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  • Reviewer's Choice of Source Material

    JC posted this in another thread and was slightly OT.

    Anyone want to take a crack at this?
    Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
    Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
    ________________________________________

    -Zellaton Plural Evo speakers
    -Goldmund Telos 300 stereo amp
    -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
    -Doshi EVO and Goldmund PH3.8 phonostage
    -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
    -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
    -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga Mk. 2, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MutechHayabusa, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
    -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
    -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 6, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
    -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz 3 racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA OHIO Class 2.1+ platforms.

  • #2
    If tape is supposed to be the ultimate format, why aren't all reviewers using it instead of vinyl and digital to evaluate speakers?
    Magnepan 1.6 QR Loudspeakers, Amherst A-2000 MOSFET 150 WPC Amp, Conrad Johnson PV-10A Modded Tube Line & Phono Stage, Electrocompaniet MC II Class A Head Amp, Audio Technica AT-OC9XML Cart (Stereo) , Graham Engineering 2.2 Tonearm (Stereo) , VPI Aries-1 Turntable (Stereo) , VPI Clamp, Denon DL-102 Cart, (Mono) , Luxman Tonearm (Mono) , Kenwood KD-500 Turntable (Mpmp) , Michell Clamp, Marantz 20B Analog FM Tuner, Pioneer SACD, Onkyo DX-6800 CD Transport, DIY 24B/192K DAC, Sennheiser HD-650 Headphones, Headroom Max Balanced Headphone Amp, DIY Silver Interconnects

    Comment


    • #3
      From my perspective as a former reviewer, the purpose of identifying your source material and specifying how it sounded on the DUT is so readers can duplicate (as much as (possible) your session to hear the same thing with that component. Until tape becomes widely used among audiophiles, it is a little too esoteric to use in reviews.
      Thiel 7.2s, Manley NeoClassic 250s, Wadia 850, MIT Oracle V3 speaker cables, MIT MI-350 Oracle interconnects, Black Diamond Racing Shelves and Cones in a dedicated room with ASC Tube Traps, Room Tunes and 3 X 20 amp dedicated circuits.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by JCOConnell View Post
        If tape is supposed to be the ultimate format, why aren't all reviewers using it instead of vinyl and digital to evaluate speakers?
        Obvious answer that tape is very niche for both audiophiles and reviewers, software titles are very limited and one can argue what's the point of reviewing equipment with tape when it so rare. Of course reviewers with tape decent tape machines and software do use them for their reviews.

        R2R has it's own compromises and only the best machines with the best quality tapes can be considered "ultimate" using regular commercial tapes is far from ideal...

        david
        Manufacturer: American Sound Turntables and The Nothing Rack
        Distribution: NEODIO

        Special Sales: van den Hul
        Industry Representation: Lamm, Kharma OLS Speakers, Ortofon, ZYX, Keith Monks, Audio Desk, Jensen Transformer, Venta Airwasher

        Unique Items: Vintage Horn Speakers
        http://www.audionirvana.org/forum/ti...stening-room-1
        http://www.audionirvana.org/forum/ti...earfield-setup

        Comment


        • fcrowder
          fcrowder commented
          Editing a comment
          I think that there may be another factor, at least for some of us. I have spent many years developing a library of vinyl recordings (5000+ records) and to a lesser extent digital media (1500+) and do not at this point in my life have the time or energy to start the process over for tape. Just as important is that over the years I have developed a group of recordings with which I am extremely familiar which I have heard on a variety of different systems. Use of these references makes it easier for me to evaluate the sound of a new piece of equipment.

        • david k
          david k commented
          Editing a comment
          Software availability and cost are a barrier to entry for many including myself. I have the machines but I'm not at all tempted by the software market.

      • #5
        Not everyone has tape and if a reviewer uses tape, well that's only going to to address the review to a few "audiophiles" .I don't own tape and have no plans to do enter into that area again,. I would think LP or even well done digital should be included. After all a reviewer in my opinion should be addressing a larger target base. Should a reviewer concentrate on , 'hey I used tape and I think its great', well a reviewer could lose his audience(s) while throwing that snob identifier out there.

        Now actual source material, not everyone likes classical or rock or jazz or new age,Bluegrass etc.. I say mix up the source material to test the performance of the device and also its limitations and report on what you heard be it negative or highly positive.

        ps: and please list your equipment and you room dimensions, if it treated. if you don't as far as a reader knows the reviewer could be using an ipod and ear buds while setting in his car or on a subway. ,.
        Chris
        ----------------------------------------------------------------
        Kef 201/2, Pass xa30.5, W4S STP-SE, Manley Chinook, VPI Classic, Dynavector DV20x2L, ExaSound e32, Acoustic Zen cables. (Office): Vincent SP331 Mkll, Quicksilver Pre, Lumin D1, (Ken Lau Signiture Edition PSU), Bryston BCD-1, Vapor Audio Breeze, WooAudio W6se,Questyle Audio CMA800R LCD-3,HD800s, HD600, Mr Speaker Ether C Flow,

        Comment


        • #6
          Originally posted by JCOConnell View Post
          If tape is supposed to be the ultimate format, why aren't all reviewers using it instead of vinyl and digital to evaluate speakers?
          Why just speakers? Why not preamps and power amps? Aside from that, few people who have heard really good 2 track 15 ips tapes played on a really good deck would want to argue that their other favorite format or formats is better sounding. There would always be a few flat earthers who would want to argue of course, but this is high-end audio where people love to argue over everything. So now back to main your question, why aren't all reviewers using tape? I certainly can't speak for "all" reviewers or even a small portion of them, but I would think the major impediment is the cost. Face it, tapes are expensive. I've lost track of how many DCPs I have heard bitching about paying $30 or less for a hi-rez download, how about plunking down $450 for one album on tape?

          There was another valid point that was made previously by Chris in this thread, and that is if you used tape exclusively for your reviews of preamps, amps, and speakers (and now we can also review wall outlet covers and the amount of torque applied to the screws that hold the wall plate covers on), the majority of people can't try and replicate what you heard at their house. I personally like to use all of my formats including tape for reviews where I can. So there is my $.02 worth.
          Micro Seiki SX-8000 table with flywheel, SME 3012R arm, SME 312S arm, Lyra Etna SL and Dynavector XV-1S cartridges, ARC Ref 3 phono stage, Otari MX-55 tape deck, Ampex 350 repros, Roon Nucleus Plus server, PS Audio DSJ DAC, ARC Ref 6 pre, ARC Ref 75 amp, JBL 4345 speakers, and Def Tech Ref subs.

          Comment


          • #7
            I use whatever I am listening to and that I am really liking - usually something that is wideband. Does not matter to me if the reader has it or not, though I do my best to convey what I heard with that music and the item under review. LP or digital.
            Dave Clark
            Editor and Publisher, Positive Feedback
            www.positive-feedback.com

            Comment


            • #8
              Tape is such a small niche product, I have no interest in it. Nor would I expect many of the people who read my articles to be invested in tape. When one tape costs as much as many of the components I review, it doesn't make sense for me. I use records, and files on my server. All music I like, never files or records just because they "sound good." Then again, I do cover a niche in this market that many of you probably aren't otherwise interested in, so maybe it's all just that we need to deal with the market niche that interests us.
              Steve Lefkowicz
              Senior Associate Editor at Positive Feedback
              -
              Analog 1: Linn LP12 (MOSE/Hercules II), Ittok, Dynavector 10X5 MK.II Low, iPhono2/iPowerX; Analog 2: Pro-Ject RPM-1 Carbon, Talisman S, iFi iPhono.
              Digital: Samsung 300E5C notebook, JRiver Media Center 28, Tidal HiFi, Qobuz Studio), iFi NEO iDSD, iFi iUSB3, iPurifier2, Audioquest Jitterbug.
              Electronics: DIY passive line-stage, Antique Sound Labs MG-SI15DT-S, Burson Timekeeper Virtuoso
              Speakers: Tekton Lore, Magneplaner .7
              Interconnects: Morrow Audio MA1, Vermouth Audio Black Pearl, Audioquest Evergreen
              Speaker cables: Morrow Audio SP4, Vermouth Audio Red Velvet, Audioquest Type 5
              Digital cables: Aural Symphonics USB, iFi Gemini twin-head USB.
              Accessories: Sound Organization turntable shelf, Mondo racks, Pangea Audio Vulcan rack, Pi Audio Group Über BUSS, Monster HTS2000 power conditioner, Kinetronics anti-static brush, Pro-Ject VC-S record cleaner, Spin Clean record cleaner.
              Headphones: Schiit Valhalla amp, Burson Conductor Virtuoso Amp, Meze Audio 99 Classic and 99 Neo, Beyerdynamic DT770Pro 600 ohm, DT770 Studio 80 ohm, 1More Triple Driver Over Ear, 1More Triple Driver IEM

              Comment


              • Rust
                Rust commented
                Editing a comment
                Steve - More power to you.

            • #9
              Bringing a CD over to listen to someone's system is a no brainer. Vinyl works too, if they have a turntable. Bringing a thumb drive with music on it only works if they are into digital media, though it's getting more prominent. Tape - well, nobody uses that, or hardly nobody.

              Comment


              • #10
                I believe a review should include comments on readily available media so the reader can play along at home. Regardless what is in my system, I like to find out if what I hear on recording X is at all similar to what the review describes. Accounts from tape are fine as long as it is not the exclusive source.

                Comment


                • #11


                  I think it's instructive to go back and look at the use of musical examples in reviewing. It wasn't always a given. For instance, it wasn't until the mid-teens in TAS that HP and his reviewers began citing musical examples in their reviews. In part as mentioned, so the readers could check and pit their experiences vs. the reviewers. Kind of brilliant since it got the readers more engaged into the magazine. Back then, reviewers used both tape (HP, JGH, PHD and a few others) and records. I'd even aver that the early 7-1/2 ips, in line head tapes and their playback were better than the tables/arms/cartridge of the day. But 15 ips tapes were hard to come by back then. Lots of crap floating around then just as now.

                  Fast forward to 1980 and digital was all the rage. Audiophiles and reviewers alike were dumping their LPs and so were reviewers. So many, many reviewers (and even designers) became one trick ponies.

                  Fast forward again to 2017 and we now have 3 different mediums to choose from when reviewing and listening. Digital, records and tapes. Here, I'm going to speak as a reviewer, not necessarily reader--and I understand David's comments about availability and others about price. But the availability is much less of an issue unless you really want rock recordings and even that is changing slowly. Cost is another issue.

                  As a reviewer, I want 1) the best sounding source possible so as to eliminate any possible problems with the reviewing process; b) a source so I can crosscheck and have a reference for reviewing tables/arms and cartridges. Ten years ago, I came to a crossroads in my reviewing life where I had brought my table front-end end up to a level I was happy with. So what next? Invest in digital that was changing weekly or reel-to-reel tape. I think being an analog type guy made that decision easier. And having 30 minutes at 15 ips on a reel is pretty cool too. And when the reviewer in me shuts off, I glory in the sound of music on tape.

                  That's also the same approach that I've taken to building a reference system where the equipment in the chain can treat and do justice to both entry and cutting edge equipment. In other words, you wouldn't mount a 10K cartridge in a $1000 arm. Not generally anyway. It also allows me as a reviewer to really see what the performance ceiling is even of entry level gear. Could the buyer continue to get more out of their investment as they improve the gear around it or will it be a weak link as the system improves? To wit, I think the old Sumiko BP cartridge was better than people gave it credit for but most were using it in inexpensive arms that might have resonance or a host of other issues, especially back then. Put the BP in a better arm and it continued to sound better. Now it wouldn't be a world beater but again still could improve in performance.

                  Years ago, I wrestled with which albums to use as reference sources in my reviews especially in the period after digital when new records were becoming scarce. What good was it for the readers if I was using only OOP albums that no one could get ahold of. So my approach was to use a mix of currently available and older albums. Even back then an occasional CD. But only occasionally. But I felt it necessary to cover all the bases. Now I tend to use a mix of tape and LPs when reviewing. As Dave Clark mentioned, sometimes my album choice is something that I just found and am listening to. Something like for example, the new Wilson Audio reissue. Again, always keeping in mind that you have to choose the right recording so as to properly evaluate the equipment's performance. Tape really brings out the best in gear and many times the issues we hear in equipment is not the equipment but the source (let's leave the room out of the discussion for now).

                  Back to the original question. It's not an easy answer as everyone is an individual and has their own reasons:

                  1) Some reviewers use all three mediums in their reviewing like Mark, David Robinson, Jonathan Valin and a few others. Don't think Andre has used tape in his reviews yet but sure it will happen. (?<5%)
                  2) Some reviewers are still all or mostly analog like me for example. (?10%)
                  3) Some reviewers use a mixture of analog and digital. (?~40%)
                  4) Some reviewers are all digital like John Atkinson now. (?~40%)
                  (funny thought about the category mostly digital or all digital but here it's like 0s and 1s. Either you are into digital or you aren't)

                  Why don't reviewers use tape?

                  1) They haven't heard tape.
                  2) They don't like tape and its hassles or are scared of the medium when it reality it's just play, fast forward, rewind and stop. Not too hard, right?
                  3) They think digital is better than tape.
                  4) Their medium is good enough.
                  5) Getting into tape is too expensive -- not really, just a perception.
                  6) Tapes are too expensive.
                  Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
                  Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
                  ________________________________________

                  -Zellaton Plural Evo speakers
                  -Goldmund Telos 300 stereo amp
                  -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
                  -Doshi EVO and Goldmund PH3.8 phonostage
                  -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
                  -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
                  -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga Mk. 2, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MutechHayabusa, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
                  -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
                  -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 6, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
                  -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz 3 racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA OHIO Class 2.1+ platforms.

                  Comment


                  • #12
                    Why don't I get into tape?

                    Originally posted by MylesBAstor View Post
                    5) Getting into tape is too expensive -- not really, just a perception.
                    6) Tapes are too expensive.
                    These. Plus the sad reality that I've nowhere I could set up a R2R machine and not enough space for tape storage.
                    Analog: Holbo Turntable, Transfiguration Proteus; Forsell Air Reference, Transfiguration Phoenix S; Rega RP-8, VdH Crimson XGW; VPI Prime Signature, VAS Nova Mono, VAS Nova Signature, Symphonic Line RG-8
                    Digital: Mac mini 6,2 with YFS PS-12M LPS; Exogal Comet Plus, Exogal Ion PowerDAC
                    Electronics: Aurorasound Vida, Channel D Lino C; Merrill Cara, Gryphon M-100 Mkii (pair)
                    Cables: Morrow, Gryphon interconnects; YFS USB cable; Morrow, XLO, Channel D phono cables; Morrow, Gryphon, Goertz speaker cables

                    Comment


                    • #13
                      Myles - Does it matter what media is being used for an equipment review? To me it doesn't.
                      Dynavector DV20x2L MC cartridge - Genesis G7.1f speakers - Marantz Reference PM-KI-Pearl Int. Amp. - Oracle Audio Paris MkV turntable - Various Morrow & Valab/King cables

                      Comment


                      • #14
                        Originally posted by Johnny Vinyl View Post
                        Myles - Does it matter what media is being used for an equipment review? To me it doesn't.
                        I know you addressed this to Myles, but I'm going to take a swing at your question. Yes, it absolutely matters what media you are using to review gear. There are people who hate analog, people who hate digital, and people who could care less about tape. If you only use analog for let's say a speaker review, your probably going to alienate the digital or bust crowd because many of them think analog blows and since you used analog to review the gear, it can't be taken seriously. Ditto for analog lovers who hate digital. If you only review your gear with digital sources, it could alienate them. I try and cover all of the bases when possible. Obviously if you are reviewing a table/arm/cartridge, it's going to be an all analog review. Ditto for reviewing a DAC-all digital. People that don't like analog won't read the review anyway and people who hate digital probably won't read the digital review unless they are stuck on the bowl and have read everything else in the magazine.
                        Micro Seiki SX-8000 table with flywheel, SME 3012R arm, SME 312S arm, Lyra Etna SL and Dynavector XV-1S cartridges, ARC Ref 3 phono stage, Otari MX-55 tape deck, Ampex 350 repros, Roon Nucleus Plus server, PS Audio DSJ DAC, ARC Ref 6 pre, ARC Ref 75 amp, JBL 4345 speakers, and Def Tech Ref subs.

                        Comment


                        • #15
                          Originally posted by mep View Post

                          I know you addressed this to Myles, but I'm going to take a swing at your question. Yes, it absolutely matters what media you are using to review gear. There are people who hate analog, people who hate digital, and people who could care less about tape. If you only use analog for let's say a speaker review, your probably going to alienate the digital or bust crowd because many of them think analog blows and since you used analog to review the gear, it can't be taken seriously. Ditto for analog lovers who hate digital. If you only review your gear with digital sources, it could alienate them. I try and cover all of the bases when possible. Obviously if you are reviewing a table/arm/cartridge, it's going to be an all analog review. Ditto for reviewing a DAC-all digital. People that don't like analog won't read the review anyway and people who hate digital probably won't read the digital review unless they are stuck on the bowl and have read everything else in the magazine.
                          Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
                          Senior Editor, Positive-Feedback.com
                          ________________________________________

                          -Zellaton Plural Evo speakers
                          -Goldmund Telos 300 stereo amp
                          -Goldmund Mimesis 37S Nextgen preamplifier
                          -Doshi EVO and Goldmund PH3.8 phonostage
                          -VPI Vanquish direct-drive turntable
                          -VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy dual pivot tonearm, VPI 12-inch 3D Fat Boy gimballed and SAT LM-12 arm
                          -Lyra Atlas SL Lambda, Fuuga Mk. 2, vdh Colibri Master Signature, MutechHayabusa, MOFI Master Tracker, Sumiko Songbird cartridges
                          -Technics RS1506 with Flux Magnetic heads, Doshi V3.0 tape stage (balanced)
                          -Assorted cables including Transparent XL Gen. 6, Skogrand, Viero, Kubala-Sosna, Audience Au24SX, Genesis Advanced Technologies and Ensemble Power Cords
                          -Accessories including Stillpoint Aperture panels, Cathedral Sound panels, Furutech NCF Nano AC receptacles; Silver Circle Tchaik 6 PLC, Symposium ISIS and SRA Craz 3 racks, Audiodharma Cable Cooker, Symposium Ultra and assorted SRA OHIO Class 2.1+ platforms.

                          Comment


                          • MylesBAstor
                            MylesBAstor commented
                            Editing a comment
                            Possibly as an afterthought, there are some people that think if say a set of speakers sounds good with analog, it won't with digital and vice versa. Certainly in the dawn of digital, buying speakers from a designer who only used digital sources raised a red flag with me. Were those speakers designed to compensate for digital's flaws?

                          • jonathanb
                            jonathanb commented
                            Editing a comment
                            Ah, that brings to mind the exquisitely painful sound of a first generation CD player (a Sonographe, in my case) through a pair of Thiel CS-3's!
                            Last edited by jonathanb; 01-14-2017, 07:19 AM.

                          • MylesBAstor
                            MylesBAstor commented
                            Editing a comment
                            Or Maggie ribbons.
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