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To Jeff Fritz,
I liked your Ayre KX-R Twenty review. Are you planning to review the MX-R Twenty anytime soon? I am an MX-R owner and would be most curious to read your review. I also own the Ayre DX-5 DSD as a source, and use an Audio Research Reference Anniversary preamp in my rig. Fabulous as it sounds, I’m intrigued with the option of upgrading my MX-R to Twenty status, hence my interest. Thanks a lot!
I do believe I will have the opportunity to review the Ayre MX-R Twenty, though I do not yet have a timeframe. I think the new units will start shipping in July, though that may have changed. Ayre also announced that the VX-R stereo amplifier will be getting the Twenty upgrade as well, though I feel pretty confident that they will complete the MX-R Twenty first, since that model was announced back in January at CES 2014. . . . Jeff Fritz
To Jeff Fritz,
I read with great interest your review of the Gryphon Audio Designs Mephisto with the Magico Q7s. It was a very informative review! Would it be possible for you to comment on the Mephisto's mircrodynamics and timbres when compared with a high-quality SET amp? Also, could you comment on the soundstage perspective you were getting (i.e., were you getting a mid-hall, back-hall or row-15 type of perspective)? Some components seem to place the front of the soundstage in line with speaker front while others either push it back or slightly forward of the speaker plane. It would be very helpful to know where the soundstage front was in your system. I appreciate that this will change with recordings, but just how did the Gryphon compare to the other amps you have used with the Q7s with such as the Vitus monos? Any feedback you can provide would be much appreciated, as the Mephisto and Q7 are on my shortlist at present. My preamp shortlist includes the ARC Reference 10, Lamm Signature series, the new version of DarTZeel’s NHB-18NS, the Gryphon Pandora, etc. Many thanks and happy listening!
The soundstage perspective with Gryphon amplifiers is quite something to behold, but perhaps not for the reasons you think. The Gryphon amplifiers -- and the Mephisto is supreme in this regard -- have the ability to produce deeper and more substantial bass than any other amplifiers I have heard (although those from Boulder, the big Musical Fidelitys, and Anthem’s M1 are also good). This gives music a foundational heft that serves to greatly expand the acoustic of your room, because the acoustic of the recording venue is so aurally apparent. Although I got quite good soundstage depth, what seemed to happen, especially with well recorded live music captured in large venues, is that there was an expansion of the soundstage in every direction, effectively removing the walls of my listening space. Frankly, I think the Mephisto is the perfect partner for the Magico Q7 -- I would look no further if you have the means.
As for a comparison with a good single-ended-triode amplifier, I’ve not done it. And honestly, I don’t think it would work all that great anyway. One of the things you are paying for with the Q7 is the ability to reproduce a huge dynamic envelope. Although the Q7 is quite efficient -- and you could surely drive a pair of them with a minimal amount of watts -- it can also absorb a huge amount of power and put it to good use by producing superior micro- and macrodynamics. The combination of Gryphon Mephisto and Magico Q7 made music come to life in my room like nothing else I’ve heard. If I were you I’d get the Pandora preamplifier to match with the Mephisto and be done. Along with a pair of Q7s, a great source, and appropriate cabling, I can’t imagine a better system. . . . Jeff Fritz
To Howard Kneller,
I just finished reading your review ["Synergistic Research High Frequency Transducer (HFT) and Frequency Equalizer (FEQ) Room Treatments and XOT Crossover Transducer"] and I’d say it is spot on. I had similar results using two five packs of HFTs, one FEQ, and one pair of XOTs. For the first couple of days after installing them, I didn’t actually believe what I was hearing: much better detail, a more full and wide soundstage, and precise imaging. To be sure I was hearing things correctly, I took down the HFTs, unplugged the FEQ, and disconnected the XOTs. Sure enough, the sound was less detailed and the soundstage was not as full and enjoyable. So I reinstalled everything and the sound I had returned. I originally purchased these devices only because it was a no-risk proposition with the money-back guarantee. It only took me about 24 hours to realize they would not be going anywhere. I don’t have even the slightest clue how these things work, only that they do.
To Jeff Fritz,
First of all I would like to thank you for all your help.
I am using the Gryphon Audio Designs Mephisto power amp with my Magico Q5 loudspeakers, and would like to know what preamp you would suggest. I am thinking of the Audio Research Reference 10.
I look forward to your suggestions.
I remember way back in the day, the go-to pairing was a Krell power amplifier (the KSA-250 was a favorite) and an Audio Research preamplifier. Of course, the thought was that the Krell could easily drive any loudspeaker and sound quite good while doing it, but that it could be further improved by a tubed preamp and, arguably, ARC made the best ones. Lots of good systems used just this combo.
On the other hand, I've always been a proponent of mating amplifiers and preamplifiers from the same manufacturers -- the theory being that, since they were designed together, their performance could only be optimized by staying together. So, of course, my first advice would be to hear a Gryphon preamplifier to see if you can improve your system with more Gryphon products. However, your idea to use an Audio Research Reference 10 is an intriguing one. The Magicos are ruthlessly revealing and the Gryphon amplifier is capable of tremendous resolution in its own right. Adding a touch of tube sweetness to the mix might be just what you want. At the very least the two brands will provide an interesting juxtaposition for you to ponder -- Gryphon and ARC are both terrific, but are very different. . . . Jeff Fritz
To Jeff Fritz,
I enjoyed your review of the Rockport Technologies Altair. I just purchased a used pair built in 2009 with the soft-dome tweeters. I am considering the upgrade to the beryllium-dome tweeter with the new crossover. I know your early (2007) review of the Altair was with the soft-dome tweeter and I’m wondering if you’ve had a chance to compare to a more recent Altair with the beryllium-dome tweeter. If so, can you share your thoughts? I don’t expect the difference to be night and day, but I’m also interested to know if there’s anything the beryllium-dome tweeter doesn’t do as well as the soft-dome tweeter.
Congratulations on purchasing a very fine set of loudspeakers! I know you're in for a treat. As to whether to upgrade them, I would and here's why: The Be tweeter is better than the soft-dome tweeter in my experience. It is simply more extended and will sound more brilliant, therefore making certain types of music sound more alive. It also has the ability to unravel scads of detail, making it a real resolution monster. In short, the Be tweeter is a gem in an already great loudspeaker.
The other -- maybe even more important -- benefit of sending your speakers back to Andy Payor at Rockport Technologies for the upgrade is that he will ensure in the upgrade-and-tuning process that your new-to-you speakers are performing at their absolute best. This way you will be sure that your considerable investment is ready for many additional years of enjoyment. . . . Jeff Fritz
To Jeff Fritz,
We spoke some time ago regarding Magico and other speakers.
I have started my search for "the perfect" system and have listened to the Wilson Audio Alexia and TAD first. Although I found the build quality and finish of the Alexia quite impressive, I was disappointed by its sound. Electronics were the new beefy Devialet amplifiers, by the way. It was as if there was a woolen blanket softening and coloring the music. Voices were in the background and laidback. It also raised a lot of questions for me as to why the reviews of the Alexia are so positive. To ensure that my disappointment was not caused by the electronics, a set of MartinLogans were hooked up (I use them in my current system), and no softening was audible.
The next opportunity was to have a good listen to the TAD Evolution One and the Compact Reference. Although everybody was raving about these products I was, again, not very impressed. I did like the clarity of the Compact Ref., but the sound was boxy, very pinpointed, and lacked fundamentals in the bass region. When I closed my eyes I still could hear the music coming from the different drivers. The Evolution One did not appeal to me at all -- just a good speaker but nothing special. All electronics used were top notch: all the big TAD pre and power units including a TAD front end. The guys demonstrating the TADs were flabbergasted that I was not impressed and told me it was almost impossible not to like these speakers. I remember driving back home wondering if I have gone mad not liking these beautifully built speakers.
Last week I had the chance to listen to the Magico Q3 driven by a Spectral pre and power amp. After about ten minutes it was clear that I was on the right track. Tight, quick, very coherent, open, resolving, and dynamic. What a difference from the Alexia and TAD. For the first time in about 20 years a new glimpse of audio heaven had opened up to me; the last time was with the MartinLogan Statement run by Cello pre and power amps. As I am used to electrostatic speakers, I was also impressed by the super-fluid treble, which was transparent, open, and quick, but never sharp or soft. Besides the sonic qualities, I admire Magico's effort in building and designing almost all their technology, such as cabinets, filters, and drivers, themselves instead of using "cheap" paper cones, for example.
Although the Q3 can play loud without noticeable distortion, I did miss deep bass fundamentals and slam. In my "perfect world," a speaker must be as lifelike as possible including this range as well. So the quest continues, as I will be listening to the Q7 in about two weeks. I can't wait to hear them after my experience with the Q3. Maybe there is a "perfect" speaker for this mad man.
In the meantime, a possible new reference, the M Project, is about to hit the market. Besides its more attractive pricing, it will incorporate the latest drivers and has a smaller depth size. The Q7 depth size raises some serious opposition at home. Do you think that the new M Project will be a serious Q7 competitor, and worth waiting for to have a good listen? Anyway, big steps have been made in my search for the perfect system and your advice and comments are highly appreciated.
Many thanks and with kind regards,
No one has heard the new Magico M Project speaker as yet, so it is impossible to say definitively whether it will be a serious competitor to the Q7. But based on the specifications that have been released, I think it would be wise to hear it if you are serious about owning a loudspeaker at that level. The details on the drivers look quite ambitious, and the cabinet is surely a beauty. As well, there is no question that its size and weight will make it more approachable for many listeners, where the room is smaller and/or the décor is not as flexible.
On the other hand, the Q7 will, I'm sure, be more capable in the largest of rooms, particularly in the bass region. The Q7 also has a cabinet that is supremely ambitious, and I'm not sure that will be equaled anytime soon. The Q7 remains the best speaker I've heard, when taking all performance characteristics into account. I'm sure you'll love it.
Ultimately, only listening to these two superspeakers in the same environment and with the same electronics and program material will tell you for sure which you will like best. I would advise you, though, to move fairly quickly on the M Project if you are leaning in that direction. My understanding is that only 50 pairs will be built and I imagine they will get scooped up pretty quickly. Good luck in your search, and do let me know which way you decide to go. . . . Jeff Fritz
To Aron Garrecht,
I was reading your review of PMC's IB2i speaker. I have some Monarchy Audio SE-100 Deluxe monoblock amps. They are class A for the first 20W and then class AB up to 100W into 8 ohms, or 200W into 4 ohms.
Would these power the PMC IB2i loudspeakers properly? Can the PMC IB2i handle lower-powered amps like tube amps?
Having spent some time with the PMC speaker, any thoughts or feedback you have about how they reacted to associated amplifier equipment would be greatly appreciated.
Your Monarchy Audio SE-100 Deluxe amps are very capable monoblocks, and I don't think they will have any problems driving the IB2i speakers. You may not get the utmost in control at higher volume levels, or experience all of the IB2i's dynamic capability like you would with a more powerful amplifier of, say, 300Wpc or more. But for day-to-day listening, I think you will have no problems whatsoever.
Regarding pairing the PMCs with a valve amp, the IB2i speakers, in my experience, were not speakers that scoffed at the idea of being fed minimal power. I experimented with powering the PMCs with a 75Wpc Rotel amp I had on hand and I had no real issues. The purity of sound was still there in spades, so much so that it easily showed the inferiority of the Rotel when compared to my Classé amps, but it was still an enjoyable pairing. My recommendation would be to feed the PMCs quality power, not worry too much about the quantity, and you'll come out on top every time. . . . Aron Garrecht
To Jeff Fritz,
At the beginning, I want to thank you. In my opinion you are the best and most truthful reviewer in the world and I know that many people appreciate it.
I have a pleasant problem. I've listened, a few times, to the Magico Q7 and I know that I don't want anything else. But, my listening room is only 325 sq. ft. Well, the choice is simple -- [the Magico] Q3 model. But I have another dilemma: what amp would be best? Is the Gryphon Mephisto an exaggeration based on my room? On the other hand, I want to have the best possible sound.
Thank you so much for your kind words. I don’t deserve that sort of praise, but am surely glad you enjoy my writing. I'm also glad to have steered you in the direction of some truly fine gear that will make an outstanding system.
I think the Magico Q3 would be a terrific match to your room size. Pay extra close attention to speaker placement and get as close to a symmetrical setup as you can. Your efforts will be greatly rewarded if you do.
It is true that you need a really good amplifier with plenty of current capability to maximize the Q3's potential. The Mephisto would be ideal, yes, but short of that I also think the Gryphon Antileon Signature Stereo would make a fine power plant. It's less money, and perhaps a touch warmer sounding, but it will absolutely control the Q3 and drive it to its full potential in terms of SPL, bass depth and control, etc.
If you are able to hear this combination please do let me know your thoughts. I'd certainly be happy with a Magico/Gryphon pairing myself. In fact, I can't imagine anyone not falling hard for that sound! . . . Jeff Fritz
To Jeff Fritz,
I just read your informative article on the Dynaudio Confidence C2 loudspeaker. One question though: How does it compare to the Magico S1 loudspeaker?
There are actually a number of areas in which the Dynaudio Confidence C2 and Magico S1 are similar. Both have what I would describe as a neutral tonal balance, in the sense that there are no obvious colorations that over the long term would be annoying, or lead you to pick one type of music to play over them versus another. Neither speaker is at all bright sounding, and both speakers will play lower in the bass than you would imagine by simply looking at the driver complements and cabinet sizes.
Still, there are differences that might make you prefer one over the other. The Dynaudio has the advantage of having two midrange-woofers and two tweeters, which will allow it to play a touch louder in environments where maximum SPLs are needed. For example, I would pick the Dynaudio in a home-theater environment for just this reason. The soft-dome tweeter is also preferred by some listeners as well, due to its more polite nature in the very highest highs. On the other hand, the Magico is the more resolving speaker, allowing more detail to come through, which, for example, gives the listener a more thorough accounting of ambient details in live recordings. The Magico will also have an advantage in terms of articulation in the midrange and bass -- it is simply a more agile loudspeaker. Some would consider this a trait of the Magico's sealed bass alignment versus the Dynaudio's ported configuration, though many would dismiss this assertion. And, finally, the aluminum Magico has a clear advantage in the build-quality department, which is indicated by its greater weight per channel versus the lighter-but-larger MDF-based Dynaudio.
Overall, you've picked two really good floorstanders from two good companies that each know loudspeaker design through and through. Although only thorough listening sessions with each will allow you to really know for sure which model you prefer, I can say with confidence that you can't go wrong with either speaker. . . . Jeff Fritz
To Jeff Fritz,
My compliments on a thorough review! You certainly covered a lot of bases to give readers good insight on the product and performance.
Recently, Aurender notified us dealers of the availability of the X100L and W20 music servers with 8TB of storage (two 4TB drives) instead of 6TB, for $400 more. Thus the MSRPs of the 8TB versions of the X100L and W20 are $3899 and $17,200, respectively.
Very shortly before I received their notice of the larger-capacity versions, someone ordered an X100L from me. He wisely opted to go with the 8TB version. Your readers may be interested to know of this new development. The 6TB versions of the X100L and W20 remain available. I'll have both the X100L and W20 on demonstration next week at the AXPONA show here in Chicago, in case you'll be attending. Thanks again, and keep up the good work!
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