Thursday, July 31, 2008

what I'm listening to now

I just completed my review of the W4S MC4 and it will likely make the Sept issue of A$$Audio, we'll see. All round, it's a really interesting amp, no maintenance, dead quiet, soundstage-controlling, high power amp. For the price, if you want power, I am not sure where you could get more of this for the price. But...but...but...I hate to admit it but those folks who claim Class D has something not quite right upstairs (the upper frequency reproduction) might be onto something. 

In my rig at this very moment is something completely different, an Audio Space REf 3.1 integrated amp with KT 88 output tubes. Wow -- only one pair of cables between CD player and amp, then speaker cables to the Von S Vr5SE. Simplicity has it's rewards -- this is a 22-40w unit (depending on how you use it, triode or ultralinear) but you'd never know it. Forget watts, think music. This unit will make any sensitive speaker (and listener) take notice. More anon.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Interesting TAS discussion on evaluation methods

Robert Harley wrote a provocative editorial in this months issue of TAS in which is essentially dismissed blind tests as having value in audio reviewing. Obviously not everyone agrees. To his credit, he has invited an ongoing discussion of this topic at the TAS forum, which you can find here. As you soon realize when you discuss blind or sightless comparison, the topic spawns more heat than light and tends to divide people into camps. Sadly, there are few people who will admit that blind testing is a useful method, one among many, and while it is possible to set up silly tests that offer little real insight into true listening behavior, it is also possible to design reliable tests, albeit at some cost in terms of time and effort.  Human reactions to stimuli (musical or otherwise) are not trivially determined by one variable so we should recognize that by seeing what we are listening to, we are letting more than sound drive our impressions. My main wish is that people could have an intelligent and open-minded discussion of this, but it seems most audio lists where the topic arises soon degenerate into extremist (and often uninformed) rhetoric. Let's see how the TAS site evolves, and cudos to Robert Harley for taking a lead.