EDITORIAL NOTE: As can be plainly seen,
our editorial staff is small indeed. We are asking that
CAS members contribute to our newsletter in the following
• Equipment Reviews
• Record Reviews
• Technical Articles
• The Colorado Audio Scene
• Live Music in Colorado
• Stereo and Wife (A Spouse’s view)
STEREO AND WIFE: Our “Stereo and
Wife” column opts for all views of sound within
the home, including: financial aspects, the introduction
of technical terms, and personal opinions on choices
in music. With a fascinating blend of nature between
men and women, the need for discussion (be it good or
bad) and involvement are imperative. Both men and women
enjoy music, however a balance is necessary, and we hope
to help the scale balance on both sides through discussions
in this column. Your input will be greatly appreciated.
CAS Classified Ads
Beginning in Issue 2
of our newsletter, we will offer free space to our
members for classified ads. (Audio equipment only,
please). This is more convenient than “Audiomart” since most members will
be within driving distance of each other, and better
than newspapers since it’s free. Call CAS headquarters
to place ads.
Why an audio society? What do we have to
gain from the effort? Our one basic goal in forming the
society and the newsletter is to promote a sense of clarity.
Not just sonic clarity, but clarity in our understanding
of music reproduction and all its supporting factors.
We hope to accomplish this through an open forum of personal
discussion and written communication. The field of audio
(the high end, that is) is populated with a curious mixture
of characters: record producers, techno-addicts, creative
geniuses, charlatans, snooty audio reviewers, and many,
many enthusiasts who are serious enough about quality
music reproduction to invest considerable time and sizeable
resources into this pursuit. This organization is devoted
to the latter group. The amount of confusion, misinformation,
and pure slick salesmanship which abounds within the
field of high end audio is truly amazing.
An obvious solution
to this problem is to trust our own ears - Of course.
We fully agree. But how many people have the opportunity
to audition correctly set up audio systems within an
intimate setting? Exposure is the problem here. We
intend to correct this situation through our meetings
at members’ homes, and the
more the better! The gathering of knowledge is our goal.
Along the same lines, we must attempt to eliminate the
untruths, myths, and rumors which permeate. We hope to
accomplish this partly with the assistance of our Technical
Editor, and partly through open discussion.
THE STAX DA-100M POWER AMPS
Reference System: Rowland Research/Panasonic
STA-1Strain Gauge Cartridge System.
Denon/VPI DP-75/HW-9 Turntable System.
Lustre GST-801 Tonearm.
Rowland Research MCC-1 Preamp/Control Center.
Rowland Research Custom Class A Mono Amps (100 WPC)
Soundlab A-1 Full Range Electrostatic Speakers.
Every so often a piece
of equipment will find its way into my reference system
for a very short period of time (usually an evening
or two), and will lend itself to a comparison with
one of my reference components. In this case, a pair
of Stax DA-1OOM mono Class A power amps were inserted
into the system for an evening. This is not meant to
be a review, per se, as the audition time was limited
to a few hours of serious listening. To be totally
fair, a piece of equipment should be lived with from
3 months to a year in order to really present an intimate
written portrait of the unit. In “Brief
Encounters” we will attempt to offer our very brief
first impression of the Stax amps. Read my impressions
with that in mind.
I felt that the comparison
with my Rowland custom Class A amps is a good one,
as they’re both
mono, Class A, and 100 watts. Considering the rather
informal air of this review, I was not compelled to rush
out and find out all the specs regarding the Stax Amps.
This I can say: The amps cost about $4000. per mono pair — not
cheap. The thing that sets them apart is their cooling
system. These amps, being Class A, 100 watt units are
surprisingly light in weight. Half the weight of my amps.
This feat is accomplished due to the lack of massive
heat sinks. An ingenious, and I’m sure expensive,
cooling system is built into these amps to dissipate
the heat from the output devices (themselves reputed
to be exotic ring-emitter transistors) . Imagine: an
air conditioner, complete with sweated copper pipe built
into a power amp.
In all fairness, I must
submit that my Rowland Research amps are a one-of-a-kind,
custom-built product, fabricated from the highest-quality
parts, and are in the best tradition of a hand-made
product. The amps were built with a vengeance to drive
huge amounts of current (though, again, 100 watts)
into my Soundlab A-1s, a very difficult load to drive
(4 microfarads capacitive load, impedances down to
2 ohms at high frequencies and a 2200 sq. inch diaphragm)
Most other amps, even modified-bridged Haflers, have
shown audible strain in driving the A-1’s,
especially in the frequencies below 500 Hz. The Rowland
Research amps drive the A-1’s with ease (only 100
watts vs. 400 watts with bridged Haflers).
The main recordings used in the evaluation
“Test Record 1 — Depth of Image” — Opus
“Hot Styx” — M & K Realtime RI 106.
“Gitarrkvartetten Transkriptioner” — Opus 3 78—10.
We hooked up the Stax
amps and listened. Beginning at the bottom end, I must
say that the low bass was deficient, at least as compared
with the Rowland amps. I suspect that the Stax amps
might provoke better bass in less demanding speakers;
but then again, I wonder. The Stax amps, to be more
specific, neither provided the proper weight in the
low bass, nor much definition in the midbass range.
Moving up the scale, the midrange response was very
good, though not excellent. The amps provided the correct
amount of body to the sound (by this, I mean the meat
to the bones, the chest behind the throat, etc., etc.).
Many amps do poorly in this regard - especially driving
the A—1’s. The
midrange character was very respectable - smooth, sweet,
and properly liquid.
Moving up the spectrum,
the highs are the sweetest I’ve ever heard. But there’s a catch:
these seductive highs are just too sweet to be real.
Later on in the evening upon focusing my attention on
the highs, my opinion changed regarding this sweet-sounding
coloration. They lack the proper extension and hardness
that normally accompanies accurate high frequency reproduction.
Don’t misunderstand: highs can be sweet in live
music, but not all the time and with every instrument,
which is what these amps present. The imaging was very
good, with all instruments specifically placed within
the soundfield. The Stax amps could not do, though, what
the Rowland amps can: Portray a convincing sense of space
and air around the individual images.
All in all, the Stax amps are very good
performers, though the $4000. price tag is high, with
air conditioning or not. AT
KEEP UP THE GOOD IMAGING
Stereo and Wife
One of the largest problems we have in
our audio marriage is placement of speakers in our home,
and constant experimenting by moving everything once
a month. Our largest donneybrooks are usually where the
speakers are not going to be. Walking into a room and
seeing the backs of monster speakers does not live up
to a decorators expectations. However, imaging is very
important in producing that orchestra in your room.
As most of us can’t
afford speaker rooms and people rooms, the compromise
is on. I have returned home on occasion to find comforters,
rugs, and many other materials hanging by the ceiling.
This then allowed me to invent several new and delightful
designing ideas I never would have thought possible.
The purchase of rugs (large, of course), and furniture
(in which audio equipment can be stored) usually appeals
to both partners.
My husband has invested
in a new rear wave absorber called !SONEXtm. This material
is 4” deep
and resembles foam rubber. It is designed in a contemporary
sculptured pattern, and comes in assorted colors. In
short, it is beautiful. The sculptured pattern of this
foam rubber-type material is actually carved in, giving
a very lifelike and elegant stature behind the speakers.
SONEX comes in 4’ x 4’ panels, so frames
must be made to fit the panels into. We purchased some
inexpensive pine, spray painted them black - voila! A
very tasteful piece of furniture.
The “wonder foam” (as I call
it), has eliminated the use of our dead bodies and mummies
hanging from the ceiling. But the best aspect is the
way the speakers can now fit against the SONEX and the
SONEX can snuggle up against the wall. This eliminates
the speakers from having to be in the middle of the room “so
they can breathe, Jennifer.”
The wires to speakers,
amps, and preamps are now against the wall, unseen;
whereas, they used to be in the middle of the room
under that marvelous 3” duct tape, available
in the assorted color of gaunt gray.
SONEX is expensive, however no more expensive
than any accessories purchased for your system (records
I strongly suggest you
look into this “wonder
foam.” Until then, happy rearranging. -JT
P.S. If you would like more information
on SONEX, feel free to contact me.
Mark P. Wetch, Pianist
Wilson Audio Specialties
This is one of those rare recordings which
really makes it all worth it. What this disc really proves
is that a small record company with a good recording
machine, two good microphones, and a pair of good ears
can just totally swamp the everyday offerings of such
prodigious giants as RCA, Columbia, Phillips, etc., etc.
I’m totally mystified that these
corporate giants never come one step closer to providing
the kind of quality sound which Dave Wilson accomplishes
without digital recorders, CX, or any other new “breakthroughs” one
would be led to believe have been occurring. As is typical
with this type of quality recording, only two microphones
were used, thus preserving the authentic stereo image.
The music on this recording
is simply wonderful. The record is comprised of a selection
of ragtime tunes played on a wonderful sounding instrument
which was modified to provide the tonality of the original
ragtime piano. Mark Wetch’s performance of these
tunes is splendid. Another rarity: here is an audiophile
specialty disc with some really fine musicianship on
The sonics on this record
rate with the best I’ve ever heard. The piano
is fairly close-miked, with the Schoeps Omnis placed
over the shoulders of the pianist. This particular
setup presents a close-up image of the total width
of the piano extending between the speakers (bass notes
to the left, treble notes to the right). The image
is very precise, with resolution of the hammers striking
the strings at their own specific point in the soundfield.
In contrast to the hard, clangy sound heard
on most piano recordings, this disc presents a piano
sound which is sweet, resonant, and depicting of the
sound of the real thing. The focus of the image, the
definition displayed, and the bass extension are excellent.
This recording is at the State of the Art.
Buy, beg, borrow or steal it. -AT
Coming in Newsletter #2.
Jeff Rowland should
be finishing up his do-it-yourself regulation modification
for the Hafler DH-200. (Jeff knows this amp almost
as well as he knows his own products.) The State of
the Art of tubes: We hope to borrow a Conrad-Johnson
MV-75 tube amp. The Accuphase cartridge (is it as “devastating” as
HP of TheAbsoluteSound says?) Hopefully, lots more
record reviews, more equipment reviews, and more members.
CAS Component Audition Service.
So very often we read
about intriguing audio products in various journals
that pique our interest and curiosity. Perhaps we’re anticipating a new
purchase or maybe an upgrade (a major feat in today’s
economy). We travel to the nearest audio dealers in the
hope that maybe they stock the item in question, or at
least have some information concerning this item. If
you’ve shared my experiences, it becomes readily
apparent that little or no information is available through
dealers regarding items they don’t carry. Most
audio salesmen (with a few exceptions) will either plead
ignorance, or they will volunteer inaccurate information
regarding the product (probably in an effort to sell
you a similar item which they stock). And let’s
face it: Very few audio salesmen are audiophiles. So
where does one audition components? I can say that my
knowledge of high-end audio has increased geometrically
through my acquaintances with other enthusiasts compared
to what I hear at the local sound salon.
Thus, the CAS Component Audition Service:
1) CAS members will
have the opportunity to audition (with the host member’s
consent) equipment which we will list in the CAS Newsletter.
2) The last page of
this newsletter will contain a questionnaire asking
members to list their equipment. In the next issue
we will compile a list of all the equipment denoted
in these questionnaires. The equipment only will be
listed — not the owner (for
3) Any member, after reading the listings,
may call CAS headquarters and request an audition. We
will, in turn, call the owner of the equipment and ask
if he (or she) would host an audition to the requesting
member. We would then call the member back and put them
in touch with the owner after getting their permission.
4) All information will remain confidential,
and only CAS members will be referred to equipment owners.
A Note to our Membership.
Our current membership is quite small,
so we are enclosing an extra copy of Newsletter 1 to
all our members. Please pass it along to a prospective
member as a complimentary copy, though none of the member
benefits may be had without formal application to CAS.