"Preaching to the converted," I sighed to myself as I read the manual for the Stax Omega II Earspeaker headphone system. I fondly recalled my headphone reference for all time—the Most Fabulous and Seductive Sennheiser Orpheus tubed electrostatics, which Thomas J. Norton reviewed for Stereophile in 1994. I recalled the Orpheus's heady, open, fast, and colorfully wideband sound, and clutched my palpitating heart.
Paul Kelly (firstname.lastname@example.org) recently sent me a most interesting e-mail titled "Cones, Stones, & Groans." I'll share it with you now, as I gave "Sean" (email@example.com) a chance to expound on cones and how they work under equipment in the February "Fine Tunes." After reading through all the "Fine Tunes" archived on the Stereophile website (I thank him for his positive remarks), Paul wrote:
The L2 Reference sits at the top of Lamm Industries' preamplifier line. According to the manual, its "unique" circuitry uses specially selected, superlinear, high-voltage MOSFET transistors that ensure class-A operation from input to output, with no overall negative feedback at any stage. All stages, including the high-current output buffers, are single-ended.
I get mail. Boy do I get mail! But I love hearing about and sharing some of the tips'n'tweaks from all you Victims of the Musical Quest. I can't help myself. Neither can you, I understand. Come to me. [sob]
While walking home from the office the other day I passed a gleaming, perfectly detailed Harley-Davidson, lightly customized, as many are these days. I didn't stop and drool, but I couldn't unsnap my eyes from it. As I drew parallel to that hawg, a Ricky Martin look-alike threw his leg over the saddle and thumbed the starter. No, you don't have to be a tattooed, beer-gutted redneck anymore to rear up and slam down on a kick-starter of one of those beasts. These days, it's all done with the push of a button. Dude.
As an audio journalist "servicing" the High End (ouch!), I surf the Web waves to see what's going on on the various audio newsgroups and bulletin boards. Sometimes the Net resembles the Concorde going down, the crash video'd by a passing French motorist: Ashen faces pressed against car windows driving slowly by to check out the carnage.
What's it take to compete on the bleeding edge of digital? Foresight, commitment of resources, and lots of money. Of course, it's all fundamentally about money, so we shouldn't be surprised that the audiophile's emotional needs aren't paid much respect by the large international manufacturing and marketing concerns stalking the earth today. Megaglom vs Cockroachacus. [Sigh] Where are those pesky miniature princess twins when you need 'em?
The dCS Purcell is named after Henry Purcell, the English composer, organist, bass, countertenor who was born in 1659 and died in, alas, 1695. It's a digital/digital converter intended for consumer use, as opposed to the less elegantly packaged pro-audio version, the dCS 972, that I reviewed in February 1999. Both devices increase the sample rate and/or word length of the output from linear PCM digital audio sources like CD or DVD up to a maximum sample rate of 192kHz and a word length of 24 bits. According to the extensive documentation, this is achieved by "using extremely powerful and accurate digital interpolation filters, which yield an output signal having negligible levels of distortion."