Tuesday, December 4, 2012

(Re) Discovering the Importance of Loudspeaker Placement

Being in business for 10 years does not make one immune to rookie errors on occasion  Case in point:  I was heading out of town for a much needed break from everyday life, when a potential customer called a few hours before my scheduled trip and asked to hear a pair of Vivid loudspeakers I did not have set up in my showroom. I agreed to have him come over and listen, and hastily set up the loudspeakers, not following a single rule of loudspeaker placement.  The customer came over, listened very briefly, and politely left. His comments were "they sounded awfully bright", and you know what, he was absolutely right. I sat myself down in the listening spot, and it was awful. Unfocused, out of balance and with a tilted up mid-treble region. I had listened to these speakers 100 times before and never heard this. I blamed the cables, the upstream components, tweaks, everything but the obvious.

I came back from my trip rested, but still perplexed at why the system did not sound good at all. I had no desire to listen to it.  Then my friend Mike came over for a listen and his first question to me was "did you set up the speakers properly?" "Holy crap, I didn't even think about it!", I replied. We then took the time to place the speakers properly, which took about 20 minutes. We used a laser tape measure to get the speakers equidistant from the listening position with the proper ratio between the speakers and listener (we used a ratio of .83 distance between speakers to 1.0 distance from speakers to listeners. Wilson's setup method used a ratio of  approximately .87, your mileage may vary, but these numbers tend to work more often than not.

When we finished setting up the distance and proper toe-in of the speakers, it sounded like a completely different system. The focus was back, the wide, deep soundstage, and the beautiful tonality the speakers were known for returned.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Audience Introduces the Au24 SE Interconnect

The award winning Audience Au24 e series interconnect has been improved. The new Au24 SE interconnects offer cryo-treated tellurium copper connectors and are reported to dig even deeper into the recorded information, revealing the most subtle musical cues and information. Pricing is to be slightly more than the Au24 e series, and upgrades from the e series to SE are available. Call 303-653-6341 for details.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

3 Reasons to Archive Your Vinyl Collection

1. The obvious - preserving your record collection 
Some of us have enormous record collections, and have had more than a passing thought about archiving it to a digital file. 

2. The convenience - It's not hard to imagine the convenience of being able to stream your favorite records, create playlists, and listen for hours without having to get up and flip/change the record. I mean, who wouldn't want that?

Problem #1 - The process
The issue with archiving vinyl is it's not like ripping a CD, where you can archive a copy at 16x playback speed if you wish. To record your vinyl you have to do it at 1x speed, and that is a pain in the arse.  That brings us to...

Problem #2
The sound quality. Why bother archiving your record collection at all if the sound quality is not going to be remotely close to what the original vinyl sounds like? Spending all of that time for a substandard result just seems wasteful. This has been the biggest issue with archiving vinyl. Either you suffer with an inexpensive USB turntable with limited output options, and no cartridge options, or you cobble together an expensive series of pro gear, with complicated user interfaces and settings. Neither seems very  attractive. 

3. The sound, finally - The recording equipment has finally become worthy of the effort of archiving your collection. The M2Tech Joplin  A/D converter makes 32/384 copies of your vinyl to store on your Mac or PC.

The Joplin takes any analog source and can make super high resolution files for archiving or playback.  The product has applications such as:
  • Archiving record collections
  • Archiving reel to reel collections
  • Even archiving your prerecorded cassettes of Winger from your 80's hair band phase!

The Joplin will connect right to the tone arm output connectors for all mm and some mc cartridges and convert the vinyl recording to a 384 kHz 32 bit file for storage on a server, PC or MAC. 

The Joplin has built in RIAA equalization and 16 different EQ curves for the majority of vinyl labels.  Curves used when the albums were cut.

The same goes for reel-to-reel tapes dating back decades, cassettes, anything analog. There is also equalization for 3 3/4 ips and 7 1/2 ips and 15 ips tape allowing you to pull audio right off the tape head.

Finally there is a simple, high quality solution for archiving any analog source, converting it to ultra high resolution digital, and bringing you digital that sounds much closer to the analog version than anything else out there.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Synergistic Research's Tranquility Base for PC's, and Digital Components

“After living with the Tranquility Base for four months, I have come to the conclusion that it is an indispensable component in my audio system” - Steve Plaskin, AudioStream.com 
 2 recent new reviews of the Tranquility Base from Synergistic Research. The Tranquility Base is an audio platform that is unlike anything you have ever seen or heard. It uses Synergistic Research's ElectroMagnetic Cell technology, which has the ability to condition signal while still in the computer - just as it does when conditioning AC (like from their PowerCell) and signal running through cables (like our Galileo Interconnect and Speaker Cells). 

Synergistic Research Tranquility BASE

Highlights from the Audio Stream .com Steve Plaskin’s review:
“The first impression I had when listening with the Tranquility Base was an enhancement of the size of the soundstage...”
“...not an exaggeration or distortion of the soundstage size, but simply an opening up or expansion of the recording’s acoustic space...”
“...I was also able to perceive an increase in soundstage height… Turning off the Base resulted in a contraction of the soundstage with a loss of acoustic space...”
“With the Tranquility Base off, the soundstage did not extend much beyond the speakers. With it on, the orchestra opened up with an almost holographic reproduction of Mel’s voice.”

Synergistic Research Tranquility BASE XL with Esoteric Amp

“One could hear the air surrounding the instruments and singers more clearly with the Tranquility Base...”
“Bass was also enhanced with the Tranquility Base. It seemed to be more powerful, dynamic, and better controlled...”
“The Tranquility Base performed its magic without hardening or brightening the sound...”
Synergistic Research Tranquility BASE conditioning a wireless router“One other quality of the Tranquility Base is its acoustic isolation properties… the Base is actually two products combined”

Red Input: Power for Active Circuit, Green Input: Passive Ground Plane Connection and 2 Enigma Tuning Bullets, Gray & Silver

“The Enigma Tuning Bullets provide another fine tuning feature. The Silver Bullet is airy and very open sounding with a large soundstage. The Grey Bullet is warmer with less air and soundstage size”“After living with the Tranquility Base for four months, I have come to the conclusion that it is an indispensable component in my audio system”Link to full review

High Fidelity Poland Review: Tranquility BASE
The Tranquility Base earns high praise in Poland’s premier audio publication. Read the Review in English translation here.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Luxman Integrated Amplifiers - Modern Simplicity - Retro Looks - Great Sound

Germany may be the land of finely crafted automobile's that have stood the test of time, but Japan is the home of one electronics manufacturer that has remained steadfast in it's commitment to high quality audio. Luxman Audio has been around for over 80 years, producing state of the art audio components that sound fantastic and are built to last for generations. Unlike it's Japanese competitors Yamaha and Denon, Luxman decided not to focus on home theater, big-box stores, and disposable electronics.
The Luxman L-590Ax

One particular area of audio components regaining popularity are Luxman integrated amplifiers. They offer the sound of separate components, within the simple framework of a single chassis. One of my favorite Luxman integrateds is the Luxman L550Ax. This particular integrated amplifier sports a class A amplifier section. Class A Amplifiers have less distortion than a typical Class AB amplifier. Their signature sound is warmer, richer and more resolving. The drawback to a Class A amplifier is it needs more room to "breathe" because it runs warmer than a Class AB amplifier.

Luxman integrateds are extremely well built and very conservatively rated. A 30wpc Class A Luxman integrated will play nearly as loud as any other 100wpc integrated, and it will sound much better too. Most of my clients looking to simplify, or looking for a second system that sounds nearly as good as their main system go for the Luxman Class A integrated amplifier.

What makes Luxman sound better?

LECUA Volume Control
The Luxman X series integrated amplifiers use a version of the LECUA 1000 attenuator that is used in their $33,000 C-1000 preamplifier. It is perfectly balanced at all volume settings and is remarkably neutral sounding at all volume settings.

The LECUA* attenuator is designed to electrically block both electromagnetic (EMI) as well as radio frequency (RFI) interference, so that no noise is allowed into the delicate audio signal.

Luxman's proprietary ODNF (Only Distortion Negative Feedback) circuit  has been updated to version 3.0A; now three passes are made of the audio signal, which applies negative feedback only where distortion is present, without introducing any phase distortion.  This lossless audio circuit enables the amplifier to retrieve every musical nuance & detail captured by the recording engineers.

Other features of the Luxman L550Ax Integrated
  • A separete switch for splitting the preamp section from the amp section, for example the inclusion of a Home Theater Processor, where you use the amp in the L550Ax to drive the front L + R speakers, but control the volume from the HT Processor.
  • Mono, subsonic (Rumble for you vinyl lovers) & loudness filter switches on the remote control, Loudness is a wonderful feature for late night, quiet listening. It also has a few buttons that support the D-05/06/08 CD SACD players basic functions.
  • The L-550Ax has a newly redesigned phono stage; which is both more refined & musical. Turntable enthusiasts will be floored by the performance of the phono section.
  • Higher quality speaker terminals, spread out horizontally to allow easy access for large cable.
  • The L-550Ax now has LINE STRAIGHT (engage / disengage the tone controls) & SEPARATE available on the remote control.  There is no excuse for not using the tone controls, especially when they can be engaged / disengaged from the comfort of the listening chair.
  • LOUDNESS,  MONO & SUBSONIC (Filter)  have all been moved to the remote control, an LED underneath the VU Meters is activated when they are engaged.
  • The remote control includes basic controls for the D-05, 06 & 08 CD /SACD players
Whether you are just getting back into high definition audio, are looking to simplify your system, or are looking for a second system to rival your main rig, Luxman integrated amplifiers shoud definitely be on your short list of must audition audio components. Contact Tweek Geek today at 303-653-6341 to discuss auditioning a Luxman integrated amplifier in your own home. Our knowledgeable staff is eager to answer your questions and assist you in matching other components with the Luxman integrated amplifiers.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

5 Tips on Making your PC Audio Source Sound Fantastic

The PC is fantastic at storing our music collections, allowing us easy access to our music libraries instantaneously. The problem is they are electronically and mechanically noisy. This post addresses ways to reduce the amount of EMI and RFI that the PC "leaks" into your audio system. Below are a few tips designed to address minimizing the amount of electronic noise your Music PC generates and radiates back into your audio system
  1. NEVER plug your PC into the same circuit that powers your audio system. Even if you have a power conditioner for your system, and it has an extra filtered receptacle, don't do it.
  2. Stillpoints ERS - When installed internally on your PC, ERS paper or ERS tape reduces the amount of internally generated RF noise coming from the PC’s power supply, and circuits. ERS has also been known to help reduce noise when placed around the USB input of an audio component. Be careful with ERS however, as the edges are particularly conductive. Treat it like copper foil when installing it inside an electronic device.
  3. Audience aR2P - The Audience aR2P is an audio grade power filter and conditioner. Plug your PC into the aR2P to not just clean the power feeding the computer, but to keep the garbage your computer is putting back into the AC line from getting to your audio components. If you have more than two components in your PC audio source that need power (for instance, a powered USB/SPDIF converter) we recommend the Wireworld Matrix power strip be plugged into one of the receptacles on the aR2P, allowing you to power 7 additional devices (and keep them outside of the Audio system's "grid").  
  4.   Synergistic Research Tranquility Basik - This breakthrough isolation platform is capable of conditioning signal while still inside your components. When used underneath a PC like the Mac Mini. It utilized the same principles that the Synergistic PowerCell's incorporate. There is a small EM cell that conditions the signal inside your PC. Ask for an in-home audition, we have some available in our lending library. ...But wait, there's more!
  5. Wireworld "figure 8" AC adapter - Allows you to use a better power cord on your audio PC. Most PC power cords are not shielded. By using an unshielded power cord you allow AC garbage to get into your PC (as if it needs any more), as well as be sent back through the power cord to the rest of your AC "grid".