Hafler Transnova 9500 power amplifier Associated equipment

Sidebar 2: Associated equipment

The Hafler was auditioned with a variety of loudspeakers, but I spent most of my listening time with it in the company of the Vandersteen 2Ces. The preamp was the Rowland Consummate. Comparison amplifiers included the Aragon 4004 Mk.II, Sonic Frontiers SFS-80, and Krell KSA-250.

The CD transport was either the belt-drive C.E.C. imported by Parasound or the Pioneer Elite PD-65 used as a transport (the latter used primarily when the Wilson WATT/Puppies or the Apogee Stages were in the system), used to drive a PS Audio Ultralink via Kimber AGDL. The processor-to-preamp link was TARA Labs RSC Master, and the preamp-to-power-amp link was Cardas Hexlink. Symo loudspeaker cables were used except with the WATT/Puppies, where RSC Master loudspeaker cable was used (but with an MIT Puppytail connecting the WATTs and Puppies). Program material was primarily CD.—Thomas J. Norton

Hafler, A Division of Rockford Corporation
546 South Rockford Drive
Tempe, AZ 85281
(602) 967-3565

Anon2's picture

All these walks down memory lane make me think that, perchance, the state of the art in audio has not advanced too much. I get growing hints with these articles that perhaps I should look on eBay and elsewhere for pennies-on-the-dollar bargains (and someone to install new capacitors), instead of paying thousands, if not tens of thousands, more for successor "new gear."

Capacitors can be replaced if one finds a competent technician--and we have them in large metros. Speaker drivers can be replaced.

Are we not being told that only the Nissan 280Z, or post-1984 Corvettes, were classics that merit refurbishment, for a huge bargain, rather than paying thousands more for products that are "newer," but offer not much else on the performance front?

Worse, perhaps these articles tell us that not much has changed at all? Is the 1980s, 1990s CRT TV but still a CRT TV in new trappings in its audio, 2016 equivalent? Meanwhile, we have phones that outshine their Assembler Language counterparts of the Apollo age. We have 50" LED TVs that on a good day cost a fraction at a big-box retailer, and offer multiples of performance of their CRT 110-pound predecessors of 10-15 years ago.

Keep the articles coming. I keep thinking. Based on a recent article a significant musician, interviewed in this publication, has also thought, and opted for keeping 20-year old gear in favor of "mortgaging a house" on the latest and greatest.

jeffdyer's picture

I am sure that you are correct.

Analogue power electronics achieved almost perfect levels of realism in the 1970s, certainly since the end of the 1980s there has been little change in amplifier technology.

I'm sure you could pick up just about any 1980s quality stereo amplifier and plug it straight into your system. However, I doubt it would satisfy the AC power cable upgrade freaks out there.

Now the sources though, that's where the improvements have been made.

Herb Reichert's picture

and I always wanted one of these

Anon2's picture

I am glad that someone shares my views. I do concur that sources is where the action has occurred. It is also the one rare area of audio with a plausible better-performance-at-lower-prices that we see with TVs, computers, phones, etc. Improvement in sources also tend to re-validate the hi-fi hierarchy of old--we don't hear much of that one anymore either. Optimize the source (where the cost savings and big improvements are). Then go to amplification (again, go used and it's a bonus if you have a good technician in your locale to inspect of refurbish). Then optimize your speakers (an area where performance improvements seem spotty while prices march upward, with some exceptions).