass was neither lean nor under-
damped, walking afine line between the two. Instrumental timbre tended to lack warmth-- though not to the extent of drying up the over-
all balance--but otherwise was difficult to fault.
In short, for every one of the 540's sonic
strengths, acounterbalancing weakness de-
tracted from my enjoyment. Some examples may best illustrate what Imean. On Kor the 540 had good detail within the chorus and excel-

is sensitive to load capacitance. The measurements, and much of the listening, were done
with atotal load capacitance of 218pF (25pF preamp input, 168pF for 1m of Monster M-1000 interconnect, 25pF for the capacitance of the internal wiring of the Well-Tempered Arm).
Increase the capacitance beyond that point, and the mild rise at 8-10kHz becomes more pronounced, the dropoff at 201cHz more severe (An extreme case: with 548pF total load capac-
itance, the left channel peaked at +3dB at 81cHz and dropped to -8.1dB 20kHz). In my opinion, the 540 should be used into 250pF (or less) load capacitance. If your preamp input has afairly high input capacitance, 2you might be able to

lent differentiation of individual voices, but compared with the best pickups its reproduction of ambience was abit hard, its layering less dimensional. On Magnum Opus Volume 2, the 540 presented avery detailed sonic picture; the reedy quality of the high pipes was distinctly
evident. The Ortofon's bass on this recording was taut and detailed, with no muddiness whatsoever. Yet its low end was noticeably less deep and unrestricted than that of some of the

compensate with alow-capacitance interconnect. Be advised: many audiophile-grade interconnects are fairly high in capacitance. Imeasured Straight Wire LSI, for example, at 283pF/meter, Cardas Hexlink at 395pF/meter. Obviously, I recommend neither for use with the 540, or with any other pickup sensitive to load capacitance (moving-coils and Grados are not). The modest MAS Musicable, on the other hand,
measured 65pF/meter.

other pickups in this survey. The 540's sound-

The Ortofon 540 tracked well up to 80µm.

stage was smaller, less open. And although its Subjective tracking was comparable with any

high end was very detailed, its sense of air and pickup in the survey, including the most expen-

top extension was no better than the other sive.

non-moving-coils. The Ortofon reproduced "Live" Direct- to-
Disc Flamenco Fever with obvious detail. The

Conclusions: The most difficult review to write is of aproduct which the reviewer feels

solo voice was well-focused; bass--footwork is good when judged on any objective basis,

and drums--was distinctly taut; guitar had a but which fails to push the right buttons. For

sparkling sound. But the presentation was cool me, the 540 is just such aproduct. If you take

and rather lean, and depth was less pronounced my chosen test record as areference, the Orto-

in comparison with the better pickups, with fon is inarguably flat. The upper-midrange/

aless spatial audience sound and less clear delineation of movement of performers within the soundstage.

lower-treble dip of some cartridges--the Grado family, for example--undoubtedly con-
tributes to their feeling of depth and their refusal to sound anything but sweet except

The Measurements: The frequency response of the 540 was extremely fiat: ±1.0dB from 20Hz to 12.5kHz on both channels (the channels weren't absolutely identical, but the differences were inconsequential--more than 1.0dB

with the most egregious program material. The Ortofon, with its measured linearity through the rnidband, is not at all euphonic. But remember my caution concerning test records-- they're all abit different. And this isn't Stereo

at only 1.2dB at 40Hz). The left channel was

-2.3dB at 20kHz, the right -4.0dB at the same frequency. The lower-treble/upper-midrange

2This information is often unpublished. Check with the manufacturer of your prcamp.


Stereophile, March 1989

Review; until Ican compare a540 with aGrado MCZ with an identical frequency response (not likely), I'll have to go with my subjective impressions. In the right system, the Ortofon may well lock in to provide arewarding match. It certainly does many things well and nothing really poorly. But it was, for me, merely competent; Iwas not moved to describe it with superlatives in any way.

my first reaction after installing the Shure in the WTA and putting on afavored recording was one of disbelief. Perhaps Iwas expecting what most audiophiles instinctively expect from
(relatively) cheap pickups--not much. What Iheard was adecent soundstage, aclean, nonirritating high end, very good tracking (that was no surprise), and, overall, avery satisfactory performance overall.

Shure VST III: $100
Tom has just laid out afortune for anew amplifier and speakers and he still needs anew cartridge. His old one never was anything special, but lately it's been sounding more tired than ever. He'd like to buy avdH or aKrell or a- --(fill in the MS), but those other purchases have laid him out like amackerel. ..Dick just had alittle "accident" and is now faced with a$600 replacement bill for abusted cantilever on his $1000 cartridge. Something about a party. He'll replace that moving-coil eventually, but needs something to tide him over without making abig dent in his "save for areplacement"
budget ...You're putting together amodest
system for Uncle Harry. Harry has abig collection of "classic" MOR music (he's big on Lester Lanin), but doesn't have abig budget. Or. ..
You get the picture. I'll venture that most of our readers are looking for something abit more upper-end than a"lowly" $100 movingmagnet cartridge. You probably think that such acartridge has to sound impossibly ratty. For hoi polloi, lumpenproles, and their ilk.
If that be true, then the ilk are in on awellkept secret. Shure's VST Ill is certainly no substitute for the best high-end pickups, but it won't make you reach for TV Guide, either. Even in ahigh-end system. Isay that because

But aperformance, it must be said, which is
unlikely to satisfy the very critical listener over the long haul. The positive traits Ihave listed were quite apparent. If your expectations are modest, you might be tempted into along-term relationship with the VST III. It is certainly inoffensive, its failures subtractive rather than
additive. Critical audiophiles, unfortunately,
have atendency to either praise to the skies or condemn unmercifully. On that basis, the
Shure remains earthbound. Its uppermost highs were subdued, shaving off critical bits of information: ambience was dulled, the sense of openness and HF extension limited, and the
overall effect noticeably "closed-in." Midrange was abit forward, but at the same time lacked fully developed "life" or presence. Bass was strong and well-extended but softened, as were
dynamics. Soundstage, as noted, was effective, but depth only moderately well-developed. And surface noise, paradoxically considering the VST's balance, was more prominent than on cartridges with more fully developed detail.
Let's be fair, however. I'm comparing the VST Ill with the sound of top-quality pickups eight
to ten times its modest cost. If small details on, for example, Ojebokoren--Cyndee Peters (Opus 377-04) were less than arresting--the curtailing of the airy, ambient environment sur-
rounding the performers and the openness of

Cyndee Peter's voice soaring gently above the

chorus; the sense, in short, of "being there" --

you don't really expect them at this price. If the

VST III fails to totally involve the listener, it also fails to distract from the essential enjoyment

of the listening experience. Remember, my first

reaction--before getting analytical, as critics

are prone to do--was favorable. Inner clarity

and detail may not have been totally convinc-

ing, but the Shure does not sound dull. Veiled,

yes--reminiscent of a thin gauze curtain

between the listener and the performers--but

acurtain light enough to leave the musical fab-

Shure VST Ill cartridge

ric essentially intact. Depth was foreshortened, but not lost. Bass may not challenge the tilt i-

Stereophile, March 1989


mate definition of your subwoofers, but it will give them something to think about.
Aword on the Shure damper brush. For the neophytes in the group, the VST III incorporates the damper adapted from its more expensive pickups--a small brush with a damped hinge attached to the pickup body. It is designed to ride on the record during play, not only cleaning the disc, but providing damping which effectively minimizes the amplitude
of the low-frequency arm/cartridge resonance. In contrast to the experiences of others in the audiophile press, Ifound that the use of this
damper actually improved the overall sound, increasing HF clarity and detail. In any event, it won't cost you anything to experiment. Isuspect that the effectiveness of the brush is arm-

magnet cartridges of the mid-'70s, but with better tracking. Those pickups generally sold for under $100 in that deflated era; we've come along way since then, but for aprice. The Shure is unlikely to satisfy the serious audiophile for critical listening, but it might make for an affordable, very listenable cartridge for noncritical sessions--those occasions when you want to enjoy those less- than-strikingsounding recordings for their musical merit. If you have the capability to make quick cartridge changes, the Shure would provide ayeoman back-up capability and spare wear and tear on the family jewel. Especially if the system is used by others. For full-time use, however, Tom and Dick will likely replace it at the first opportunity. And Uncle Harry? Those
Lester Lanin recordings never sounded better. All amatter of your expectations.

Measurements: Loaded with atotal of just under 300pF load capacitance, the general response trend of the VST III was smooth, but tapered off at the top end. It was up very slightly at the low end (+0.1 to +0.8dB from 20Hz to IkHz left channel, flatter on the right), then dropped to between -0.8 and -1.5dB (left channel, -2.1dB right) from IkHz to 12.5kHz. The trend at HF was down: -2.5dB at 16kHz, -5.3dB at 20kHz (for left channel; -3.7dB and -7.4dB respectively for the right). The measurements above were taken (and all listening tests were conducted) with this loading. The effect of changes in the load capacitance were less pronounced than with the Ortofon 540. Increasing it increased the rolloff at 20kHz, reducing it to about 225pF slightly reduced the HF rolloff (to -2.5dB at 16kHz, -4.2dB at 20kHz, left channel) but also reduced the output from 8kHz to 12.5kHz by about 0.5dB. 'hacking was good up to 80µm, with excellent subjective tracking on a wide range of
recordings. Output is the same as the Ortofon at 3.0mV
(1kHz, 5cm/s), while cartridge mass is alittle higher at 6.6gm. Maximum downforce is spedfled at 1.25gm, the brush requiring another 0.5gm.
Conclusion: The VST III was not shamed in use through ahigh-end system. If it failed to remind me of its more pricey competitors, it did remind me of something else In the immortal words of the bard, 3"Déjà vu all over again"; the Shure is reminiscent of the best moving-

Audioquest 4041 -L: $550
Audioquest is perhaps best known for their LiveWire connecting cable and their audio accessories. But they have been marketing cartridges almost from their inception. The 404i-L moving-coil is an updated version of the earlier 404, first made available in 1982. The Lindicates the standard low-output version (0.5mV, IkHz, 5cm/s lateral velocity); a404i-MH (for mid-high) is also available with an output high enough to drive astandard phono stage (1.4mV). The 404i-L incorporates ahollow boron cantilever with aline-contact stylus mounted in arigid, cast-metal body. The overall mass was unspecified, but Iestimated it to be around 8gm.
The Sound: The Audioquest 404i-L wasn't auditioned until the very end of this survey. Nothing personal, it just worked out that way. Iwish it hadn't, because the 404i-L was one of those pleasant surprises that every reviewer hopes for but doesn't really expect. Briefly stated, the 404i-L was adelight, in many ways the "find" of the survey. By that Idon't mean that it was the best-sounding cartridge of the seven reviewed (including those in Part I), but it provided astrong taste of the best qualities of the better $1000 pickups (at least those that Ihave auditioned) at half the price.
Before this turns into alove- fest, let me briefly point out the areas where Ifelt the 404i-
3Yogi Berra.


Stereophile, March 1989

Audioquest 4041-L cartridge
Lcame up abit short. While it was respectable in three-dimensionality and depth, the latter was somewhat truncated. Overall, the sonic perspective was a bit forward, especially through the upper midrange and lower treble. A hint of hardness was sometimes evident, although it was not consistent. And the Audioquest's low-frequency response was tight but lacked the last word in potency and extension.
But the 404i-L's positive qualities were immediately apparent. It was open, clear, transparent, and, yes, "airy" in away which the non-moving-coils surveyed could not match. Although, as Ihave stated, it lacked the last word in depth, it was not flat or twodimensional. Its overall soundstage was good, with notably tight focus. That elusive "jump factor" was present; the 404i-L is a"fast" cartridge. But this quality didn't appear to come from any exaggeration of the high-frequency response. There was excellent inner detail, yet never an etched or clinical quality. The HF qualities varied with the program material--a good sign, indicating that the cartridge did not dominate the program material with its own colorations. Bright, hard transients were fast and open--the snap of aclosely miked guitar string, the sparkle of abrushed cymbal (with the right combination of sizzle and silkiness). But that character was properly tamed when asofter touch was called for. On Debussy's Sonata for Violin and Piano (Wilson Audio W-8722), for example, the violin was sweet and warm, with the sound of the rosin on the bow audible but not obtrusive. The sound here was naturally detailed, but in no way bright or edgy. And sibilants were particularly well-controlled, clear yet never spitty or sandpapery--the latter asure sign of either atipped-up high-frequency

response or poor tracking. The 404i-L showed no sign of either problem.
Tiz-a Compared with an early version of the Grado cartridge directly competitive in price-- the Audioquest was leaner and more detailed. Low-frequency response was less extended, but tauter through the 404i-L; highs were more detailed, but less sweet. The Grado had the more three-dimensional image and more expansive soundstage, the Audioquest had more "life" and drive. The TLZ was more laid-back, the 404i-L more up-front and punchy. They sound quite different, and if pressed I'd have to call the Audioquest the more neutral of the two. But the Grado is extremely listenable, and requires no step-up device. 4
(The Audioquest has the highest output of all the moving-coils surveyed. That means you might be able to get away with using it without astep-up device, depending on your system's gain and noise level. Itried this briefly. The Klyne had abit too much hiss for this to be totally successful, and I'm still not convinced that 47k ohms is asuitable load for a moving-coil. Iused the 80-ohm setting of the Klyne pre-preamp for most of my auditioning. Ihave not auditioned the MH version of the Audioquest, which has aspecified output virtually the same as that of the Grados.)
The Measurements: The 404i-L didn't sound as if it had ahigh-frequency peak, nor did it measure that way. Above lkHz the response was -1.5dB left channel, -1.7dB to -2.0dB right channel, from 4kHz to 12.5kHz. At 20kHz, the left channel was -0.4dB, the right -2.5dB. Below IkHz there was little worth commenting on--a gradual rise to +0.9dB in the 20-40Hz region (left), +1.1dB at 20Hz (right).
The Audioquest's measured tracking ability was its only real problem area. At the recommended 1.8gm (used in most of the listening tests) it was only able to track 60µm. Increasing the downforce to 2.1gm allowed it tojust manage 70µm; 2.3gm gave marginal results at 80µm. Increasing the force to 2.1gm did seem to reduce the touch of hardness which was sometimes noted in the listening tests. Aside from that, however, the subjective tracking abil-
4After these comparisons had been concluded, Joe Grado informed stereopbile that the NICZ and TU2 auditioned were not representative cif current production. Iwill he reviewing the current versions of these promising contenders within the next two or three issues of the magazine.

Stereophile, March 1989


icy of the Audioquest, as Ihave already noted,

Also, to repeat an important point, there is

never gave any cause for concern. (Keep in mind that the measurements only show the tracking in the upper bass-300Hz.) It should

the question of frequency response. The measured response of these pickups does relate, in afashion, to their sonic character. But recall

be said, however, that in my experience the Well-Tempered Arm has managed to extract

again that, until there is agreement on atest record which is an absolute reference (and, in the

good tracking from pickups which had caused wake of the digital juggernaut, don't hold your

problems in more conventional arms. 5

breath), test-record results must remain useful but relative guides, not holy writ. One

Conclusion: The Audioquest has alot going
for it. Because of an impending deadline, Iwasn't able to spend as much time with it as with the

observation must be made concerning the CBS CTC 330 test record used here. On asignificant number of the measurements made in this sur-

other cartridges, but 1have no problem whatsoever in giving it astrong recommendation.

vey, the right-channel frequency response measured down by an average of about -2.5dB
at 20kHz and -1.2dB at 16kHz. Though this may

Overall Conclusions

not be statistically conclusive. Iam inclined to discount any channel mismatch of that degree

It should be obvious that Ifound the best of the moving-coils to be superior to the best of the fixed-coils. The latter couldn't match the tight focus and "air" of the former, yet the fixed-coil manufacturers have argued that there is no inherent reason why this should be so. They have apoint. But when they sometimes argue

as an aberration of the test record. In truth, none of the pickups evaluated here
is likely to seriously disappoint, in the right system, but my top choices are very definitely the van den Hul MC One, the Krell KC-100, and the Audioquest 404i- L. Iconfess to aslight overall preference for the Krell; it simply locked into

that moving-coils are inherently inferior, I have to point out that record cutting heads are all, to my knowledge, moving-coils. That isn't

my system better than the others. But Icould live quite happily with either of the other two;
Idon't see how you could go wrong with any

an argument for the superiority of the moving- of them.

coil, just an observation that every recording

you hear has already passed through one such
device on its way to the lacquer. The argument is also made that the distinctive, lively quality of moving-coils is due to "ringing," to which they are said to be prone. Perhaps. But it's afact that all physical systems ring or resonate in

Manufacturer/Distributor Addresses
Audioquest, PO Box 3060, San Clemente CA
92672. Tel: (416)475-8643. Ortofon, 122 Dupont Street, Plainview, NY

some fashion in response to an excitation; you can damp such ringing either by the selection of the material used in construction or by later

11803. Tel: (516) 349-8670. Shure Brothers, Inc., 222 Hartrey Avenue, Evanston, IL 60202. Tel: (312) 866-2200.

application of well-chosen damping materials. The history of audio transducer design is ahistory of attempts to control ringing and resonance by placing them out of the audible band or by applying appropriate damping, without

From Part I: Audio-Technica US Inc., 1221 Commerce Drive, Stow, OH 44224. Tel: (216)686-2600. Monster Cable Products Inc., 101 Townsend Street, San Francisco, CA 94107. Tel: (415)

throwing the baby out with the bathwater by deadening the transient response. Compro-

777-1355. Music Hall (Audio-Technica AT OC -9), 108

mises are inevitable. 6

Station Road, Great Neck, NY 11023. in (516)


My infamous Dynavector 170 had tracked poorly in aPremier FT-3, but was surefooted in the WTA.
6Adistinction must be made here between damping of the actual transducer system. he it pickup or loudspeaker driver (or driver/enclosure system). and damping of the system supporting structures: cartridge body or loudspeaker cabinet structure (as contrasted to the interior airspace/port )"Me damping of the former must be carefully hr.danCed. The damping of the latter, in my opinion, cannot he overdone (within practical physical limitations).

Krell Industries, 20 Higgins Drive, Milford, CT 06460. Tel: (203) 874-3139. Transparent Audio Marketing (vdH), Box 117, Rt. 202, Hollis, ME 04042. Tel: (207) 929-4553.


Stereophile, March 1989

John Atkinson

Nitty Gritty Hybrid Record/CD cleaning machine
LP/CD cleaning machine. Price: 5550 ($610 with oak finish). Comes with 16oz bottle of Purifier 2LP cleaning fluid, 4oz bottle of Pure CD, and small whisk to clean Vac Sweep lips. Replacement Parts: Purifier 2LP cleaning fluid, $12.95 (16oz), $44.95 (1 gallon): Pure CD cleaning fluid. $9.95 (4oz): Vac Sweep replacement kit, $9.95: Capstan replacement kit: $9.95. Nitty Gritty coffee mug: $3.95. Approximate number of dealers: 150. Manufacturer: Nitty Gritty Record Care Products Inc.. 4650 Arrow Highway, F4, Montclair, CA 91763. Tel: (714) 625-5525.

The beauty of formative experiences is that they are easy to remember, resulting in aplentiful supply of anecdotes with which to open pieces of writing. Take, for example, the subject of record cleaning. Never one to take on tasks unnecessarily, Ialways found the whole subject of keeping records in visually pristine condition aroyal pain in the keester. In addition, the whole ritual involving unguents, emollients, brushes, creams, and lotions carefully and painstakingly applied both to record and to stylus, struck me both as obsessive and something that delayed the act of listening to
music too much to be bearable. When Ibeheld Naim Audio's Julian Vereker cleaning arecord at an audio show in 1977 by rubbing it on his
sweater, Iwas already wide open to his argument that, hey, why do you need to keep rec-

ords in an apparent state of pristine grace? It is only the dirt on the groove walls that matters, and with the high contact pressure involved, the stylus can do apretty good job of pushing
such groove dirt out of its way. If you hear ticks and pops from your system while playing LPs and they're not due to static, then there is something wrong with your system. (Actually, JV
said "turntable," but we're all more openminded now, aren't we?)
Resonances in the pickup cartridge, tonearm, turntable, and loudspeaker exaggerate the nature of the sound produced by the small
items of debris not forced out of the way by the stylus. The preamplifier RIAA equalization drastically rolls off the highs from any transient leading edge from a"tick," turning it into a
much more subjectively endurable "plop," but

Stereophile, March 1989


any mechanical resonant behavior will restore the annoyance of the noise. Add, then, the fact that many preamplifiers back then in the dark ages of the late '70s had such limited HF over-
load margins that any transient would send them into hysterics, and it is not surprising that
audiophiles became convinced that record dirt was auniversal barrier to the enjoyment of recorded music.
Me, Ibought the first of three Linn Sondek LP12s and found that, yes, the subjective annoyance of record ticks went down, even with the SME 3009 III and Shure V15 IV Iwas using back then. Since then, better tonearms, good MC cartridges--therein lies atale--and, most importantly, better preamplifiers have kept surface noise down to aminimum in my various systems. Apart from keeping the grooves free from superficial dust with acarbon-fiber brush, and keeping static down with ahumidifier and Discwasher Zerostat pistol, Ihave vir-
tually no problems with record ticks and pops. You don't believe me? Ask Larry Archibald, a regular visitor to my listening room, if he is
disturbed by noise when enjoying LPs in my system. Or even the venerable JGH, in whom
we trust. But. Some of my records bave been getting nois-
ier than others. (I don't play those for Larry, and
Gordon wouldn't listen to them anyway -- they're mainly rock.) And my bride of just over ayear had brought with her to Santa Fe adowry of some of the dirtiest records Ihave ever laid eyes on.,So when the chance came to try Nitty
Gritty's fairly new2"Hybrid" LP and CD cleaning machine, Ijumped at it.
The Hybrid appears to be based on Nitty
Gritty's 1.5/2.5Fi Mk.II LP-cleaning machines, 5 the only apparent difference being the addition
I"Unfair." protests Laura, pointing out that she keeps her records in excellent condition. The dirty discs are her mother's.
2That really should have read "new: and you should have been reading this text many months ago. hut the Hybrid fell prey to the kind of confusion that occasionally befalls review samples. We originally sent it back in mid-1988 to Bill Summerwerck in Mechanicsburg--love that name, and it was so appropriate. Bill being such atechy -- Pennsylvania, hut Bill moved to the Northwest and it missed him hy days. The Nitty Gritty finally followed BS to the land of rain. hut he got deeply embroiled in his new ¡oho( writing software manuals, and by the time he was ready to start work on the review. Ihad him tied up with surround-sound processors and inexpensive amplifiers. It finally arrived hack in the land of enchantment -- well, that's what New Mexico license plates started saying when Stereopbile went monthly--and Ideputized myself to embark on the review as being the least likely person to want to use the machine. And you think everything runs like clockwork here?

of an integral acrylic dust cover, to which is attached abuffing pad for CDs, and an eccentric cam/CD support that plugs into the LPdrive capstan to provide asuitable nontangential cleaning motion. Looking at the machine
from left to right, asmall rotating platter with acentral spindle supports the label area of an LP To its right is the vacuum slot, with lips consisting of afine- fibered brush material Nitty Gritty calls "Vac Sweep." To its right is asmall rubber puck/capstan that rotates the LP by rubbing on its rim, athree-position rocker switch, ahole to store the CD adaptor, and alarger hole to store the CD cleaning-fluid bottle. Finally, the right-hand side of the machine consists of areservoir for the "Purifier 2" record-cleaning fluid--it holds 16oz--and apushbutton to pump the fluid on to the brushes either side of the vacuum slot. Underneath is aplastic tray to catch waste fluid. While the top of the Hybrid is made from ablack plastic material, the lower half of the plinth is available in woodfinish vinyl or, for an additional $60, asatinfinish oak veneer.
To clean an LP, the user first pumps fluid on the brushes until they are saturated with Purifier 2. You then push the LP against the rubber capstan, engage its edge with aslot, and lower it on to the spindle. Pushing the on/off switch away from you turns on the capstan motor and the LP is revolved two or three times to thoroughly wet the grooves and allow the fine bristles of the brush to lift groove debris into suspension. The switch is then pushed toward the user, the motor turns on again but now a powerful suction action removes the solution and the dirt with it. Because the side being cleaned is facing down, gravity helps to keep muck suspended free from the groove walls before the vacuum has had achance to remove it. Three to five revolutions of the record are sufficient for the record to be left completely dry and clean.
To clean CDs, the cam/CD support is plugged into the capstan--you have to push all the way and turn to lock it into place--and the CD placed upon it playing side up. Aline of "Pure CD" cleaning fluid is applied from the dispensing bottle along adiameter, with maybe asec-
3Differences between the Hsbrid and Nitty Gritty's lessen:8.1'1,MT machines comprise the motor to rotate the LP and the reservoir/pump system to wet the brushes, while the more expensive Mini-Put Iand 2have asecond. upper Vactalra slot so that both sides of the record can be cleaned simultaneously.


Stereophile, March 1989

ond one at right angles to the first if the disc is an occasional minor tick, taking the intrinsic

very soiled. The motor is then started (but not background noise below the level of the master

the vacuum) and the lid with its buffing pad is tape hiss. What Ihad not expected, however,

lowered on to the CD. After 30-60 seconds, the was achange in the tonal quality of the music!

CD is clean and static-free and the lid should Aslightly harsh edge to the sound of voice and

be carefully raised to prevent the CD from fly- saxophone had gone, the sounds being now

ing off while the motor is still turning.

considerably more natural.

Nitty Gritty supplies atransparent LP and

Ifound this effect astonishing--and consis-

pocket microscope to their dealers in order to tent, particularly with older records. Some old

demonstrate the efficacy of their machines' Deccas, for example, have got increasingly

cleaning actions. As they also sent one to me, noisy with age. The Nitty Gritty, again, both

my first test was to try it for myself. Isprinkled cleaned up the groove noise and rendered the

one side of the album with amixture of fine overall sound more smooth. Ican only assume

dust from the yard and talc (my wife's Magie that the various soaps and additives that are

Noire from Lancome, for those who want full added to the vinyl biscuit to facilitate pressing

experimental details). Looking at the disc through gradually leach out the body of the record over

the microscope revealed, as expected, grooves time, rendering the groove wall more granu-

that looked as though an entire football squad lar in texture. Presumably the thorough scrub-

had wiped the gack from their uniforms with bing and vacuuming of the groove performed

the disc. Iprimed the Vac Sweep lips with 15 by the Nitty Gritty machine removes this gar-

pushes of the pump; on to the Hybrid went the bage, leaving the groove wall in amore homo-

disc, its edge engaging the slot in the edge of geneous condition.

the capstan; the rocker switch was pushed back

What the machine cannot do, of course, is

and the disc was rotated past the wet brushes compensate for the effect of groove damage

for two revolutions; the switch was then pushed from poorly tracking cartridges or from

to the forward position and the disc revolved scratches. These the LP owner has to live with,

for three revolutions while the vacuum pump unfortunately. No record-cleaning system can

did its stuff.

compensate for handling abuse, and cleaning

The result was remarkable. Adry, clean rec- my mother-in-law's Mario Lanza records did

ord, with no line of gunk left where the sweep nothing about the myriads of fine scratches,

had been when Iturned the machine off and even while lowering the level of background

with only an occasional speck of talc or dust in the grooves evident through the microscope.

groove noise and improving the overall sound. When it comes to CD cleaning, Iam more

Asecond cleaning removed even these. Other skeptical. Couple the fact that CD players have

users of cleaning machines have warned about powerful error correction with the fact that the

residues left in the grooves when the cleaning disc is played upside-down so that gravity

liquid evaporates. Using the clear record and helps surface dross to be flung off the rotating

suitably strong lights, Ifailed to find any evi- disc, and Iam not convinced that aCD needs

dence of such aresidue. Acaution: Nitty Gritty any more help in keeping clean as long as it is

warns against overfilling the reservoir. It is very well looked after and handled properly.

tempting to empty the entire 16 ounces of Puri-

There lies the rub, however, as Inever failed

fier 2liquid into the reservoir all at once. Of to be astonished by the muck and grime pres-

course, Idid just that. When the container is ent on even new CDs, fingerprints in particular.

full, the fluid creeps out of the top, even when The Nitty Gritty Hybrid proved excellent at

the cap is screwed tight, due to its very low sur- leaving CD surfaces in mint condition, though

face tension.

monitoring the level of corrected errors using

The time had come for areal record.

the appropriate LED on aMeridian MCD-Pro

Ireached for my British RCA pressing of player revealed no significant improvement

Casino Royale, well-chewed by countless car- with any of the CDs Icleaned. (I suspect that

tridges and exposed to the ravages of the ele- most errors are due to microscopic scratches

ments (and paper inner sleeves) for some 22 rather than to surface dirt.) However, aclean

years. The background groove noise is not par- CD is certainly athing of joy, and the Hybrid

ticularly high in level, but has agritty quality does get the little silver devils clean. As the CD

Just one clean on the Hybrid reduced this to adaptor only increases the price of the LP clean-

Stereophile, March 1989


ing machine by $60 or so, Irecommend that you might as well get the Hybrid. And for those who scour the secondhand CD market, it will be an essential purchase, forming asynergistic partnership with a proprietary scratch remover such as CD Saver. 4
Conclusion Istill feel that if you are plagued with record noise, you should seriously investigate your system to make sure that some components are not exaggerating the effects of ticks and pops. An MC cartridge with aresponse that rises like aski slope in its top octave, used in aflimsy, resonant tonearm mounted on an inexpensive direct-drive turntable with aplastic plinth, will make even the cleanest LP sound like you habitually use your records to store lawn sand on. But given that you have awell-matched system, the Nitty Gritty Hybrid will work sonic
See)OH's reviews in Vol.10 No.8 and Vol.11 No.8.

wonders on your LP collection, as well as keep your CDs clean. Irepeat that the degree of improvement in the removal of aharshness on female voice had to be heard to be believed. My wife Laura wasn't even in the same room, yet she called out when Iput the cleaned LP back on the Linn, asking what Ihad done to the system.
As far as domestic acceptability goes, having once tried aKeith Monks machine and found it large, noisy, and fiddly in the extreme, Iwas impressed by the Nitty Gritty's compact size, ease of use, and the small amount of time it takes to clean an LP or CD. Nitty Gritty is not going to get this machine back in ahurry.
Has the Nitty Gritty Hybrid converted me into the kind of fanatic who religiously cleans an LP twice before playing? Sorry, no. Istill need my music fix in too much of ahurry for that degree of commitment. What Ido, therefore, is to put on aCD and then happily clean
my LPs, whistling while Iwork.


CD players You will see from the reviews of the Accuphase and Theta decoders elsewhere in this issue that we have started to include in Stereopbile's reviews the y3-octave analyzed spectrum of a player's output while it reproduces the dithered -90.31dB tone from the CBS CD-1 test CD.,With an undithered signal, atone at this level only crosses three quantizing levels and therefore is not sufficiently described for it to be reproduced as asinewave. However, as the code representing this tone on track 19 on the CBS disc bas had an appropriate amount of dither noise added when the CD was cut, it should reproduce as apure, if noisy, sinewave. Any distortion components present can therefore be laid at the door of the individual player's decoder and electronics.
A '/3-octave spectrum analyzer obviously does not have sufficient resolving power to reveal individual distortion harmonics of a
IThose interested in examining the low-level performance of CD pLayes will find it %Val worthwhile investing in this disc Priced at $45 plus $1.75 postage and handling, it is available from Old Colony Sound Lab. PO Box 243. Peterborough. NH 03458. Tel: (603)924-6371, 9-4 EST, M-F.

lkHz tone higher than the 8th, and the Audio Control analyzer we use has too limited a dynamic range to reveal the presence of harmonics that are significantly lower than -20dB with respect to the fundamental. Nevertheless, it is good enough to reveal major differences between CD players, giving an approximate idea of the levels of low-order distortion components present at low levels, as well as the level of power-supply-related noise. The
graphical representation of aplayer's low-level performance is more informative, therefore, than astraight statement of by how many dB it compresses or expands the level at -90.3IdB. (The rising level in the two octaves above 5kHz in all the spectra is, Ipresume, due mainly to
the dither noise on the CD. However, as its level is not quite constant from player to player, it must also contain acontribution from decodergenerated spuriae.)
For this follow-up, Ilooked at the spectra for two players that have been previously wellreceived by Stereopbile's reviewers, the Mod Squad Prism and Sonographe SDI Beta; aprocessor, the Sony DAS -703E5, that was one of


Stereophile, March 1989

' 11111111

11111111 1 III11111 1 I1 -9111

I 11111111 1 111111

1 I1111111 1 II






Fig.l Sony DAS-703ES: lkHz tone at

-90.31dB with noise and spuriae

11111111 I 11111111 I 11111111 I II

-iidil ;e:

1111,. 1

1I111111 1 11111111




Sonographe SD1 Beta

1 11

1 11111111 1 11111111 1 I1111111 1 11


Fig.2 Mod Squad Prism

liz Flg.4

Magnavox CDB472

our references of acouple of years back; a recently discontinued 16-bit Magnavox, the CDB472; as well as the four players reviewed by Sam Tellig in his "Audio Anarchist" column this month: the Adcom GCD-575, Magnavox CDB582, Onkyo DX-G10, and Yamaha CDX1110U.
Fig.1 shows the spectrum of the -90.31dB dithered tone when reproduced by the left channel of the Sony DAS-703ES. (The right channel was practically identical.) This 1986vintage, then-state-of-the-art, 4x-oversampiing, 16-bit processor shows quite alarge negative level error at -90dB: -4.5dB, 2 this typical of the performance of amachine that uses the Philips TDA1541 dual 16-bit DAC chip. Note the very high level of second-harmonic distortion, however, and the much-higherthan-usual level of HF noise relative to the fundamental.
The spectrum for the Mod Squad Prism favorably reviewed by Tom Norton in May 1988 can be seen in fig.2. Again using the TD1541 16bit DAC chip, this player also shows an expansion error at -90dB, but much less than the Sony, -90.31dB reproducing as -92dB. Evenorder distortion is evidenced by the raised levels of the 2kHz and 4kHz bands, 10dB and
2All la-vcIs accuratc to 0.5dB.

12dB below the level of the fundamental respectively, but the sinewave is relatively pure nonetheless. Note the absence of mains-related products.
By comparison, the Sonographe SDI Beta
(fig.3) does show noise present at 60Hz and its multiples, the strongest component (-94dB)
lying at 120Hz, the full-wave diode bridge switching frequency Distortion levels are relatively low, however, the second harmonic being 12dB below the fundamental, the third
13.5dB, and the fourth 12dB again. Absolute level error for this machine, which uses Philips' earlier TDA1540 14-bit DAC with oversampling, is ahair over 3dB of compression; le, the -90.31dB tone reproduces at -87dB.
Looking at the stock Magnavox CDB472, which uses a4x-oversampling digital filter with true 16-bit DACs, this features a4.5dB negative error at -90.31dB on the left channel (fig.4), the
right channel being 1dB better. The main distortion component present is the second har-
monic, at -104dB (9dB below the fundamental), and power-supply components can be seen at -108dB (60Hz), -104dB (120Hz), and -106dB (240Hz). The newer Magnavox '582 features much less level error at -1dB (right) and -2dB (left), despite being avery inexpensive player. Fig.5 shows the spectrum of noise and spuriae for the left channel: there is still

Stereophile, March 1989


1 II111111 1 11111111 I 11111111 1II -Nd 94d 1-

lix Flg.5







Magnavox CDB582 Fig.7 Adcom

/ GCD-575

1111 44i -ISM

I 11111111 I 11111111 I 11111111


I- -

! 1111



Fig.8 Adcom GCD-575: AFPC response

Flg.6 %mane CDX-1110U
some 60Hz hum visible (but hardly audible) at -106dB, but otherwise power-supply noise is lower than the older model, as is the level of second harmonic distortion. Third and fourth harmonics are noticeable, however, though these are still no higher relative to the fundamental than with the CDB472. Examining the frequency response of the CDB582, the lows were extended, -1dB at 4Hz, while the highs showed aslight roll-off, the top audio octave being shelved down by 0.3dB. Deemphasis was within 0.1dB of perfect. Maximum output level is 1.9V.
De-emphasis was also within 0.1dB of flat from the unfiltered outputs of the Yamaha CDX-1110U. Down by 0.7dB at 4Hz, this pseudo-18-bit player was ostensibly fiat throughout the audio range, with perhaps a slight (+0.2dB) shelf in the midband. Fig.6 shows the spectrum of the noise and spuriae while the Yamaha was playing the -90.31dB tone on the CBS disc. The absolute level error was mildly compressive, the left channel replaying the tone at -88dB and the right at -86.5dB. Hum at 60Hz appears at -107dB, while the main distortion components present appear to equal levels of second, third, and fourth harmonic, at -102dB; le, -14dB relative to the lkHz fundamental. In this respect, this Yamaha is almost as good as the incredibly

expensive Accuphase player, the very expensive Theta DS Pre, and one channel of the merely expensive Onkyo DX-G10. The level of HF noise and spuriae is also lower than usual. Maximum output level of the '1110U is 2.1V.
Fig.7 shows the noise/spuriae spectrum for the Adcom GCD-575. Any level error at -90.31dB was below the resolving power of the Audio Control analyzer. Power-supply noise was below the measurement threshold at -112dB. The Adcom was also excellent when it came to distortion, the main harmonics present being third, fourth, and fifth, all at -104dB; le, -14dB with respect to the fundamental and as good as the Yamaha at less than half the price The maximum output level is higher than usual at 2.55V from the fixed-output sockets, which will make the Adcom sound considerably louder in uncompensated switched A/B tests against other players. From the variable sockets, controlled by afront-panel knob, the '575's MOL is ahigh 5.15V, making it suitable for direct-driving even the most insensitive power amplifiers. The Adcom showed rather more frequency-response variation than the other players, being 0.7dB down at 20kHz and 2.3dB down at 4Hz. With the "Analog Frequency/Phase Contouring" (AFPC) switched in, the response was markedly altered, as shown by fig.8. The entire midrange is boosted by just over ldB, while the treble is shelved


Stereophile, March 1989

Onkyo DX-G10
down by 2dB, this superimposed upon the intrinsic slight HF droop. ("AFPC" seems rather afancy label for what, to judge from the curve in fig.8, is ashaping network consisting of two resistors and acapacitor per channel.) Deemphasis was accurate, though similar to the Adcom's basic response in being down 0.4dB at 16kHz.
It turned out that the sample of the Onkyo DX-G10 auditioned by Sam Tellig had its DACs misaligned, something that just should not happen with a$2500 player. Looking at the low-level performance of the Santa Fe sample of this massive, true 18-bit player, there also appeared to be aDAC Imbalance. The upper trace in fig.9 is the -octave analyzed spectrum for the right channel, showing just over 4dB of compression at -90dB, while the lower trace is the left channel, revealing amild 1dB of expansion. (The levels at -80.77dB were altered by +2.5dB and -0.5dB, respectively.) Both traces are identical below 250Hz, with powersupply noise just visible at -107dB (60Hz) and -102.5dB (120Hz). The left channel is truly excellent when it comes to distortion added to the dithered tone, any low-order harmonics being 14-15dB below the level of the fundamental. The right channel is less good, however, with some second-harmonic at 2kHz noticeable. The right-hand channel had some midrange noise apparent below lkHz, giving the visual effect of an exaggerated left-hand "shoulder" to the IkHz band.
If both channels measured as good as the left, this OnIcyo would be the best player Ihave ever measured, reproducing the -90.31dB dithered tone with very low distortion and very little level error. As it stands, however, it is only halfway to that status.
Looking at the less esoteric measurements, the maximum output level from all the Onkyo's

outputs, variable and fixed, was 2.1V. The frequency response showed mild tailoring, with avery slight tilt downward of -0.45dB between 60Hz and 18kHz. Iwould expect the DX-GIO's fundamental sound to be alittle bass-prominent as aresult. Response limits were -0.9dB at 4Hz and -0.6dB at 20kHz, both figures relative to the level at 60Hz. There was also aslight de-emphasis error measurable, reaching amaximum of +0.45dB (left channel) and +0.35dB (right) at 41cHz, relative to the level at IkHz. This will be audible as aslight feeling of additional presence to pre-emphasized discs, and Ihave to admit to some surprise to discover that this expensive and beautifully constructed player doesn't measure absolutely flat.
What conclusions should be drawn from these results? First, Ithink it mandatory for companies offering expensive players to offer DIA converters with very little or no level error
at -90dB. If Magnavox and Adcom can offer this in mid-priced and inexpensive players, then premium-priced players should feature performance at least as good. The increased level of profit from an expensive machine should, Iwould have thought, allow enough margin for the manufacturer--or even the dealer--to align both channels of the machine (if it allows for DAC adjustment) before sale. All you need is aspectrum analyzer, acopy of the CBS test CD, and ascrewdriver. Increasing player price does buy better, more rugged build quality, but also appears to buy aplayer with lower levels of distortion and spuriae at very low levels, as well as with intrinsically lower levels of power-supply-related noise. These are all factors which, in conjunction with good low-level DAC linearity, well-matched between channels, seem to correlate with good CD sound. Remember, however, that even if the digital circuitry is excellent, an inadequately designed analog stage can throw away much of its performance. And none of these more traditional measurements indicate the effect of digital signal timing jitter from poorly performing transports, another factor which will affect sound quality.
One thing that doesn't appear to correlate directly with sound quality is the number of decoder bits. The only common factor among the machines covered in this set of tests is that they all use 4x- or 8x-oversampling digital filters, with then a final low-order analog reconstruction filter. (The Yamaha offers its

Stereophile, March 1989


user the opportunity of doing away even with that.) Other than that, they use 14-bit, 16-bit, pseudo 18-bit, linear 18-bit, and, if you indude the Accuphase CD player also reviewed in this issue, 20-bit DACs, with only arough correlation of sound quality with DAC bits.
--John Atkinson
Audio Control Industrial SA-3050A audio analyzer
When Ireviewed the Audio Control Industrial SA-3050A third-octave analyzer in Vo1.11 No.6, Icame down very hard on what Iperceived as its deficiencies. Iwas frankly expecting perfection (Audio Control Industrial generally makes good stuff at afair price), and when the product didn't meet my standards, Iwas less than charitable in my denunciation.
Some of my criticisms were valid. Ihad, however, forgotten the unavoidable compromises required in designing areasonably priced spectrum analyzer. These compromises revolve around the impossibility of building adetector circuit that can simultaneously read the true peak value of the signal and derive a stable average value.
Short of an all-digital design, the only complete solution to this problem is to build two sets of detectors: one that reads peak values, another that takes along-term average. (I once worked for acompany that did just that.) Of course, such asolution takes up alot of board space and money.
The usual compromise is to build adetector circuit with little or no filtering, so that it accurately records peaks. The user then switches in more and more capacitance to average out the measurements. This arrangement corresponds to the "fast," "medium," and "slow" settings on analyzers.
Unfortunately, capacitors cost money and take up space At low frequencies really large capacitors are needed, so we run out of space and money again. Audio Control Industrial's filtering at the "slow" setting in the original review sample was not enough for areasonably steady display when using pink noise. (Steadiness is important when measuring frequency response; how are you to separate the display's flopping around from "real" changes in the measurement?)
Isuggested to ACI that they average the readings in software--that is, do mathematically what acapacitor does electrically. They took my suggestion seriously, and the latest version

of the SA-3050A includes anumber of improve-

ments that Iand other users had wanted: ·When you select the "slow" setting, the dis-

play blanks out for afew seconds while the

processor averages the readings. When the dis-

play reappears, it is close to its final values. The

"slow" display is now stable enough to be use-

ful for frequency-response measurements.

"Fast" and "medium" displays work as before

·The low-voltage dropout relay is now con-

nected to the battery only when the unit is

operating; it is no longer acontinuous (though

light) drain. You no longer need to keep the SA-

3050A plugged in when not using it. (It turns

out that the short battery life Iexperienced was

due to adefective battery, not to excessive drain

from the relay.)

·The "loss of memory" suffered by my unit

was caused by the wrong resistors on the

board. Ican now recommend the SA-3050A with-

out reservation, as aClass Btest instrument.'

Iappreciate Audio Control Industrial's willing-

ness to listen to suggestions from its customers

and work with them to make their products

more useful. If you have an early SA-3050A,

ACI will update it for anominal fee (The modifi-

cation involves replacing the computer's ROM

and the power switch.)


Rogers LS3/5a loudspeaker
In last month's review of the venerable LS3/52 loudspeaker (Vol.11 No.2, p.I15), you will remember that Ihad intended to compare an 11year-old pair of these BBC-designed monitor speakers against abrand-new pair. As explained in the review, this turned out not to be possible before the review deadline, due to the new pair getting lost in shipping. (As Murphy's Law would have it, they finally arrived just after the February issue had been put to bed.) The new version of the LS3/52 differs in detail from those manufactured before 1987, the supplier of the drive-units, KEF, having carried out a research program to render the design more consistent in manufacture and nearer the target performance originally specified by the BBC.
In particular; the increased uniformity in tweeter production meant that the auto-transformer in the appropriate leg of the crossover used to match the tweeter level to the woofer could be

IStereo»!le has purchased an Audio Control Industrial SA · 3050A to use for the majority of its loudspeaker itsieves.--JA


Stereophile, March 1989

replaced by asimple constant-impedance resistive divider. This results in aslightly lower overall impedance, to an 11 ohm characteristic rather than the original's 16 ohms. In addition, the original Neoprene surround of the B110 bass/ midrange unit has been replaced by aPVC formulation to reduce the amplitude of apersistent slight peak around IkHz. As the target of the redesign was to produce asound identical to that of the original, the LS3/5a designation remains unchanged.
To conclude my review, therefore, Icarried out listening tests comparing old against new. both pairs being auditioned on 24" Chicago stands positioned well out in the room and driven by VTL 100\V monoblocks. The differences were minor in degree but nonetheless noticeable. In particular, aslight nasality characteristic of the older pair was significantly lower in level with the new pair. resulting in a slightly warmer balance overall. Dynamics also seemed very slightly less compressed and the treble slightly sweeter, with less of a"fizz" apparent. To put these comments into perspective, when Itried auditioning one of the decade-old 3/5as with one of he '88 samples as apair, what differences there were between the two did not prevent the speakers from performing quite well as astereo pair. Ihave auditioned anumber of speakers where there was more of asonic difference between channels.
Figs.1 and 2show the impedances of the old and new versions, respectively As can be seen from fig.2, the latest version does have an overall lower impedance, with minima just below 8ohms, but the shape is identical apart from in the three octaves above 7kHz. Fig.3 shows the averaged. 14-octave frequency response of the two pairs of speakers, measured on-axis inroom at adistance of 1m. (The upper trace is the 1978 LS3/5a; the lower trace is the 1988 speaker.) Differences can be seen primarily in the treble, where the latest version lacks the slight prominence in the 'kHz region. The top two octaves are also hinged down acouple of dB compared with the older sample. The response in the lower frequencies seems pretty much identical, though the design's intrinsic 160Hz hump is perhaps asmidgen better-controlled. (Note that the dip in the 250Hz region on both traces is due to destructive interference between the direct sound from the speaker and that reflected from the floor between the speaker and the measuring microphone.)

To conclude, my experience of the latest ver-

sion of the LS3/5a confirms last month's ten-

tative recommendation. Still somewhat com-

promised concerning overall dynamics and HF

smoothness and clarity when compared with

such modern miniatures as the considerably

more expensive Acoustic Energy AEI and Ce-

lestion SL600Si, and having adistinctly tubby

midbass, the latest version of the LS3/5a still

has one of the least colored midbands around,

throws adeep, beautifully defined soundstage,

and has aslightly sweeter top end than it used

to. At $650/pair, the LS3/5a (manufactured by

Spendor, Harbeth, and Goodmans, as well as

by Rogers) is worthy of aClass Crecommen-

dation in Stereopbile's "Recommended Com-

ponents." But if you have an old pair and are

happy with the sound, Iwouldn't bother

changing to the new version.


16 12

4 Flg.1

14Ikn: Modulus of Impedance, 1978 sample


ji11: ;

11 12



1 '

1 1111




Fig.2 Modulus of impedance, 1988 sample

1 1 1111111

1 1 1111111

! 1 4 : É I, 1.


; I



Fig.3 LIP-averaged 1 /2 -octave frequency response at 1m (upper trace, 1978 sample:
lower trace, 1988 sample)

Stereophile, March 1989

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Riccardo Chailly, the new Conductor of Amsterdam's famed Concertgebouw Orchestra, talks with Barbara Jahn

o u

OnSeptember I, 1988, the 35-year-old Riccardo °badly officially became the fifth Conductor (and the first non-

Dutchman) to take cbarge of the Concertge-

bouw Orchestra. Iwas lucky enough to speak

to bim on that day, and despite the momentous

e responsibilities and commitments ahead of him, be wasfull of enthusiasm. o


BJ: You are still with the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra after sixyears, you are Musical Director of the Teatro Communale di Bologna. .. RC: Yes, Ihave been with them for three years and have just renewed my appointment there for the next three years. BJ: ...and now you are Chief Conductor of the Concertgebouw. RC: Yes, although Iofficially took over today, I've been very busy with them for the past two years. BJ: And you took them on tour in May. RC: Yes, amajor European tour and that formed avery important bond in our musical relationship. They played fantastically well--I was so pleased about that. BJ: When did Bernard Haitink actually leave the Concertgebouw? RC: Ithink it was about one and ahalf years ago, and for that interim period Iwas asked to anticipate my period as chief conductor as muchas! could. So Igave alot of unscheduled time, to keep close to the orchestra and to work on new repertoire. They didn't want me to appear in Amsterdam and then disappear for

six months, so Ihad to balance these demands with my other work. Fortunately, Isucceeded and Ifind Ihave now done alot of the background work and we've got together something like 40 different symphonic programs. BJ: Was it difficult to break Bernard Haitink's mold after 26 years? RC: Well, it wasn't aquestion of breaking, but awillingness to continue. BJ: But your style is very different. RC: Yes, absolutely. We are different personalities, as all conductors are. But the idea was to continue the tradition arrived at after 100 years, especially with the Romantic repertoire. But there is agreat willingness to allow new light into the repertoire --there was not enough emphasis on avant-garde music or Italian and French music, so Iwanted to accent those three areas of the repertoire. Avant-garde is the most difficult and the one we must work the hardest on. It is avery, very demanding project. Bi: You 've made anumber of recordings of 20th -century music, particularly Stravinsky RC: Yes, and we have moved on to Berio; there is arecording in October of Formazioni which Berio wrote for the Concertgebouw.

Stereophile, March 1989


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lhadn't realized that. RC: Yes, it was premiered ayear ago. It is a major symphonic piece.
DJ: Looking at your list of Stravinsky recordings--The Rake's Progress, Le Sacre, Symphony of Psalms, Le Chant du Rossignol, Le Baiser de la fee, and so on--are you trying to create arevival of interest in bis music?
RC: Yes, Ido believe very much in Stravinsky's music. The London Sinfonietta was wonder-
ful in The Rake's Progress, and the other disc of smaller pieces. My activity with the Concertgebouw is to present Stravinsky in general; we
did atour with Le Sacre--it is one of the most incredible showpieces for orchestra and, in a way, the masterpiece of this century.

RC: When Istand on the podium Iam facing the Concertgebouw sound. It is avery clearly
determined sound that is the consequence of 100 years' legend. Therefore Itry to follow that instinctive klang, although Ican underline the warmth of the strings, and ask for more darkness in the lower strings in the Cello Concerto of Shostakovich, for instance. But, in general, the woodwinds have that unique, spectacular Netherlands School sound and technique. The woodwind players have an incredibly strong personality too--you notice it as soon as there is asolo coming through, and the flautist has awooden flute which gives aunique color and

Bi: Do you feel that since Stravinsky 's death there bas been something of adecline in interest in his music? RC: It really depends on the country. In Italy and Holland he is very highly regarded, but not played enough. So next season we will perform Le Chant du Rossignol, amasterpiece which has been completely dropped from the major repertoire.
BJ: What do you think of Robert Craft's recordings of Stravinsky?
RC: Very technical and, in away, cynical, cold readings. Iadmire them for their clarity and

"There is a great willingness to allow new light into the repertoire"

faithfulness; Isee the presence of someone

who has been next to the composer, and who

therefore knows exactly what the composer wants, but Idon't see an interpreter there. That is not the case when Stravinsky himself is conducting; you feel not only the genius of the composer but agreat personality. BJ: So what do you put into Stravinsky when you conduct?
RC: In certain repertoire Ilike alyrical as well as alate Romantic piece with great moments of neo-classicismo. Ialso like to underline, in pieces like Le Sacre, the frantic side of the
rhythm, and the modernity of scores like Le Chant du Rossignol--this neo-impressionismo. It is almost post -Debussyian in the color of the
orchestra. The early piece, L'oiseau du feu, needs aspecial color, and later pieces like Movements for piano and orchestra demand acompletely different, more abstract sense of color. BJ: And when you conduct the Concertgebouw what kind ofcolor do you lookfor there: blended strings, pastoral woodwind--or does this change with the work?

combines so well with the other wooden instruments. But there is astable, absolutely equal quality to all the orchestral groups in this orchestra--you can't say which is the best. Mengelberg for 50 years, Van Beinum for 14,
Haitink for 26, and there was of course ¡(es, the first chief conductor. This is something you feel--you have the benefit of 100 years of fantastic work.
Bi: Will it be Riccardo Cbailly for 25 years too?
RC: [Laughs] Idon't know, I've never thought
of that. But Ifeel agreat orchestra consists of fine players and aconductor who is associated with them for along time. You could call it special, unique luck that Holland had only Dutch conductors for 100 years who were really good. It is easy to say Iwant anational conductor to follow anational tradition, but it is still luck. In Italy we have had, and still have, phenomenal conductors, but we've never had the
case of an orchestra that was kept for 100 years only by Italian conductors. To keep all that tal-

Stereophile. March 1989

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ent in one place is the secret of the Concertgebouw's wonderful tradition.
When Iwas in Berlin it was the opposite feeling, because after the 15 years of Fricsay, there were some years with Lorin Maazel who kept the standard very high, then they were six and ahalf years without achief conductor. So when Iarrived Ihad to start from the beginning,

orchestra. But they worked wonderfully. The only problem was we had 200 people in the
audience instead of 2000! I'll never forget walking out of the door and down those famous
stairs to the platform in the Concertgebouw to
see just asmall group of people.
BJ: Because it was aconcert of20tb-century music?

because the orchestra was in astate of mental disease. They'd lost their bonhomie because
they'd lost their repertoire, they'd lost their prestige, they'd lost their recording image.
Everything had collapsed in six and half years.
Therefore Ihad to work like crazy; Ihad to give them an identity, internationally speaking, by tours and recordings.

RC: Yeah, exactly. BJ: So you needed to educate the audience too? RC: Well, this was ashock. They did not under-
stand avant-garde music and maybe it wasn't well advertised. Possibly in the past they were given bad avant-garde music, but that was a

BJ: Do Radio Symphony Orchestras have more rehearsal time?
RC: Yes. We had aweekly program, which

"To keep all

meant five to seven rehearsals. The Concertgebouw has about half that.

that talent in

BJ: So that helped you when you took over Berlin.

one place is

RC: It did. To develop the repertoire, and give time to assimilate, think about, and correct

the secret of

myself. Icould never have accepted the Con-
certgebouw without eight years in Berlin. That was the basis of my career.
W: It must be agreatprivilege to be Principal Conductor of the Concertgebouw after asuccession of Dutch conductors.

the Concertgebouw's wonderful

RC: Ithink so, definitely. BJ: How did that come about?


RC:Just by luck, really. Iwent there in January

1985, completely unaware of what was going

on with Haitink--I was absolutely mentally virgin in that respect. So Ithink that was the reason for my success. Iwas there as guest conductor, pleased to be facing agreat orchestra, with three different programs in two weeks: an avant-garde program, aRussian program, and an American/Italian evening. Ihad the opportunity to show them many different types of repertoire. For me it was agreat time, completely without any stress, which sometimes happens when you are facing areally first-class orchestra.
BY: Was their response to you good?
RC: It was extraordinary from the beginning. And Istarted in amost unpopular way. The debut concert was on the 5th (or 6th) ofJanuary, afull avant-garde concert of Italian music: Berio, Petrassi, and Bussotti. So it was the most difficult way to start arelationship with agreat

very interesting program.
BJ: Was tbe orchestra happy to play it? RC: Yeah, yeah. They were very engaged by it, and over the following two years we worked very hard on it. Iwas appointed Chief Conductor in June '85, and things moved so fast in those months. Since then I've had alot of meetings with the Artistic Committee of the orchestra and its manager to make things better, and this year the Cseries is completely full. You see, we changed its structure; we've called it "Picasso," and we've combined avant-garde music with the major masterpieces of this century. So, for example, we did Formazioni in the first half and Le Sacre du Printemps in the second, and the concert was completely sold out. DJ: Which is the most expensive Series? That
must surely reflect the audience's preference? RC: Ithink it's the ASeries, with Romantic and

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late-Romantic music. It's the most traditional program: Brahms, Bruckner, Mahler, Schumann. BJ: I've beardyour Dvorak 9and Brahms I
and Ilove the drama and tension in them. Again, your approacb is very differentfrom Haitink's, so what is the audience's reaction to you?

just recently Manon.,The way Carreras sings
in Acts 3and 4of Manon is unbelievable. He told me it is his favorite recording; he is very pleased with his singing and interpretation, and he is right. He is always good, but what he did in those two acts is frightening! The sense of drama!

RC: So far, staggering! Idon't like to say that though, Iwould rather you came along to see

BJ: We've heard a lot about the acoustical properties of the Concertgebouw Hall when

it for yourself. You would immediately under- it isfull and when it is empty How have you

stand the temperature around my music- found it?

making in Amsterdam. But yes, Iam avery different musician and personality from Ber-
nard Haitink, and maybe that's why Ihave been

RC: Mengelberg used to have abig curtain behind his back facing the orchestra to mute the sound when he rehearsed, and we do that

so well accepted. You see, in Amsterdam the decision is completely democratic--the or-

sometimes, especially when they remove chairs for arecording because then there is even more

chestra, not the management, chooses the
chief conductor. Their votes were made in three different periods over six months.

echo from the wooden floor. It is sometimes difficult to listen for details from the podium; more so than from the audience.

BJ: Andyou were chosen on the basis ofyour BJ: Wbat about when you are recording? I've

appearances as guest conductor? RC: Right.

just heard Bernard Haitink's last recording with the Concertgebouw of the Beethoven Sym-

BJ: It mustfeel wonderful to go to an orchestra phonies, and here Volker Strausfrom Philips

knowing that they really want you. RC: To come out with the majority of votes from 120 people--you must understand what

was multi- miking so that be could -adjust" the sound to more accurately represent the received sound heard in the ball when full.

that means, especially as the only other com- What is the Decca technique?

petitor left in the final with me (and Idon't want to say who that was) is one of the greatest

RC: Not multi-miking. Since digital recording they use two microphones above the head of

conductors in the world. So it was even more flattering for me.

the conductor to balance the sound of the whole orchestra. There are additional micro-

BJ: But won't it sap your energies being in charge of three orchestras?
RC: Yes. Therefore Ido intend to stop, in June 1989, the RSO Berlin because Isimply mentally

phones for special close effects with, say, the percussion. But no microphone for the brass, and Ithink in Dvorak 9, if Iremember well, one microphone for the woodwind. But so few

and physically can't do that too. It is really far too much to be chief conductor to three orches-
tras. Iextended, by ayear my stay with the RSO Berlin because Ashkenazy cannot start with them until September '89, and they really did
not want agap after the trauma they had when Maazel left. So I've kept the title as asign of friendship and trust, but Ihave reduced my season with them by one half. But even doing four

microphones it was absolutely frightening. It is mainly done with those two above my head, and there is no rebalancing, as when remastering tapes. We have to produce the sound we
want at the performance. The major danger is that if you lose concentration for amoment, the balance or some details that you want are lost. Later on you are stuck, you cannot get it back.

weeks only is not easy because in Amsterdam BJ: Isn't that like giving a concert perfor-

Ihave acontract for 14-16 weeks ayear, and mance though?

Imust make recordings too. BJ: And in Bologna? RC: The opening season is opera for two months, then two to three weeks of symphony

RC: No, it's different because the position of
the orchestra is not anormal symphony concert position. In Amsterdam we have the brass on the right side of the stage. When we re-

concerts and one recording per year. That's corded in the parterre, when the chairs have

never obligatory, but there is awillingness

between myself and Decca to produce Italian opera recordings there; so we did Macbeth, and

IVânnly recommended by Roben Levine in the February 89 Stereopbile.

Stereophile, March 1989





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been removed, we separate horns on the left enough because he's very good, and as acom-

and the rest of the brass on the right. The horns poser Iwas adisaster--no creative side at all.

need much more space than the trumpets and trombones; if they were all together you would

It was acold consequence of agood study; it was just technical.

have avery thick, woolly, emphatic sound. BJ: So what exactly didyourfatber teachyou?

Separated, there is amore transparent quality, RC: The harmonies and counterpoint of the

but it makes it harder for the orchestra to bal- former Classics, and Ihad to compose aRo-

ance itself; so the conductor has to control that mance for piano, aScena Lyrica for voice and

because Decca says, "If you want more detail from the horns or bassoon, you must do it

orchestra. But he was extremely severe in counterpoint--very thorough and persistent.

there and then. Don't ask us to balance here Rightly enough, because when Iconducted

and there." And there's always aconflict; I Bach (I've been conducting for 20 years), and

would love, as Idid before with the stereo sys- the last movement of Mozart's "Jupiter," I

tem, to have one finger on the recording con- remembered my father's lessons; I'll never

sole to alter that balance. With the digital system, Decca categorically refuses to do that, and

have words enough to thank him for making me learn the fugal formula and construction

Ithink they are right; the sound is better, more so well.

wide-ranging--but it is much harder for the conductor.
BJ: Your musical education began with the study of composition. Do you think that's why

BJ: Ibelieve you studied conducting at the Conservatoire. Is there great value in that? RC: Very much. As aprofessional Ibelieve you cannot learn--you must be born aconductor

you have agreat empathy with 20th-century music?

--but you need to be told what to do with your arms; you must be instructed how to beat.

RC: My father was my first teacher; he is still Without that you cannot really consider your-

alive, and he is avery well-known Italian composer. So he was my mentor in music, and he

self aconductor. You can be an instinctive conductor, but technique is the basis on which you

was very severe, Itell you. It was avery old- can develop your own way. Istudied with Piero

fashioned education Igot--he taught me the Guarino who gave me the ABCs, and then with

first four years of my education in just four Franco Caracciola in Milan, who was the most

months. Those four months are fixed here in important technical teacher. The summer

my mind, like ashock. He wanted to give me courses Idid for three years in Sienna with

the heaviest and most thorough basis, and he Franco Ferrara were most impressive for the

succeeded, but it was so demanding. After that interpretation of music. He was the most gifted

Iwent to the Conservatory Guiseppe Verdi in Italian conductor (together with lbscanini). He

Milan with Bruno Bettinelli, who was the lead- would not teach technique, only music.

ing teacher of composition. So I've followed BJ: Which conductors did you aspire to?

avant-garde music very much since Istudied RC: He was one of my long-term idols, with

composition. Ihave agreat admiration for the Karajan and Carlos Kleiber, and my Italian men-

sister of Claudio Abbado, Luciana, who for tor since Iwas very young was Claudio Ab-

more than ten years has been head of aseries in Milan called Musica di Nostro Tempo that is only devoted to avant-garde music, using the

bado. He made me his assistant in La Scala, then engaged me regularly each season after that as aguest conductor. My idols from the past are

four orchestras we have in Milan: La Scala, the Toscanini, Bruno Walter for Brahms and Mah-

Radio Symphony Orchestra, and the two ler, and Ihave an enormous admiration for two

Chamber Orchestras. Igrew up with that, and British conductors: one Iconsider in some

Claudio Abbado was an active figure there ways the best Mahler conductor--Sir John

(when he was Chief Conductor of La Scala), Barbirolli-- he had aunique gift. Another I

doing important things with Stockhausen, admired very much was Sir Thomas Beecham,

Nono, and Berio. In October Ipremiere Con- especially with his recordings of Bobeme and

certo Grosso No.4 of Schnittke, that we at the Carmen.

Concertgebouw commissioned, and we'll keep doing those kind of things regularly.

BIJ: You have conducted agreat deal ofopera. Doyou think ofyourselfprimarily as an opera

BJ: Do you still compose?

conductonor asymphonic conductor?

RC: No, Inever did. My father's more than RC: Ithink one completes and is afulfillment

Stereophile, March 1989


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of the other. Of the two Ithink opera conducting is the most complete, because it is aunity of all the elements. The symphonic concert is aspectacular event for the conductor, but it is not as complete. BJ: I've beard two different opinions: Some conductorsfind opera easien because there is more rehearsal time. Others say it is more dif ficult because there is so much to think about at once. What do you feel? RC: Ithink if you are aborn conductor, with all your technique in order, the symphony concert is difficult for musical reasons, but opera conducting is far more complex for its numerous problems. Also, with symphony concerts, you make your own interpretation, you realize your own wishes. In opera it is adaily compromise with the vocal aspect, it is aconstant combination of willingness and compromise. If you cannot compromise then you better not even start thinking of being an opera conductor. Si: Why are so many young Italian conductors expected to be able to cope with opera? Is it purely the Italian vocal tradition? RC: Yeah, and the amount of repertoire we have in that respect. There is anew way with the new generation of conductors to start in the old-fashioned way--in the pit as aprompter, and up eventually to the podium. My generation, in the '70s, felt the major thing was to be asymphonic conductor. Istarted with opera as aconsequence of the nature of my country, but it was not my first aim; my major aim was
symphonic, as with Claudio Abbado, my great friend. But the idea was always to do both. BJ: What are yourfuture recording plans?
RC: With the Concertgebouw, first the Berio, which will be avery big shock for the lovers of the Concertgebouw tradition in terms of recording direction; everyone is expecting a program of Mahler, but I'll do Bruckner 4and start with Mahler much farther into the future. He is well taken care of in the hands of Leonard Bernstein and more recent conductors like Haitink, who is one of my favorite conductors for late Mahler. Then there will be Schumann's Symphony 1, and we've just recorded Schumann 4, and Shostakovich's Piano Concerto 1
with Ronald Brautigam, astaggering new talent from Holland. We are all sure he will go a long way; we will couple that with the Shostakovich Cello Concerto 2with Lynn Harrell. Then we'll record the Overtures of aDutch

Romantic composer, Wagenaar. He is sort of a combination of Strauss and late Verdi in his approach to orchestral scoring. It was very popular at the time of Mengelberg-- he did all those Overtures, but then Van Beinum and Haitink never performed them. So for 50 years he has been forgotten.
"My idols from the past are Toscanini, Bruno Walter for Brahms and Mahler"
BJ: Do you like to record cycles of works? I know you bave afew Bruckner symphonies under way, and now two of Schumann 's. RC: As long as it's not apre-ordered project. If it is, Iam obsessed before Istart and Iprobably will not take it on. If Iknow Ican approach it as Iwant, when Ifeel ready, and not be pushed, then Ithink there will be acycle. For instance, with Schumann, it will be along time before we feel we are ready to record the next ones. Everything is aconsequence of my musicmaking. Cycles are not the principle to go for--that is abig mistake. There, Imust say, Decca is agreat partner; Ihave done five years and have just renewed for another five, and I've never once felt forced to do something because it's commercial. Ihave made commercial and noncommercial recordings, like the Zemlinslcy. BJ: Yes, those recordings are very welcome in the catalog. RC: Decca respected my wishes to make them, and now Symphony 2with Psalm 23 is coming on the market with the Berlin Radio. There will be more later; Decca is happy to discuss with me the repertoire I'd like to do. With Bruckner, I've recorded 1, 3, and 7with the Berlin Radio; if Ido complete the cycle it will probably be with different orchestras! S

Stereophile, March 1989











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Shostalcovich's Tenth Symphony

Christopher Breunig

The 1979 English translation of Testimony--Memoirs of Dmitri Shostakovich as related to Solomon Volkov upturned many previous ideas of what his music was about. The use of ciphers, such as DSCH (the composer's musical signature, translating to the notes D, E-flat, C, B, via German usage) permeates various works. Thus an autobiographical reference is implied (?). But Volkov claims that Symphony 10 "is about the Stalin years" --specifically, the rampaging scherzo is "a portrait of Stalin: that's the basis." This month I've chosen the work, by common consent Shostakovich's best symphony, because four new CD versions have arrived.
Three of these depart from tempo norms established in recordings by Mitropoulos, Karajan, and Ormandy, who took the Allegretto (iii)
at between my,- Ily,m;prvi, Rozhdestvensky,
and Haitink (a CD transfer of his first, analog recording in the complete Decca/London cycle) range from 13:15 to 12:23. Leonard Slatkin (whose St. Louis/RCA recording comes with the best analytical note, by Richard Freed) follows the Mitropoulos precedent. Mitropoulos gave the world premiere in New York, on October 14, 1953 (two months before Mravinsky conducted the Leningrad premiere), and he

recorded it with the NYP exactly one year later -- reissued in 1965 by CBS (61457, mono).
Adecade has passed since the publication of the Ninth (the classical orientation of which disappointed the Soviets, who expected avictory tribute along the lines of the "Leningrad" wartime Symphony). Shostakovich was censured by the Communist Party bureaucrats in achilling 1948 decree, whereafter the composer released film scores and "acceptable" cantatas, but withheld more meaningful works. The Tenth came after Stalin's death. At the time he was reported as saying, merely, "I wanted to portray human emotions and passions." In Testimony, Shostakovich says he was unable to write an apotheosis to Stalin.
Perhaps it is best to disregard all of this (Shostakovich's work will provide atreasurestore for student theses for many decades). It is not aStrauss tone-poem but, as Khachaturian wrote, with insight or not, "a true symphony--of deep emotional and philosophical content"! In outline, the Tenth comprises a long, brooding, opening Moderato, the heavyfooted swirling scherzo (ii), the three-section Allegretto (iii), and awondrous Andante landscape with woodwind voices, leading abruptly to the boisterous finale.

Stereophile, March 1989


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Stark authenticity comes via the USSR Ministry of Culture Orchestra, under Rozhdestvensky (Olympia OCD 131), whose slow Allegretto avoids the dirge-like characterization of Haitink and the LPO, and where the introduction to (iv) is deeply imaginative in unfolding. The MK digital recording is edgy; woodwinds quiek, bassoons croak, and the thump of timpani add to the raucousness of brass. As areference measure of what other conductors are up to, Ifind this auseful disc. But, frankly, Idon't think Icould sit through it end to end.
It's apity that in Haitink's admirable LPO verion from 1977 (Decca/London 421 353-2) there is an obvious change in orchestral presence after the first movement. This is, nevertheless, the best-sounding Tenth on CD. But, without fillup, and with reservations about the tempo for (iii), which in context strikes me as marginally too slow, it is not quite competitive at full price.
The new Chandos recording by the Scottish National Orchestra under Neemejârvi (CHAN 8630; also on LP, ABRD 1319) offers the contemporary Ballet Suite No.4, ashort, entertaining work with agrand central Waltz, dispatched

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with panache, as filler. After their superb Shostakovich 7, Iwas alittle disappointed at parts of the inner movements. Not only do these sound alittle blurred in the resonant Caird Hall setting (Dundee), but they lack the electricity we now expect from this spontaneous conductor. The outer movements, though, are gripping, and there are some deeply eloquent woodwind solos in (iv), and afine solo by the new leader, Andrew Martin, in the third section of (iii). Next to Rozhdestvensky,prvi's is the most impressive of the Andante (iv) readings,
and the finale rips along with real fire. It is the smoothed sonorities of the St. Louis/Slatkin version (RCA RD 86597), partly attributable to the damping acoustic of Powell Hall, that let down this otherwise very well-constructed, beautifully balanced performance. Tempi are effective, but the storm of (ii) is lightweight, secured from the sense of struggle, or irony. Slatkin builds the finale very well, but the Moderato (i) is too serene.
There is no coupling. Nor on the oldest of the digital CDs, the second recording made by Karajan and the BPO (DG 413 361-2). The Tenth is the only Shostakovich symphony recorded by Karajan; his earlier, analog one
(1966) was arevelation, recorded in amassively reverberant way. Apparently, there's aMoscow concert performance on Melodiya, too, from 1969 (CIO 21227 009). Critic Robert Layton is enthusiastic about the digital Tenth; my own preference lies with the older one, in spite of inferior massed string tone. In (iii) Ifind the new reading slightly mannered, lacking the individuality in woodwind voices of the 1966, which has more expressive freshness. Ilike,
too, the impressive weight of lower strings at the opening of the bars; simplified in Karajan/II.
Simon Rattle's EMI recording with the Philharmonia %vas apparently prompted by success in the concert hall together in 1985. Enthusiasts may tolerate the waywardly slow Allegretto, and the sound is certainly beautifully engineered on the LP (I have not heard the CD, CDC 47350). The Penguin Guide gives adismissive review, but Rattle's highly individual account Ifind persuasive, since it is so clearly felt deeply. There are some dragged moments in (i), where Rattle strives for alarge-scale effect.
Of what might be termed the "middle-generation" Tenths--Previn's, Svetlanov's, Tjeknavorian's--I know only the third. It's an ec-

centric reading, long-drawn-out in (i). The ad hoc National Philharmonic plays excitingly in (ii), and the Gerhardt/Auger analog recording is excellent. But as an RCA deletion it should not command any silly prices (RL 25049). Nor can the 1971 Philadelphia/Ormandy Tenth, produced for CBS by Thomas Frost (M 30295) be considered exceptional. It is very proficient, the scherzo fast, but uninvolvingly for all that. Ormandy exploits the rich sonorities of his marvelous string section, but the lack of depth in the soundstage (winds obviously closemiked) diminishes the atmospheric qualities of the actual playing. Apity, when Ormandy was achampion of the composer (as well as of Sibelius). There is some fabulous detail, eg, the principal horn entry in (iv).
Of greater documentary interest is the superb realization (1956) by the Czech Philharmonic under Ancerl. This must have been a Supraphon co-production, but it appeared on DG (later Heliodor 478 412, mono). The winds can never have sounded so haunting as here in (iv)/Andante. Ancerl takes (ii) at avery brisk speed indeed, convincing because he seems to coax relentless energy and more and more tone from his great orchestra. Not even the autocratic Yevgeny Mravinsky matched this reading overall. He starts the scherzo with sluggish, heavy-mannered style, with the gawky Leningrad PO winds giving apeasant flavor to the writing. Apart from the meticulous articulation, it is difficult to penetrate Mravinsky's account; to sense what he really felt about the work. Pressed on noisy vinyl, Soviet copies were distributed abroad in the '60s; the date is not given on my copy, but judging from the slick but slight finale Iwould say that Mravinsky either did not understand, or did not care for the score.
And the pioneering Mitropoulos LP comparisons with an original copy show quite aloss in the "Classics" transfer (as issued in the UK, at any rate), with blurring of articulation and a"soggy" orchestral quality. Recorded hum seriously mars quiet passages, and my UK Philips pressing is quite free of that. The scherzo is so like Ancerl's you could not tell them apart; if anything, the drive is even more demonic. Ilike, too, the urgency and fluidity of line in the sardonic coda. But, unless the US reissue was fault-free, not recommended for awork of such dynamic contrasts--thou& musically very fine indeed.

Stereophile, March 1989



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The Music of Kurt Weill

Aufstieg and Fall der Stadt Mabagonny

(Rise and Fall ofthe City ofMabajtonny) Text by Benoit


Lotte Lenya, Jenny; Heinz Sauerbaum, Jim; Fritz Goell-

nitz, Jalcob; Gisela Litz, Begbick; Horst Gunter, Moses;

Peter Markwort. Fatty Wilhelm Brückner-Rüggenberg,


CBS M2K 77341 (2 CDs only). Digital remastering by

Leroy Parkins and Frank Decker, eng.; George Davis,

George Avakian, prods. ADD. Mono. TT 21600

Aufstieg and Fall der Stadt Mabagonny

Anje Silja, Jenny; Wolfgang Neumann, Jim; Frederic

Mayer, Jakob; Anny Schlemm, Begbick; Klaus Hine,

Moses; Thomas Lehrberger, Fatty. Külner Rundfunkor-

chester, Jan Latham-Kiinig, cond.
Capriccio C73 159/ I-3 (3 LPs), 10 160-61 (2 CDs). Hel-

mut Buttner, Hermann Kaldenhoff, engs. DDA/DDD.

TT: 2:21:25

Die Dreigroscbenoper

(The Threepenny Opera) ltxt by- Bertolt Brecht

Erich Schellow, Macheath,; Lotte Lenya, Jenny; Johanna

von Koczian, Polly; Inge Wblffberg, Lucy; Willy ltenk-

Trebisch, Mr. Peachum; 'nude Hesterburg, Mrs.

Peachum. Wilhelm Brückner-Rüggenberg, cond.
CBS MK 4263' (CD only). ADD. TT. 7314.

Die Sieben 7bdsünden, Little Threepenny Music

(The Seven Deadly Sins) Text by Bertolt Brecht

Julia Migenes-Johnson, Anna I& II; Robert Tear, Stuart

Kale, Alan Opie, Roderick Kennedy, The Family; LSO,

Michael Tilson Thomas

CBS MK 44529 (Cl) only). Steven Epstein, prod.; Bud Gra-

ham, eng. ODD. TT: 55:25

Street Scene, Original Broadway Cast

Lyrics by Langston Hughes. Maurice Abravanel, cond.

CBS MK 44668 (CD only). Original recording produced

by Goddard Lieberson. Digital remastering by Leroy

Parkins; Frank Decker, eng. ADD. Mono. TT: 5220

Berlin and American Theater Songs

Lotte Lenya; Maurice Levine and Roger Bean, concis.

CBS MK 42638 (CD only). Digital remastering by Kevin

P. BOUtOtC; Martin Greenblatt, eng. ADD. TT 7201

The Unknown Kurt Wein

Teresa Straus; Richard Woitach, piano

Nonesuch 79019-1 (LP), -2 (CD). Frank Laico, eng.; Eric

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Stratas Sings Weill

Teresa Stratas; Y Chamber Symphony, Gerard Schwartz

Nonesuch 79131-1 (LP), -2 (CD). Paul Goodman, eng.;

Robert Hurwitz, prod. DDA. TT: 48:58

/nserious (le, classical) music circles, Kurt Weill is generally considered to be one of the "might have beens." In his twenties and early thirties--which, given that he was born in 1900, also happened to be the twenties and thirties--he wrote serious works like chamber music and operas. Upon his exile to America, however, he became acomposer of Broadway musicals, avocation that many classical music critics hold in esteem similar to that reserved for individuals who produce child pornography or who provide athletes with steroids. On Broadway, Weill has had some spectacular flops (eg, The Firebrand of Florence)as well as some solid hits (eg, One Much of Venus).
Mabagonny and The Threepenny Opera are
definitely among Weill's "serious" works, using texts by Bertolt Brecht (about as serious aplaywright as one can find), and amusical idiom distinctly closer to Wozzeck than to Hello Dolly! In contemporary musical theater, the show that comes closest to matching these works in content and style (other than the
admittedly Brecht/Weill-inspired Cabaret) is Sondheim's Sweeney Todd. One difference is that Brecht's "epic theater" technique often involves deliberate dissociation of the songs from the book, whereas Sondheim typically
aims for integration. In listening to the recordings of Mabagonny
and The Threepenny Opera, Imust admit that my own response is more admiration than adoration. Both are fascinating pieces, and provide apowerful stylistic (as opposed to literal) evocation of Germany in the inter-war years. On record, both suffer from the absence of the visual dimension, and, in my case, from having to
follow the English translation of the libretto. (You'd think that anyone with my surname would speak German, but the answer is nein.) Mabagonny, with its bizarre plot (in one scene, aman eats himself to death), mixture of German and Germanized-English lyrics (eg, ".'ve lost our good old mama and must have Dollars oh you know why"), and uncompromisingly bitter view of humanity, is the less accessible of the two works, and, unlike The Threepenny Opera, it has not enjoyed agreat deal of popular success. The score has some quite lovely

Stereophile, March 1989


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melodies that are placed in the context of orchestrations that tend to de-emphasize the lyricism and lean in the direction of modern dissonances.
The CBS recording has had the field to itself since 1955; transferred to CD (in rather drysounding mono), it is agood representative of the older approach to the piece: words and act-
ing are given prominence over music and singing, tempos are on the fast side (producing a "nervous" feel), and any "romantic" tendencies are expunged. By contrast, it is clear from the opening bars that the new Capriccio recording sets out to present Mabagonny more like areal opera than aBrechtian "play with music." Thus, the string section sounds bigger, the music is allowed to breathe more, and the singing--especially by Anje Silja, who sings the central role ofJenny, sung by Lotte Lenya on CBS--is of amuch higher caliber. Sound quality is quite natural, with the CD having abit more clarity and the LP abit more (added?) depth. For me, Mabagonny still remains a problematic work, but the Capriccio recording makes the more persuasive claim to give it special status.
The Threepenny Opera remains the epitome of the Brecht/Weill style, juxtaposing Brecht's
cynical world view with Weill's haunting melodies; music to soothe the savage Brecht. Incidentally, if you're familiar only with the English versions of "Mack the Knife" as sung by Louis Armstrong or Bobby Darin (remember him?), you may be surprised to learn from the original German that the ostensible hero of the piece is arapist as well as amurderer-- more Mack the Ripper than Robin Hood. The recording has an authentic theatrical style, with acast of actors who sing rather than singers who act. Voice fanatic that tam, my preference would have been for the latter, although it must be said that till himself stipulated performers with cabaret rather than operatic voices. (What did he know, anyway?) The digital transfer of the 1958 recording is very well done, taming the excessive brightness of the original. Overall, this is still the best available recording of The Threepenny Opera, although those who want to hear the English version may want to hunt down the recording of the 1976 New York Shakespeare Festival production (CBS PS 34326, nla).
The last product of the Brecht/Weill collaboration was The Seven Deadly Sins, described

as a "ballet with singing." All the familiar
hallmarks of the collaboration are there, with Brecht on his usual ideological soapbox (the extended title specifies said sins as being "of the Petty-Bourgeois"), and Weill providing music that has afew Threepenny echoes, as well as passages that sound alot like Mahler. Julia Migenes, who sings the part originally done by Lenya, has an operatic as well as aBroadway background; here, she seems determined not to use her "operatic" voice, and ends up sounding like across between Lenya and Barbra Streisand. Tilson Thomas conducts The Seven Deadly Sins and the Threepenny suite with verve. Liner notes detailing technical aspects of the recording (eg, microphones used) suggest awareness of audiophile concerns, and, indeed, the sound has exceptional depth and clarity.
Street Scene belongs to Weill's Broadway period, and is the piece that represents, for me, areal find. This "Broadway opera" was aspecial favorite of Weill's; in the notes he wrote for the recording, he describes it as the culmination of his attempts to develop aform of musical theater that would integrate drama, music, spoken word, song, and movement. Based on Elmer Rice's Pulitzer Prize-winning play, with
lyrics by Langston Hughes, Street Scene deals with the lives of tenement dwellers in New York City. Porgy and Bess is an obvious influence, musically as well as dramatically, but Weill's sense of musical identity allows him to transcend what in lesser hands might have become amere Gershwin pastiche. To be sure, the score does not have songs with the soaring tunes that characterize Gershwin's masterpiece (no "Bess You Is My Woman Now"), but
the songs it does have are consistently attractive and work well in theatrical terms. I'd love to see
this show on stage. The CBS CD is of the original 1947 recording that has long been unavailable. It sounds just like a1947 mono recording--
no more, no less. Most of the performers have operatic voices, but the singing, except for Anne Jeffreys' Rose Maurrant, is not particularly distinguished. Street Scene is amost interesting
piece of musical theater, and this is its only available recording, so we cannot afford to be too choosy, but Ihope there will be anew complete recording (this is acondensed version) with atopflight cast in the near future.
During her husband's lifetime, Lotte Lenya appeared in anumber of his shows, aprocess that sometimes involved Weill having to lower,

Stereophile, March 1989


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by as much as afifth, the keys in which her
character's songs were originally written. After his death, Lenya became the foremost champion of Weill's music, and achieved great success in revivals of The Threepenny Opera. Her association with Weill's music is so complete that the library of materials maintained by the Kurt Weill Foundation, formed to preserve and promote Weill's works, is called the Weill/Lenya Research Center.
Lenya's performances of Weill's songs are widely regarded as definitive, but her recording of Berlin and American theater songs merely makes one wonder what all the fuss is about. The voice itself is not avery attractive instrument, with anarrow range, little power, and a considerable waver. What is most striking, however, is the contrast between her renditions of the Broadway and the Berlin songs. In English, her accent is not very obtrusive, but her phrasing and expression are so bland that she might as well have learned these songs phonetically. (Ironically, the gushy liner notes identify meaning as what she says to be her greatest strength as aperformer.) Only in the Berlin songs (recorded in 1955, only two years earlier than the American songs) is there areal sense
of involvement and excitement. Even here, I found myself getting tired of the basic sound of the voice; so, for me, the "Legend Called Lenya" (as the liner notes refer to her) remains ataste yet to be acquired. Excellent digital transfers--and Ithought she was really agreat Rosa Klebb in From Russia With Love.,
If Lenya doesn't make an airtight case for Weill's songs, who does? Teresa Straus! To Lenya's great credit, she recognized Stratas as potentially the greatest interpreter of Weill's songs, and made available to her some old sheet music that had been gathering dust in the attic (more or less). The result was The Unknown Kurt Weill, followed by Stratas Sings Weill. A singer with impeccable operatic credentials, Ms. Stratas has the voice, the intelligence, and the sensitivity that these songs require. Whether singing in English, German, or French, she pays meticulous attention to text and music, using all her skills to discover and communicate the
emotional core of each song. Her sense of the Will style is matched by Richard Woitach, her accompanist on the first recording, and, somewhat less so, by Gerard Schwartz, the conductor on the second. Sound on The Unknown Kurt Weill has superb clarity and presence,

with near-perfect balance between piano and voice. For the CD version, Nonesuch has unconscionably omitted almost all of the extensive documentation (ie, lyrics, translations, information on the history of each song, pictures) that accompany the LP At twice the cost of the LP, this simply will not do! Sonically, there is little basis for preference, so Iwould go for the LP.
If this flurry of Weill releases makes you think
that we are in the midst of aweal revival, you're
right. Fully staged as well as concert productions are popping up all over, and there are more recordings in the offing. In particular, Decca/London has announced a five-year recording project that will encompass all of Weill's major and most of his minor works. Coming from other sources are new recordings of Lady in the Dark, based on last summer's Edinburgh Festival concert performance, pos-
sibly with Julie Andrews in the lead, and One Touch of Venus, with Judy Kaye. Now, if only some record company would have the courage to have ago at The Firebrand of Florence and Love Life!

IMe too, and wasn't that the hem Ikmd movie--or at least the

one where the character, were fleNhed out alittle


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BAKTÓK: String Quartets I& 2 Chilingirian Quattet Chandos ABRD 1280 (LP), CHAN 8588 (CD). Anthony
Howell, Mg.; Tim Handley, prod. DDD. TT: 56:05

We have become so used to the aggressive

assault on Bartók's Quartets that at first hearing

these readings by the Chilingirian seem decid-

edly lukewarm. Yet on subsequent listenings,

particularly with the score in hand, it becomes

surprisingly evident that Bartók's modes of

attacking accentuation, his terse rhythmic

mottos, and his relentless alterations of pace

and tempo can be followed to the letter and still

produce more subdued interpretations than are

the norm. So the Chilingirian cannot be

accused of paying little heed to Bartók's

demands, nor can they be faulted for their zest

and immaculate coordination. So what is it that

prevents these performances from taking

flight? Ithink perhaps the problem lies in a

quality that, perversely, many other quartets

aspire to, yet never attain: atotally homogene-

ous color and integrity of intention. Lack of

individuality among the players is somehow,

here, adeficiency; and yet both performances,

and particularly that of the second quartet, are

more than adequate and indisputably recom-


The recording is beautifully balanced, and

the dry acoustic of West Dean College,

Chichester, seems especially apposite. There

is just asmidgen more bloom to the strings on

LP, but the effect is negligible, so if you prefer

black vinyl, go for it.


COPLAND: Suites from Appalachian Spring, The Tender Land, Billy the Kid
Aaron Copland, Boston Symphony (Appalachian, Tender); Eugene Ormandy, Philadelphia Orchestra (Billy)
RCA 6802- 2-RG (CD only). Reissue engineer: Anthony Salvatore; Reissue Supervisor: Andre Gauthier. ADD. TT: 66:07
Here are three of Aaron Copland's orchestral works; the two played by the BSO under his

direction give bold testimony to what might have been if only RCA had undertaken the pro-
ject to record Copland's orchestral music with
him conducting American orchestras instead of the CBS Masterworks project which ensued with Copland conducting various London
orchestras. The CBS series, which has begun to appear on CD, was quite uneven in sound as well as performance. The London orchestras
did a good job, but often seemed underrehearsed. Interestingly, the best recordings from the CBS series were done with freelance
New York musicians: the original chamberorchestra version of the full-length Appalachian Spring, and the Old American Songs with William Warfield. During this period of the 1960s, RCA had three house orchestras
which could have done ample justice to
"Copland Conducts Copland": the Chicago and Boston Symphonies, and the Philadelphia Orchestra; a few titles could have been recorded in New York with studio players.
If you're shopping around for an Appala-
chian Spring in the orchestral suite version, this one's it. Bernstein/NYPO on CBS is the closest thing to it, beautiful in its own right, but something special took place at this Copland/
BSO session between composer-conductor and orchestra. Perhaps it was afeeling of tradition and shared experience. Although the actual concert premiere of the Suite had been
given by the NYPO under Rodzinski, it was the BSO under Koussevitzky which made the premiere recording in 1946 with Copland out in the hall. Now here he is on the same podium
nearly 15 years later, going one on one with the conductor and orchestra who put him on the
map as far back as 1930. The bucolic charm and
rustic magic are truly within hailing distance of Koussevitzky, and blow Copland's own later
LSO recording for CBS out of the water, along with everyone else's except Bernstein/NYPO on CBS, not Bernstein/LAPO on DG!
The Tender Land is an opera seldom performed, and never in major houses. Arundown of its scenario looks hokey as hell, but the orchestral suite, of which this is the only

Stereophile, March 1989


recording, is prime Copland Americana from the 1950s. In no way should it be considered apoor cousin of Appalachian Spring, as some observers contend. Its two movements comprise music of great lyric beauty, and the hoedown is an orchestral tour de force. The quirky, eccentric 196013S0 gives it their all, and the sound, as originally produced and engineered by Peter Dellheim and John Crawford, is spacious, detailed, and richly 'passed. It is also slightly congested in the heavy tuttis, as was the original record, but less so.
The Ormandy/Philadelphia recording of Billy the Kid has that beautiful, seductive sound of which Philadelphia fans have had waking wet dreams. But this is asound for Tchaikovsky 5, not Billy. Beneath the Copland's Americanisms lies astory of emotional, psychological, and physical violence, set against the indifference of astrange and hostile environment. The scenario would have been impossible without Freud, and the music would have been impossible without Stravinsky, the French Impressionists, and Les Six. That's no place for apretty orchestra. For Billy, it boils down to a single choice, Bernstein/NYPO on CBS, recorded in Boston's Symphony Hall. Isn't it asmall world. The CBS "Best Value" compilation also contains Bernstein's Appalachian Spring, to which Ihave so glowingly referred, along with Fanfarefor the Common Man, and arip-roaring Suite from Rodeo. Duplication of repertoire? 'Fraid so. In cases where there's no way around it, it's worth it.
--Richard Schneider
MAHLER: Symphony 3, Rückert Lieder Dame Janet Baker, mezzo-soprano; Edwin Paling, solo
violin; Maurice Murphy, solo post horn; London Symphony Chorus, Southend Boy's Choir, LSO; Michael Tdson Thomas CBS Masterworks M2K 44553 (2 CDs only). Michael Sheady, eng.; David Mottley, prod. DDD. TT 123:52
The two things Ilike most about this new presentation of Mahler's Symphony 3may be just those things others take to be drawbacks: the reading is un -interpreted, un-editorialized, and cool, and the engineering is so flawless and clear that it sounds as if each solo instrumentalist, in turn, had aseparate microphone on his lap. Tilson Thomas makes the symphony sound vaguely like amovie soundtrack--sort of like Victory at Sea. This is meant more as an observation than acriticism.
The approach is detached; the music is exquisitely played and recorded. It may, in act, be the most beautiful-sounding Third on disc, partially due to the playing, part to the engineering. Ican't remember it ever sounding more clinically clear: If Iwere an aspiring vio-

linist, wind player, or the like, Iwould turn to
this set to hear how it should sound. One can hear the bows on the strings, feel the breath on the flutes. And the playing, qua playing, is superb; the LSO is heard to its best advantage.
Granted, the Third is not as full of Sturm und
Drang as most of the other Mahler Symphonies, but Idon't ever remember hearing it devoid of emotion. The first movement just takes place. The third movement sounds jolly. The finale doesn't thunder; it doesn't leave one awestruck, as if something great had just happened. The reading didn't only leave me cold, it left me feeling as if Ihad just read the score,
rather than having just heard or experienced it. In some ways Ifelt closer to the music than
ever before, but further away from the meaning. It sounds faster than other Thirds, but isn't--this was my first clue. What we get is a glorious presentation of glorious music, with no problems attached: happy-go-lucky Gustav
the orchestrator. There's something to be said for such an approach, but not much.
The Rückert Lieder, as sung by the alwayswonderful Janet Baker, are heard in areading certainly closer to Mahler's spirit than the Symphony (and that's one of the reasons why I'm convinced that Tilson Thomas has given us this type of Third on purpose--he obviously can find depth when he wants to), although the top of the mezzo voice is not so evenly produced as before. Still, there's much to enjoy--even revel in--here.
I'm not being sarcastic--I genuinely enjoyed these discs. There's something to be said for
Mahler as pure music, without emotional baggage. Mahlerians may object to the WASPy approach, but, in away, this should be apart of each collection. It's an alternate view, and it's good to simply hear the music so clearly. Ican't help believing that Tilson Thomas and the engineers have gotten precisely what they wanted-- the most crisp, spotless Third imaginable.
--Robert Levine

ROREM: String Symphony, Sunday Morning, Eagles

Atlanta Symphony; Robert Shaw (Symphony); Louis Lane

(Sunday. Eagles)

New World NW353- I(LP), NV/353-2 (CD). Jack Renner,

cng.; Robert Woods, prod. DDD.


To describe Ned Rorem's music as accessible would be an insult to his considerable intelligence, as it would be to that of his following, which, though not of the masses, is as substan-
tial as it is dedicated. Reflection upon the strength of Rorem's position in the American concert scene, in addition to his fame, even notoriety, as ahighly self-revealing autobiographer and cultural observer, inclines one to ask why various past recordings of his works have been


Stereophile, March 1989

scattered about on minor labels, many of which are no longer in business. Fortunately, New World Records is astrong, independent com-
pany with an apparently excellent grasp of grantsmanship, virtually the only way record ings such as theirs can be made today. The fact that their recordings are tastefully packaged and well-marketed doesn't hurt either.
Rorem is nothing if not literary, and agreat
measure of his fame rests upon vocal settings from awide variety of poetic sources. But he
is also ahighly gifted and colorful orchestrator, even to the point of extravagance at times. When acomposer of Rorem's flair for instru-
mental plumage sets himself the task of writing awork for strings alone, one must take
notice. String Symphony was commissioned
by the Atlanta Symphony, with Robert Shaw as the designated premiere conductor. For the
composer, personal statement and professional assignment were one and the same. The symphony is one of the few works which Rorem
has not based upon literary references, and, as the composer points out in his notes, it's not really asymphony, but asuite of brief and formally simple dance and song forms. Simple but
not simplistic, there are layers of meaning beneath the surface, and Rorem needs no piccolos or tam-tams to hide behind. He can do anything with strings that has ever been done.
With Sunday Morning and Eagles, we are back in the world of Rorem the everything-butthe- kitchen-sink orchestrator. That doesn't mean bombastic or vulgar. Rorem never shouts,
forces, or hectors, although Ido sometimes find myself asking if that was perhaps one tamtam stroke or cymbal crash too many.
The eight titled movements of Sunday Morning refer to poems by Wallace Stevens, and there is aconcerto-for-orchestra aspect to
the constituent breakdown of the orchestra throughout the movements, which bear such
titles as "Passions of rain," "Death is the mother of beauty," and ..aring of men." Eagles is a single-movement tone poem on Walt Whitman's "A Dalliance of Eagles."
Shaw gets amagnificently polished and communicative performance from his strings, and Louis Lane does no less with the two works assigned to him. The technical production by
Telarc's moonlighting Robert Woods and Jack
Renner gives digital abetter name than certain recent Telarcs have done. For me, the CD wins
over the LP, which had anoisy side 2and was warped anyway.
If you are unfamiliar with Rorem, Ican think
of no better introduction than this recording, particularly if you enjoy orchestral music of the spectacular persuasion. The fact that Rorem has the capacity to challenge our minds without

alienating, and to touch our hearts without embarrassing, sets him nearly in aclass by himself among today's composers.
--Richard Schneider
Maria Zadori (sop), Judith; Katalin Germs (mezzo), OZi25; Jozsef Gregor (bass). Priest: Drew Minter (cc-tenor). Holofernes: Guy de May (ten), Captain; Capella Savaria, Nicholas McGegan
Hungantton HCD 12910 (CD only). Andras Szekely, prod. Ferenc Pecsi, eng. DDD. Ti'; 7144
This recording represents the world-premiere appearance on disc (of any sort) of an oratorio that ought not to have waited so long. La Giuditta probably does not qualify as aneglected masterpiece, but Iwas surprised how pleasantly time passed as Ilistened to this lengthy CD. The Biblical story ofJudith is well known (boy meets girl, boy gets girl, boy loses head), and has been told with more dramatic force elsewhere, but never in such elegant musical
terms. The excellent notes which accompany the CD (it is packaged in aslipcase to accommodate the 76-page booklet) give aconcise (and well-translated) description of the Italian oratorio as Scarlatti wrote it, and call him,
not without reason, Handel's most important precursor.
For the most part, this performance is asuccess. The Capella Savaria plays as well as many of the more celebrated Western European ensembles, demonstrating avigor and enthu-
siasm that Nicholas McGegan reins in but does not dampen. (This, mind you, in spite of living under the iron boot of Godless Tyranny.) Intonation is very good, ensemble playing has just the right touch of roughness that lends character to authentic performance, and everyone seems to enjoy what they are doing.
The soloists are nearly all as fine; Ihave already praised Drew Minter sufficiently in
another review, and he does as well here. If his Holofernes is never quite the blustering hero he might be, he evokes adegree of sympathy in the love scene that is well beyond what the
bare text implies. Katalin Gemes is afull-voiced Ozias who succeeds in conveying all of the emotional context of the music; Guy de May is suitably offended as the Captain whom no
one will believe, and Jozsef Gregor's Priest may be abit thin in tone (where is David Thomas?), but his pitch is reasonably secure, and he can bluster when necessary. The problem here is Maria Zadori. Ifind her rather rough-grained voice not nearly pretty enough for Judith, nor
does she possess nearly the emotional or dynamic range required by the role. Sightunseen and gender unknown, Minter's Holofemes would be amuch more interesting prospect for anight under the desert moon. Despite

Stereophile, March 1989


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Stereophile, March 1989

this, the love duet between the two principals
is exquisite, both for Scarlatti's delicate music and the subtly ironic text.
Ihave had anumber of good things to say about the sound of Hungaroton CDs in the past; this one is more of amixed bag. I'm afraid it's multi-miked, and not very subtly. There is little sense of instruments playing together in areal space, and the soloists appear to be some-
where else entirely. On the other hand, the microphones used seem to be excellent: instrumental timbre is extremely realistic; flutes are
sweet and airy; and the double bass is firm and rich. Multi- miking need not be entirely evil (as
afew Chandos recordings demonstrate), but Ferenc Pecsi needs alot more experience in the technique.
In sum, then, something new and worth hearing. And amatter of interest: the Capella
Savaria is sponsored by the SOROS Founda-
tion, VEPEX Contractor Ltd., and Sabaria Boot and Shoe Factory. Sounds suspiciously like a
capitalist arrangement to me. --Les Berkley

undercurrent, in text and music, of genuine
sadness which Dame Janet does not miss. "Meeres Stille" is delivered with ahypnotic, almost disturbing gentleness--nothing moves; it's genuinely eerie. "Wanderers Nachtlied" is
aremarkable composition, amere minute and ahalf long, but its cry for peace is so heartfelt and rendered with such sincerity that it has the impact of along, powerful poem. And to mention just one more (there are 19, and Icould go
on for pages), the disturbing "Der Flüchtling," with its merry "lively morning breeze" opening
and subsequent "the smiling earth is but agrave
for me" stanzas, here makes dramatic sense: Dame Janet is less lilting in the opening than most singers, giving us warning that there's nasty work ahead.
Iwould be remiss if 1were to say that 30+ years of singing have taken no toll on this singer's voice, but the truth is that the problems are remarkably few. There's an F# on the world
"quelle" in the first song which is uncomfortable, and elsewhere one feels that 10 years ago

SCHUBERT: Lieder The Hyperion Schubert Edition, Mel Dame Janet Baker, mezzo; Graham Johnson, piano Hyperion CDJ 33001 (CD only). Martin Compton, prod.;
Antony Howell, eng. DDD. TT0,32
This is the first in what is to be an approxi-
mately 35-disc set comprising all the songs of Franz Schubert--the first time such amammoth effort has been undertaken. FischerDieslcau's remarkable recordings missed about 200 songs which simply either had to be sung by awoman or were too far away from his vocal range to transpose (even the baritone's greatest fans would have trouble hearing him in "Der Hitt auf dem Felsen"). The Hyperion series will feature different singers, and rather than presenting the songs chronologically (although I'd love to hear that, too), they will be bound
together by atheme, apoet, or the like. These 19 songs have the poets Schiller and Goethe in

asong might have been taken more slowly
because the singer had more breath to offer, but, such tiny criticisms aside, the voice has
held up staggeringly well. Perhaps now there are only six degrees of dynamic shading where previously there were ten--tsk, tsk.
Graham Johnson's accompaniments are so much more than that--I wish there were abet-
ter word. He is responsible for the intelligent and informative notes about the project and each song which are to be found in the booklet, and it is obvious that he knows--and
loves--his Schubert. His playing is gorgeous --in "Meeres Stifle" he's barely noticeable, but defines the song--and elsewhere he is apartner to Dame Janet. I'll be looking forward to the next volume in this series. Hyperion is to be congratulated on all counts: their ambition,
their impeccable, natural engineering, and their production values. Bravi! --Robert Levine

common, and make up afascinating program. Dame Janet's great gift has always been the
manner in which she can, from the first note or two of asong, invite the listener into the

SCHUBERT: Piano Sonatas No.19 in c, D.958; No.20 in A, D.959; No.21 in B-flat,
D.960; Allegretto in c, D.915; Three Piano Pieces, D.946 Maurizio Pollini, piano

song's world without making the experience seem stilted. She never exaggerates, never
imposes herself on the music, and does it all

Deutsche Grammophon 419 229-1 (3 LPs), -2 (2 CDs). Guenther Hermanns, eng.; Rainer Brock or Guenther Breest (D.960), prod. DDD. TT 141:41

without seeming selfless or faceless. Most of the songs here are filled with many emotions, some
of them in conflict, and their humanity never fails to come through in Dame Janet's readings.
The very first song, the 1812 "Der Jüngling
am Bache," is afinely spun tale about innocent eagerness, and the singer lets it flow with the simplicity it requires. By contrast, "Schaefer's Klagelied" seems straightforward but has an

How you react to these performances will depend upon what you think of Pollini's playing. If you find him excessively intellectual, his recordings of Beethoven and Schumann chilly and unfeeling, perhaps you should look else-
where to explore Schubert's last three sonatas. Pollini certainly makes no poetic meditation
on death; for such an interpretation you might best go to an artist such as Claudio Arrau, who

Stereophile, March 1989


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both in playing and written opinion relates exquisite threnody in these pieces. How you
react will depend also on what you hear in these sonatas. It may be argued quite convincingly that they are the works of aman composing under adeath sentence (I find such an analysis far more holistically applicable to Schubert than to anything in late Mahler), but they are
also supremely introspective, hardly death. obsessed or even uniformly anguished. Upon repeated hearings, conceptions such as Arrau's become less poetic than prosaic and lugubrious. On the other hand, Ican think of no body
of Romantic piano work more appropriate to Pollini's talents than Schubert's last sonatas, so impassioned but free of obviously sensualist or virtuosic elements, so rewarding in the
hands of aplayer whose restraint conceals much art.
In D.958, the darkest sonata, Pollini makes the abrupt c/E-Flat transitions of the first movement transitory islands of hope and repose,
rather than biffing through them, or pointing up melodrama. By sustaining slightly the first note of each triplet in the finale, and paying passionate attention to the contrast between pp
andfp, Pollini makes this movement thrillingly spectral, no predictable tarantella macabre. D.959 inspires Pollini's best performance; he holds together this beautifully balanced sonata
with sureness. Needless to say, Pollini the great technician sails through the harmonically wild, emotionally disturbing effusion of the scherzo; but, in amasterly touch, he offsets this with an understated chorale-like opening theme to the
Rondo, projecting nobility and meditation only punctuated by anguish.
The B-flat is the most deceiving of the lot: while seemingly simple in its block chords and spare variation, it is easy for apianist to lose
control of structure in the expansiveness. Pollini is the first Iknow of, save Schnabel and Serkin, to embody Schubert's improvisational aspect and elegiac sense without dirgelike wal-
lowing or noodling like abad jazz musician. Life goes on, agreat soul transcends self-pity in the face of death: this conviction sustains through the remaining three movements. Pollini's advocacy for this outwardly romantic work recalls Jascha Horenstein's reading of the Bruckner Ninth: complete faith in the com-
poser's great soul, though living in afaltering and tormented body; complete agreement
with his transcendence of traditional structural and harmonic forms, complete conviction that bathos is the worst possible argument for this
belief. The conviction carries over into Pollini's
performances of the Allegretto and the Three Piano Pieces. These are not works of the emotional range of the Sonatas, but hardly make-

weights, either. Pollini illuminates the Three
Pieces especially, his treatment ideal to convey their bald contrasts between agitation and serenity.
The only insufficiency Idetected in these readings was that Pollini does not read in the music the sense of wonder and discovery that Artur Schnabel brought to his pioneering EMI recordings from the '30s., This is unfair, of
course; it is hardly Pollini's fault that Schnabel made these works part of the standard repertoire long before Pollini's career began. Pollini's
intelligence, taste, and soul are what put him
in Schnabel's league. Needless to say, this set
is strongly recommended. --Kevin Conklin

SCHUBERT: Piano Sonata in A, 0.959
SCHUMANN: Piano Sonata No.2 in g Murray Perahia, piano
CBS M 44569 (LP), MK 44569 (CD). Tony Faulkner & Andrew Kazdin (Schubert), ibm Lazarus & Andrew Kazdin (Schumann), ens.; Andrew kazdin. prod. DDA/DDD. TT 54:14

The highlights of these two performances for

me are the beautifully inward, albeit classically

restrained slow movements. Classical, in fact, is an apt description for the pianist's approach

to the Schubert, whose first movement, Inote

by the way for those interested, is played minus the exposition repeat. It is asplendid perfor-

mance in almost all respects, marvelously full of affect in the Andantino and really gorgeously

conceived in the scherzo's trio section and,

most especially, in the finale. The playing

throughout is extremely sensitive, as well, in

the Schumann, though here, again, Perahia's

leanness of tone and color is rather more Apol-

lonian than Dionysian, as in the more temper-

amental and mercurial Argerich version of the G-minor Sonata. It remains only to be mentioned

that the evenly balanced piano reproduction

is most satisfactory, but Ifind the London-

based recording of the Schubert superior in

color and warmth to the cooler, less ravishing

Schumann, which originated in New York (per-

haps this might have also been amatter of a

difference in pianos).

--Igor Kipnis

SCHUMANN: Cello Concerto; Works for Cello & Piano
Fantasiestücke, Op.129 & 73; Adagio and Allegro, øp.70; Fünf Stücke im Volkston, Op.102
Yo -Vo Ma, cello; Emanuel Ax, piano; Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Sir Colin Davis
CBS Masterworks M 42663 (LP), MK 42663 (CD). Concerto: Martin Wohr, eng.; David Mottley, prod. Cello & piano: John Newton. eng.; David Mouley, Wolfgang Schneiderjames Mallinson, prods. DIM/ODD. i1 60:42

ISchnabel's recordings of 0.959 and 0.960 are available in the US as part of Arabesque 8145-2, aboxed set of three LPs.

Stereophile, March 1989


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Much of the work Yo-Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax have turned out for CBS Masterworks has seemed the musical analog of the slick album covers and posters that CBS produces in its relentless promotion of the artists: soft in focus, unbearably pretty, and laden with pretension. The technical perfection is there, but all too often without inspiration. The duo breaks that trend in this release, but the concerto with Davis and the Bavarian RSO firmly perpetuates it.
Striving for poetry but stumbling into haltingly phrased lines and acool, tentative feeling, Ma and Davis give little sign of such conviction as is evident in the recent DG issue with Bernstein, Mischa Maisky, and the Vienna Philharmonic. The occasional expressive legato passages yield ultimately to adrowsy torpor that reveals only prettiness where beauty should be. The bloated orchestral sound punctuated by rather screechy flutes and massed violins doesn't aid the effect. The malaise persists through most of the Fantasiestücke for cello and piano, and the stage seems set for another entire recording struck from the typical Ma/Ax mold.
But ahealthy dose of passion informs the final two pieces, Adagio and Allegro, and Fünf Stücke im Volkston. In an applauded departure, Ma and Ax take off, convincing us that they are thrilled to be playing music. These wonderful little compositions display the never-questioned techniques of the players and add the intangible thrill of inspiration. They alone are worth the price.
The cello in these duets is rich and fullbodied (unlike the concerto), and the piano, though abit smothered-sounding, is also quite good. The piano is more lifelike on the LP, but that is the most obvious difference between the two formats. The similarity is such that you should probably choose to match the strength of your own system.
You may not be inclined to listen to the whole of this release every time, but you will never regret having those final two performances.
--Robert Hesson
WAGNER: Concert Pieces Ginterdintimerung: Siegfried's Rhine Journey and
Funeral Music; Brünnhilde's Immolation. Die Meistersinger: Prelude to Act Ill, Dance of the Apprentices, Entrance of the Mastersingers. »istan und /snide: Prelude and Liebestod Leopold Stokowski, LSO (Gótterdeimmerung), RPO (Meistersinger & 7kistan) RCA 5995-2-RC (CD only). Christopher Parker, Robert Auger, Anthony Salvatore, engs.; Richard Mohr, prod. ADD. TT, 68:18
Stokowski's earliest recordings of some of this music go back to his work with the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1931, and he was to record

and re-record agood bit of it many times over the next four-plus decades. The present per-

formances--the RPO ones date from October,

1973, the LSO sessions from November of

1974, when Stokowski was just over 91Y2years old--were made three to four years before his

death. It's therefore tempting and not incorrect to describe these, at least in part, as autumnal

interpretations. But even though those old

early Philadelphia recordings have apassion-

ately gripping, freewheeling intensity and

incredible instrumental excitement, as well as

loads of personality, the much more recent per-

formances reissued here on CD are almost always absorbing. The excitement may be

sporadic, yet there is sometimes an amazing

vitality present. Can you imagine the effect Stokowski's kind of performances would have

had in an opera house at the incredible

moment in the funeral music when the vassals

raise Siegfried's body? And, as usual for the old magician, the orchestral tone, especially in his

specialty, the strings, is invariably warm and

singing, marvelously lyrical, and even sensu-

ously shaped. Just listen to what he does with

the transition to the Liebestod. That silky string

sound is also for the most part reasonably well characterized in the recording, although Idon't

find what basically amounts to mellow sonics

especially up to date. Brilliance is lacking on

the top end in the 1974 pieces; more separa-

tion, greater detail, and better imaging are

apparent in the sessions of the previous year,

but there one also is subjected to alittle stridency at climaxes, as, for instance, at the end

of the Meistersinger excerpts. A few more

access points in the tracking (the Funeral

March, the Dance of the Apprentices, Entrance

of the Mastersingers, and the Liebestod) would

not have been amiss.

--Igor Kipnls

WAGNER: Parslfal Ramon Vinay, Parsifal; Martha Mridl, Kundry; Ludwig
Weber, Gurnemanz; George London, Amfortas; Hermann Uhde, Klingsorjosef Greindl, Titurel; others;
1953 Bayreuth Festival Chorus & Orchestra; Clemens
Rodolphe RPC 32516.17 (2 CDs only). ADD (mono). TT 3:57:00
WAGNER: Der Fllegende Hollandes· Hans Hotter, Hollander ;Georg Hann, Daland; Viorica
Ursuleac, Senda; Karl Ostertag. Erik; Louise Willer, Mary; Franz Klarwein, Steuermann; Chorus & Orchestra, Munich State Opera, 1944; Clemens Krauss Rodolphe RPC 32515 (CD only). ADD (mono). TM 124:00

In three releases mere months apart, Rodolphe has given us Clemens Krauss versions of three
fifths of Wagner's massive canon. And, if this 1953 Parsifal and 1944 Hollander do not rise
automatically to the top of the heap as did last summer's stupendous Krauss Ring cycle (from

Stereophile, March 1989


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the same Bayreuth season as this Parsifal), they were certainly worth dusting off.
Boulez's wretched rush-through of 1970
aside, this is the shortest complete Parsifal on record (Melodram carries an abridged version, in Italian, with Gui and CiII2s). Unlike Wagner's other works, to which very specific "correct" tempi seem appended in the listener's mind, Parsifal seems almost infinitely flexible; Krauss's 237 minutes seem just as "right" as Jordan's 244, Knappertsbusch's 250, ICarajan's 254, Sold's 260, Levine's 278, and even Goodall's
287. In Parsifal, \1Vag,ner suspends time, creating more asuffusion of sound than his usual drive to an inevitable dénouement. As Gur-
nemanz tells the ever-wondering Parsifal, "here time becomes space." This ostensibly Christian fever-dream that never mentions the names "Jesus" or "Christ" creates drifting clouds of harmony rather than the magnificent dawns, dusks, and lightning bolts of the Ring, or the almost horrific clarity of lkistan, its psychic and spiritual sister. Beginning and ending, like 7Yistan, with the sacrament of communion (though here sacred, again ostensibly), it is unlike the earlier music-drama in that the entire cycle could simply begin again, the previous
circuit forgotten, Parsifal wandering off like Amfortas before him to be seduced by another Kundry, wounded by another Klingsor. Tristan and Isolde are transfigured to ahigher realm;
Panears principals seem doomed--or blessed-- to endlessly repeat their roles in the timeless-
ness of dream. The work--truly amystery play--seems less reducible less fathomable the more Ihear it; I'm alternately astounded that it is not respected and loved even more than
it is, and that it is performed at all.
All of which is to say that Krauss's tempi are fine by me. Only in the Act Ientrance of the
Gralsritter do things fall apart--orchestra and
chorus never quite manage to play and sing together. There are no such problems in II and III. Wagner's blunted climaxes and endless
diminuendi are finely honed, but not by too much, and Krauss's profluence is inevitable
enough to banish thoughts of mere "conducting." This is also true of the self-effacing Goodall and Jordan, but surprised me after hearing Krauss's electrifying Ring. Another reaffirma-
tion of the truism that agreat conductor serves the work, not himself.
Despite Ramon Vinay's valiant attempts, his
Parsifal remains, for the most part, dark and constipated; it's hard to itnag,ine apoorer piece of vocal casting. It's bad enough that the role
must be sung by amature tenor at all, so youthful did Wagner intend the part--it requires a young, light, clear voice--but you can't have that and aHeldentenor in one body. René

Kollo (Solti) takes good care of the young, light
part, Reiner Goldberg (Jordan) the clear-ringing heroic aspects, but Ramon Vinay's thick, porkbarrel voice is even more wrong for this role than it was for the Siegmund he sang that same
summer. Regardless, he improves throughout, and, in Act III, wrests himself heroically from
self-torturing depths ("Und ich--ich bin's"); "Nur cine Waffe taugt" is thrillingly heroic.
Ludwig Weber's hooty Act IGurnemanz reminds more of Hagen's rough savagery than the avuncular expositor we're used to, or even Hans Sotin's (Levine) gruff kindliness. But there's a tortured passion here you'll find nowhere else, not even in Hotter (Knappertsbusch)--Weber not so much recounts as relives
his discovery of Amfortas after the spear's theft.
And the hootiness disappears by Act Ill. George London is much more convincing than he was to be with Kna nine years later, his voice much
darker here (it later became so bright as to obscure pitch), less relentlessly aggressive and inappropriately robust. Though no one has (for
me) bettered Fischer-Dieskau (Solti) for sheer beauty of singing wedded to consummate vocal acting, London will do just fine, thanks.
His final Act Ill refusal to perform communion ("Nein! Nicht mehr!") is overpowering.
Ah, but Martha Mtidl as Kundry --that smooth, liquid voice, afar cry (literally) from
Waltraud Meier's recent histrionics for Levine and Goodall, and much like Yvonne Minton for Jordan. Miidl's Act II scene with Vinay goes
down smoothly, though not too smoothly. My only caveat: From time to time she cuts words
and notes extremely short; Idon't know whether this is for dramatic intent or to save her
voice, but it seldom works. She's not quite the
vocal actress here that Gwyneth Jones (Boulez) or Christa Ludwig (Solti) have since become.
Hermann Uhde gives lUingsor aruddy authority, rather than the usual harsh-voiced postur-
ing. Josef Greindl is excellent in the tiny part of Titurel, and Gene Tobin and ayoung Theo Adam are undistinguished Gralsritter. The four Squires, like the solo Flower Maidens, go uncredited, though the third Squire sounds like
Gerhard Stolze (who sang small roles at Bayreuth that summer).
There are striking differences in recorded sound between this Parsifal and the Ring,
recorded within weeks of one another. What the Ring lacked in bass can be found here;
where the Ring's brass were buried and lost at the bottom of the Bayreuth pit, they are here gloriously present. The entire orchestra, in fact, is almost perfectly balanced with the voices
throughout. Only the flutes and the prompter
are too annoyingly audible. But the orchestral sound during the Flower Maiden scene is

Stereophile, March 1989


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almost lush. Unfortunately, these two CDs (yes, among Senta, Erik, and orchestra during Erik's this is another Rodolphe double-play bargain) Act Ill dream kept me on the edge of my seat--

are the harshest, most unlistenably glaring I
have heard. Plus plenty of tape hiss. Graphic equalizers? Treble controls? Use em if you got
'em. (There's also print-through pre-echo from improperly stored master tapes.)
Hollander's sound is remarkably good; better than it has any right to be, considering the
1944 transcription date of this historic first-ever complete recording of the work. But this broadcast performance (available 30 years ago on Mercury) was recorded on magnetic tape, back when Germany was still the only country to own the technology. Though congested and harsh during the loud passages (including most of Act 111), and with many dropouts, the rest of the opera actually sounds better than the Par-

such emotional immediacy is found only in live performances. Franz Klarwein's Steuermann is at least as good--a clear, sumptuous, lyric tenor with asubtle comic sense.
As Senta, Viorica Ursuleac has intonation problems and too much vibrato, lags labori-
ously in the slow passages, and virtually disappears in piano sections--no support or control--yet manages to redeem herself in the 1oudex more histrionic moments. Louise Willer's
Mary is much more dependable, yet somehow less memorable. Ursuleac remains the most idiosyncratic Senta I've heard.
The booklets for both operas contain no notes, one photo each (Krauss), German-only librettos (missing half of Hollander's Act III),

sifal and Ring of nine years later. The brasses come through with power and resonance (this time they weren't buried in the Bayreuth pit),
and voices are very present and three-

and about 800 typos apiece. These should not
be your first recordings of either Parsifal or Hollander--I recommend Knappertsbusch, Solti, Levine, or Jordan (once on Erato, now

dimensional (in mono!). But, like the 1953 Par-
sifal, the high end is painfully grating. Krauss is convincing at Hollander's helm; his
Act III is probably the best I've heard, helped
to no small degree by the Munich Staatsoper
chorus, another of those robust, vibrant ensembles from one of the golden ages of German singing. Krauss's drive, as in his 1953 Ring, is undeniable, generating ample excitement in the
Overture and throughout the opera, here done

available through Musical Heritage) for the
former, Dorati, Nelsson, or Klemperer (though not Solti, for achange) for the latter--but these very good performances in not-very-good (Parsifal) and surprisingly-good- for- its- time (Hollander.)sound make solid second or third versions, and valuable lessons in operatic history. Rodolphe: more, please.
--Richard Lehnert

in three separate acts (not the continuous Bay- WEBERN: Complete Music for String Quartet

reuth version). After aragged Overture and Act I, the orchestra pulls itself together for the rest

Quartetto Italiano
Philips 420 796-2 (CD only). ADD. rn 5253

of the work, often sounding almost demonically inspired.
The cast is impressive: the young Hans Hot-

This reissue from 1970 proves afascinating disc,
showing Webern's developing style from the recently discovered slow movement for String

ter as the Hollânder, his voice so heartbreak- Quartet of 1905, with its full-blooded Roman-

ingly youthful and light in tone (though not in tic harmonies, to the concentrated contrapun-

power), and with so effortless atop, as to be vir- tal lines of the Op.28 Quartet of 1938. The comtually unrecognizable--that is, until his over- plete String Quartet of 1905 is in one contin-

whelming Act III entrance ("Verloren!")--as uous and intense movement, its language still

the towering Wotan and Gumemanz of the '50s firmly rooted in the post-Wagnerian Roman-

and early '60s. "Die Frist ist urn" is impassioned enough, though not as tortured as FischerDieskau for Konwitschny. But that Act III .

ticism common to the early compositions of the Second Viennese School. The Five Movements for String Quartet, Op.5, of only four

It makes Simon Estes (Nelsson /Bayreuth) years later could not bring greater contrast.

sound like atyro.

Concerned primarily with color and effects--

Georg Hann's Daland is adry barker. Though wood on string, abrasive tremolandi on the

dramatically appropriate for this gruff, materi- bridge, brittle pizzicati--their germinal con-

alistic schemer, such achoice impairs his duet with Hotter, cutting short the harmonies. His
Act II "Miigst du, mein Kind" is strong, though lacking the bantering playfulness Georgio Tozzi brought to the role on stage and, for Dorati, on

struction and concision lead inevitably to the extreme brevity of the 6 Bagatelles, which
together last less than four minutes; Schoen-
berg said of them, "Consider what moderation is required to express oneself so briefly." With

record. As Erik, Karl Ostertag displays apassionate tenor of Heiden proportions (though
with aslight tendency to nasality), milking the

birdsong also captured here by the recording, an extra, but wholly suitable, dimension seems to have been specially added!

part for every drop of drama. The tension

Recorded in the neutral acoustic of La Tour

Stereophile, March 1989


Answers Defivies the stee of the crt

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Our British readers are true hi-fi enthusiasts: people who prefer good music in the home to an evening spent in front of the television. We provide them with reviews of the best hi-fi products the world has to offer, at all price levels, and feature articles on all technical and nontechnical matters of interest.
We use our ears. We were the first UK magazine to declare CD unsatisfactory, though now we find much to praise; the first to examine the merits of solid-core cables; the first to introduce recently the challenging claims of Peter Belt. For years the magazine has concentrated on methods of optimising system performance, and on the leading edge of hi-fi design. Hi-Fi Answers has influenced the work of some of the UK's leading designers.
Our writers number among the foremost hi-fi journalists in the world: Alvin Gold, who is already familiar to Stereophile readers, James Michael (Jimmy) Hughes, David Prakel and the editorial staff, Keith Howard and John Bamford.
Our logo proclaims that we 'define the state of the art'. A bold claim? We invite you to judge for yourself by taking out asubscription.
A one year (12 issue) subscription to Hi-Fi Answers costs US$45 for USA and Canada, and can be obtained from: Eastern News Distributors, 250 West 55th Street, New York, NY10019. Iblephone 800-221 3148 (toll free) for details and newstand availability.
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Stereophile, March 1989

de Peilz, Switzerland, with balance and dis-

tance sensitively judged, these pieces are heard

to their best advantage.

--Barbara Jahn

Classical Collections

ALFREDO KRAUS: Arie Antic/al
Arias by Giordano, Ciampi (Ann), Handel, Pergolesi, A. Scarlatti, Tenaglia, Gluck, Hasse, Salvator Rosa, Niedermeyer
Alfredo Kraus, tenor; Jose Tordesillas, piano Nimbus NI 5102 (CD only). DDD. TT: 45:46
Amost welcome release. The appealing 17thand 18th-century (one now believed to have been composed in the 19th century) songs and
arias presented here captivated audiences not so long ago when sung with bewitching finesse by such as John McCormack, Tito Schipa, Dino Borgioli, etc. Beniamino Gigli also sang and recorded them with lachrymose passion, if not with the artful insights of others.
The comparatively few vocal recitals (and their recorded counterparts) presented these days generally emphasize popular operatic arias or musical diets designed for the palates of
sophisticated vocal aficionados, with German Lieder as the entrée. Don't get me wrong! As afrequent gourmand of both, Ienjoy this fare; Ido, though, miss the delightful ditties by Alessandro Scarlatti, Tommaso Giordano, Vincenzo Ciampi, etc. These composers and others of similar ilk are offered here, and their recorded
renaissance Ls doubly welcome as it features the bravura artistry of such apersuasive, stylistic master as Alfredo Kraus.
The man is avocal miracle! As amember of the audience at his 1966 Metropolitan Opera debut, Ihave vivid memories of the very positive impression that his beautifully conceived
interpretation (of the Duke in Rigoletto) made on me. And of his wide-ranging, crystalline tenor voice--despite the following day's Neu' York Times criticism that "Kraus has not been blessed with avoice that is going to make alasting impression in vocal history." What the instrument may lack in opulence is more than
compensated for by its silvery pure tenor clarity (no baritone overtones), wide range, and firm technical foundation. The voice still sounds as admirable as it did 23 years ago, even though,
when this disc was taped, the tenor was but a few days shy of his 60th birthday. No allowances have to be made for his age, although, unlike wine, voices do not generally improve
with the passing of years. One cannot fault his superbly controlled breathing and long, expressive phrases. As in 1966, Istill hear patches of tonal dryness. Another critical aspect which has neither improved nor deteriorated since that time is interpretive rather than vocal. In

declamatory passages--of which there are few

in this program--he has atendency to empha-

size too explosively. This, however, is aminor

fault when outweighed by the interpretive

intelligence and eloquent sensitivity with

which he transforms song into memorable,

enjoyable experience.

In aprogram chock-full of virtues, it's difficult to single out highlights. However, Pergo-

lesi's "Se tu m'ami," Gluck's "0 del mio dolce

ardor," and Scarlatti's "0 cessate di piag,armi"

offer models of legato expressivity, tone col-

oration, and pellucid articulation not often encountered, at least to this degree, on the con-

temporary vocal scene. Only in the last-named

composer's delectable "Le violette" was Icon-

scious of limited warmth and charm when

comparing Kraus's singing to Schipa's famous,

idiosyncratic rendition. José Tordesillas's piano

accompaniment, although adequate, is too self-

effacing for optimum musicality.

Although Nimbus usually provides fine engi-

neering, they have fallen below their anticipated

high standards here. The first cut is poorly

balanced, over-reverberant, and appears to

have been taped in awet-walled bathroom.

There is some improvement later, but the engi-

neers don't succeed in providing the balanced,

intimate ambience and immediacy that the

superiority of the performance merits. None-

theless, not to be missed by singing and song


--Bernard Soli

20TH-CENTURY SOLO CELLO MUSIC Truls Otterbech Mork, cello
Nordheina Clamavi; Crumb, Sonata for solo violoncello; Lidholna Fantasia sopra laudi; Kodály: Sonata for solo violoncello
Simax NC 1023 (CD only). Ame Akselberg, eng.; Arild Erikstad, prod. TT: 64:24
Few sounds seem to touch us as closely as the sound of the solo cello. The bit of the bow stretches some inner string, pulling us as the body vibrates harmonically. In the hands of a master, the violoncello is unsurpassed as asolo instrument. %Is Otterbech Mork is surely one of the finest cellists on this planet, and this is one of the finest CD reproductions of string sound to date.
The four works presented here are all highly emotional, thoroughly modem, recorded beautifully, and, despite the well-known law to the contrary, are performed with an impossible ease that conjures images of magical string players of the past --Paganini, Casals, and a handful of others.
The excellent liner notes give concise and insightful backgrounds on the composers, with each work dated, except for the Kodály. Also included are all recording details; recordists,

Stereophile, March 1989


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VANDERSTEEN AUDIO was founded in 1977 with the commitment to offer always the finest in music reproduction for the dollar. Toward this goal there will always be ahigh degree of pride, love, and personal satisfaction involved in each piece before it leaves our facilities. Your Vandersteen dealer shares in this commitment, and has been carefully selected for his ability to deal with the complex task of assembling amusically satisfying system. Although sometimes hard to find, he is well worth seeking out.
Write or call for abrochure and the name of your nearest dealer.

III \Lit, h

take note. The sound has clarity without being

harsh, or losing the resonance of the instru-

ment. The master was made with two Brüel &

Kjaer omnis on Sony PCM-701/RTW AD

3/Sony SL2000 digital equipment.

Ame Nordheim is deeply influenced by Béla

Bartók (true of avast number of contemporary

composers, myself included), but rather than

imitating Bartók's, Nordheim's compositional

style is genuinely evolutionary, unique and

masterful in its own right. Clamavi is an

incredibly good piece, the sound both clam-

orous and sweet. Mork displays flawless move-

ment between octaves, his intonation is spot

on, and he conveys afieryand patient spirit.

The first movement of George Crumb's

Sonata for Solo Violoncello is astudy in con-

trasts, alternating between pizzicatos and emo-

tional double stops. This work, too, is reminis-

cent of Bartók, particularly of the later string

quartets. The last movement features fast-

paced, widely spaced arpeggios enriched with

doublestops. This is virtuoso modern music

of the highest order.

Ingvar Lidholm's Fantasia sopra laudi fea-

tures subtle, breathtaking, high pizzicato tones.

The disc is absolutely silent, rich in sound, and

never glaring. All CDs should sound this good.

The imaging, too, is excellent, presenting one

perfectly sized cello in your listening area. The

composition never lets up in intensity, and

despite only one instrument creating the tex-

ture, the tonal variety, masterful dynamics, and

awesome attention to detail make this aselec-

tion you won't want to miss. The movement

ends on abeautiful high G# (the cello's highest)

that would be hard to match on the violin.

Mork's mastery of every tone, spanning nearly

five octaves, is nothing short of spectacular.

The CD ends with Kodgly's Sonata for Solo

Violoncello, Op.8, which exploits virtually

every effect possible on the instrument. There

is asection that sounds like the work of several

cellists, with broken chords spanning three

octaves in the blink of an eye. In short, this is

amagical offering; if you like the cello, you'll

love this disc.

--James Berwin

JESSYE NORMAN: In Recital Songs by Hârtdel, Schubert. Schumann. Brahms. R. Strauss Jessye Norman, soprano; Geoffrey Parsons. piano Philips 422 048-2 (CD only). Volker Straus, prod.; Peter
Laenger, eng. DDD. TT: 6429
This concert, taped live at the Hohenems Festival in Feldkirch, Austria in June of 1987, will serve as quite an eye- (and ear-)opener for those who have always found this singer's recital discs abit on the reserved side. Idon't know the size of the hall in which this took place, but Miss Norman sings in agrand, expan-

sive manner, as if she were attempting to reach the farthest row back in a2000-seat house The effect is stunning--there isn't an empty or unimportant moment on this disc.
The opening selections are by Handel: divinely controlled readings of "Dank sei dir, Herr" and "Lascia ch'io planga." They are followed by aSchumann group--"Widmung" absolutely soars, "Frülingsnacht" is ecstatic, and the others are, by turns, introspective, poetic, and soulful. The two Schubert groups10 songs altogether--are startling in their variety. "Der Musensohn" is suitably energetic and playful, sung very fast and with no problems in articulation or pitch. The "Ave Maria" is gorgeous--reverential, intimate, scaled down and
all of apiece--a veritable lesson in legato singing. I'll only mention two others: "Der Tod und das Madchen" and "Erlkonig." Norman uses abaritonal sound for the Death figures in both, and she amazes. lithe voice she uses for the little child is not quite as innocent as one would like, well, it only proves that the singer is human. The encores by Brahms and Strauss are impressive, but the two Negro Spirituals which close the show bring the house down, and quite rightly so.
Some may find the sound abit harsh, particularly near the program's start (one can imagine the engineers twisting away to get the balance and treble right), but it's certainly never areal issue. Geoffrey Parsons is amore-than-sympathetic accompanist, although his piano suffers most from the sharp acoustic. And the singing is really spectacular. This is arelatively easy program to digest, and Norman turns it into an event to remember. Booklet with notes, texts, and translations, and the applause on separate cueing points! Go buy this--it's agreat bet.
--Robert Levine
Show Musk
PUMP BOYS AND DINETTES: On Broadway Performed & written by: Jim Wann, John Foley, Mark
Hardwick, Debra Monk, C2SS Morgan, John Schimmel CBS MK 37790 (CD only). Mike Berniker, Billy Sherrill.
prods. ADD. TT 3210
Yes, these waitresses and greasemonkeys were on Broadway some years back, and did OK there, too. Pump Boys & Dinettes is not so much a"show" as arevue, aplotless evening spent hanging around the g,aspumps and diner of some little bump in aroad called Highway 57. Aplot, however, is not missed--the songs are that good. This is light country rock, tightly sung and played by aband taut as atrampoline, funny, intelligent, and constantly inventive-- you keep thinking asong or lyric is going in

Stereophile, March 1989


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one direction, when suddenly it zags like a

jackrabbit. But most of all, the songs are u,hole-

some in ways Ithought were long dead. And,

remarkably, the fresh humor seems to be at no

one's expense.

Available on LP for about 15 minutes some

six or seven years ago, PB&D has at last been

reissued on CD, and the news is all good. Nine-

teen country-rock tunes totaling almost an

hour was abit much to ask of asingle vinyl bis-

cuit in the first place; that LP had much in

common with the original cast recording of

Hair; including tinny treble, no bass, and sound-

ing as if recorded in acardboard carton full of Wonderbread.

Well, these wonderful, charming, down-

home songs can finally breathe--the differ-

ence between CD and LP versions of the "Menu

Song," for example, is one of those night-and-

day contrasts digiphiles love, and rightly so.

Granted, what little sense of ensemble (it was

false anyway) the LP had is gone now, and you

don't want to listen to PB&D on headphones--

the reverb'll give you whiplash--but other than

that, there's no contest. For example: Lyrics that

I've been trying to figure out for the last six

years are now effortlessly intelligible; subtleties

of emotion are so much more palpable on

CD--Debra Monk's little half-smiles come

across vocally here, not at all on my old LP, even

when listened for; and "Fisherman's Prayer"

sounds like the acappella quartet it is, not atrio

whose bassman stepped out for aBallentine.

Icould go on--little discoveries abound in

every cut--but you've heard enough; highly


--Richard Lehnert

DAVE BRUBECK QUARTET: Moscow Mg& Concord Ja2z CJ-3S3 (LP), CCD-4353 (CD·) Gary Clay-
ton, eng, Russell Gloyd, Carl E Jefferson, prods DDA/DDD. TIS 42 23, 49 56'
When Dave Brubeck, bass guitarist Chris Bru beck, clarinetist Bill Smith, and drummer Randy Jones made their much-publicized return last year to perform at the historic ReaganGorbachev summit, the pianist presented Gorbachev with apre-production copy of this CD. (Yes, we're told that Gorbachev owns aCD player.) During aconversation with Brubeck following the latter trip, he mentioned that when Nancy Reagan leaned over and asked the Secretary General whether he liked jazz, the it-ply was, "I like good jazz, and this is good jazz."
If that summit recital had anything in common with the performances preserved on Moscou,Night, then we can safely assume the Soviet leader's taste extends well beyond

vodka and caviar. In such Brubeck standards

as "Unsquare Dance," "St. Louis Blues," "Three

To Get Ready," and "Take Five" (CD only), as

well as new vehicles "Give Me AHit" and "Thane

for June," you'll be treated to some fine main-

stream blowing and more than alittle invention.

Moscow Night--recorded live in March of

1987 in Moscow's Russiya Concert Hall--

constitutes one of the first musical documents

to emanate from glasnost. The concert came

at the end of the Brubeck Quartet's first string

of 13 USSR appearances, and was taped in coop-

eration with Melodiya, the official Soviet rec-

ord company.

Clarinetist Smith's musical presence is always

refreshing. Although for many years he has

been deeply immersed in the classical avant

garde as both composer (he's aformer Prix de

Rome winner) and performer, his jazz efforts

barely reflect--at least in obvious ways--that

orientation. They do, however, reflect an unerr-

ing sense of the long line, particularly evident

in "Theme for June," in which he constructs

soaring roullades of notes that alternately sur-

prise and fulfill expectation. Riveting, beauti-

fully sculpted work, indeed.

If pianist Brubeck's playing cannot accurately

be described as "swinging," that fact has never

diminished my appreciation of his often imagina-

tive keyboard explorations. Here one finds

liberal helpings of such Brubeck trademarks

as pulsing, stride left hand topped with angular,

shifting accents, and solos that inexorably build

to climaxes of orchestral proportion. Unfor-

tunately--as in the midst of "St. Louis Blues" --

these climaxes sometimes depend more heav-

ily on repetitive banging than on inspirational

heat. The lyrical side of Brubeck's personality

is revealed at the outset of "St. Louis Blues" and

throughout his brother Howard's pastel-colored

"Theme for June." While the latter may never

become ajazz standard, its mix of impressionis-

tic harmonies, soft-edged funk, and romanti-

cism is entirely winning.

The Soviet audience was obviously enjoy-

ing itself at this concert, and Concord's sound

retrieval provides astrong sense of "being

there." Despite the metallic clanginess of the

piano's upper octaves (some of it due to the

instrument itself?), instrumental timbres have

generally been captured with admirable verac-

ity. When compared to the LP version, the overall sound of the CD is also abit on the

metallic side. For some listeners, Isuspect, the

CD will sound more immediate. To my ears, the

tradeoff is areduction in presence and natural-

ness. And don't buy the CD for the "Take Five"

bonus. It's not one of the more compelling

accounts of what has long been the quartet's

signature piece.

--Gordon Emerson

Stereophile, March 1989




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MILES DAVIS: The Columbia Years 1955-1985 Columbia C5X 45000 (5 LPs), C4K 45000 (4 CDs). Jeff
Rosen. prod. ADA/ADD. TT 4:14:16
CBS is going in big for 5- and 6-disc retrospective sets these days; in the last couple years we've had big boxes from Sinatra, Springsteen, Dylan, and now Miles Davis. Unfortunately, while the Sinatra box brought back into print scores of items long unavailable, the Springsteen set was all new live recordings, and Dylan's Biograph made available, for the first time, two well-packed LPs' worth of important, rare tracks, The Columbia Years 1955-1985 is mighty slim pickings in terms of unreleased goodies.
Suffice it to say that CBS has not warmed my heartly cockles by releasing such rehashes of already-in-print material as Ballads and Miles and Coltrane, when there's plenty of stuff in the can that's never seen the light of US day: Aura, Pangaea, Black Beauty, and the rest of the Plugged Nic.kel sessions, for starters. Colum-
bia Years offers, instead, an admittedly wellchosen and -organized collection of the basic Miles, with apaltry 35 minutes' worth of previously unreleased material, three of those four tracks alternate takes.
'Spose Ishouldn't gripe Producer/compiler Jeff Rosen has done one admirable job of choosing, as he claimed in arecent NPR interview, only those 35 tracks on which Miles's playing was particularly hot. Listening to all five LPs in order, one each of "Blues," "Standards," "Originals," "Moods," and "Electric," unequivocally underlines Davis's stature as the single most important figure in jazz. Ever. Even I, who own over 100 Davis recordings, sat there stunned
anew at the sheer volume of definitive, epochal performances contained in these discs: "All Blues," "Blues for Pablo," "Footprints," "My Funny Valentine," the long-unavailable "Love For Sale," "Miles," "So What," "Water Babies:' "Masqalero," the frighteningly relentless "Sivad" from the Live-Evil band, "Honky Tonk," and "Miles Runs the Voodoo Down." And much more. Lakes of ink have been spilled about how Davis and his uniquely introverted trumpet sensibility and deep, deep tone have singlehandedly turned the jazz world around not once, but three or four times. But the truism's
nonetheless true, and The Columbia Years, though of course lacking anything recorded before 1956 (le, Bebop and Cool), proves it as no other compilation I've heard. Rosen also turns a neat chronological trick: each disc manages to have at least one track recorded later than any on the previous disc; time advances in afive-steps-forward, four-steps-back spiral.
But you hard-core collectors have waited long enough--what are those few goodies,

you say? Most important is "I Thought About You:' recorded in 1963 at the Antibes Jazz Festival. Supported by atrio of Hancock, Carter, and Williams, Miles takes ablistering, swaggering solo, followed by amellow, puckish Hancock chorus and adesultory Carter solo (it's easy to forget that, great as he was in '63, Ron Carter has since improved tremendously, in all ways). Miles then returns for amelancholy final chorus more in keeping with the tune's lyrics. This cut is at least as good as anything on Miles Davis In Europe (nia), from which it was omitted.
The alternate takes: "Someday My Prince Will Come," with Mobley, Kelly, Chambers, and Cobb, is little more than half the length of the take that made it on to the LP of the same name, and aquick glance at the credits will show why: no Coltrane. But Davis's solo sounds quite abit
better structured than the one released, though it's still tentative. Hank Mobley's tenor solo sounds not atenth as intimidated (by Trane?) as on the take we've heard for the past 25 years, and Wynton Kelly's solo is fresher, more adventurous. Except for Coltrane's absence, this "Prince" is superior in every way. In "Flamenco Sketches," from the historic 1959 Kind of Blue sessions with Coltrane, Adderly, Evans, Chambers, and Cobb, it's Coltrane's turn to sound hesitant and short on ideas, while Miles seems to force things abit; the ending, however, is less peaceful here, more bittersweet. Wayne Shorter's lazily loping "Pinocchio," from 1967, is taken at about half the speed of the version found on Nefertiti. It's easy to see why this one wasn't released, lacking as it does any urgency or necessity. Hancock and Williams seem to be trying to goose things along continually, to no avail, but even this contrast adds no creative tension.
Serious Davis collectors have little reason to buy this set; "I Thought About You," "Prince," and the two brief cuts from Jazz flack, long out of print, are hardly enough to justify the expense of five LPs, let alone four CDs, and the much-touted digital remastering and the halfdozen digital remixes are unremarkable, albeit tape hiss is much reduced. But for those just beginning to interest themselves in Miles, it's hard to imagine amore well-rounded introduction: There are as many important performances here as you could expect to find in a set of this size, and, at 50+ minutes per LP, 604minutes per CD, the timings are generous enough. Beginners sí, fanatics ?la
--Richard Lchnert
KEITH JARRET!: Dark Intervals Keith Jarrett, piano
ECM 1379 (837 342-1, LP; -2, CD). Kinilo oikaWa, mg.; Manfred Eicher, prod. DDA/DDD. rr: 58:22

Stereophile, March 1989



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After afive-year hiatus in which he explored jazz standards, classical music, the clavichord, and the upclassifiable Spirits, Keith Jarrett has returned, however briefly, to the form that gained him his widest reputation: solo piano improvisations. But with adifference--only asingle LP this time (instead of two, three, or ten), that LP composed of eight short sections, each with atitle. This is afar cry from unbroken piano improvs spanning three LP sides, titled only with the name and date of the venue.
In this live concert recorded in Japan in April '87, Jarrett's staggering technique remains intact, only more finely tuned. The set opens, appropriately enough, with "Opening," in which chaos emerges out of order, the last half of the 13-minute piece arumbling exploration of the piano's bass strings. "Hymn" follows, more redolent of cantonal lamentation than the Gurdjieffian chords of Jarrett's 1980 Sacred Hymns; "Prayer" might have been abetter tide, so plain is the playing's supplication. "Americana" opens with gospel leached through Copland--pastoral America only is evoked, of course, not Chicago or even Allentown, PA (Jarrett's home town). "Parallels" are just that, right and left hands shadowing each other with meticulous imprecision, as if cast over rough ground, in an obstinate, linear rhythm divorced from breath's ease. "Fire Dance" builds to a churning, frenzied climax, the ghost of VillaLobos hovering near. "Ritual Prayer" is based in the Near East--I imagine squat Greek Orthodox basses rumbling out the lower harmonies. And "Recitative" could be called "Paradise Regained," so inevitably does it build to its central, benign apotheosis, then fall back to great but quiet peace.
This album of often profound beauty, had it been released by anyone else, would call for much more acclaim; as it is, it's just another Jarrett solo masterpiece in the tradition of Staircase and The Moth and the Flame. The CD's DDD sound is some of the most natural solo piano sound I've heard (assuming you listen with your ears nearly touching the soundboard), entirely without harshness or glare. But, good as the CD is, the LP is better in the usual ways--deeper, rounder, more full, with greater three-dimensionality.
--Richard Lehnert
Warner Bros. 25753-1 (LP), -2 (CI)). Russ Titelman, Joseph Shabalala, prods. ADA/ADD. TM 49:19
Two years ago, Paul Simon's Graceland yeas the rage. Hits were played on the radio. Everybody

was listening to it. Lots of people were using

it to show off their systems (until people realized

just how miserable the compressed sound

really was). Simon took alot of flak from those who said he'd stolen musical material from

South African stars without giving them their

due. He countered with the fact that although

he had been influenced by some sampler cas-

settes from Africa, not only did he give people

their proper credit, but he recorded Graceland

in South Africa, using some of the local talent

he'd admired on those samplers. The introduc-

tion to "Helpless" featured an acappella male

chorus led by James Shabalala. It was one of the

high spots of the album.

That chorus, famous throughout Africa for

their many religious albums, is called Lady-

smith Black Mambazo. This, their second Ameri-

can album since Graceland, contains 13 songs,

most sung in Ladysmith's native Zulu. Many

deal with faith in God, South Africa's pass laws,

dowry negotiations, problems with lions kill-

ing the cattle, jealousy of the group's success,

all kinds of friendship, and tributes to Hugh

Masekela, Miriam Makeba, Duma Ndiovu, and

Paul Simon. The best cut on the album, "Wayi-

bambezela (Don't Waste Her Time)," is about

two kinds of exile: that of migrant workers

from their homes, and that of South African

nationals (like Miriam Makeba) who still bring

South African culture with them wherever they

go. The song is sung, or chanted, in call-and-

response. It's amazing in its starkness and com-

plexity. There is also awonderful Paul Simon

arrangement of "Amazing Grace," sung in English.

The album was recorded on analog recorders

at the Hit Factory in NYC, but mixed and ma.stered

using aMitsubishi X80 Recorder by Bob Lud-

wig at Masterdisk, NY. Recording quality is high

(compression is low). Worth auditioning (and

it's better than Graceland for showing off male


--Gary S. Krakow

MINISTRY: The Land of Rape and Honey Sire 25799- I(LP), -2(CD) Hypo Luxe, Hermes Pan, Eddie
Echo, prods.; Jourgensen, Barker, Steve Spapperi, Julian Herzfeld, Keith Auerbach, engs. AAA/AAD. T1 40:32
As the companion video clip "Stigmato" leaps up the charts in New York clubland, Sire Records calls this "the latest in agro rock aggressive challenge to smug music industry norms." Actually, Ministry is two guys from Chicago, IL (Alain Jourgensen and Paul Barker) who shed the rest of the band's original members after their last album (Tivitcb, 1986) and abruptly changed styles. Known previously for light disco pop--"Work for Love" is agood example--Ministry now sounds like someone took Big Black, the radical alternative Chicago band who did it first, and treated it to the works

Stereophile, March 1989


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in aworld-class recording studio. Ministry has, in fact, burst on the industrial dance rock scene alittle late. It's aparticularly vicious and, one might think, cynically manipulative incarnation of the "let's burn down the cornfield and the whole damn barn" point of view already exemplified so well by Brit art-noise rockers Throbbing Gristle and our own Skinny Puppy and Sonic Youth.
Still, if you can relate to naked hostility taken
well over the top (and who among us hasn't had those days?), this release is extraordinar-
ily well-recorded and -produced. Some may say it's awaste of production dollars to lavish them on the likes of "Stigmata," acheerful boy-
hates-girl paean which features the most positive line of the whole album: Your best
weapon is the look in your eyes." Equally charming are "Destruction," asoundtrack for Dance Club in Hell, and "Hizbollah," which deploys Middle Eastern tonalities to imply that we're all in this together and it stinks. This is
one band that won't play Live Aid or Sun City either, if only because their internationalism
owes as much to atruly staggering self-absorption as to trendy DJ Mark Kamin's "world
music" house style, cut with sitars, African nase flutes, and Islamic voices ovér the top.
Motivated equally as one-in-the-eye for a former girlfriend, I'm told, and by the primal urge to make money, Ministry's new stance
does, after all, perfectly exemplify the attitude of the '80s. In the land of rape and honey,
where social ills are coated with fancy sneakers, tabloid TV, and supply-side economics, Ministry's rage--as well as its "where's mine?" stance--is perfectly understandable. Yes, it's alittle unfocused, more than alittle misogynistic, and just like ateenager in atantrum who's discovered he can't have it all, after all.
These boys are disillusioned, mean, and on
the make, determined to shake the world until it rattles, and the production will certainly do that. It's painstaking, expensive, full of effects, sampling, squeaks, delay, and reverses borrowed from dub reggae: exciting, hypnotic music
underpinned by a relentless backbeat that dares you to turn the system up. Don't do it.
Produced with Hypo Luxa, Hermes Pan, and Eddie Echo, Ministry wants you to fear for your
hi-fi set-up. Hold on to the fear or you will quickly find out whether your amplifier clips
and why you should audition this release through old Cerwin- Vega PAs. The treble is spilcey, on CD the dynamic range on tracks like
"Deity" and "Golden Dawn" shoots from zero to the red zone, and the drum machine does not stop. But unlike the socially conscious
nihilism of Ian Dury's "Plaistow Patricia," for instance, Ministry's stance is just plain peevish.

It's hostility you can dance to, and that's a shame, because in aland of rape and honey, there's alot to be genuinely mad about.

Sugar Hill SH 1023 (LP), SH-CD- 1023 (CD'). Bd Vorn Dick, mg.; Jesse Winchester, prod. ADA/ADD. 40:34, 52:21'

Last we heard from Jesse was back in '81, when

Talk Memphis was released--all funk'n'jive

and no songs you could really stick afork in.

I've got no idea what else he's been doing in all that time, but one thing for sure: Humour Me's

got his best songs since Nothing But A Breeze, way back in '77.

Winchester's long, famous Canadian exile

in protest of the Vietnam War was, unlike that

of most of his confreres, the result of his pro-

found Christian faith. Though that faith has sur-

faced only sporadically in his music ("I Can't Stand Up Alone," "Working in the Vineyard,"

"I'm Looking For AMiracle"), it permeates vir-

tually every one of Humour Me's dozen songs.

This is not the snarling Old Testament self-

righteousness of Dylan, the white-hot zeal of

Aretha, U2's pompous piety, or even the devout

smolder of Al Green. No, Winchester's is awry,

tested, seasoned faith, as attested in the funkily

contemplative "Thanks To You": "Someday up

in Glory, I'll weep and tell astory to someone

who will smile and say, 'You're amess, but

you're my child'. ..Iwould take the credit, but it's thanks to you."

There's compassion here, too: "And they just

can't help themselves, they've given up con-

trol; they hear alittle voice that lives down in

their soul, saying 'Let's us go and find acozy

little hell,' and no one tells them 'No,' and they

just can't help themselves."

Nor is Winchester's Christianity sexless: "I

Don't Think You Love Me Anymore" lists all the

little things--playing footsie, sleeping spoon-

wise-- that disappear when love sours.

But those are just the words. What Ican't tell

you here is how good it all sounds--JW's vel-

vety voice, so much like Lyle Lovett's but so

much more fluid, his languid phrasing, gorgeous melodies, and arrangements that manage

to sound lush and spare at the same time (with

help from sidemen Bela Fleck, Jim Horn, and

the amazing Mark O'Connor, among others).

The LP's reverb, false as it surely must be, is

entirely gone on CD. The LP is warmer, lusher,

by far the more sensual experience, but the CD

includes two songs--"Pushover" and "Love

Is Fair" --not on the LP (or cassette, for those

who care) that I'd surely hate to do without.

Welcome the hell back, Jesse--what took

you so long?

--Richard Lehnert

Stereophile, March 1989


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Erratum Our apologies to Stan Klyne of Klyne Audio Arts, Ltd., from whose Manufacturer's Comment on p.180 of the February issue aline was accidentally dropped. The passage should bave read asfollows:
Regarding listening test methods: On several occasions, while describing his sonic perceptions of the SK -6, the reviewer made several comparisons to "competing" and "reference" units, without actually naming those units.
Adcom GCD-575 CD player Editor:
Conceptually, the Adcom GCD-575 was in tended to be the CD player of choice in its price range with respect to sonic quality, audibly and measurably superior in resolution, detail, clarity, and ambience retrieval. We were indeed pleased that Stereopbile concluded from its listening tests that we have achieved these objectives. Yes, stereophiles, one can now objectively document many of the sonically identifiable differences among CD players, even though other publications which regularly review CD players still lack the sophisti-
cated new instrumentation neceçsary to identify and quantify these subtle distinctions.
The drawer mechanism we chose for the GCD-575 is also used by other companies, and has proven to be one of the most reliable on the market. In fact, none failed in our life- tests which replicated the equivalent of many years of normal home use.
Our drawer's function is simply to move the disc in and out of the machine. Once in place, the drawer is disengaged and not in the mechanical circuit. The mechanism which takes over, containing the turntable, laser drive, and other mechanical components, is mounted in ametal housing, suspended by four shorttravel suspension springs with asymmetrical resonances and damping. This system gives fast recovery from minor shocks and vibration and retains the precision of focus between the laser beam and the disc.
We found in our research and development work that alooser, less controlled springing, while providing greater absorption of larger shocks (rapping on the cabinet, shaky floors,

MN RIM 2-01W/r) é11111(dp) vs 1111(111) 5.1IN 1.1

a 10 II MI5: Ap S.

-"-- ----- ---- - 1.1







-em u



Fig. 1 Effect of AFPC circuit

ist re.

·010 MUCTS1011

« mew

ri NC III 12:S1.14

-UM Nb
Fig 2 GCD-575 Phase Response
etc.), negatively affected the overall sonic performance, due to less accurate reading of signals still in the digital domain and the need for greater error correction.
The heavier, costlier drawer mechanisms used in the $1200-$2500 machines with which the $600 GCD-575 was compared would have given better shock resistance, but not, in our opinion, greater reliability...and certainly would not have permitted us to keep our targeted price.
We felt that the best price/performance solution in this instance was acompromise:
a) employing atightly controlled internal suspension, and
b) suggesting placement of the player on a sturdy, nonresonant surface which will not transmit floor vibrations to the player.
We have also "deadened" the resonance of the chassis enclosure by lining the interior with alead-impregnated material. Dropping acoin flat onto the top cover can demonstrate the nonresonant "thud" which results from this unheralded improvement.
In his "Follow-Up" measurements, JA iden-

Stereophile, March 1989


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The reason is our pre-sale check out. We open everything that plugs into AC and then run them for100 hours to obviously, eliminate the bad ones. Then, for those CD players which allow us to, we adjust all of the D/A converters for their lowest error and tracking. The same personal care is given to three-head tape decks and turn tables then, you're able to take them home. Now! It's not Inspector 6 who says, 'it's right', but the flesh and blood person before you.
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Stereophile, March 1989

tified one of the main effects of the Adcom selectable "AFPC" circuit, but overlooked another of its aspects; and our reasons for using them in combination. The second, unidentified circuit function is the controlled reduction of separation between the two channels (see
fig.». This, in conjunction with the Frequency Contouring noted by JA, attempts to duplicate the way agood moving-coil cartridge responds when playing representative analog discs. The data from which the AFPC circuit was derived, both frequency response and phase, resulted
from analyses of the actual response of hundreds of well-regarded phono cartridges.
The use of AFPC should be reserved for those CDs whose original recordings, either
analog or digital, were made with microphones and techniques originally developed for the mastering and subsequent playback of analog vinyl discs: peaky cardioid microphones, very
close pick-up and/or excessive and unnatural
separation. These would be somewhat compensated for, or made less aurally insulting, by the "softening" effect of vinyl disc playback:
translation losses, vinyl deformation, etc. The effects of AFPC, we feel, make these excesses on aCD more forgivable or, perhaps, less irritating.
JA says that acommon factor among the machines tested is a"final low-order analog reconstruction filter." In fact, the GCD-575 is differentiated by the use of an FDNR analog filter that has virtually zero group delay. The deviation from zero phase error is less than 0.5° from 20Hz to 20kHz (see fig.2, actually run on the same GCD- 575 sent to Stereopbile for tests). This phase-error performance is, to the best of our knowledge, unsurpassed by any CD player presently available, regardless of price, and represents asignificant innovation in the
price category of the GCD-575. C. Victor Campos Adcom

Onkyo DX-G10 CD player Editor:


unit, which is in my office as Iwrite

this, has anarchistically refused to exhibit the loading glitch he mentioned even though I've

spent adecent part of the last four days force-

feeding it every disc Icould lay my hands on.

Maybe it likes our (musical) veggies better? Once we induce arecurrence of its "digital indigestion," we'll be much closer to under-

standing why it happened. We'll keep you informed.
As you know, tracking ability is determined by many factors--the level of CIRC error correction, error-anticipation programs, servo operation, etc. In order to avoid what we believe to be audible penalties inherent in some tracking-enhancement schemes, we have adopted amore conservative approach that admittedly asks the disc manufacturer to adhere to accepted industry limitations for burst errors, etc. Silly us! We are pleased, however, that Sam found the DX-GIO's tracking ability to be far better than CD standards call for.
D/A linearity, and its consequent effects on overall sound quality, is amuch more delicate issue. Ambience is largely amatter of low-level musical dynamics. Anon-linear D/A converter either expands or compresses low-level signals, thus altering those dynamics. As we have not
yet seen any studies that attempt to correlate positive and negative nonlinearities with an enhanced or reduced perception of ambience, we can only suggest that one type of misalignment might be perceived as more desirable
than the other. In reality, both are specious and it would be interesting to see efforts to resolve the question.
John Atkinson's observation that Sam's DXG10 suffered from misaligned D/A converters is, through no fault of his own, not true-- maybe. To explain: When Sam returned his unit, Iasked our technical division to check linearity. Due to some quirks in a newly
acquired Audio Precision test instrument, its accompanying Compaq microcomputer, and (yes) some initial ignorance on our part, we
"identified" supposed nonlinearities that might have accounted for some of the things Sam heard. Itold Sam. He toldJohn. And, as it turns out, we're all wrong. What we identified was actually acomputer RAM shortage that gave us
spurious test results. Unfortunately, we didn't discover the procedural error until we had purposely twiddled with the alignment pots in an attempt to find out what was (or was not)
going on. So, John, flip acoin--heads, it was (aligned); tails, it wasn't.
We appreciate Sam's enthusiasm for the DX-
GIO's dynamic capabilities. There is really no magic here--the key is power supply and there
are no cheap substitutes for adequate transformers, adequate isolation and filter caps, etc
We're also happy to see the DX-G10 helping

Stereophile, March 1989


The Music Lover vs. The Hi-Fi Salesman
Classic Confrontation

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lay waste to the baseless myth that disc players couldn't get out of the phono stage would be

are incapable of proper soundstap,ing. Circuit corictttd for in the high level. The only sources

topology and vibration damping (read "chassis design") contribute here.

going directly through the high-level stage would be tuner and tape, and these weren't

As you know, we feel that "shifting bit" architectures have deleterious effects on musi-

deemed to be important sources. As you have noted, the very best of the most recent gener-

cal reproduction. Actually, it isn't the bit shifting ation of preamplifiers' high-level stages are

itself but the consequent analog-domain gain riding that results in Sam's well-described

sufficiently good that they help rather than hurt the sound of the DS Pre. We recommend the

unease at hearing "something going on" DS Pre to owners of all but the latest, most

behind the music. That's why we chose linear advanced preamps; for those who already own

processing for the DX-G10--simpler is better. astate-of-the-art preamp, we recommend the

There are two final points.

DS Pro.

While we agree with Stereophile that any

You pointed out that we have not fitted an

manufacturer who addresses the high end has an obligation to provide products whose unit-
to-unit performance satisfies that market, we are somewhat suspicious of what some readers may latch on to as the "universal measurement of the month." Measurements by themselves

optical digital in or out device to the DS Pre. We feel that the standard fiberoptical transmitter/receiver adopted by the major Japanese manufacturers (made by Tbshiba) is insufficient in bandwidth for a 1.8MHz Manchester-encoded squarewave. In fact, our experiments

may be misleading; the positive correlation have found that the sound of the optical input

between measurement and auditory perception is of real value. We are also concerned, as

changes as one moves or bends the fiberoptic link. Arecent Japanese-language paper authored

we know you are, that what comes home from by one of Pioneer's engineers noted this prob-

adealer's stockroom bears more than apassing resemblance to the unit that prompted

lem and suggested aduty-cycle correction circuit as asolution. We have found that this cir-

either praise or criticism in the pages of amag- cuit does indeed handle 90% of the problem.

azine. Thank you.

Unfortunately, the 10% of the problem that

Len Schneider remains is clearly audible. The best solution is

National Product/Advertising Mgr., Onkyo
Theta DS Pre DIA preamplifier
Editor: Thank you!

to use fiberoptics of sufficient bandwidth to properly pass the digital signal, such as those made by Hewlett-Packard or AT&T. Since there is no agreed standard to use these, we choose to ignore aless-than-optimal input.

We appreciate the tremendous amount of

Regarding pre-emphasized CDs: We admit

time and attention you have lavished on the to an oversight in earlier units in the de-empha-

Theta DS Pre. As well as coming to understand Theta's sonic advantages and varied applica-
tions, you have helped us realize some things

sis circuit. Aresistor value was off by 200 ohms. Since very few of the discs we were using (5 out of 1500) during design were pre-emphasized,

we weren't aware of before.

the original error was not detected until re-

The mysterious "ticking" sound you experienced has only been found to occur very near government installations. RF filtering in all but

cently, as only an emphasized disc activates the circuit where the error lay. This has been corrected as of serial number 885101. Naturally,

the earliest units eliminates that problem. (We anyone owning an earlier unit is welcome to

did not set out to build adetection device for send it in for updating, free of charge. Likewise,

top-secret military installations. As it is, the gov- of course, units that tick.

ernment won't let us sell to Russia or Cuba

Lastly, we are glad you brought up the need

because of the Theta's computing capability, so thanks for the tip!)
Also, regarding preamps: When we first

for agood AID converter. We are at work on an
AID converter and digital signal processor containing the same technology as the DS Pre/Pro.

designed the DS Pre, the high-level stages of We hope to be out with it by summer for the

even the best analog preamps were quite col- professional audio market.

ored, as they were designed to be symbiotic with their phono stages. Flaws that the designer

Neil Sinclair, Mike Moffat Theta Digital

Stereophile, March 1989


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Inouye line conditioner
Thank you for JA's detailed appraisal of the SPLC. Ironically, our development of the SPLC dates back to 1984. At that time our feelings were that there would not be aconsumer application for such adevice. Perhaps power-line conditioning has now come of age.
Due to the close proximity of apower substation and airfield to our engineering facility, an elaborate power-line conditioner was an absolute necessity. Our SPLC is acompilation of various noise- and transient-suppression techniques.
Power lines act as transmission lines, not only carrying the 60Hz power that they were designed for, but also noise in the form of RE Like an antenna, apower line has the ability to radiate and absorb EMI, distributing it through the power grid.
All noise that is generated by synchronous devices is harmonically related to the line frequency and can easily extend through the spec-
trum to many Megahertz. Even line voltage that appears to be clean on an oscilloscope may contain harmonics if the sinewave has been smoothly distorted in shape.
Conventional filters such as Chebyshev or Butterworth are designed to give significant attenuation at frequencies close to those which are least attenuated. These produce optimum performance when their ports are terminated at aspecific impedance. Any deviation from this will cause adegradation in the phase and amplitude response of the filter. The SPLC was designed to accept avariety of load impedances without adversely affecting its sonic virtues.
In order to halt the propagation of highfrequency interference, abalanced low-pass filter is used in the line between the power source and the equipment being powered. The
SPLC's ability to attenuate signals above its cutoff frequency makes it useful in reducing the transfer of noise from the source to the load,
as well as from the load back into the lines. This was the rationale behind the dual power-line conditioner configuration, insuring absolute isolation between each pair of outlets.
Since the SPLC does not begin to show any significant attenuation until the multi-kilohertz
range, there is virtually no reactance at line frequencies. The only loss exhibited at 60Hz would be the windage of the inductors them-

selves. The reactance of the inductors used

produces less than 0.6V at 15A. Each 0.01µF

capacitor has areactance that produces acur-

rent of less than 0.5mA at 120V.

We would like to mention that, similar to the

burn-in period necessary for speaker/inter-

connect cable, so, too, the SPLC requires afew

hours of operation to fully benefit from its


Brian'. Inouye

President, Artech Electronics, Ltd.

Audioquest 404i-L cartridge
Editor: Thank you for TJN's consideration of the AQ
404i-L cartridge. Ijust warn to add alittle background.
As of November 1988, both output levels (404i-MH/1.4mV and 404i-L/0.5mV) use an
FPC (Functionally Perfect Copper) coil. This highly refined copper has single crystals over amile long in this size strand. This means the coils are only one crystal long. The FPC replaces the LC-OFC that was in the sample reviewed. This does not make it adifferent cartridge. It is the same cartridge with alittle more information, alittle more separation, and a smoother, silkier top end. In the "L" model it is simply awelcome refinement; in the "MH" model the FPC replaces an OFHC coil. This is amajor difference that brings the absolute per-
formance of the "MH" to within a hair's breadth of the "12: Ibelieve that today's "MH" will yield better results than the "L" used through any pre-preamp, especially aseparate unit, but also abuilt-in unit. However, apre-
amp that has sufficient gain in its phono stage to accommodate 0.5mV (many pre-amps today) should be used with the "L" version of the 404i.
The AQ 404i requires an average of 10 hours' playing to be broken in. The effect of this break-in can be very dramatic. Anyone purchasing a404 should not listen seriously until
after this break-in period.
William E. Low Audioquest

Airtangent tonearm
Thanks, Amis Balgalvis and Stereophile, for an excellent review of the Airtangent tonearm in the February issue. The review is indeed detailed, and covers every aspect of the arm, leaving me with little to clarify.
The difficulty with connecting the wires in

Stereophile, March 1989


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tereophile, March 1989

the termination box is now well-known. The following changes have been made to solve that: ·The silver signal-wires from the armbase to the termination box have been increased in length, from 14" to 24". These wires are now pre-soldered to the Tiffany connectors. · The six wires for the armlift are now equipped with miniature connectors. ·Azimuth adjustment should be done with the armtube locking-screw "half open" so that the friction of the clamp enables the user to fineadjust. ·The special Litz wire referred to is Teflon coated, multi-strand silver wire made for us by Siltech in Holland. Many different wires were tested during the years of the Airtangent's development, and these proved the most enjoyable.
Leif Haggmark Airtangent/Audionord, Sweden
JVC TD -V711 cassette deck
Editor: In reading "Pure Gold" in the November 1988 issue, Iwas pleased to see the well-deserved praise given to the JVC TD-V711 rucsente deck. However, Iwas somewhat disconcerted with the comment that our digital amplifier (AX-Z911) simply had aD/A converter "stuffed" in it. I believe that there is amisunderstanding here that deserves some explanation on our part.
Although the AX-Z911 does have aD/A converter built in, it is done so with apurpose--to operate in class-A up to 100Wpc! That's correct, 100W of class-A power in an $1100, 44lb box. Here's how it works.
When utilizing any of the digital inputs on the AX-Z911, the digital signal is split into two signals identical to the original. The first signal, called the prediction signal, is forwarded to alogic circuit which compares the input level and volume setting. If it determines that the output will require more than 20W, asignal is sent to the variable voltage power supply to increase its voltage to the amplification block (at idle, the amp operates at 20W class-A, but when the source demands, it can operate at 100W class-A). The other digital signal is forwarded to adigital storage circuit which delays the signal 150ms. It is then sent to aD/A converter, and finally to the amplifying stage.
By delaying the signal 150ms, the variable
voltage power supply has ample time to

increase its voltage output from 20W to 100W operation. Also, by delaying the signal in the digital domain, there is no loss of signal integrity.
Ibelieve that you will agree that this is more than just the refinement of putting the DAC further down the line. This truly represents a breakthrough in amplification design.
And this is just the beginning ... Karl Bearnarth
Assistant General Manager JVC High Fidelity Division
DNM Solid -Core speaker cable
Editor: Iwould like to reply to Dick Olsher's review of loudspeaker cables in the July 1988 issue of Stereopbile (Vol.11 No.7). Iregret that Iam behind all the other replies, but your advance copy inviting comment was not passed on to me and so my first reading of the review was on receipt of the magazine.
Some of the explanatory background given in the review is informative, and Iimagine it will be of interest to those of your readers who have not delved deeply into cables before. However, as afull-blown cable review it disappointed me because it did not cover the subjective descriptions as well as earlier Martin Colloms writings in Hi-Fi News, and the credence given to the subject of cable-stranding golden ratios was extraordinary. By comparison, these theories make the solid-core and Peter Belt controversies seem like established, scientific fact.
The review comments on the DNM Solid Core Cable show areal lack of understanding about the cable's characteristics and construction. Despite his comments about the spacing of the send and return conductors, Dick has not noted that the constancy of this spacing along the cable length might be important. He mentions that conductor cross-section, stranding, and the conductor spacing could all have eddy-current implications, but his imagination does not go beyond the resistance consequences of this. If eddy currents only caused resistance problems, things would be so much simpler and your review of cables probably would not be necessary!
Isaw aspark of light in the review when Dick talked about fat cables and their sonic characteristics, but this did not last long. The problems he encountered probably come from the

Stereophile, March 1989


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partnering equipment he used. For example, he noticed the "nice sense of focus and the grainy and coarse treble." This is exactly what afield-correct cable shows in asystem where everything else has been assembled with atotal disregard for field principles.
We have carried out trials on twisted, insulated, multiple solid cores of the type liked in Dick's review. There is nothing special about how they perform--in fact, quite the reverse: they all show the same tendency to soften and round. The lack of defined spacing between the send and return conductors gives afalse bass warmth to the program signal which may be liked in the short term, but is ultimately fatiguing and devoid of vibrancy. These deficiencies stand out like sore thumbs on fieldcorrected amplifiers. On signal like massed voice there is an intriguing but unnatural enlarging and spreading of the image.
The electronics are like the cables--the heavier they are constructed, the harder they will fall. Smaller, lighter, and simpler amplifiers --even budget ones--generally perform well with solid-core cable. In other words, the cable is behaving in what we would describe as acorrect way.
DNM cable is produced from the finest. quality materials using one of the most expen-

sive production processes. Our choice of wire is high-purity, oxygen-free annealed copper-- the same as that used in some of the cables that Dick liked. He suggests variation in copper cross-section, but how much scope can there be for any variation in the cross-section of asingle 22-gauge round conductor in comparison, for example, with the inevitable variation in a stranded cable cross-section? Does Dick seriously think we would market acable without checking the effect of different surface finishes on the copper?
DNM solid-core cable has now been available for nearly three years. Even before this,
DNM Design began examining the implications of "the field-effect" approach on all parts of the audio system, including the amplifiers. It is therefore alittle ridiculous for Dick to dismiss our product as if the basic idea was right but we missed out on the details.
Even the results with the two different types of speaker suggest that Dick's conclusions about the cable are, at best, unreliable. The recommendation to use only short runs conflicts totally with our general recommendation to use 3meters or more There is agood reason for this too--if only Dick had asked!
Denis Morecroft DNM Design, England

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INDIANA Indianapolis

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MASSACHUSETTS Arlington Audio Vision 1060 Massachusetts Ave Boston Audio Studio 303 Newbury St Encore Audio 225 Newbury St Listening Studio 23 Stillings St Tower Records 360 Newbury St Brookline Audio Studio 414 Harvard St Cambridge 0Audio

Audio Workshop 5357 N Keystone Ye Olde Hi Fi Shoppe 824 E 64th St

95 Vassar St Dartmouth Sound II 576 State Rd

IOWA Davenport Audio Odyssey 1718 E Kimberly Rd Iowa City Hawkeye Audio 401 S Gilbert

Framingham Natural Sound 401 Worcester Rd Northampton Sound and Music 351 Pleasant St Peabody Clearly Audible 255 Andover St

Lawrence University Audio 2319 Louisiana St

Pittsfield HBS Stereo Systems 237 First St

Prairie Village Golden Stereo 5337 W 94th Terrace KENTUCKY

MICHIGAN Bad Axe Grewe Systems. Ltd 112 S Port Crescent



Musical Images of Kentucky Almas HiFi Stereo

6700 Sycamore Woods Dr 395 E Maple

Sound Gallery


9916 Linn Station Rd

Almas HiFi Stereo

LOUISIANA Baton Rouge Art Colleys
Audio Specialties 711 Jefferson Hwy Metairie Audio Resource 3133 Edenborn Ave New Orleans Oliver's 112 University PI Tower Records 408 N Peters St Wilson Audio 8001 Maple St

15031 Michigan Ave East Lansing Jemstone 325 Grove Street Farmington Hills Almas HiFi Stereo 29401 Orchard Lake Rd Ferndale JAM Hi -Fi Specialists 22346 Woodward Ave Grand Rapids Spectrum Electronics 2019 Eastern Ave SE Lansing Great Lakes Audio 502 N Harrison

MARYLAND Baltimore Soundscape 406 W Cold Spring Ln
Ellicott City Gramaphone Ltd 9005 Chevrolet Frederick Audio Ceu

Muskegon Stereo Showcase 3100 Hensy Royal Oak Audio Dimensions 4128 N Woodward Ave Saginaw The Listening Room 1305 Court S'

180 Stoneybrook CI


Laurel Needle in aHaystack 14270 Baltimore Ave

Minneapolis Audio Perfection 7401 Lyndale Ave S

Hi End Audio 4959 Penn Ave S HiFi Sound Electronics 1226 Harmon PI St. Paul House of High Fidelity 157 N Snelling Ave
MISSOURI Ballwin Flips Stereo Place 15050 Manchester Rd St. Louis Best Sound Inc 1131 S Brentwood BI Great St Louis Sound Co 1341 S Lindbergh. Ste 1
NEVADA Las Vegas Tower Records 4700 S Maryland Pkwy Reno Audio Alternatives 26 Hillcrest Dr
NEW HAMPSHIRE Hanover Hanover Audio 47-51 S Main St Nashua Re-Sound Inc 402 Amherst St Ste 310
NEW JERSEY Deptford Hr Fi Connection 136 Route 41 East Brunswick Atlantic Stereo 636 Route 18 Englewood Stuarts Audio 3Grand Ave Franklin Lakes Franklin Lakes Stereo 792 Franklin Ave Hackettstown Marcel Associates 57 Wood Duck Ct Marlton Hi Fi Connection RD 1Route 73 Millburn Professional Audio
Consultants 182 Essex St Morristown Sight and Sound 60 Speedwell Ave South Street Stereo 20 South St Northfield Sound Inc 900 Tilton Rd N. Plainfield Stereo City 950 Highway 22E Paramus Leonard Radio 160 Route 17 N Ridgewood Sounding Board 75 Franklin Ave Sea Girt Monmouth Stereo 2133 Hwy 35 Shrewsbury Monmouth Stereo 450 Hwy 35 Tom's River Rands Camera and Hi Fi 1841 Hooper Ave Trenton Hais Stereo Lake Lawrence Plaza

Verona Audio Connection 615 Bloomfield Ave Westfield Stuart sAudio 544 North Ave E West Caldwell Perdue Radio Company 1103 Bloomfield Ave

Electronic Workshop 10 E 8th St Leonard Radio 55 W 44th St Lyric Hi-Fr Inc 1221 Lexington Ave 2005 Broadway Stereo Exchange 687 Broadway

NEW MEXICO Albuquerque Hudson's Audio Center 7611 Menaul NE
Page One Newsstand 11200 Montgomery NE Santa Fe The Candyman 851 St Michaels Dr
Downtown Subscription 130 W Palace
Galisteo News 201 Galisteo St Santa Fe Sight 8Sound 500 Montezuma. Ste 109 West Coast Sound 2412 Cerillos Rd

Sound by Singer 165 E 33rd Tower Records 692 Broadway Tower Records 1961 Broadway Patchogue Square Deal Radio
and Television 456 Waverly Ave Pleasantville Audio Excellence 343 Manville Rd Rochester Interior Images 317 S Broadway Paul Heath Audio 217 Alexander

Astoria Steinway Sound 25-15 Steinway St Batavia Unicorn Audio 206 E Main St Binghamton JSG Audio 1437 Front St Buffalo Speaker Shop 3604 Main St Stereo Emporium 3407 Delaware Ave

Rowe Audio 1737 Mt Hope Sound Concepts 2314 Monroe Ave
Scarsdale The Listening Room
Inc 590 Central Park Ave Smithtown Audio Enjoyment 11 Caroline Ave Stonybrook Esoteric Sound
Systems Coventry Commons
Rt 347

Colonie Mom's Music Systems 1593 Central Ave Goshen

Syracuse Superior Sight and
Sound 2780 Erie Eil E

Long Player Stereo 60 fi Church St

Huntington Station Audio Breakthrough 129 Route 110

Lake Grove Audio Den Ltd Smith Haven Plaza

2021 Nesconset Hwy


Auto-Sound Plus

947-949 Troy-Schenecta Clark Music in Albany


1075 Troy-Schenectady


West Babylon Audio Visions 1067 Montauk Hwy White Plains Harvey Electronics 236 E Post Rd Lyric Hi Fi 146 E Post Rd Woodbury Audio Breakthroughs Turnberry Commons Woodside Leonard Audio 69-34 51st Ave

Audio Excellence

4974 Alexis Dr



American Audiophile


373 Sunrise Hwy

Advanced Audio


1263 Kildaire Farm Rd

Definitive Hi Fi


154 E Boston Post Rd

Higher Fidelity


1620 S Boulevard

Audio Breakthrough

Sound Systems

1534 Northern BI

3748 E Independence

Merrick Performance Audio 2064 Sunrise Hwy

Durham Audio Visions 4600 Chapel Hill Rd

Mount Kisco Fox and Sutherland 15 S Mogen Ave

Hendersonville Pro Sound 1322 Asheville

Manuel Eardrum Audio Video 148 E Route 59

Raleigh Audio Advice 3532 Wade Ave

New York City Audio Breakthroughs 199 Amsterdam Ave

Wilmington Atlantic Audio 4127 Oleander Dr

Stereophile, March 1989


OHIO Cincinnati Pete's News Shop 308 Ludlow Ave Stereo Lab 11419 Princeton Rd 4582 Montgomery Columbus Custom Stereo Electronics 1391 S Hamilton Rd Needle in aHaystack 2384 Wellesley Ln Progressive Audio 1764 N High St Dublin Audio Encounters 4271 W Dublin Granville Rd Camelot Music 6313 Sawmill Rd Fairborn Audio Etcetera 2626 Col Glen Hwy Findlay House of Hindenach 229 N Main St Heath Threshold Audio 409 S 22nd St Lakewood Play It Again Sam 12611 Madison Ave Miamisburg Stereo Showcase Prestige Plaza 5 Sandusky Audio Force 521 E Perkins Ave Toledo Audio Center 1546 Alexis Rd Jamsesons Stereo 5431 Monroe University Heights Atlantis Home
Entertainment Systems 2220 Warrensville Rd
OKLAHOMA Tulsa K- Labs Audio 2806 S Harvard
OREGON Portland Hawthorne Stereo 1428 SE 36th St
PENNSYLVANIA Butler Audiophile Accessories 119 E Wayne S1 Camp Hill 3300 Simpson Ferry Rd Harrisburg HI-FI House 3352 Paxton St Hermitage Sounds Good To Me 2481 E State St Hershey Stereo Barn 251 W Chocolate Ave Philadelphia All That Jazz 617 S 24th SI Chestnut Hill Audio 149 N 3rd Discovery Discs 3417 Spruce St Tower Records
Classical Annex 537 South St Pittsburgh Monks Audio 2883 W Liberty Ave

Selinsgrove Stereo Shoppe 19 N Market St South Hampton Classic Car- Tunes 1029 Street Rd
PUERTO RICO Rio Piedras On Top Audio 332-B Ave Jesus 1Pinern
RHODE ISLAND Providence Ocean State Audio 304 Thayer St
SOUTH CAROLINA Columbia Sound Advice 2821 Ashland Rd Greenville American Audio 597 Haywood Rd Operation Audio 437 N Pleasantburg Dr Sound Source 2516 E North St West Columbia Upstairs Audio 746 Harden St
TENNESSEE Memphis Underground Sound 2125 Central Ave Nashville Cumberland Audio 4013 Hillsboro Rd Nicholson's Stereo 115 19th Ave S Tower Books 2400 West End Ave
TEXAS Amarillo Sound Systems Ltd 2502 Paramount Austin Audio File 9041 Research BI Beaumont John Goodyear Audio 229 Dowlen Dallas Crystal Clear Audio 5330 Longview Omni Sound 4833 Keller Springs Preston Trail Audio 17390 Preston Rd 0320 El Paso Soundquest Inc 6800 Gateway E 1D Garland MJM Audio 4125 Broadway Houston Esoteric Ear 4230 Glenchase Lane Odessa Harold's Electronics 2809 Andrews Hwy San Antonio Bill Case Sound 4319 Medical Dr 0106 Concert Sound 71034 Blanco Rd
UTAH Ogden The Hi Fi Shop 2236 Washington BI Salt Lake City Audition Audio 2144 Highland Dr Le Disque 2146 S Highland Dr

VERMONT Burlington City Stereo 207 College St S. Burlington Audio Den 100 Dorset St
VIRGINIA Alexandria Excalibur 323 S Washington Bailey's Crossroads Audio Buys 5177 Leesburg Pike Skyline Mall Charlottesville Preferred Sound 309 E Water St Danville Aeolian Products &Svcs 215 Main St Fredericksburg Contemporary Sounds 1236 Jefferson Davis Hwy Richmond Audio Ad 2215 Broad St Virginia Audio 7801 West Broad St Roanoke Audiotronics 4235 Electric Rd Springfield Needle in aHaystack Springrieid Mall Virginia Beach Digital Sound. Inc 6519 College Park SO
WASHINGTON Bellingham Landing Discs 8Tapes 1307 Ilth St Bellevue Hawthorne Stereo 13107 Northup Way Kennewick 3918 W. Clearwater Seattle Definitive Audio 6017 Roosevelt Way NE Spokane Hals Stereo W 313 Sprague Ave Tacoma Stereo Shoppe 02 11007 Bridgeport Way SW Walla Walla Tiger Todd Productions 1509 E Isaacs WEST VIRGINIA Morgantown Sound Investments Inc 467 High St
WISCONSIN Eau Claire Elite Audio 1498 S Hastings Way Glendale Sound Investments Ltd 2500 W Silver Spring Dr Wisconsin Rapids Salon IAudio 2551 8th St S
CANADA National Distributor Fenwick, Ontario Ruehle Marketing 850 Roland Rd

ALBERTA Calgary KW Audio 344 17th Ave SW Loyagy Sound 1107 8th St SW Edmonton Audio Ark 10746A 124th St Harold's Stereo 16612 109th Ave 9024 5101 Ave
BRITISH COLUMBIA Vancouver Big Bird Audio Visual 740 Marine Dr Music Works 4740 Main St Straight Gain Electronics 2220 W Broadway The Sound Room 2803 W Broadway Victoria Sweet Thunder Records 575 Johnson St
MANITOBA Winnipeg Creative Aoqio 214 Osborne St S
NEW BRUNSWICK Fredricton Magic Forest Music Store 546 Queen St
ONTARIO Brampton Eastmen Audio 2958 Queen St E Chatham Absolute Sound 425 Clair St Guelph Guelph Hi Fi 5Speedvale Ave E Hamilton Globe Audio 552 1/2 Upper James St Globe Discount 217 King St E Kingston House of Sounds 277 Princess St Vern Napier Camera 333 Princess St Milton Sound Man 629 Main SI E Ottawa Distinctive Audio 903 Carling Ave Euphonies 687 Bank St Saros 132 Bank St Stereo Trading Post 242' Bank St Peterborough The Audio Room 300 George St N Richmond Hill Linear Sound 10176 Yonge St Thornhill Stereo Factory 7616 Yonge St Toronto Audio Empire 1011 Albion Rd Classic Audio 1894 Lawrence Ave E Executive Stereo 896 Queen StW

Great American Sound 402 Queen St W Great National Sound 615 Queen St W High End Audio 22158 Queen St E Ring Audio 553 Queen St W Toronto Home
of Audiophile 150 Dundas St W Waterloo Sound Stage 56 Regina St N Whitby Whitby Audio 223 Brock St S Windsor Better Audio 106 Eugenie St W Essex Audio Consultants 322 Pelissier
QUEBEC Ste-Foy Rotac Electronics 2873 Ch Ste-Foy
AUSTRALIA National Distributor Thornbury, Victoria Audio OImports 649 Burwood Rd Hawthorn 3122
DENMARK National Distributor Graestad Matrix Bylyngen 4. Blistrup Copenhagen Fona Ostergade 47 Hi -Fi Entusiasten Tagensvei 162 KT Radio Vesterbrogade 179- 181 Viborg Frydendahl Hi -Fi Sot Mathiasgade 72 KT Radio Norregade 19-21 Aarhus Cilia Hi- Fi Ny Munkegade 65 KT Radio M P Bruunsgade 36
FINLAND National Distributor Oslo 1, Norway Audio Import Box 9193 Vaterland
HONG KONG Aeroplax Limited Am 201 Canton House 54-56 Queen's Rd Central The Sound Chamber Suite 1001. Dina House 11 Duddell St
ICELAND National Distributor 125 Reykjavik Stews HF. S Danielsson Skulagata 61
ITALY Nat onal Distributor Lucca. 55100 Sound and Music Via Mazzarosa 125

Stereophile, March 1989

JAPAN National Distributor Suma-Ku, Kobe Write 3-6-1 Sekimon-Cho
NETHERLANDS National Distributor 2611 RV Delft Tannoy Netherlands Ezelsveldlaan 52 Amsterdam RAF W IStereo Riinstraat 142-150 Shmmgabel-- H Ineichen um "City Mart .'
NEW ZEALAND National Distributor Retone, Wellington DR Bunton Ltd 3Sydney St
NORWAY National Distributor Oslo Area Import Ltd Box 9193 Vaterland
SINGAPORE National Distributor Flair System B1-03,04 Katong Peoples
Complex 112 E Coast Rd
SPAIN National Distributor Valencia Sure Audio Elite Padre Julie. 22
SWEDEN National Distributor Oslo 1. Norway Audio Import Box 9193 Vaterlann
SWITZERLAND National Distributor Basel Ensemble AG SA LTD H Annul Strasse 23 CH-4132 Mudenz AMU Stimmgabel --H Inerchen im City Mart' . Bern Klingler Hi-Fr 3072 Osteremundigen
Technik K Buhler Effingerstr 29 Geneva Jenni HI-FI 1222 Vesenaz

Lugano Musicdoor Ouarhere Maghetti Thun Aucholechnik Lulu Frutigenstrase 61b Zurich Audio Designer 8424 Embrach
TAIWAN National Distributor Taipei Tartu Electronics Chung Ching S Rd
THAILAND Bangkok Focal (Thailand) 388 U Chareon Village Rachada Rd Huay·Kwang UK 10310
UNITED KINGDOM National Distributor Wilstead, Bedford Moth Marketing 10 Dane Lane Newstand Distributor Periodicals in Particular 1Prince of Wales Passage Hampstead Rd Glasgow G2 Music Room 221 St Vincent St London Audio T 190 West End Ln Douglas Brady hir Fi 18 Monmouth St Covent Garden
Leisuresound Ltd 26 New Cavendish St Sound Information 13 St John's Hill Manchester Music Room 50 Bridge St Reading Berks Reading Hi Fr Harris Arcade Friar S'
WEST GERMANY National Distributor 6Frankfurt/M. 56 Audio International Gonzenheimer Str 2b
WEST INDIES Jamaica Kingston Dateline Equipment
8Systems 25 Waterworks Circuit


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Stercophilc. March 1989

Bringing music to your ear
Integrated Amplifiers ·Tuners ·Compact Disc Players ·Outboard Dto A Converters ·Phono Cartridges ·Loudspeakers.
Cad or write for your nearest dealer
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Cost effective cables Speaker wire-$1.00 per foot up to 9180.04i per foot. Custom terminations available.
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U.S. Post Office Bldg., P.O.B. 176, Walton, N.Y. 13856 See Our Equipment List at the Beginning of Audio Magazine's Classifieds.

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See, nothing we sell has aplace on our shelves just because the designer is apal of ours. Manufacturers know our attitude is "we don't need anybody
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Stereophile, March 1989


RATES: Private, $.60 per word, $10 minimum on phone-in ads; Commercial, $1.75 per word, $70 minimum on all commercial ads. PAYMENT: All classified ads must be prepaid with order. Phone-in ads are credit card only: Master Charge, VISA, American Express. MAIL TO: Stereophile, Classified Ad Department, P.O. Box 5529. Santa Fe, NM 87502, or CALL: (505)982-2366. DEADLINE: Ads are due on the first working day of the month, two months in advance of the issue in which your ad will appear.

SOUND LAB A2X NEW! Will ship from factory, 52800. Motif MS100, $2300; MC7, $2500; few hours use.

GRADO 112, new purchase Dec 23 '88, less than half hour use, set up or test only, have warranty and purchase receipt, 5330. (813)988-3399.


MADRIGAL CARNEGIE ONE, 50-plus hours, 5375 or

YAMAHA BX2 POWER AMPLIFIER, 5550; Denon PRA- 1000 preamp, $200; Yamaha CD-2 CD player,

will trade for new or used Genesis 1000. (703)6396911 days, (703)382-3388 eves. EST

5200; Adcom GFA-555 power amplifier, 5500; Pioneer Laser Video Disc player (video discs only), $250. Call 7/em (702)452-3644 after 7 PDT evenings or anytime weekends.
SAN DIEGO AREA: Merlin Signature speakers (Cardas wired), Cardas cables, Convergent Audio preamp (Outstanding musical excitement), Wingate class-A amps, Sound Anchor equipment racks and speaker stands. Audio Archly«, (619)455-6326.
AUDIO COMPONENTS WITH WARRANTY: Beming TF-10HA & EA-2100, $2410(D); Beveridge 25W-2/pr, $3440(D);Enter SW-1/pr, 52250(D); Grado MCX, 5200(N); Kindel PLS-A/pr, $1745(D), +Purist LT/pr, 5555(D); MFA Systems Magus-A, 5625(D); Spica Angelus/pr, 5735(D); Siderial Acoustic IV/pr, 5400(D); Sumiko HS-I2 Headshells, 520(N). Greenfield Equipment, (312)771-4660.
AUDIO BEST: LA, ORANGE, SAN BERNARDINO, California. Hot components: Celestion SL700, TARA Lab, Counterpoint SA3000, PS4.6, Audible Illusions Modulus 3, Conrad-Johnson PV8, Mod Squad, Acoustat Spectra, Spica Angelus, Beyer, WellTempered, Velodyne, Mafflum, Fosgate, MIT Adcom, B&K, Superphon, Music Reference, Palantir, Spectrum, Rauna, Soundlab, 'Pl, Nlaplenoll, Systemdek, Grado,

CAMBRIDGE CD2, THE BEST CD player under 52000. (313)542-8/14.
AVA MOSFET 500C, 110 FET 3+ with phase invertor, Denon 150011, B&W CM2. All perfect, sell or trade. (501)32/ -1190.
MY UNIQUE, RECENTLY DEVELOPED solid-core interconnects provide gratifying, honest sound improvements and have been well-accepted by serious audiophiles as replacements for their usually more costly cables. Iinvite your risk-free audition, and confidently offer full refund including shipping if not satisfied within 45 days of receipt. Price: Irn pair, 5100 plus $3 shipping. Discount on additional pairs. Other lengths available. Stewart G. Grand, 3808 Westview Ave., West Palm Beach, FL 33407, (407)842-7316.
SONY CDP-505 ESD, limited use, see Stereophile issue September 1987, 5275. Tim, (915)856-4425.
SPECTRAL DMA50, factory checked, $2100. Maranta 94 CD player, $1200. Superphon Dual Mono Revelation, heavily modified by Stan Warren. $450. New AR ES1, Merrill mod. PT5 Audioquest arm, Grado TLZ, 51250. Crosby Quad stands, black, spiked, 24" custom height, $400. Crosby grilles, 5150. 10' piece Shotgun MIT, 51275. Ed, (212)535-6945, NYC.

Alphason, Garrott, vdHul, Monster, Straight Wire, (7/4)86/ -5413, appointment.

CARVER, NAKAMICHI, BANG & OLUFSEN. ADS, Crown, Revox, Tandberg, Hafler, Adcom, Mission,

AE- Iand AE-2 (Stereophile Vol.11 No.9), ASC lithe Traps, Audible Illusions, Audioquest-LiveWire. Aural Symphonies, B&K, Celestion SL-700 (Stereopbile Vo1.11 No.9), Celestion's new SL-Si Bi -Wire series,
Chicago Stands. Cyrus, Epos ES-14, Enter, Gold ACM) Tubes. Kimber Kable, Lexicon, Magnum Dynalab, Mer-

NAD, Harman-Kardon, Kyocera, Yamaha, Luxman. Denon. Klipsch, B&W. KEF, DCM, E-V, JBL. Infinity,
dbx, AKG. and other quality components. Best prices--professional consultation. All products covered by manufacturers' USA warranty.. Amerisound
Sales, Inc., Jacksonville, FL 32241. East: (904)262 4000. West: (818)243-1168.

lin Loudspeakers, Mission, Mod Squad, Niles Audio, Philips Audio/Video, Philips CD960, CD880 Disc
Players, PSE, Rega, Sax, Sunrise handcrafted cabinet systems, TARA Labs, Target Stands, Velodyne, and more. Custom installation available; for more information or free brochure and free literature, please call (301)890-3232,1 S. Audio, One Childress CL, Burtonsvillg MD 20866. Audition by appointment. Monday through Friday, 10am to 7pm; Saturday, 11 to 5. MC/Visa, Amex.

PRECISION AUDIO PRESENTS, The DIVC880. based on the chassis of the European-rrude Philips DP880SG. this superb machine featuring selected DACs and errorcorrection chips. 15 power-supply regulators combine with our discrete current-to-voltage and filtering circuit. Superb sound, excellent build quality, selected high-performance chip set. Diecast aluminum chassis, remote control, yours for 51250. Write or call for information on all our products and reprints of Siereupbile and Sensible Sound reviews of Precision Audio DIVC

AUDIOPHILE WAREHOUSE LIQUIDATION! Direct-todisc. halfspeed. Quiex II recordings. 2000 mailable Grua

products. Precision Audio 223-4 65th Avenue, Bayside, NY 11364. (718)631-4669.

prices--example: Abb« Road (nns.)was $'5. now $45. Liusive Disc., 4216 Beverly Blitt, Suite 230, Los .4ngel« CA 9(X)04. (213)388-7/76.

200W per channel, Iyear old, 5500. Chuck. (713)932-'183 dao. (713)496-6445 eres. /wknds.

Stercophile, March 1989


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SPACE AND TIME PHASE II speaker cable, DNM solidcote interconnects, custom terminations. Superphon electronics, Epos ES-14 speakers, Musical Concepts CD players, Magnum Dynalab tuners, Kimber Kable, Tiffany, Odyssey Engineering. Visa/MC, Audio Excellence, Liverpool, NY (315)451-2707.
dbx 122 TAPE NOISE-REDUCTION SYSTEM. Include 13 dbx-encoded discs for $120. (503)581-6210 enmings
caesnoN SL-600 SPEAKERS with dedicated lead-filled
stands, $1195. Quicksilver MS 190 tube amp, 95Wpc, $1095. (303)329-9061.
OEM QUALITY AUDIO TUBES, low prices, dealer inquiries invited. Restoration and project parts for tube audio at cheapskate prices. Catalog, $1. »'iode Electronics, 2010 W Roscoe Chicago IL 60618, (312)8717459, FAX (312)871-7938
AUDIO RESEARCH SP- II Mk.II preamp, $3500. Mod Squad Prism CD player, $750. Eminent Technology II tonearm, $490. Alpha 2cartridge. $190. Carnegie Icartridge, $350. Nestorovic 16 speakers. $5300. Nestonwic SAS Mk.II speakers, $1900. Nestorovic Alpha Iamplifiers, $3200. MIT 750 Shotgun 8' speaker cables, $600. (509)946-1529 West Coast.

FOR SALE: COMMCT DISC PLAYERS-Yamaha 18-bit CDX-1100, $550. Nakamichi OMS-7/d1, $900. CR-7 Cassette deck, $800. CA-7A Preamp, $1600. Wayne call (809)778-4855 day (809)778- 5821 81818.
60 YEARS IN BUSINESS-WE MUST be doing something right. If it's amuch-in-demand audiophile product, we're likely to have it for immediate shipment. Consult with one of our quiet experts or just order US-warranteed components directly. Visa/MC. Ask for Steve K. or Dan W, Square Deal, 456 Waverly Ave., Patcbogue, NY 11772. (516)475-1857.
FOR THE SWEETEST-SOUNDING CD. PLAYER MODS, call (800)648-6637. With our cinuits, your player ran easily surpass any analog reference in terms of mteicality. soundsrage and resolution. Mods begin at $15, and ran he installed by yourself or by our qualified staff. Soloist Audio 332 Bane SA., TX 78209.
NIAGNEPLANARS, MG- IC, black, original box/manual, flawless, like new, serious only sacrifice, asking $725. (718)229-3691, evenings (or message)
B&K Pro5 preamp, $285, B&K ST-202 amp, $350; ESB Italian speakers Mod 7/06,11400;Lwanan T-I17 Miner, $375. (215)567-4626, PA.

LEVINSON 20s, $6950, 23, $3950: ML- 7A, $3500: LNC2, $1950: Dragon. $950-, Manin-Lown Monoliths, $3200: all mint. Call Jobn (904)796- 5/ 73ddlo% (813)948-1901 eves.
DEMO CLEARANCE SALE -SOTA TurntablesSeveral Stars and Star Sapphires available in various finishes at 15-30% off. InnovativeAudio 77 Clinton Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201 (718)596-0888.

HIGH-END AUDIO IN SALT LAKE CITY: Audition Audio features speaker systems by Magrieplartar, Vandersteen Celestion. Spica. Infinity IRS, Electronics by
Audio Rcsearch (SP-9 & new Classic 30 in stock). Mark Levinson. Aragon, PS Audio. NAD. Adcom, Layman. Front ends 1w Lurne, SUR, Well-lèrnpered, SME. A.R.. Accupltise CD players. Also Sumilm, MIT. Monster. etc. Three hard-wired sound rooms including anew mom built for the Infinity IRS. 2144 Highland Dr, SUik' 125.
SLC UT84109. (800467-5918. Visa, MC, Anita accepted.

Access to


Highest quality music systems ...since 1985. The Bay Area s last FM radio and LP record specialist. Demonstrating Legitimate HI-Fl in a single speaker environment. Thurs, 12-8, Fri, Sat 10-6. Tues. Weds. by appointment

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CA 94941

USED AND DF.M0 EQUIPMENT Audio Research 1)-70:

SOTAStar Sapphire; Vandersteen 2e. Spica TC-50 with

Servo Sub; Audire One: Mark Levinson No.20 & 26 &

ML-2; Vkil-Tciuts..rcd

Quad ESL-63 Pm: PS Audio

5.5 & iooc: more Call Ate/item Audio for pricing and

details at (801)467-5918. Visa, MC, Amex accepted.

MUSICAL CONCEPTS Haller DH-500, 5495. (404)2526454.
DISCOVER THE HIDDEN BEAUTY in your Haller or Adcom amplifier. Our Legend Series modifications, created by Jim Ott. are the key to sonic perfection. These modifications are only available through mail order Write or phone for brochure. Northwest Audio Labs, Inc. 1557 NW Monroe Corvallis, OR 97330, (503)753-0472.
MOFFAT DELUXE CD PLAYER. Class A recommended component. Von° No.3. DO's reference in "A Matter of Taste- Vol.10 No.1, $1000. Moffat tube line stage, Vol. 10 No. 1. Vol. 10 No.2. $700. (307)58 7-5341 after 6pm MST

BOULDER 500. 12200: CAL lempest I. Series 2, remote,
mil sal rubes. AQ dampers. extra rube set. 51000;c-j PV5, tirsiximed, mil std tubes. dampers, oara tube set, betters SP-8, $1000. (505)281-309S.

B&K 202, one year old, $375. (412)563-1015 evenings

HARMAN-KARDON CITATION 2power amp. 1500.
Harman-Kartion Madrigal ST-350 =cc 5250. Both with new tubes, excellent condition. /7119996-2508.

Stereophile, March 1989


"Preserving the Past. ..Creating the Future"

The World's First 128 Times Oversampled Live Jazz Recordings



with Ron Carter. Michael Moore and Butch Miles
CLARK TERRY "Portraits" JD2
with Don Friedman. Victor Gaskin and Lewis Nash
PHIL WOODS "Here's To My Lady" JD3
with Tommy Flanagan George Mraz and Kenny Washington


"When You Can't Go Hear It Live, Let Us Bring It Live To You"

Chesky Records, orecognized leader in producing the highest quality Classical recordings available, presents its first Jazz Series, "Live Frote Studio A" in
New York Cityl Our "Live From Studio A" series features all new
recordings -- Live Acoustic Jazz recorded with the attention to detail and cutting edge technology that has made Chesky Records fornous for producing outstanding audiophile quolity recordings!
HEAR THE DIFFERENCE! Chesky Records -- for

the most astonishingly live-sounding jazz recordings ever! Chesky Records CDs and Audiophile LPs are
Available in Fine Audio and Record Stores or By Direct Mail. Send check or Money Order for $14.98 each plus $2.00 postage and handling (add 814% tax in New York State) to:
CHESKY RECORDS Radio City Station, PO. Boo 1268, New York, NY 10101 Write for Free Mail Order Information. Dealer
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2020 N. TEXAS ST. FAIRFIELD, CA, 94533

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FOR SALE: FOSGATE 101A Tate II, black, remote, rack ears, full document, mint appearance, recent factors recondition. Still on Stereopbile recommended list and like new, $300 or swap even for Hafler 220. Answer machine: (816)836-4796.
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THE FINEST EQUIPMENT, EXPERT ADVICE, outstanding prices! Krell, SOTA. Apogee. Quad. Counterpoint, Wilson Audio, Mapleton. Eminent Technology. %/PI, Meitner, Audible Illusion.s, Entec, California Audio, Quicksilver, more! Virtually all cartridge and cable lines. Free newsletter. Galen Cam' Audio. (512)494-3551.
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months old. Shotgun interconnect ty, m, $350. Mod
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Stereophile. March 1989


in Central Indiana, it's.
Representing: Adcom e California Audio Labs · Counterpoint ·Dual · Eminent Technology · Energy · Janis · Kindel · Linn · Monster · NHT · Onkyo · Sennheiser · VPI · VIL · Wright Audio ·
We stock agood selection of audiophile recordings and accessories.
The Audio Workshop 5357 N. Keystone Ave.
Indianapolis, Indiana 46220 (317) 253-5260

Incredible Imaging. Room Audibility.
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The Audiophile-File'" says "I can say with all honesty that I have never -and Imean never -heard any dynamic or other monopolar speaker with such asense of room audibility" (JET -10/87)
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every bit of information you need to design for yourself or buy the best available system that does full justice to all the music you love. For eight years now Speaker Builder, the loudspeaker-design bi-monthly, has been publishing authoritative information for the music aficionado, whether it's software for FFT analysis of room performance, or the smallest, best, transmission line with the newest multi-driver complement. Crossovers get full and excellent treatment in SB's pages. Whether it'selectrostatics, ribbons,
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Charge Card Telephone Orders: 16031 924-9464, Monday-Friday, 9-4

Stercophile, March 1989

LONG ISLAND: Aural Symphonies, B&K, Audible Illusion MOD2C and the stunning new S- 120 amp, MIA, TARA Labs, Kimbet Musical Concepts. Sviterndek. Grado, Merlin speakers, Spectrum, luget. Fret UPS shipping in ESA. Audio GaBerm Bayport, NI; (5/6)472-4258, eves./ wknds.
APOGEE DIVA LOUDSPEAKERS. Don't mists this iipportunity. These state-of-the-an full-range ribbon speakers art brand new and still in the box. Cost neve. 58000. Will sell for $6000. Seller will also subtract your airfare if speakers are purchased. Call now. (803)359-4600 M-E 9-5pm.
HEAR YOUR SYSTEM SOUND OFT, 12" single imports. killer sound, sample pack $25, or send w.ux List Ind C.C.# or SASE for more info to Single Guy 141 Oak (burl. Menlo Park, CA 94025.
AUDIOPHILES. Al DITION JSE INFINITE SLOPE loudspeakers on our 30-day no-risk auditioning program. Authorizeci _ISE, Fried, Spectrum, Counterpoint. Superpiton. B&K, Sony ES, Kinergetics, Haller. Magnum 1)ynalab, Therms. Audioquest. Parasound. Apature dealers. Est. 1959. Sound Unlimited, 169 Churrb St., Bristol, CT 06010. (203)584-0131. We pay shipping.
A\\( !s( 1M MODIFICATIONS 1T) B&K AMPS and ptramps Most sonic improvement for SS invested! Impnived &tailing. depth of miundsrage, increased transpcurricy, dectxt tighter Nee! State-of-the-an technology!! Sound Unlimited, 169 Church St., Bristol, CT 06010. Est.1959. We pay shipping. (203)5B4-0131.
MELOS GK 1+1, black, pristine. Excellent hi-gain alltube prramp, $850. (404)629-7721.

ELECTRON TUBE SALE Matched pain, 12AX7. I2BH7,

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Box 7323-Dept SP Win

CA 91406 In California,

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FREE 30-DAY AUDITION: Music Metre SC interconnect
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WORLD'S IARGEST SELECTION of used McIntosh and Alnico components Reproduction Hartfields. amix-
hear for 8- 10k speaker-system buyers Fite audition,
transponation with purchase Call for derail...John Widff (313)229-5191.

amps. Audio-Pro. Dayton-Wright. Magnavox. Nlorrl, Proton, and others. Wt· specialise in high-quality low- to mid-price high end. Reri Enterprise& Safer Spring JID 001)58 5-3321-
SOl 'ND EXCHANGE--UTAH S NEW used, demo classics store. Examples: Audio Research SP-9. Sumo Athena (demo) B&K ST-140, Levinson No23, Mission 737s, Synthesis LM 3((ks. Acousrat ills, Nakunichi 582. Audio Control Crossover, Call for mailing list. SOund Extbange. 5130 South State Street, »O-ra): 1.784107 mo0.2686066

VANDERSTEEN 113s with Mod Squad Tiptoes. $350 +shipping. (406)76/-3296.

All the best.
Krell Audio Research B&W ProAc Thiel Cello Koetsu Meitner SOTA Versa/Dynamics Well-Tempered Duntech Aragon PS Audio Linn Analogic Design Dahlquist
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Ciel ADO 193 Bellevue Ave. Upper Montclair, NJ
201 744 0600

Northern Indiana's Oldest High-end Audio Dealer
Sota ·VMPS ·STAX Counterpoint ·Kyocera Bang & Olufsen ·Carver
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Warranted Pre-owned Equipment Available!
the electronics store!
401 N. Michig(a2n19·)2S3o4u-5t0h0B1en d,IN 4660 1

Stercophile, March 1989

Acoustat ·Apogee ·Aragon ·Boston/Acoustics ·B&W · Celestion ·CWID. Audio Quest 'Energy 'Fried ·Hafler·Precise Infinity·JSE· JVC Video. Dual ·Koetsu ·Krell ·Magnum ·Meitner ·Lexicon ·MIT · Mod Squad ·Monster ·NAD ·Onkyo ·Ortofon ·Rotel · Shure ·SME ·Snell 'Sony ES ·SOTA ·Stax ·Sumiko · Velodyne · Well Tempered
Sound &Music
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including Spectral. Nester', r Quad Martin Logan. Eminent >Mole Elmo Counterpoint. KEE Stax NAD and Memll ·Featunnghounitamametrid ninii·and REF car speakers ·The home of the %odd !amour, Nlern11 mt·lif 'cat tons for the AR turntable
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Manufacturers of precision audio electronics since 1975. Made in USA, 5-year warranty, 1-day turnaround for service. Preamplifiers, Power Amplifiers, Tone Controls, Electronic Crossovers, Head Amp, Phase Inverter. Main Street, PO. Box 460, Rindge Center, New Hampshire 03461. Telephone (603) 899-5121, Fax (603) 899-6415.
Stereophilc. March 1989

HYBRID 70 FET DRIVER BOARD updates Dv naco Stereo 70 to latest audiophile standards. Delivers the sonic advantages of hybrid technology without sacrificing Dynaco reliability and value. Servo-stabilized bias, pure class-A JFET/MOSFET cascode driver hoard is adrop-in replacement for old PC-3. Precision metalfilm resistors, non-inductive film capacitors, fiberglass board. Factory-assembled and -tested. With complete instructions for simple installation. $80 plus $5 shipping. Sutherland Engineering Bar I363-Se Laurence, KS 66044. (913)841-3355.
ATTENTION AUDIOPHILES! A wide variety of audiophile products are available to Michigan residents and areas without product representation. Aragon, Audioquest, Bedini, Cardas, Epos, Hansen, LiveWire, Mod Squad, Monitor Audio, Onyx, Precise, Straight Wire, Sumo, and l'arget are just afew examples. Call (313)342-2475for inquiries Audio By Gil Morrison.
NAKAMICHI 1000 ZXL limited edition tape deck, all gold front. This is your chance to own the best, mint condition, not ascratch, rarely used, don't miss this opportunity $1500. Call (803)359-4600, M-E 9-5pm.
LINN SONDEK LP-12 turntable, excellent condition not ascratch, $650. Call (803)359-4600, M-E 9-5pm.
old, Conrad-Johnson, Pru5c, scrrA, TDL Speakers, KEF,
Polk, Energy, Monster, Straight Ware, Stax, Nakamichi, NAD, Niles, Ortofon, Sumiko, Grace, VP1, CWD, and more. Professional consultation and installation. The Listening Rit«, 1305 Court Sorel, Saginau: M148602. (517)792-3816. No mail orders. please.

KLYNE SK4 with line amps, $1500; VP1 Mk.11/SME "B-pe IV, $1500; B&K mono amps with Sound Unlimited modifications, $800: and many accessories at half price. Call evenings (617)723-8157, or days (617)063-55(X) x8555925.
AFFORDABLE H1-END: Et&K, Superphon. Magnum Dynalab, JSE, Musical Concepts, JPW %trios, Distech. Precision Audio, Angstrom, more. Authorized dealer, competitive prices. Serving mid-north Indiana and artas without representation. Stereo Consultants Lafqveng IN. Phone bows 3-10pm ESE Mon.-Sat. (317)474-9004 or (317)447-0782.
ARC D160 with Gold Arro tubes, $2100; Celestion SL600 mint, $1275/pair; Revox 215 Cassette, $1595; Revox 260 "Ilinez $1495; all have boxes and mumals. (312)475-1461 eves
MERLIN 385, $1400; Alphason Delta, mint, $200; LS1 15m tom:arm cable, new, $100; BIC Model 44s, $175. (312)983-8496.
DUNTECH SOVEREIGN 2001 SPEAKERS: less than one year old. Mint, $9450/pr. Call (213)934-1817 eves./ when& or (213)214-6078 days. (CA)
LEVINSON ML-7A $3095, VPIHWI9 'obit with Souther '*ruas cartridge, $995. Denon DL305 cartridge, $185. SOTA Cosmos mat, $215. Perfect. (605)342-3564 or (605)342-4360.
SNELL TYPE A Series Ill loudspeakers, mint condition, still in the box, will sacrifice, $2995. Threshold Model 2Stasis power amp, rarely used, $1000. Call (803)359-4600, isee 9-5pm.

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TEST YOUR CD PLAYER with the criticrdly acclaimed Pierre Verany test dies: Compact Test (one disc), 817; Digital Test (two discs), 834. Details and catalog of audio equipment and accessories: DB Systems, Main Street, Rindge, NH 03461. (603)899-5121.
JOIN THE BOSTON AUDIO SOCIETY, receive the Speaker with meeting summaries, discussion, equipment clinics. No advertising. Sample issue, $2. Box 211S, Boston, MA 02126.
MARK LEVINSON LNC-2 CROSSOVER, latest model, $2100 or best offer. (718)522-2299.
CHICAGO AREA BARGAINS: Infinity RS1-b speakers, mint, late production run, $3200; D-250 Mk.11 Servo, $4500; Cambridge CD-2, $900. Leonard (312)643-4893 after Gpm CS7:

CASH PAID FOR USED AUDIO EQl'IPMENT. We buy and sell by phone, paying over blue book prices. The Stereo eading Outlet, 320 Old }Grit Rd...Jenkintown, PA 19046. Call for highest quote. (215)886-1650.
WANTED: ABSOLUTELY MINT CONDITION LUXMAN T-110 FM tuner. Contact Frank after 5pm ASA!? (2151855-4181. Will pay top dollar!
ALWAYS PAYING TOP tit: Marantz & McIntosh tube; McIntosh solid state. JBL systems & Alnico components, electronics. Accuphase G-18 Equalizer, Krell. M. Levinson, and ?John Wolff (313)229-5191. Please leave message if machine answers!!
WANTED: Cash paid for back issues (originals only, no xeroxes) of Stereophile (Vol.III, all issues; Vol.IV, issue 2) and Videofax (first 3issues). Please call Ron, (215)928-0352. leave message

APOGEE CALIPERS, 2years old, like-new condition,
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We buy and sell
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Collections from 10-100,000 wanted Mail orders accepted
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Advertising published in Stereophile is accepted on the premise that the merchandise and services as offered are accurately described, and are available to customers at the advertised price Advertising that does not conform to these standards or that is deceptive or misleading is never knowingly accepted. If any Stereophile reader encounters noncompliance with these standards please write: Nelson & Associates, 62 Wendover Rd., Yonkers, NY 10705.


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Stereophile, March 1989

22 s


Commended Recomponents

Here we went again! Main guns JA, RL, and I in fact, approach audio nirvana.

have just waved good-bye to faithful contribu-

One suggestion that reared its head at our

tors (a mini-group this time, consisting of sen- mini-conference was an "Editor's Choice" that

ior main gun JGH flown in from Boulder, CO, featured adifferent contributing editor in every

and our Senior Contributing Editors: ST, DO, other issue. (This is not entirely novel, it must

TJN) assembled to praise and damn in the form be confessed: HP of TAS originated this format,

of "Recommended Components."

and without adoubt it makes up for its lack of

The small size of the group (smaller, that is, encyclopaedicity with intensity and person-

than our free-for-all last August) meant less total ality. Other TAS editors are not, however,

dispute, but no less virulence JGH is in despair accorded the privilege--or onerous burden,

at the number of products we include (espe- as JA would surely affirm.)

daily those he can't abide), ST seems to feel that

Through such an Editor's Choice you could

the mere fact of agood review six months ago see, at the very least, particular combinations

is no reason to keep recommending it--I which work. At most, you would begin to

mean, after all, this is 180 days later! Things divine the secrets of discovering where to look

change. TJN and DO essay stability (though to get components to work well together as sys-

DO's can be abit acerbic), while JA and Istrive tems. What complementary interconnect

to keep heads above water.

might alleviate that persistent hardness; what

You may rest assured that the "Recom- cartridge will pull some life from your sluggish

mended Components" you see next month tweeters; what amp will control your under-

will have sufficient variety, but that we have damped woofer's tendency to whump; which

been strict. If there are doubts, or any weak- type of component might solve particular

ness in the defense, out it goes. This should not problems. In our listings we try to suggest what

be interpreted to mean that the rejected or types of combinations to avoid, but much of

deleted product is bad, or that we scorn its purchase; only that we cannot be confident in its

it begins with your personal taste, perception of musical reality, what you like to listen to.


The preferable alternative is to find atrust-

How, then, can we be confident in recom- worthy dealer that you make familiar enough

mending so many products, and with such with your system that he or she can guide you

diversity? The answer is system matching.

through the treacherous slopes of equipment

Once upon atime, back in the dim 1970s, purchase Idon't know enough about the audio

JGH had the courage to publish alist of recom- world out there to affirm that such dealers are

mended systems. What agreat idea! What a almost impossible to come by, but Ican cer-

huge uproar! The immediate response was tainly say that system-matching is an art of

outrage--JGH recommended not only scrapping your current faithful preamp for the Aural Opulescence A0-13ai, but the whole shebang.

which there can't be an adequate supply. And my experience talking to subscribers on the phone, listening to demos at CES and at reputa-

It's hard enough to come up with the $2-4000 ble dealers--not to mention the odd off night for one major component update, but impos- at acontributor's house--bears out this dearth

sible to redo the whole thing at once.

of knowledge. Perhaps an Editor's Choice

Predictably, once the stink died down, we could give you something approaching aregu-

started to receive asteady trickle of requests lar session at the feet of--well, maybe not

for arepeat. (It's sort of like the mix of critical masters--but at least people who do this all

letters we get: one half say we're bleep-bleep the time and are quite good at it. After all,

snobs for reviewing all the megabuck gear, the "Recommended Components" is there not just

other half say we're trying to out-Julian Hirsch Stereo Review with all the "mid-fl" gear we

for feathers in people's hats, or to augment manufacturers' sales, but to allow you to better

review) As JGH kept crying out, the idea of system recommendation is anoble one: it is only through excellent system matching that you do,

make music in your home.


Stereophile, March 1989

"A runaway bargain and astellar perfoIrmer"
"B8i.K products are among the finest values on the market today" " of the most musical power amps on the market...sounds better
than many other amps selling for twice the price."
Available from selected dealers Write or call for complete specifications· B& KComponents, Ltd., 1971 Abbott Road Lackawanna, NY 14218 .1-800-543-5252 (NY: 1-716-822-8488)

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