The Boulder 1012's is a line-level preamplifier and DAC in one box. Its design and build qualities are icons to elegant engineering know-how. No screws show on the rectangular box of large but not massive proportions, for example, which is all done up in matte aluminum and set off with a few highly polished stainless-steel buttons. The chassis construction uses tongue-and-groove techniques. The sides of the 1012 benefit from styling cues found on Boulder's newer amplifiers. As you can see from the photograph, the look is both elegant and hi-tech in a way very few other manufacturers manage.
Classé's Mike Viglas watched the audiophile skies, scratched his chin, and thought about his business. As he gazed, it occurred to him that if everyone in audio was moving downmarket to invade his territory, why not take his company and head upmarket? Thus was born Classé's much-lauded Omega series.
This episode of "Fine Tunes" is mainly about the care and feeding of speaker drivers. Before I launch into some of the tweaks—a few fairly wild and wacky—sent in by readers, here are two from my own experience.
Last month I wrote about lasers of various pedigrees, so useful in marking walls to the sides and behind the listening position to ensure that your loudspeakers are toed-in, level, and equidistant from the sweet spot for best soundstage, imaging and focus. Using small Avery stick-'em labels makes this a snap. I've converged the tweeter axes of my JMlab Utopias somewhere about a foot into the wall behind the rearmost of our two listening chairs, and use two Studio Traps and a single Argent RoomLens between the speakers to cancel and damp the near-rear-wall reflections. With just a jiggle of the chair back or forward, suddenly I'm there.
Every once in a while, a piece of super-esoteric gear crosses my path that, on the face of it, makes no sense whatsoever. Eventually, however, the component is revealed as being "merely" simple and elegant, begging the question: Must it always be done the way it's always been done?
Thanks to all the "Fine Tuners" out there who filled the room early on Sunday morning at the Home Entertainment 2001 Show in May for my "Fine Tunes Clinic." And thanks to Victor Tiscareno of Audio Prism/Red Rose Music for the "technical stiffening." I applaud all your intelligent curiosity, questions, and tales of woe and success. Let's do it again.
I have to remember how seriously audiophiles follow Stereophile. Reader David Zappardon's (firstname.lastname@example.org) e-mail to me began with "Hello, my friend." But I have to admit to feeling some guilt when he yowled that he'd wasted two fruitless hours of his time looking for the silver-bearing conductive grease I'd mentioned in the October 2000 "Fine Tunes."