Hi-Fi Systems Reviews

Acoustic Revive RWL-3 Acoustic Conditioner

Acoustic Revive RWL-3 Acoustic Conditioner

Manufacturer:

SEKIGUCHI MACHINE SALES CO., LTD

  • 3016-1Tsunatori-machi, Isesaki-shi, Gunma Pref. 372-0812

JAPAN

  • TEL.+81-270-24-0878
  • FAX. +81-270-21-1963

US Distributor: The Lotus Group

  • Then click on Acoustic Revive to go to same site as above
  • Retail price $995 (per panel)
  • Dimensions: W665mm, D90mm, H1160mm, (Excludes
  • Feet) / Weight: 6.2kg
  • Self-standing feet and parts for wall mounting included

Written with special thanks to Yoshi Hontani (overseas exporter for Acoustic Revive)

  • MuSon Project, Inc.
  • No. 1-5-7 Nishi-Hommachi, Nishi-ku, Osaka 550-0005, Japan

Once again I am happily visiting the world of Acoustic Revive audio products. This company located in Isesaki, a small city within the Gunma prefecture on Honshu (main state or main island), is only 59 miles from Tokyo. Isesaki-shi has long been quite popular for its production of famous silk fabrics. As many of us know silk has been a desired product for centuries and it is suspected that the first silk fabrics were being made as early as 6000 BC. Some of the natural properties of silk are its strength, smooth texture and shimmering appearance. I mention this reference to silk because the product for review today is the Acoustic Revive RWL-3 Acoustic Conditioner Panel, which is based on a design philosophy using, amount other things, specially treated silk. I will talk more about this later in the review.

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Acoustic Revive RD-3 Disc Demagnetizer and Rio-5 II Minus Ion Generator

Acoustic Revive RD-3 Disc Demagnetizer and Rio-5 II Minus Ion Generator

Manufacturer:

  • RD-3 Disc Demagnetizer
  • Retail: $399
  • RIO-5 II Minus Ion Generator
  • Retail: $599

In today’s strange and complex world that we live in there are many who will take your money giving little in return. They will make promises of magical mystical products that are guaranteed to transform your audio system from the mundane to the magnificent. Fortunately for us Acoustic Revive is not one of them. When you buy something from Acoustic Revive you can be assured that a team of researchers of the highest caliber have passed judgment on it before it gets to your doorstep and into your home. Your audio system is not a testing ground for their products but rather a place where you get to experience the magic that is Acoustic Revive. Last month I reviewed the Acoustic Revive RTP-2, 4, and 6 ultimate Power supply boxes. The difference between the three was the amount of receptacles in each. As for quality each one was built the same and of irreproachable design concepts and craftsmanship. If you missed last month’s review of these products take a look back and read it carefully. I am still amazed at the design efforts that went into every detail of the RTP series and was wondering if the same would be found in their next two products, which I shall now review.

Today I am honored to be reviewing the RD-3 Disc Demagnetizer and the RIO-5 II Minus Ion Generator. Both of these products are of course from Acoustic Revive and are designed to help us attain the best possible sound from our fiveinch discs. The main thrust of this review will be how they relate to CD playback but I shall also offer my opinions on their relationship to DVD’s as well. Amazingly the pricing on these two products is relatively inexpensive. The RD-3 is priced at only $399 while the RIO-5 II slightly more at only $599. When you think of it $998 is not a steep price tag to pay for something that could possible transform your entire CD and DVD collection into something well beyond what it is currently today. So before you decide to upgrade to a newer much more expensive CD player maybe you should first read this review.

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ZVOX 425 High-Performance Single-Cabinet Surround Sound System

ZVOX 425 High-Performance Single-Cabinet Surround Sound System

Specifications:

  • Dimensions; 36.5”w x 5 3/4”d x 7 3/4”h Weight: 25 pounds. With box and packing: 33 pounds.
  • Amplifier: The 425 uses a 133 watt amplifier. Inputs: Two rear “mixing” inputs (if two devices are connected and playing, you will hear both devices): dual RCA jack inputs. One front-panel mini-jack input (3.5mm) for use with portable audio devices (portable CD player, iPod, etc.). When any device is plugged into the front panel input, both rear inputs are automatically muted.
  • Frequency range: 35 Hz – 20 kHz. The 425 is bi-amplified
  • Uses dual 4” side-firing subwoofers Five 3.25″ main speaker drivers PhaseCue virtual surround sound system
  • The new ZVOX S.A.N.E. (Sudden Audio Noise Eliminator) circuit

ZVOX is an online Internet company specializing in a one-box solution to home theatre sound for use with all kinds of TV’s, whether tube, LCD, Plasma, or even the rear projection type. Retail price of the ZVOX 425 is $699.99. During my review period there was a special that included the DLO HomeDock Music Remote which allowed you to both charge and play your Ipod through the ZVOX music system, at no additional cost. The standard warranty that is included with your purchase is two years limited parts and labor. read more…

Manley Shrimp Preamplifier

Manley Shrimp Preamplifier

Specifications:

  • All –Tube: Vacuum Tube all-triode design
  • Input Tubes: 2x 12AT7EH large plate Electro-Harmonix Russian
  • Output Tubes: 2x 7044 GE JAN NOS Five line level inputs: unbalanced RCA Mute switch and Warm-up muting delay
  • Noble volume control: Accurate tracking usually within 0.5dB Smooth operation (no detents)
  • Noble balance control: center detented
  • Record output: (AKA “TAPE OUT”) Unbalanced RCA jacks, unbuffered, passive (always on)
  • Main Outputs: Two sets of unbalanced RCA main outs for bi-amping or driving a powered subwoofer
  • Gain: 11.5dB
  • Input Impedance: 250Kohm
  • Input Sensitivity: 200mV in yields 1V out
  • Maximum Input Level: 5V in produces 1.5% THD at output
  • Frequency Response: 10Hz-80KHz; 20Hz-20KHz; -0.3Db
  • Noise Floor: (shorted input) Typically –94 dB 20-20K with volume control fully closed
  • Noise Floor: (shorted input) Typically –106dB A WGT 20-20K with volume control fully closed
  • S/N Ratio: typically 95 dB A WGT 20-20K THD: 0.02% at 1V rms output
  • Output Impedance: 50ohms
  • Maximum Output: +23dBu @ 1.5% THD into 100K load (10.9V rms) Maximum Output: +20dBm @ 1.5 THD into 600 ohm load
  • Power Consumption: 55 Watts (485mA @120VAC)
  • Operating Mains Voltage: Units are purpose built for original destination country’s main voltage: 100V; 120V; or220-240VAC as indicated on the serial number badge.
  • Power transformer must be replaced in order to change mains operating voltage.
  • 120VAC units may NOT be rewired to put the primaries of the power transformer in series for 220-240V operation or a large radiated field of hum will develop. If changing locations/voltages, the power transformer must be placed with the dedicated one for the voltage at which it will operate.
  • Mains Voltage Frequency: 50~60Hz Dimensions: W=19″; L=11″; H= 3 ½” Shipping Weight: 15 Lbs

Not only does EveAnna Manley have products for so many different occasions but she has managed to put together a website designed with that same goal in mind. I have visited countless sites and believe me the Manley Labs web pages are a fun filled sensation. Even if you never buy anything from Manley Labs (which is an absolute horrible thought) you just have to read through their many web pages if just to say you did it once. Its like climbing Mount Everest, you do it because its there. Once at the main page of http://manleylabs.com/ you will be treated to just a small glimpse of what is in store for you. Do yourself a favor, click on the website to visit with EveAnna Manley, and take your time, the experience will be well worth it.

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Emerald Physics CS2 Loudspeakers

Emerald Physics CS2 Loudspeakers

Specifications:

  • Type: 2 way active design. Dipole below 1kHz, Monopole above 1kHz
  • Impedence: minimum 4 Ohms, Maximum 9 Ohms Woofer Drivers: 4 Ohms composite nominal Tweeter Diver: 8 Ohms nominal
  • Driver compliment: Mid-Tweeter (1) 1inch compression driver, (1) 12inch acoustic wave guide
  • Mid-Woofer Drivers: (2) 15 inch pulp fiber cones
  • Sensitivity: 100db 2.83v @ 1M @ 1kHz
  • Crossover: DSP based, active network at 1kHz, Linkwitz-Riley 48db/octave symmetrical
  • Amp Configuration: Bi-Amp (not included)
  • Signal Processing: Outboard 4 channel DSP configuration, factory setting installed
  • Frequency Response: 20-20kHz -3db down points with dsp correction
  • Finish: Body-Black cloth, optional cloth available. Base-Silver or black painted aluminum billet
  • Dimentions: 48in (1220mm) H x 18.5in (470mm) W x 2.5in (64mm) Baffle depth x 6in (152mm) overall depth
  • Weight: 62 pounds each, Shipping weight: 80 pounds each

When I started two and a half years ago I made my wife a promise, no large speakers in the house. Until May of this year I had kept my word. Then, one day I got an email from Walter Liederman of Underwood HiFi. The main part of the message was simple, “call me”. If you’ve never spoken with Walter, be prepared, he can go 45 minutes without repeating himself and give quite an education in the process. “Mark, I’ve got a set of speakers that you MUST hear……”. Then began my schooling into what Walter believes is a paradigm shift in speaker quality. read more…

Placette Audio RVC Passive Pre: It Truly Gets Out of the Way

Placette Audio RVC Passive Pre: It Truly Gets Out of the Way

Specifications:

  • Connections: 1 set unbalanced inputs; 1 set unbalanced outputs; DC power connector. Controls: Remote supplied (Magnavox universal), toggle switch on face plate for manual volume adjustment.
  • LED’s indicate volume output in a binary fashion. The output LED’s are fairly dim so they don’t distract.
  • Dimensions: approximately 2″ high, 7.5″ wide and are 10″ deep.
  • Retail Price: $1,000

The Placette Audio RVC is a passive preamplifier with only one input and one output. As such, it is ideal for the user who has only one source component or for someone who wishes to add remote volume control capability to an existing preamp that doesn’t have it. Although passive, the RVC provides a non-inductive load due to high quality resistors that are used throughout the volume control circuits. In other words, the RVC allows the sound to come through in fully, unimpeded by capacitors, tubes, and other parts found in traditional preamps, all of which affect the signal. The RVC uses a 125-step volume control built with very expensive Vishay S-102 resistors. read more…

Xindak MT-3 Tube Stereo Integrated Amplifier

Xindak MT-3 Tube Stereo Integrated Amplifier

Specifications:

  • Tube: EL34*4, 12AX7*1, 6N8P (6SN7GT)*2
  • Output power: 18wpc (Triode), 40wpc (Pentode) THD: 0.2%(1KHz)
  • Frequency Response: 10Hz~70KHz
  • SNR: 89dB
  • Input Switch: 3 Groups Input Sensitivity: 400mV Input Impedance: 50 Kohm
  • Output Impedance: 4ohm, 8ohm
  • Consume Power: 300W (Pentode)
  • Dimension: 358mm (W)*321mm(D)*197mm(H) Weight: 41 lbs (18.5Kg)
  • Price: $830
  • Manufacturer: Chengdu Xindak Electronic Co., LTD. China.
  • Lotus Audio Imports is the exclusive U.S. distributor of Xindak Electronic

Chengdu is the capitol of Sichuan province in the southwest part of China. The fact that it has one of the lowest sunshine rates in all of China, even more so than even London, makes you wonder what people in Chengdu do on such dreary days. Well if you work for Chengdu Xindak Audio & lighting Equipment Factory you might just make Xindak audio equipment. Xindak has been making audio components since 1988 and has a lineup that includes, stereo power amplifiers, mono block amps, integrated amps, hybrid integrated amps, preamps, CD players, dacs, interconnects, digital interconnects, power cords, power conditioners, output transformers, wall outlets, silver fuses, ipod docs, vibration tuning devices and even a moving-coil cartridge transformer module. Now that is enough to make the sun shine through on even the cloudiest of days. .

Xindak offers a wide range of audio gear with prices ranging from the very inexpensive upwards, but with nothing too highly priced. Looking at their website I made a list of products for potential review. When Lotus Audio Imports, their US distributor, sent me their price list I was in shock. No not the type of sticker shock you get when you walk into a new car showroom and realize that you are priced out of the market for that shiny little sports car you saw on the freeway, but just the reverse. For the most part you can buy more than you thought for even less then you were thinking. Still don’t be surprised because some of their gear does get pricey as they offer the absolutely stunning CS6.0 integrated amplifier for $3600 or their V60 mono block amplifiers with 2A3C and 6SN7GT tubes for $5000, but these and a few others are the exception. For this review I was considering the V30 integrated amplifier with two 12AX7(ECC83), two 6N8P(6SN7) and four KT88 (6550) tubes for the low price of about $1500. I had also inquired about their XA6800SE and XA6950 integrated amps around $1350 each. Please go check out their website and look into these products to see what I am talking about, they appear to be a very good value. As of yet I have not auditioned the others but I am looking forward to doing so soon. Xindak is well known in China and appears to be spreading its wings around the world. Besides China they have distributors in 23 other different countries worldwide including the one in America (Lotus Audio Imports in Oakland California). Their distributors can be found in places such as Malaysia, Austria, Greece, Australia, France, Russia, Israel and Costa Rica to name just a few.

For a long time their products have sold well in China and have received awards and some very good press in their home country as well as abroad. One thing Xindak is quite famous for is their cable, some of which can get very expensive and innovative. New this year they have come out with a carbon-fibre digital interconnect. Xindak claims that carbon-fibre imparts no “skineffect” and therefore emits a purer sound, that does not change over time, as carbon is stable and does not tarnish. Of further interest is their Gold Series Cables. Yes they actually make cables using different amounts of gold foil mixed with other metals. The more gold involved obviously the higher the price of the cable. The Gold Series cables are made for Loudspeaker, Interconnect and Power Cords. While not low priced per say they are a good bargain price-wise considering the amount of precious metals they use. I was able to get my hands on a pair of the Gold Series interconnects which I was quite impressed with and will been sad to return.

My first review of Xindak products will be the MT-3 tube integrated amplifier. This is an auto-biasing amp by the way to make adjustment a thing of the past for those not so inclined as to bias your own tubes. The MT-3 is a 40 watt tube integrated amplifier that can switch from standard pentode to18 watt triode mode with a flip of two toggle switches (one for each channel), and does it all for only $830. Now of course EL34 tubes are not triodes but they can however be wired to work in triode mode. The EL34’s sounds so good in triode because of the sweet natural engaging characteristics of the tube. Xindak states that the reason to go triode is’ “decreasing the distortion, widening frequency response and increasing dynamic range”. For this review I was able to use the triode mode because of my high efficiency Klipsch Klipschorn speakers. I found that the MT-3 in triode a better match for my Klipschorn’s than when used in the pentode mode. Since the Klipschorn speakers have a sensitivity of 104db 18-watts triode is plenty of power for my room. If you want more juice though just switch over to pentode and power up to a full 40-watts. In pentode I was able to drive the Legacy Focus 20/20/s which are high efficiency speakers, but not of course as efficient as my Klipschorns.

Xindak MT-3 Tube Stereo Integrated Amplifier review2

I was immediately taken by the fact that this amplifier was quite heavy (41 lbs). I guess I just did not expect a $830 tube integrated amplifier from China to feel so sturdy. My next surprise came when I opened the box. Sitting on top of the Styrofoam that encased the amplifier were three things. First was a nice cloth tote bag with a string to close off the end, to use if you want to protect the MT-3 during any moving process. Next to that was a pair of cloth white gloves for when you actually need to handle the tubes so as not to get the oil from your hands and fingers on them. It was a nice touch to get these small gifts with the MT-3 especially since it was an unannounced surprise. Thirdly, under the two of these was the owner’s manual. This was short, concise and to the point. I liked that. Of course there is the normal warning about what to do and what not to do with the MT-3 so read it before you play.

On the front of the MT-3 is a power on/off button with a blue light indicating when it is on. To the right of that is the source knob and again to its right the volume control. The MT-3 comes equipped with a sturdy cage to protect the tubes. You will also find two toggle switches (next to the EL34 tubes) for changing modes. You need to switch both, one for each channel, to go from pentode to triode or triode back to pentode. I do recommend though that you do so when the amp is off. If the amplifier is still on when you flip the switches it will make a loud noise through the speakers even with the volume turned all the way down. The three transformers located behind the tubes to the rear of the unit were never hot to the touch even though the tubes did get hot rather quickly. Still to be on the safe side always be careful when touching any part of the amplifier after it has warmed up. I ran the amp for seven hours straight, inside my salamander rack with no back enclosure and a front door with a perforated screen, so ventilation was very good. Peaking around to the rear of the MT-3 you will find an IEC connector where you may use the supplied standard power cord or upgrade to your hearts delight with others of your own choosing. Also there are three sets of speaker terminals. One set is for the negative speaker connections and the other two are for 4 or 8ohm speaker connections. Finally there are three inputs for whatever pleases you. I used only two; one for CD and the other for my Whest phono stage so I could spin my vinyl. Since the MT-3 does not have a phono stage you must buy one if you want to listen to records, which of course I hope you do.

The unit that I used for this review was brand new and not a review sample tweaked in any way just especially for the reviewer. It came to me through the US distributor wrapped up inside an unopened factory box. Because of this though I did have to wait a bit to break-in the amplifier, with it’s tubes and standard power cord. No problem though because right out of the box the MT-3 sounded just fine. In fact I was quite surprised how good it did sound without any break-in whatsoever. The stock tubes supplied were Electro Harmonix EL34’s and 12AX7’s as well as two 6SN7GT tubes of Chinese origin.

Xindak MT-3 Tube Amplifier front

Using my Whest phono stage, playing through the MT-3, I listened to three different records. Mirror Puzzle is a wonderful jazz record cut on 180gram vinyl with pianist and composer Kei Akagi. It is very difficult getting a stereo to reproduce a full sized instrument, like a piano, in ones own living area yet the MT-3 did a good job of it. On “Lester Left Town” Kei Alago glides through piano scales rather quickly and the MT-3 was able to keep up with him and at the same time providing the listener with just the right amount of decay to each note. The sound of Rick Margitza on sax was pleasing as were Charles Fambrough on bass with Willie Jones III on drums. While I found that the MT-3 did a great job overall I felt it did lack ultimate authority in the lower bass with my system and speakers. Remember though this integrated amplifier is priced at only $830. So I really could not expect everything from a product priced so low. What it did though, it did very well and it certainly was a pleasure to listen to.

I also had on hand my vinyl copy of the Original Master Recording version of Al Stewart’s Year Of The Cat. Before you ask, there is no year of the cat on the Chinese calendar. There are twelve animals but the cat did not make it (maybe he overslept?). The title song has a nice guitar and also saxophone solo. The MT-3 had a lot of fun with both of those as it can reproduce single instruments with ease. Listening to Al Stewart’s distinct yet clear voice was also a pleasure with the MT-3.

Before leaving my vinyl rig behind I had to listen to my Original Master Recording of Billie Holiday’s Body and Soul  album recorded on 200 grams of high definition vinyl. “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” is a great song and the MT-3 really gets this blues performance right. One thing this little amp does is let the feeling of the performer shine through. Again nice sax in the background and Billie Holiday’s magical voice is reproduced quite well allowing you to enjoy her performance within the feeling of an intimate setting.

Moving forward now to my CD collection we have Dire Straits, Brother In Arms, and their famous song “Walk Of Life”. The MT-3 gives us a presentation that is a little bit more 9th row rather than 7th. Things appear relaxed and not thrown at you in your face 5th row, as some solidstate amps have done. The soundstage was nice and wide with individual instruments and performers easily heard within it. This song was fun, as it was intended to be, and the MT-3 made sure you enjoyed it that way.

Xindak MT-3 Tube Stereo Integrated Amplifier

Alan Jackson has a great big country western voice and I had to hear him sing, “Here In The Real World”, from the CD with the same name. I had a feeling the MT-3 would do a great job here and it did. His voice was deep and clear while the guitar and violins were also a pleasure to listen to. The MT-3 with its tube sound took just enough edge off the violins to make it even more pleasurable.

I was beginning to get the feel now for what the MT-3 could do and do very well. It just loved vocals, male or female, string instrument and piano solos. If you want to hear an eerie song listen to Sting’s The Dream Of The Blue Turtles CD and the song called “Russians”. This has a very haunting message. Couple this song with the MT-3’s knack for revealing the essence of a performance and you are in for a real treat. Those of us who grew up with the cold war threat between Russian and America will have a better grasp of the songs meanings. Hearing the words “I hope the Russians love their children too” expresses the hope that Sting believed would prevail to prevent a war between the two countries. You must listen to this song, every line is packed with thoughts that are universal and ring true even today. Once again the Xindak MT-3 did a good job with the musical passages and was a great pleasure to hear.

Next up I put on the CD, Body & Soul, a Time Life Music production with 24 sensual songs by various artists. “Sexual Healing”, done by Marvin Gaye was astounding. It starts out with Marvin whispering to his lover “get up, get up, get up, get up, wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up.” This song continues to be very popular and for good reason as it playfully expresses the universal emotions that exist between two lovers. Add that to the MT-3’s ability to produce intimacy and you have a winner all the way around.

Now it was time to tweak the MT-3 a little. Calvin Tseng, of Lotus Audio Import, the US distributor for Xindak, arranged for me to meet with Dave Kalin. Both Dave Kalin and Jim Pierce are the owners of Solar Winds Audio (solarwindsaudio.com) and are a Xindak dealer located in Milpitas California. Dave Kalin came over to my house bringing with him a stock Xindak MT-3 with upgraded tubes and tube rings. These tubes were cryogenically treated by Cryoset (a company also out of Milpitas California). He used 4 KT77 Reissue Genalex Gold Lion, 2 6SN7 EH ElectroHarmonix Gold Pin and 1 ECC83/12AX7 JJ tube. The tube rings were by Golden Dragon, a total of 7 in all, one for each tube. He sells the MT-3 for $830 and the upgrades are $500 for the tubes and rings, total price $1330 plus tax. This and the fact that you still get to keep the original factory tubes for comparison make this a great way to go if you decide to upgrade.

Xindak MT-3 Tube Stereo Integrated Amplifier back

Dave Kalin explained that his MT-3 had over 400 hours on it and since mine had only 70 plus hours that some of the differences I would hear were because his was fully broken in. However most of the changes would be from the upgraded tubes and the addition of the tube rings. He was right when he said it would almost sound like a different amplifier. Everything took on more weight and right away I could tell I was getting more mid bass response from the MT-3 while the sound opened up and was even smoother than before. You can play with your choice of different tubes and tube rings or give Dave Kalin a call and buy his setup. Either way a lot more quality sound can be coaxed from the already wonderful little MT-3 by just making a few changes. Now he and I did play a little with some power cords, interconnects, power line conditioners and speaker cables that he brought over. Once again the sound jumped up a whole other level but at a cost of many times that of the amplifier itself. Still it sure was fun to see what could be done with the basic Xindak MT-3 tweaked to the max. Hey you have got to expect this when you put two audiophiles in a room full of equipment; no way we are not going to take things to the limit.

Xindak has done a great job with this integrated tube amplifier. You cannot expect everything for $830 and yes it does not seem to do the upper or lower octaves the way amps costing much more can. I must tell you though this amp was extremely quiet in my system. I was very impressed by its silence not only because it is a tube amplifier, but whether tube or solid state this still was one quiet amp. Be careful though to match it with speakers that are efficient and to play it in a small to medium sized room for best results. Do this and you will not only be smiling from the sounds you hear but because of all the money you just saved. This amp, even in stock form, competes with those in the $1000-$2000 range and does so very well. Never would I have guessed that it sells for only $830. It is an attractive tube amp with the ability to play in either pentode or triode mode, comes with a sturdy cage and is both an amplifier and a preamp in one box. If this is an example of Xindak product value then I’ve got to try more. Not only did the Chinese put on an incredible show for the 2008 Summer Olympics, where their athletes were extremely competitive, but they matched this feat by making a highly competitive integrated amplifier in the Xindak MT-3. If you get a chance you should try out the amazing MT-3 and maybe even take a peak at some of their other products as well.

The Listening Environment:

The listening room is 18 feet 8 inches long by 13 feet wide. The room’s cathedral ceiling starts at 8 feet high then slopes upward to 13feet at its peak in the middle. Flooring is a soft hardwood covering with an oriental rug placed dead center in between (but not under) the listener and the audio system. There are no doors that open or shut into other rooms also there are two large openings one facing the speakers and the other to its side and slightly in front of the right speaker. I have a nice snug fireplace opposite this opening and in front of the left speaker. As for my audio equipment it is tucked nicely inside of a Cherry Synergy Twin S30 Salamander audio rack.

Review equipment:

  • Sony DVP-S7700 CD/DVD Player (used as transport only)
  • Monarchy Audio Dual 20-Bit D/A Converter
  • Oracle Delphi Mk I turntable with custom made interconnects
  • Grace 707 tonearm with Denon 301 II MC cartridge Whest PhonoStage.20 + MsU.20 power supply Whest phono stage interconnects
  • Xindek Gold Series Interconnects Klipsch Klipschorn speakers Legacy Focus 20/20 speakers
  • Acoustic Revive RTP-4ultimate Power supply box
  • PS Audio Power Port Receptacle Anti-Cable speaker wire 10 foot pair Anti-Jumpers for Legacy speakers Anti-Interconnects (2 pairs)
  • Anti-Digital Interconnect single-shielded 1.5 meters in length
  • Monarchy Audio AC-1 power cord one 6 feet length (2) Blue Circle BC86 MKIII power line pillows (2)
  • Tek Line PC-8 Signature Power Cords 6-foot length
  • Mr-Cable Musician power cord 9 foot length Black Diamond Racing Cones (#3 & #4) Audio Prism IsoBearing (Isolation Globes
  • Cherry Synergy Twin S30 Salamander audio rack

from affordableaudio, By Anthony Nicosia

GR Research NEO-1X Monitors

GR Research NEO-1X Monitors

Specifications:

  • 2-way bass reflex design
  • Parallel network with 1.9kHz crossover point
  • Neo-3 pdr with deep back cup (tweeter)
  • M-130X 5.25 inch composite paper woofer with phase plug type dust cap, polymer chassis, and vented Kapton voice coil and XBL^ motor.
  • Frequency response is as good as +/-1.5dB-3dB is 55hz
  • Sensitivity is 85 dB (1watt/1m)
  • Recommended amplification is 8-100 watts RMS Impedance 8 ohms nominal 6.2 ohms minimal Dimensions: 12.5″ h x 8″ w x 11.625″ d.
  • Price: $329 base kit, up to $572 with all options

The competition between manufacturers in the monitor-sized loudspeaker category is fearsome, and the performance of these pint-sized speakers would astonish the casual listener. These days a well-designed monitor speaker is capable of generating a huge soundstage, and creating the illusion of a live performance in a listening room. Low frequency performance has been improved with the current generation of speakers, and flat bass response below 80-hertz is not uncommon. The best monitors in today’s market are capable of being either stand-alone speakers, or the top half of a high performance satellite/subwoofer speaker system. Unfortunately, high performance comes with an escalating price tag, and the stars of this speaker category have been effectively priced out of reach for the every day audio enthusiast. Many a discriminating audiophile would not hesitate to part with $2000 or more for a set of high quality 2-way monitor speakers. Small stand mounted speakers used to be one avenue that the frugal audio enthusiast could follow in order to attain quality sound reproduction for a modest outlay of cash. While there is a large pool of value-priced small speakers in production, the performance gap between them and the top of the line speakers can be quite significant. Designing a speaker that bridges the gap between performance and price is a challenging endeavor, although the latest speaker kit designed by Danny Richie at GR Research is intended to bring high quality sound reproduction to a price point where the average audio enthusiast can afford it.

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Wyred 4 Sound MC4 Power Amplifier

Wyred 4 Sound MC4 Power Amplifier

Specifications:

  • Powered by ICEpower ASP technologies
  • FULL OUTPUT THD+N < 0.01% Power doubles in 4 ohms
  • 2 ohm stable
  • 83 % total efficiency @ FULL OUTPUT
  • CCIF Intermodulation distortion = 0.002%, 19kHz/20kHz
  • Damping factor = 2000, 100Hz, 8 ohm
  • Factory Selectable mains 115/230VAC
  • Stand-by power consumption 4.1W per channel
  • 12V DC Trigger in and out
  • Gold plated unbalanced (RCA) inputs
  • Neutrik Balanced (XLR) inputs
  • XLR ground lift pushbutton
  • High Pass ON/OFF pushbutton (Front right and left channels) Dimensions: (17.25”W x 8”H x 16”D)
  • Warranty:3 years Made in USA
  • Price: $2795

Background

Wyred 4 Sound (W4S) is a California based company that designs, engineers and manufacturers a range of amplifiers intended to achieve high-end audio quality at less than typical high-end prices. Launched from Cullen Circuits, the design and engineering firm that built and services products for many other companies (including PS Audio, Genesis and others who prefer to remain anonymous), the W4S brand now includes a series of class-D amplifiers, covering monoblock, stereo and multichannel configurations with a variety of added features. The company can tailor the amp to your specific needs and offers combinations of power and features that make W4S line of products very audiophile friendly. read more…

Acoustic Revive RTP-2 and RTP-4 Ultimate Power Supply Box

Acoustic Revive RTP-2 and RTP-4 Ultimate Power Supply Box

Manufacturer:

  • SEKIGUCHI MACHINE SALES CO., LTD
    3016-1Tsunatori-machi, Isesaki-shi, Gunma Pref. 372-0812
    JAPAN

US Distributor:

  • The Lotus Group P.O. Box 1598,
    Novato, CA 94945

Specs

  • RTP-2 ultimate Power supply box comes with one receptacle to accommodate two pieces of audio gear
  • Retail: $1295
  • Optional: with attached power cord $1895
  • RTP-4 ultimate Power supply box comes with two receptacles to accommodate four pieces of audio gear
  • Retail: $2250
  • RTP-6 ultimate Power supply box comes with three receptacles to accommodate six pieces of audio gear (not reviewed here) Retail $2775

Acoustic Revive is a very fitting name for this company. Now I did not ask them why they named it the way they did but it sure does seem to fit their persona. The word acoustic, in the musical context according to Wikipedia’s Online Dictionary, means the branch of acoustics that studies the physics of music. Revive, from the Merrian-Webster’s Online Dictionary, means to return to consciousness or life: become active or flourishing again. So we have a company whose name implies a scientific study of the physics of music that hopes to bring life back into our sound systems, or something along this nature. After reading their online website I don’t think this name was chosen by chance, in fact everything they do is carefully planned and very scientific, as you shall shortly see.

From the very first time I heard about Acoustic Revive and then looked at their website I knew I wanted to review their audio gear. Never before had I ever heard about a power supply box that looked this simple, so understated and yet was so complex and detailed in design. The RTP-2 ultimate is designed to take almost every conceivable problem into consideration and then solve it. At first you look at it and say, “Why $1295 for a power strip that can only handle two components?” After you read about what when into its construction and then try it in your system you might just wonder, “Why is it only $1295?”

read more…

BESL Series 5 TMW Full Range Speakers

BESL Series 5 TMW Full Range Speakers

Bamberg Engineering Sound Lab has just released a full range speaker system that falls into the category of “affordable high-end audio.” The Bamberg Series 5 speaker system has all the desirable qualities that a reference grade speaker is supposed to have; yet it is priced within the reach of the average audio enthusiast. The Series 5 is a twopiece speaker system, with a two way monitor positioned on top of an amplified bass module. The amplifiers for the bass modules, and a passive crossover network for the monitors reside in two small cabinets that are separate from the speaker system. At first glance, one might consider this speaker system to be a variation of the traditional satellite/ subwoofer speaker system that is favored by many audio enthusiasts. The Bamberg Series 5 is an integrated speaker system that has been carefully engineered to ensure a seamless blend between the two speaker modules. This is a difficult task for the typical satellite and subwoofer speaker combination. In fact, many audio enthusiasts struggle to achieve an acceptable blend between these two pieces in their speaker system.(1) The goal of A$$A is to focus on equipment that offers genuine quality sound reproduction for a reasonable price. This speaker system may be at the upper end that most people would consider affordable, however, the Series 5 separates itself from the run of the mill speakers that audio enthusiasts usually encounter in their audio journey. The Bamberg Series 5 speaker is a high performance piece of audio gear that is within the financial reach of most audio enthusiasts.

Specifications:

Transducers

  • 18cm woofer SEAS W18ex-001
  • 25mm tweeter SEAS Millennium

Impedance

  • Nominal 8 ohm
  • Minimum (@160 / 3000 Hz) 7.6 / 4.8 ohm
  • Phase (@70 / 100k Hz) -46 / +25 degrees

Amplitude response

  •  To 20kHz +1.5 / -2.4 dB

Dispersion Sensitivity

  • 2.83V@1-Meter full space 83.0 dB

Bass alignment

  • Sealed HPF2 @65Hz, 0.60 Qtc

Inter-driver Phase response

  • 400Hz to 9kHz Less than 35° phase difference

Maximum linear output

  • 99dB 56W HPF2 @80Hz, all frequencies, no compression
  • 96dB 28W No HPF, all frequencies, no compression

Crossover

  • Alignment Linkwitz-Riley 4th @ 2.07 kHz
  • Elements 20, 4 of which are in the series signal paths
  • Phase compensation 4 elements in two circuits

Dimensions; Weight (Net)

  • 14.0″H x 8.5″W x 13.0″D, 25 lb.

Active Subwoofer

Transducers

  • 26cm woofer Peerless XLS-10” 30cm drone Peerless XLS-12”

Impedance

  • Nominal 8 ohm
  • Minimum (@110 Hz) 5.1 ohm
  • Phase (@15/42Hz, 20kHz) -58 /+58 degrees

-3dB Bandwidth

  • 18Hz to >500Hz, unfiltered

Dispersion Sensitivity

  • 2.83V@1-Meter half space 84 dB

Bass alignment

  • Drone system ~ Chebyshev 5th @21Hz

Maximum linear output

  • 102 dB 165W HPF2 @23Hz 0.7Q, no compression
  • 100 dB 90W no HPF, no compression

Crossover

  • Alignment L-R 4th @80Hz (typical, but varies with monitor speaker)

Dimensions;

  • Weight (Net) 25″H x 13″W x 18″D (including base), 55 lb.
  • Price: Introductory $5980; Final $8275 pr.

read more…

McIntosh Laboratory MA6300

McIntosh Laboratory MA6300

Specifications:

  • Power Output into 8 ohms: 100 watts Power Output into 4 ohms: 160 watts Rated Power Band: 20Hz – 20kHz
  • Total Harmonic Distortion: 0.005% from 20Hz to 20kHz
  • Damping Factor: 200 at 8 ohms; 100 at 4 ohms
  • Input Impedance: High Level:20K ohms; Phono: 47k ohms
  • Main output impedance: 50 ohms Dimensions (HxWxD): 7-5/8” x 17-1/2” x 22” Weight: 37lbs net; 55lbs boxed
  • Price: $4000

There is something to be said for reliability, longevity, and consistency. These uncommon attributes are coveted by nearly every respectable company in any given marketplace. This scarcity also means that those virtues are realized by only a select few. In the micro-market of high end audio, McIntosh Laboratory stands as one of those few, bringing forth and continuing a rich heritage that has remained unfettered by time.

Crafting high performance electronics since before my father was in diapers, McIntosh has established a reputation that even non audiophile muggle’s are familiar with – a feat that virtually no one company in the industry can lay clam to. Although McIntosh is often regarded as sourcing some of the best audio components in the business – they are also known for being, well… expensive.

read more…

Anti-Cable Digital Interconnects

Anti-Cable Digital Interconnects

Specifications:

  • Single shielded version
  • 1.5-meter length $150
  • Triple shielded version
  • 1.5-meter length $150

For regular readers of A$$A you will remember my review of Anti-Cable speaker wire, jumpers and interconnects back in the July issue. I was quite taken by all three and they are now happily a part of my main review system. I thought they were fully broken-in after over 120 hours of use but found that they continued to improve. I cannot imagine them getting much better then they are now as the sound coming from them is truly first class. As Paul Speltz of Anti-Cables mentioned in his manufacturers response to the original review “it is not so much that they are great cables for the money. My customers tell me they are great cables despite the money.” For only $345 you are able to purchase a 10’ pair of stereo speaker cables with spade terminations, two sets of interconnects and a pair of jumpers with banana termination. If you missed the original review take the time now, go back to the July issue and read up on it before you continue. In it you will find a lot more details about Anti-Cable, the company and their other products, then I will go into today. This review is a continuation of more high quality products from the same company, which I must say, is again value priced.

read more…

Polk Audio I-Sonic Entertainment System 2 (ES2)

Polk Audio I-Sonic Entertainment System 2 (ES2)

Specifications:

  • 2nd generation AM & FM HD Radio technology Integrated iPod Dock with multiple adaptors LCD Display
  • S-video and Composite video out 30 station preset memory RCA input and output jacks Clock, Alarm, & Sleep Timer
  • External AM & FM antennae connections Dimensions: 14.5” W x 9.75” D x 4.75” H
  • Price: $399

The beauty about audio is that every few years a technological wave comes thru bringing forth a new level of enjoyment to our hobby; most of the time it begins at the top of the equipment spectrum and works it way down to the rest of us affectionados. But every once in a while, a product comes along that takes a piece of forgotten technology and gives it new life in a form not thought of previously, or in the case of the Polk Audio I-Sonic ES2, takes a recently revived category to a whole new level.

Over the past few years I’ve had the opportunity to hear the re-kindled category of tabletop radios by Tivoli, Cambridge Soundworks, and Bose. All three had definitely improved on the listening experience, but at the same time, but they all still couldn’t reach the sonic level that many retail establishments/offices rely on. No matter how fancy the engineering, filling a room with a wide enough frequency response to make the experience noticeable was just beyond reach. Then, in 2006 Matthew Polk took a stab at the category. Unlike the others, he had an ace up his sleeve, the years of research and patents behind his unique SDA speakers from the 1980’s. Armed with this toolbox and DSP (digital sound processor chip), Polk went to work on taking the tabletop radio to a new level. In 2006, they released the I-Sonic ES to quite favorable reviews. The second model came in late 2007, the I-Sonic ES2 with its built-in iPod dock, and second generation HD radio tuner. read more…

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