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rmck818
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Two Towers of Worms

I would imagine Messrs. Fremer and Atkinson as well as our web master are somewhat surprised regarding the dearth of posts regarding the "High-Power Towers", Musical Fidelity's Supercharger Amps in the September Issue. You all must have it by now, my copy has stains and curling pages! I too believed this review would split open the proverbial can o' worms on this forum regarding at least some of the conclusions drawn by Messr. Fremer, although I personally do not find them to be out of character for the author. Not that they have been Fremer'd (pardon me, Mr. F.), but that his finding match well with his opinions that I have read in the past, while those opinions and corresponding findings may not sit well with some audiophiles.

Regardless, what is of far more significance and controversial, is that it seems these amps may provide us with the ability to have the best of two worlds. That is, to take a low powered, anemic and finicky but otherwise glorious sounding tube amplifier, and connect to it a solid state power booster that will preserve its sound quality superimposed onto the otherwise transparent amplitude of a 1/2 kilowatt output waveform. The number of worms in this can are many and intertwined indeed, among them that tube amplifiers do have a characteristics sound that while is preferred by many audiophiles, vary one from another and may not be the absolute truth; that a new variation of solid state amp can pass that character through it virtually unaltered except in amplitude; that this signal may have even been "improved" beyond a large power gain, in that the final source impedance is now much lower, that it will now drive low impedances better, not to mention the 'D' word, distortion.

These are only a few that come immediately to my mind, I'm sure there are many others including variations and extensions of the few obvious ones I mentioned. I am not claiming that any of these things are true or false, possible or not, or that my interpretation of this review is the only one possible. For example, this review might be seen as a YAF (Yet Another Fremer) (again, pardon me Mr. F.), that a new magical component has been created that can combine a 1/2 Watt SET with a solid state behemoth, the result greater than the sum of its parts.

So fellow forum members, please accept my offering of this post as the start of a nice clean but vigorous discussion of this review, this product, and its implications, both practical and philosophical. I must warn you all that I am blissfully ignorant of any of the audiophile postings in newsgroups, etc, where this may already be a volcano of controversy, I do not have the time to spend visiting them. One forum is more than enough for me at this time.

Personally, I will say I wonder if anyone else would of had the cajones to put into print what Messr. Fremer did. Some may see it caused by the lack of a different organ. I do believe the ultimate test was not done, that of a "flea powered" SET amplifier connected to these amps, with the result something never heard before. . . Oh wait, doesn't someone else claim that?

And don't forget, don't shoot the messenger (to much). (I meant me actually)

dbowker
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Re: Two Towers of Worms

You bring up some good points. My main question was that, for 5k, couldn't you just find the right amps in the first place? Yeah, I know, maybe you just have to have those mini SET amps, but still... The product seems to make sense though in a basic technical sense- it's gotta be a very small market niche that they'd apply to though. Most people just buy the amp they want and match it with compatible speakers. Not too many 25 watt amps paired with big electrostatics I'd bet, so you wonder about who will be buying them.

bifcake
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Re: Two Towers of Worms

MF hobnobs quite extensively with Musical Fidelity's owner and Musical Fidelity is a big advertiser on MF's site, so take this review with a grain of salt. Actually, take this review with a bucket of salt.

Editor
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Re: Two Towers of Worms


Quote:
MF hobnobs quite extensively with Musical Fidelity's owner and Musical Fidelity is a big advertiser on MF's site, so take this review with a grain of salt.

While I agree that readers should maintain a healthy skepticism about review findings, there is a difference between such skepticism and the defamatory BS you fling about, AlexO.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

bifcake
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Re: Two Towers of Worms


Quote:

Quote:
MF hobnobs quite extensively with Musical Fidelity's owner and Musical Fidelity is a big advertiser on MF's site, so take this review with a grain of salt.

While I agree that readers should maintain a healthy skepticism about review findings, there is a difference between such skepticism and the defamatory BS you fling about, AlexO.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

How is it defamatory BS? It states in the article that Musical Fidelity is an advertiser on MF's site. MF had mentioned in his other articles about hanging out with Musical Fidelity people. What is it about my statement that's defamatory or BS?

I've made no bones about how I feel about soliciting advertising for one's own personal business from the same people whose components you review. I've made my distaste for such behavior abundantly clear. I also feel that reviews from writers who engage in such practices are highly suspect. That's neither defamatory nor BS.

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Re: Two Towers of Worms


Quote:

Quote:

Quote:
MF hobnobs quite extensively with Musical Fidelity's owner and Musical Fidelity is a big advertiser on MF's site, so take this review with a grain of salt.

While I agree that readers should maintain a healthy skepticism about review findings, there is a difference between such skepticism and the defamatory BS you fling about, AlexO.

How is it defamatory BS? It states in the article that Musical Fidelity is an advertiser on MF's site. MF had mentioned in his other articles about hanging out with Musical Fidelity people. What is it about my statement that's defamatory or BS?

Ask yourself how you know all this, AlexO? It is because _we_ tell you! Why we would tell you if we feel that we have something to hide?

We work hard to try to eliminate all influences on our reviewers' opinions other than the sound. I am spending this weekend, for example, auditioning an amplifier that is to be reviewed in our December issue because the reviewer felt there was something peculiar about the sound. I am trying the amplifier with different speakers in order to rule out or to confirm the existence of one of those occasional incompatibilities you find between an amp and specific speaker. And even when I am confident that the reviewer's description of a component's sound in his review is correct, we still give you _all_ the relevant information.


Quote:
I've made no bones about how I feel about soliciting advertising for one's own personal business from the same people whose components you review. I've made my distaste for such behavior abundantly clear. I also feel that reviews from writers who engage in such practices are highly suspect. That's neither defamatory nor BS.

Except that it is your opinion only, not some universal truth, AlexO. It is BS because I _know_ that whether or not a company advertises on Michael's website or in Stereophile _doesn't_ affect the outcome of a Stereophile review. I took exception, not to your opinion, AlexO, but to your casual and public dismissal of so much work on my part and and of the part of other members of the Stereophile team. And if you do believe what you say to be true, AlexO, that the magazine's reviews are not appropriately impartial, then why do you even read Stereophile?

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Buddha
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Re: Two Towers of Worms

I don't know if there is an "acceptable" way to bring up some issues with the review, so here goes...

1) I admit to some Musical Fidelity burnout. It's my own problem, yeah, I know, but they show up so much I feel a little desensitized. I don't feel negatively toward them, just kind of...oh, another Musical Fidelity review, fancy that. I think it may cloud my reaction to what they are up to.

Maybe they are the engine of the industry and I am just lagging behind, but I have Mu Fi overload.

Which may also cloud my feelings about this next thing about the review...

2) Musical Fidelity "invented" the original X-10D device specifically to color the sound of one's system as an aesthetic thing, which is fine, but it was definitely a "gimmick," like it or not. I own one, it's a toy, fine. Then the product evolved and I thought, "Well, they gotta keep 'changing it' to keep sales going."

Fine, again.

Now, they have another product that is supposed to have "no sonic signature" and it makes your idiosyncratic sounding amp keep its idiosyncratic sound, only more so. Now they have a gimmicky product that is supposed to do the opposite of their previous gimmigky product.

OK, but I've also lived through the days of Bob Carver designing products that mimic the sound of certain reference components, and I feel like I'm back 20 years, only Mu Fi is the new Carver. The product hit me as "unoriginal," which is unfair to the product, I guess, but that's my reaction, nonetheless.

I'm sorry, I can't get enthused, which bothers me, actually.

3) I've read Mr. Fremer as long as he's been writing and reviewing, but I need to work through some "issues" before I can sign back on to trusting what he hears.

Last year, we had the interconnects that didn't really carry the whole signal.

Then, we had the broken 40K CD player that was the best thing ever. Even once it was fixed, he only noted improvement, but still assigned no real decrement to the original "broken" sound. If he can't hear 'broken,' then how am I to 'trust' a review and get excited about a result? I've fallen into a credibility gap with regard to his reviews - which also bums me out.

Then we had the fantastically magnetic ultra turntable (with certainly the most powerful magnets ever employed in a product I've encountered) with powerful magnets everywhere, mere inches below the cartridge, but he suddenly noticed that a degmagnetizer of nonmagnetic materials changed its sound.

I added that all together and came up questioning his ears; which is part of life as an audiophile, but then it takes some good amount of time to regain trust - so what he says in this review leaves me nonplussed, and I've never even heard this new product by Mu Fi. How long does it take to regain your trust in someone's reviews, and is it fair to judge like that?

Put all that together, and, as a consumer, this new product gets the ten foot pole treatment. Right now, like a new prescription drug hitting the market, I think I'll change to being a late adapter rather than an early one. Any chance Wes could give it a listen?

bifcake
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Re: Two Towers of Worms


Quote:

Ask yourself how you know all this, AlexO? It is because _we_ tell you! Why we would tell you if we feel that we have something to hide?

You're right. I know this because YOU told me. I always gave you credit for that. By the same token, I have always stated that disclosure is not enough.


Quote:
We work hard to try to eliminate all influences on our reviewers' opinions other than the sound. I am spending this weekend, for example, auditioning an amplifier that is to be reviewed in our December issue because the reviewer felt there was something peculiar about the sound. I am trying the amplifier with different speakers in order to rule out or to confirm the existence of one of those occasional incompatibilities you find between an amp and specific speaker. And even when I am confident that the reviewer's description of a component's sound in his review is correct, we still give you _all_ the relevant information.

Yes, you do. You work really hard and I appreciate the fact that you really go out of your way to do your best. I've stated that on these forums. Alas, my praises don't get as much attention as my criticism.


Quote:

Except that it is your opinion only, not some universal truth, AlexO.

That is absolutely correct. It is my opinion. I'm not privy to universal truths. However, my opinions are based on certain facts. One of the facts is that Musical Fidelity advertises on MF's site. I see that as a conflict of interest. Hence, I form an opinion that MF's reviews of manufacturers who advertise on his site are suspect. I don't see this as an unreasonable deduction.


Quote:

It is BS because I _know_ that whether or not a company advertises on Michael's website or in Stereophile _doesn't_ affect the outcome of a Stereophile review.

I don't see how you can know this for a fact. You can trust that MF is doing his best not to be biased, but you really don't know that his relationships with manufacturers, financial transactions and the obvious conflict of interest that these relationships generate don't affect his reviews.


Quote:

I took exception, not to your opinion, AlexO, but to your casual and public dismissal of so much work on my part and and of the part of other members of the Stereophile team.

I never dismissed the work that YOU and other members put in each and every issue and review. What I did dismiss was this particular review from this particular reviewer for reasons outlined above. I don't find MF credible when it comes to certain manufacturers.


Quote:

And if you do believe what you say to be true, AlexO, that the magazine's reviews are not appropriately impartial, then why do you even read Stereophile?

I never said Stereophile has no value. You don't throw out the baby with the bath water. Perhaps I haven't been ardent enough in stating the things I do like about Stereophile, so I will take this opportunity to list the things I think Stereophile does right:

  • Measurements - I love just how thorough and methodical you are in measuring every piece of equipment that goes through a formal review. Your measurement section is no nonsense, precise and to the point. It dispenses with superlatives and concentrates purely on the measured performance. This, combined with the subjective review makes for a very potent combination, giving the reader a good feel for a piece of equipment
  • Transparency - you list everything that goes on during the review period whether it's the fact that the manufacturer or dealer came down to help or if the equipment broke down during the review process. That's a terrific policy.
  • Good writers - You have a knack for picking people who can write well. Stereophile is just a good read. I thoroughly enjoy Sam's Space even though I find him to be extremely whacky sometimes with his recommendations (ie putting armorall on CDs for improved sound or something like that), he is a really good writer and a very entertaining read. I enjoy Art Dudley's column. Even though I may not care about a particular DIY project that he's taken up, it's still a fun read. In fact, I enjoyed his column even more when he was able to interject his political leanings into things that had nothing to do with politics. He's very clever and has a very good command of the language. He is a terrific addition to Stereophile, as is Ken Kessler.
  • Variety of equipment - Stereophile reviews equipment for every budget, every taste and every topology. It strikes a good balance between the esoteric and the main stream (as mainstream goes in an otherwise niche market). Speakers and electronics costing from a few hundred to a few hundred thousand dollars get reviewed. There's something for everyone.

I do not wish to come off one sided as a Stereophile basher. As you can see, there are many things I like about Stereophile. Enough to have been a subscriber for ten years. However, there are things that I feel need improvement, some of them being quite serious. I feel those things need to be addressed and as a dedicated Stereophile reader, I want to see certain things improve, rather than simply throw up my hands and let my subscription expire.

CECE
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Re: Two Towers of Worms

It would be good if we had a measuremnt of MF's ears? Let's see what kind of hearing he has, cus he sure do hear things, most mortals cannot. JA measuremnts brings back the sanity. When $40K CD only players are mis wired out of the box. That's un acceptable, I'm sure they ain't stamping them out like $200 mass produced units, that ARE wired correctly. How is that possible? Then there is the usual array of "magic" components, from another fav company that makes some mystery science items, only heard by non mortals. Have you listened to your vibrating wall outlets lately?

dormston
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Re: Two Towers of Worms

'Tis an interesting read across that the very single thing which inspired me to get back into this wonderful world of Hi Fi was an article about an amp I felt I just had to buy - and many other sites would not touch it (apparently) at the time of first release...so I waited a while...and then bought one anyway...no big deal, just slightly under "retail" whatever that might mean - I kept it the box for a long time and in the meantime did loads of research so I could maybe join ONE site's forum's to maybe do some fast track relearning all the other stuff associated with such a purchase after taking time out for a few years...

Huge power, modern solid state and certainly the absolute pinnacle of what I was trying to achieve at the time - I did (maybe still do?) have aspirations of seeking out some USA manufacturers of highend gear items to perhaps set up a European distributorship of some kind...(seriously, no joke)...and the one minor problem I had with the review was that the reviewer advised that the XLR connections were not working on his test rig....which at the time I figured was no big deal as any reviewer worth a dime would never make such a mistake in real life and that it must have been a joke of some kind I could not understand as I was a relative 'newbie' to such things...balanced XLR versus RCA??? Jings it had to be a joke of some kind....so I ignored that one small comment in an otherwise brilliant review...and joined these forums which are...interesting...to maybe learn about cables...

So, I then spent a few more dollars on finding a maker of pre-amps and imported some of his kit to trial alongside a brand new power amp which was unquestionable in terms of what it could do...

And I unboxed loads of old stuff...and away I went...well, not quite...the old stuff worked better than the new until I finally found a great company which made passive pre's using something other than crappy pot's and WOW does that power amp do the business with a decent passive or what!!! Everything the reviewer said and then some...unbelievable, untapped, unreserved, unlimited pure power which I cannot handle with any speakers I have...simply a brilliant amp which deserves more than passive Kabers, old Dimension's or el cheapo anything...

So anyway, after the manufacturer decided to withdraw the amp after less than two years of trying to sell them AND never once being able to sell a matching preamp in the UK (or anywhere ouside maybe the Far East?) I decided to try direct contact with them to see if maybe a genuine user (??? that might be a joke!) could maybe assist in some way...negotiations are ongoing...basically they do not believe they could ever have got a sales strategy so wrong...(my words and interpretation).

Simple basic mistakes that the lowest pleb on any production line would never make in a dozen years? Lousy review by someone who should know better? Lousy product from one of most respected manufacturers in the world for the past many decades? Lousy decision to try the market for seriously highend amps without getting the basics correct? Lousy product doomed to failure anyway?

So many questions?

I decided a few days ago to get away from this site...but decided to hang around because of the vibes I was getting that someone needed to break this whole mess so that it could be fixed...an editor...who seems like a good guy that just needs to go back to basics for a wee while rather than try to be clever and/or defensive on forums...forums is for us plebs...you is a thee boss...no mess with us lower folks...

http://stereophile.com/solidpoweramps/405yamaha/

Talk any language you choose John...except swearing or poetry because I have regained my principles...I am ready and waiting..and my amp glows a nice shade of blue...with XLR connections just drooling to be tested...or maybe they have been already...tee hee...

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