DEAR FELLOW MEMBERS,
HAS ANYONE TRIED TO COMPARE THE ARC REF 610 AND THE VTL SIEGFRIED MONOBLOCKS. I HOPE WE CAN GET SOME COMMENTS,
OPINIONS FROM BOTH MR. VALIN AND MR PEARSON.
THANKS IN ADVANCE,
Unfortunately, neither Harry nor I have actually heard both amps in our systems. I have heard the Siegfrieds and other VTL amps at shows, however, and they've generally sounded gorgeous, albeit not very much like the ARC 610T. A lot of folks may prefer the rich, smooth, majestic, euphonious presentation of the VTLs (particularly in systems with ribbon tweeters or the like). The ARC is, like all ARC amps, a (realistically) bright (in the sense of sounding vivid and airy in the upper mids), (realistically) light (in the sense of "lighting up" the soundstage), bloomy, very high resolution, very neutral and low-noise tube amplifier with (like the VTLs) power to spare and simply phenomenal soundstaging. To me--and this is not a definitive opinion because, as noted, I haven't made the direct comparison with VTL (and probably never will)--the 610T simply sounds more "lifelike" in the midband than ANY other amp I've heard in my home (including the Soulution 700 and 710).
Lest this be misinterpreted (as some of my comments have been), let me be crystal clear: I am not saying that the ARC 610T is "better than" the VTL Siegfried. I do not have the experience to say that, nor am I confident that that would be the case across the board or in specific instances, nor do I believe there is one "best" amp for all systems. I'm merely saying that the 610T is the best high-power tube amp I've heard in my home in the systems I've used.
DEAR MR. VALIN,
THANK YOU FOR YOUR REPLY. AS ALWAYS VERY NICELY WRITTEN.
Don't you think this is something the readers want to know? The Absolute Sound has given both of these products superior reviews and awards and yet they have never been directly compared by any of the authors of the reviews why is that? Isn't the purpose of the magazine to find the absolute sound? If the before mentioned authors have not been able to hear what others call state of the art then how can they really know?
I thought the purpose of the magazine was to serve the readers, not the advertisers or the manufacturers.
I am a dealer, i sell one of these products however my agenda here is the truth and the ability to understand the differences between what has been called by different parties the best of the technology. I believe the search for the absolute sound is a noble one just as the search for the truth is. I am disappointed as a "reader" and subscriber to the magazine that the search has been derailed by the search for the absolute buck!
The leading reviewers for the Magazine Mr. Pearson, Mr. Valin and Mr. Harley should all be aware of the best and the breakthroughs that come down the audio road and when one has never heard the spectral and soulution and Krell and Vtl, and ARC and C.J. etc ( just to mention a few of the state of the art pieces) then how can one really know where the road leads?
THe critical review and the follow up comment by a different critical voice is the ONLY way to make sure of what we read. IMHO a review in a void is not much of a review at all.
You have a point, but then again you don't. VTL and ARC (or C-J and ARC) are different "sounds" (which I've described in brief above) that will appeal to different listeners and may better suit different speakers in different systems and on different music at different levels. HP and Jacob have very favorably reviewed the VTL Siegfried monoblocks driving power-hungry ribbon./planar and ribbon-hybrid speakers like Maggie 20.1s and Scaenas, and I'm on record (repeatedly) saying that the ARC 610T is the best amp I've heard with almost every loudspeaker I've had in house. (I'd have to say the MBL 101X-Treme is an exception to this rule, faring best with MBL's own electronics, but then the 101X is an exception in just about every way conceivable, and the MartinLogan CLXes sound phenomenally good with the Soulution electronics--although the ARC electronics are no slouches with these 'stats.) I also know from the past that Robert was extremely high on the 610T's predecessor, the Ref 600 MkII.
So...what you have, for lack of a better word, is two "camps" with long experience and great satisfaction with two different kinds of "sound." I have heard the VTL 450s sound just plain terrific with Scaenas (at the last CES, in fact), and I have heard the 610Ts sound breathtakingly "realistic" with the Magico Mini IIs and, par excellence, the Magico M5s (a marriage made in hi-fi heaven, IMO). I have also heard the Soulution 700/710 and 720/721 sound unbelievably transparent to sources and extraordinarily realistic with MartinLogan CLXes, and the MBL 6010D and MBL 9011 monoblocks make the 101 X-Tremes completely disappear, leaving a vast, utterly three-dimensional soundstage that wrapped around the back of the room. Which amp is the single "best"? My answer, on the basis of my experience at home and at shows, would be: "That depends on you and your system and your music." To my ears, the 610T is a marvel; it doesn't do everything "better" than every other amp I've heard, of course (no single amp does), but it sure does sound real in the midrange and it is priced extremely fairly for a huge, powerful monoblock tube amplifier. Its chief downside--and this would also be true of the big VTLs or any large tube amp--is the tremendous heat all its tubes generate, which can really put a crimp in hot weather listening and may, all by itself, disqualify it for many audiophiles.
Jon, How can you say that when you have not had Siegrieds on the Magico's, or the CLX's . Robert has not had the Soulutions on the wilson's? harry has not had the 610t's , spectrals or the Soulutions on the Scaena's? You are judging an amp on the sound of the collective parts, that's not right. You have not heard all of those products in your system and a good guess is not what this whole topic is about. The reason's here are being avoided! you heard systems indifferent rooms, with different speakers, cables etc. Are you telling me those items don't matter?
I am not stupid and neither are you. The magazine is NOT concerned with the reader first the magazine is taking a path to protect the advertising revenues.
I am not talking about two camps we are not discussing solid state vs tube here, we are talking about the absolute sound and that is what sounds more like music as described in the mission statement. I realize the ss and tube gear are different. I realize there are different speakers and no one amp is universal in how it reacts to each one however the state of the art is just that!
How does the spectral, soulutions, krell etc sound in comparision to the real thing on the same speakers?
How does the VTL, ARC, and others on the same speakers? This in my opinion would tell the READERS what they are and what they do in relation to each other and to the "absolute sound."
Lastly what is the absolute sound as it exists today?
You and the press want to dance around the issue. The issue is not what is the good sound is it? We all agree there are a lot of good sounding products. There are a lot of excellent products but I and many I know read the press to find out what are the BEST products and what is happening to bring us closer to the musical truth. Is the magazine just a bunch of individual opinions? I have had my integrity questioned on this site as well as being told I have an agenda whenever I post here but my agenda is only finding the truth, When the real press skirts the issues its called a cover up when the audio magazine's do the same it's just a hobby! It seems to me that the only thing that is important is getting the review, writing the review and then moving on to the next one. The value of the review and the components place in the audio world are somehow left behind.
It's odd that you ask about what the absolute sound is today, as I was just last night leafing through an old TAS from 1978. Here were HP's picks in Editor's Choice for "Class i" amps in 1978: Audio Research D150 and Electro-Research A 75. And here were his picks for Class i speaker systems: Magneplanar Tympani 1D and Metronome Model 2. Class I preamps? Well, he ranked the Van Alstine/Audio Research SP-3-a2 as "state of the art" but in Class I he also recommended the Hapi One and the "Conrad-Johnson" [sic]. BTW, there were no amps or speakers systems listed in 'state of the art" and, just to confound things, there were two tuners listed in "state of the art"--the Sequerra Model One and the Yamaha CT-7000.
So, let me ask you, Elliot, what was the absolute sound in 1978? What was the best amp? What was the best speaker? What was the best preamp? What was the best tuner? And remember we're talking thirty-one years ago, when the number of products contending for "best" were considerably fewer and far less closely matched in sound.
Even with a single person--HP--making the judgment calls, TAS's editor couldn't settle on one product as "the" one-and-only best amplifier (and, brother, how much more different could two products like the ARC D150 and the Electro-Research A75 sound? How much more different could two speakers like the Magneplanar 1D and the Metronome Model 2 sound?!?)
Your notion that we're currently "dancing around the issue" of the absolute sound is utter contentious nonsense. Unless, of course, you think that Harry was also dancing around it back in '78--and oh I forgot to add that HP also recommended a veritable slew of different-sounding products in Class II. How much more different, I ask you, could the Audio Research D76a, the Stax DA-80m, the Kenwood L-07M, and the FM Acoustics 800A amplifiers sound? These four amps are worlds apart sonically, and yet they were all recommended by HP in Class II in 1978.
You want a single best, and I'm here to tell you that--with very rare (and very transient) exceptions--there never was or is a single best. There was a reason why Pearson wittily titled his Editor's Choice section "The Passing Parade." Or do you think the parade has now stopped?
Elliot the truth is....HP turned sour on ARC when ARC took away his REF 600 amps some years back...then he became a die hard VTL fan...
Wow- Two rather irrelevant retorts from JV and Oz ( to Elliot's original point) now restated by Moi -TAS does a tremendous disservice to it's readers when HP reviews the VTL and JV the ARC and JV the dCS Scarlatti and AHC the equally expensive Burmester. You can't ask us to believe Jonathan, that you , HP or AHC would not love to do what any of us readers would love to do but can't- compare these products to one another in our reference systems. It appears to us out here in reader land that the only possible preventative is the manufacturing advertisers. And for those of us lucky enough to actually hear this level of competing products- YOUR comparisons might just tell us as much or more about you and HP, AHC and your respective discerns of the absolute sound as about the actual products.That would be valuable to us as readers- the audience to be served- rather than placating the tender egos of worried manufacturers.
Oz- I did not know HP was a "die hard " VTL fan particularly after his recent Bryston review and his failure to pronounce the VTL the best amp he has heard ,as JV did of the ARC - which unless I am mistaken, means to JV it is the current State of the Art and consequently closest to the absolute sound in JV's opinion. Ditto on the Tara Labs Omega Gold speaker cable just today and the dCS Scarlatti. Hence it appears JV has no difficulty discerning or opining on what is best to him- but Elliot's point was the actual comparison by JV of the 610t and Siegfried would be of greater value.
HP's comments on the Siegfried's virtues were actually made in the Scaena loudspeaker review (TAS 180 @ 136-138) and limited to that particular synergy, although he subsequently called it the "best" big amplifier ever from VTL in TAS 182- Golden Ear Awards 2008.
It would have been nice to hear JV and / or HP's comments ( and JV and AHC) on the obvious competing products putting internal and external politics aside.
How in the world are they able to do that comparison among various staff writers with 4000 lb. automobiles ?
I'm not quite sure what is irrelevant about pointing out that even back in the day there was no single best, which is the point i was making about the VTL and the ARC amps. Let's say, for the sake of argument, that i got the VTL Siegfrieds and compared them to the ARC 610Ts. You already know how I feel about the 610Ts--I prefer their neutrality, their luminousness, their bloom, their naturalness to any other tube amp I've heard in my home or at shows. For the sake of argument, let's say that I continued to prefer the ARC 610Ts' presentation to that of the VTL Siegfrieds, at least on Magico and MartinLogan loudspeakers, my question is: So fucking what? Who appointed me King of the Audiophiles? Who appointed Pearson King? or Cordesman?
My taste in gear is wide-ranging, but I tend to prefer a neutral to what some might call bright (as opposed to dark) tonal balance (as that is the way I hear unamplified instruments in real space generally sound, unless, of course, I'm sitting behind them or they're in a pit); I tend to prefer very high resolution of timbres, textures, and performance details; I find that a high degree of "bloom" or "action" makes for a more lifelike presentation; I prefer gear to have high transparency to sources; I like a large soundstage and natural-sized images (if they're on the recording, of course); and i don't want to be reminded that I'm listening to a stereo by extraneous color casts or other distortions. At the same time, i could care less about really deep bass, ultimate SPLs, "beauty" (in the sense of a constant euphonious coloration), slam, etc.
Now, that is me. My point being I didn't just select the 610T; it selected me, because it fit my listening biases like a mitre joint. If i preferred the 610Ts to the Siegfrieds or even the Soulution 700s, what would that tell you? It certainly wouldn't tell you that the 610T is the better amp for you--or maybe even for most listeners. What it tells you that is that it is the better amp for me. No comparison would change this significance. If you happen to share my listening biases, swell. You should give the 610T a listen. If you don't, then there is a world of high fidelity out there. You pays your money and you takes your chances.
Moreover, where do you draw the line in comparing X and Y? Knowing audiophiles the way I do, it would only be a matter of seconds before someone said: "Oh, but you auditioned X on Speaker A, and you really need to hear it on Speaker B because Speaker A isn't as good as Speaker B. And, of course, you were using Cable H instead of Cable G, and the manufacturer of X prefers Cable G. And, oh, yes, that Preamp L is made by the manufacturer of X; shouldn't you have been using Preamp M, which is made by the manufacturer of Y?" There is no end to this Zeno's Arrow of a comparison.
To sum up: No single product, now or in the past, is going to be perfect. No single product is going to be the right solution for every listener. And no single reviewer has a headlock on what's best.
nice to see that raw human emotion JV..............elliott why don't you organize a review comparison at your shop.there's enough high heeled systems in your neck of the woods........at least whenever you can..tas guys can only do so much........you guys are beginning to ask for too much
I read the same letter you did and I think you missed his point. He is not asking you to say what is the best product but rather to take the best products and have the contributing editors have the opportunity to hear what all of them sound like so that they all will be informed and can make critical comment. I would think this is a very sane idea considering your publication gave both the 610t and VTL Siegrieds such great reviews.
You're acting like we work in total darkness. I've heard the Siegfrieds and other VTL amps and preamps on many different occasions at many different shows here and in Europe, and I have a pretty fair idea of how they sound (particularly with Scaena loudspeakers) under good show conditions and under bad ones. What I haven't heard is a VTL amp and an ARC amp powering the same speakers with the same sources in my home. The argument here (or at least Elliot's) does not seem to be what you said it was--i.e., that we (editors) don't have an opportunity to hear what these different heavyweight contenders sound like and therefore aren't informed and can't make critical comments. It is, rather, that hearing them side-by-side would allow me (or someone) to declare one of them champeen of the world, and that i don't do this because declaring one of them champeen of the world would offend TAS's advertisers ("I thought the purpose of the magazine was to serve the readers, not the advertisers or the manufacturers"). Putting aside the fact that ARC is not a TAS advertiser (and, save for one quarter-page ad five years ago, never has been) and that VTL is an advertiser, how cowardly and self-serving and defensive do you think I've been in my posts on this thread in extolling a non-advertiser's products and saying that the non-advertiser's amp is my personal favorite?
I am tired of being accused of protecting a nonexistent financial interest by people who do have a financial interest in the outcome of the shootout they propose.
Dear Mr. VAlin,
Excuse me but do you have the Scaena Speakers at your disposal? Your opinions of them has been varied in the reports I have read. I also believe Mr.Pearson does not have the speakers you heard at the shows and I also believe they did not show them with Siegfrieds at the shows I attended. What you are saying is flawed and your anger shows me that a nerve has been struck. I don't see anyone asking for a world champion but if you don't, or Mr. Pearson, or Mr. Harley etc. don't have the opportunty to know the strengths and weakness of the contenders than how can your conclusions be anything more than one persons opinion? Is that the purpose of the magazine? a collections of one man opinions? Would it not make sense to analize the strengths of these contenders to get a rational idea of what is actually possible by hearing all the good things that these different products might do? Maybe it can even foster a next generation of even better products and maybe for less money. ( ok that is probably never going to happen but I might like to be able to buy anything that sounds like those amps)
When you are talking about advertisers your arguement does not really hold water Sir. How many adds seem to pop up either right before, or at the same time a review is published and what about the in depth factory tours and interviews with Spectral, Magico and Wilson? Could it be that when bad press did show up that these advertisers might disappear?Just a thought.
Hearing a collection of products at a show is not a review and I am reasonably sure that the readers of this magazine want something more than a fair idea ( your own words) of what they sound like. I agree with the previous letters that the truth is not being served and the road to the truth has a lot of detours that you and the magazine have put in the way.
One last thing, Sir.
Items that you don't have just for example that have been raved about by your other reviewers include Spectral, MIT, Transparent, Nordost Odin, Zanden,Clear Audio,Burmeister, Bryston,Revel just to name a few. Then of course HP and RH have not had any of the gear you have. This to me and maybe someone can explain this to me how you know what a Porsche is like when you have never driven one? I have seen a Ferrari F1 race car at a show and have driven and owned a 308 but trust me that does not tell me what an F1 car can do.
This is a wonderul discussion. JV seems to diminish his own opinions and I think rightly so- and I say that not as an insult or with disrespect - but in recognition of the fact that his BEST ( or any others) must be taken with a grain of salt consisting of understanding his priorities as set forth in his reply above.
Zead has very low expectations of a review magazine when he suggests that a retailer like Elliot should do a comparison at his store. I can just see William Zane Johnson and company and Luke Manley and crew jumping at the chance to have a retailer do a head to head comparison of their respective state of the art contenders -something they are not likely to want done even by TAS. And even if they would indulge Elliot- who cares? TAS is published to provide a service - not the least of which should be as a comparator.
TAS received both the 610T ( and JV has the 610t for perhaps year now) and the Siegfried.
JV had the dCS Scarlatti- AHC the Burmester.
If they can't do a comparison that has to be the result of manufacturers control, internal magazine politics or just bad magazine policy.
Change the policy, don't review products with so many manufacturers restrictions or put aside the politics.
And it is because of your preferences JV that head to head product comparison is valid- because a careful reader should know and can discern from the products you like, your preference for nuetral to what some might call bright over dark, etc.- hence your reviews are more valuable - not less valuable - because you are ( and I think admittedly) part of the review and hence part of a reference for me for that review - and perhaps why the reference of the "absolute sound" is ever more important. See I have faith in you to review the Siegfried and descibe it accurately- as your descriptions are more important to me than your weightings of what you describe- as I might ascribe different values to your description of the respective sonics due to my abhorrance to anything that might be described as bright ( although I share many of your other priorities). Your highest utility and that of TAS is in providing a description of what you hear- your pronouncements of what is BEST is of less importance and anyone who buys any audio equipment thinking they are buying the best because JV said it is best is foolish - but when different writers of different capabilities review different products- So Fucking what ?
I am with JV 100%. To me, there is no merit in hearing the JV’s comments on the siegfried’s (and how it compares next to 610t’s) if it is already reviewed by somebody else in the magazine.
If the review of the vtl is arousing my interest such that I want to give it a serious listen in my home within my own system, and assuming I am the owner of 610t’s, I will give a call to the dealer and the vtl’s will be playing in my system in no time. I can be based anywhere in the world and I will receive that kind of service becauseof the nature of these products.
Many of us have expensive systems and good relations with dealers. I do not know a dealer that will deny me the chance to listen to a $50,000 amp in my own system. I have had all sorts of expensive gear in my house. I even tested a $75,000 speaker for 1 full month. I can even ask my dealer to start importing a line.
Now, JV’s role in this world is to come up with ideas and tell us about working combinations. Magico with ref 610 for instance. I listened to it extensively (courtesy of oz) and it works. From this point on, it is my role and the dealer’s to ask the what-if questions. JV cannot tell me this. It is my $50,000 and therefore my decision, whether krell or arc..
To continue the foul language in this forum, the lazy sickos that want to be spoon-fed every single fucking thing will be disappointed to know that TAS can only help us ask valid and relevant questions and that is it. It is funny how some people need to be told everything. this is a hobby guys, go explore yourselves. why is this habit of thinking everyhing in terms of lists and rankings
Excellent retort mcduman. I only responded to Mr. Valins initiation of a foul "question " by answering his question * with that same intriguing posit. Perhaps you missed his "question" in your haste to defend his position ( of which I cannot say is as yet clear to me). It seems to be his position that he does compare products to one another (because we know he does)- he just does not compare products that either another TAS writer has reviewed or products that don't select him " My point being I didn't just select the 610T; it selected me, because it fit my listening biases like a mitre joint." He did not select the Burmester or the Burmester did not select him - AHC must have had that experience- so tough luck reader on a comparison by him or me. As JV said: "You pays your money and you takes your chances."
So is that the selection process for TAS writers ? -they review what already fits their biases. This is revelatory.
mcduman you then perpetuated the foul language that you feign you are offended by and added the insult that those readers that want JV to compare two state of the art contenders ( ARC 610t and VTL Siegfried and or dCS and Burmester) are "lazy sickos".
Perhaps Mr Valin should chime in and at least assure those readers that want him to compare two state of the art contenders that he considers them neither lazy or sickos or at least not necessarily possesing either or both qualities solely because of this desire.
As a reader since issue 1- I have always believed one mission of TAS was to evaluate, promote and identify those products that elevate the art(and not just mcdumans system) and moved the art closer to the absolute sound even if every reader was not fortunate enough to have a dealer that " I can even ask my dealer to start importing a line". Alas, that has not been my experience with dealers and even if it were true -some of us read TAS in the same way we read other magazines that report on the best- even though unlike you- we cannot obtain them- we like them to be evaluated and compared by those that can - BECAUSE WE CANNOT. Or perhaps we are not worthy.
* my question is: So fucking what? ( JV)
you guys make my day.....i love this forum
Jv HP & RH are you guys listenig...............maybe once a year you guys shold plan a get together at HP with his 3 listening rooms and tell us what you heard from some top-flight systems
<<Perhaps Mr Valin should chime in and at least assure those readers that want him to compare two state of the art contenders that he considers them neither lazy or sickos or at least not necessarily possesing either or both qualities solely because of this desire.
As a reader since issue 1- I have always believed one mission of TAS was to evaluate, promote and identify those products that elevate the art(and not just mcdumans system) and moved the art closer to the absolute sound even if every reader was not fortunate enough to have a dealer>>
You strike me as being smarter than this first quoted sentence, which is entirely rhetorical ploy.
As for the second...how exactly does the fact that TAS does not have the inclination to review the VTL Siegfried again after two highly qualified reviewers (HP and JH) have already reviewed it in our pages mean that TAS is not "evaluating, promoting, and identifing those products that elevate the art"? You're going to have to explain this one real carefully because I honestly don't get it...unless, of course, you want what you say you don't want--i.e., me to review the VTL (or Harry to review the ARC) in order to tell you which of the two amps, ARC or VTL, is the champeen of the world.
Look, I'm flattered that you'd trust my opinion on both amps. But, honestly, man, can't you kind of figure out where I stand on the basis of these posts? And in any event, how many times do you think we can formally review any given product?
You would've liked it if he Siegfried had come to me originally (or the ARC had gone to Harry). But for many reasons they didn't. Those reasons are political and personal and historical. But they are also editorial: It has been TAS's policy for better than a decade now to foster a diversity of opinions and not to go back to the "guru" days when one guy called the shots about what was good, better, best. Although this might have created an impression of speaking with Solomon-like authority, it also (and this was the point of my vulgarity) fostered the impression that one guy's taste (and one guy's system) was good enough for all. I didn't believe that then, and I don't believe that now. And you shouldn't either, damn it. Mc has a point: Some of this job is your responsibllity and would be even if Harry or I or both of us had reviewed both amps; after all the writing and reading, it's you who have to decide between VTL and ARC--not HP or me. We've de facto made our choices and I rather doubt that "trading places" would change them.
As for me pre-selecting what I want to review...sure, we all do this. That's why we go to CES and RMAF. And, yes, products do call out to me, even from trade show floors. However, not everything I think is intriguing on the basis of a short audition in a hotel room turns out to be a 610T.
The VTL does not require another review, it does require a comment as does the 610t from HP.
The burmeister cd requires a comment from you or HP as does the dCS from AHC or HP
THe spectral requires a comment from someone other than RH as does the Soulution. If this is not possible then why? The manufacturers won't allow it? Are you making demands to whom goes what product and how it is to be handled? As a reader I would like to know the parameters of the reviews and I think the "rules" are important.
Furthering the state of the art requires sharing for the collective good. I don't care about someones system. I agree there is personal choice and responsibility although I don't have a dealer to lend me 50k amps whenever I want and if he doesn't have them go buy them for me. I guess this is OZ for it isn't where I live.
If the magazine is truely searching for the Absolute Sound and all these components are doing wonderful but different things then the writers need to hear what they are so they can be able to comment with experience and intelligence.
You like to say this or that is the best you have ever heard or had in your home, this is ok but these statements would be much more meaningful if you had the other choices that we touted by TAS other top reviewers/reviewer
Click this: http://www.spectralaudio.com and then click reviews. There you will find HP's review of the Spectral mono blocks, with and without MIT cables.
Dear Sunday, Thanks but that is not really the point of my comments.
JV-Perhaps you give me too much credit as I have heretofore failed to get my point across as I do not want you to review ths ARC and VTL and dCS Scarlatti and Burmester system in order to pronounce one KING.
I do think TAS should have a policy among you , RH, and HP that provides readers with multiple evaluations of the respective merits of those particular products built with their eye on the state of the art and that you review the obvious competitors with some comparison by at least one common reviewer.
After all, you three in particular seem to review "the cutting edge".
I do not believe all TAS reviewers are created equal , are interchangeable, all write or describe as well or are all as capable as critics- Do you disagree ?
You seem to think that it is equally or even more informative to have two different sets of ears listen to and describe two different competing products and report on them independently of the other product and the other writer- particularly where the reviewed product already appeals to the writers predilections. I disagree. Oh well - reasonable people can disagree - but in this case I think internal and external politics trumps utility.
I think most of us capable of understanding that you might prefer the 610t to the Siegfried because the 610t might have more of those qualities that you prioritize but that does not make it any less important that you desribe the qualities of the Siegfried that someone else might give greater weight and in the process identify and describe those areas where the Siegfried might be better and closer to the absolute sound but which are less important to you - such as really deep bass. After all the magazine should be about identifying the state of the art and those products and areas of peformance closest to the absolute sound and not about deciding readers purchases which really should be made on their own preferences and not yours . I just can't seem to conclude that your excellent review of the dCS Scarlatti juxtaposed against your review of the similarly priced Burmester would not have been informative to readers- your preferences notwithstanding.
Allis, not only are they reporting on different products, ie the VTL and ARC,
but they are describing them in totally different systems with different wires, speakers and source components.
HP system has products that JV has not heard and JV has products that HP has not heard and RH has products that neither HP or JV have heard and the beat goes on.. Call me naive but this is not making too much sense to me.
I review cars but never drove a Porsche, you have never driven a Ferrari and JV has never driven either but we are all experts?????
Stop the insanity!
Please explain to me like I am a six year old how this makes sense?
My daddy always told me if it looks like fish, feels like fish, swims like a fish then it must be a fish!
It won't be hard to explain it to you like a six-year-old, sicko,because you keep talking like one. For the last time...we are not working in utter darkness. I, for one, have heard almost every single component in HP's system repeatedly--Scaenas, VTLs, Nordost, EMMLabs, even The Clearaudio Statement (and heard much of it working together at shows and some of it--EMMLabs DAC 6e, the first iteration of the CJ ART, the PC-1 Supreme, the Clearaudio Goldfinger v2, etc.--in my home). In fact, a few years ago when he was still on his Nola kick, I heard HP's entire system in Sea Cliff. He has never heard mine (or many parts of mine), but then The Mountain doesn't come to Mohammed, does it?
<< but they are describing them in totally different systems with different wires, speakers and source components>>
This is hilarious! But totally anticipated. As I noted above, there will always be some clown like you who says:: "This isn't a fair comparison; you're not using the same--or the right--stuff." Like I said, there is no end to this Zeno's Arrow mentality. Get it through your head: Our systems are different because we're different! We like different performers, different musics, different presentations. This is my whole point, for chrissake! When you read us--any of us--you're not reading the Gospel According to Valin or Pearson or Harley, you're reading a point of view. You may or may not agree with that point of view, but it is our job to state it as clearly as we can: This is what I like and this is why; I haven't heard everything, but if your taste in music and sound is similar to mine (and I have made mine clear enough for you to judge this), then you may like what I like. If your taste is similar to HP's, then you may like what he likes. Ditto for Robert and all TAS reviewers. There are plenty of occasions when we agree (the Magico Minis, for instance). But we don't always--and sometimes we just haven't heard what the other guy's heard . Robert and Neil liked the sound of the Focal Grande Utopias at last year's RMAF. I did not. OTOH, Robert and I both loved the sound of the Magico M5s and Soulution electronics at this year's CES. Instead of complaining about it, I find this diversity of opinion (and unanimity of opinion) bracing.
if i am not mistaken hp was listening to his gigantic nolas in a ridiculously small room. something like 3.5m by 4m. i will not even buy a record based solely on his or any reviewer's recommendation let alone a $1000 or $100,000 equipment. but i think he is among the greatest reviewers of all time because of how he said things resonated with me in some special and direct way. at least for some time before he lost it.
Jv is both a fantastic reviewer and a contributor to the forum and he is being lynched (or at least driven crazy) because of this industry-wide application of drawing very thick borders between competing products in the extreme high-end category. I agree this would not have happened with cars.
but hi-fi is different than cars and you do not have the equivalent of magico’s in the car industry. A brand virtually unknown 3 years ago changing the way we listen to music. When alan wolf retires, hopefully not in the near future, there will be no more. cars is heavy industry with an army of designers, engineers, cars salesmen etc.
this is hifi. More artisan and more one-guy kind of thing with lots of unheard, underrated characters. Jv’s role, as I see it, is to put a flashlight on these rather than clash them gladiator style.
Good morning Jon,
Do you always have to insult someone and avoid answering their questions in order to provoke an arguement? Do you want another sysmposium fiasco? I asked a few questions and you decided to go off into 1978. This is not 1978 and we are talking about the magazine's policy not about YOU. You have an opinion and that is certainly what you are supposed to do. I am a reader and I have mine. I also am an a experienced listener and have been around this industry as long as you. You decided to attack and twist my words rather than respond to the point of the letter, funny this seems to be a patern with you. If you want to call people names go ahead to me it just sounds like there is something you don't want to discuss. I asked about magazine policy. I asked why certain products that have been identified at the top of the pecking order can not be shared among the top staff to educate the whole group rather than each one of you writing in a vacuum.
We have OZ pulling stories about ARC and HP out of his ___. You and I both know that that statement is untrue and yet you decide to make some giggling sound. Mac has annointed Alon Wolf the new god probably because he bought his speakers. This crap you ignore why? Is it because they agree with you and therefore the King spares them? If you aren't the king then don't act like it!
JV- I had hoped you would respond to what I thought were some well reasoned positions in my last post set out for discussion and not for sparring- but alas you replied to the subsequent and somewhat less coherent post of audiosicko. So for convenience I extract the salient points that I would love to hear your view on :
I do think TAS should have a policy among you , RH, and HP that provides readers with multiple evaluations of the respective merits of those particular products built with their eye on the state of the art and that you review the obvious competitors with some comparison by at least one common reviewer.
I do not believe all TAS reviewers are created equal , are interchangeable, all write or describe as well or are all as capable as critics- Do you disagree ?
I just can't seem to conclude that your excellent review of the dCS Scarlatti juxtaposed against your review of the similarly priced Burmester would not have been informative to readers- your preferences notwithstanding.
elliot, i dont have the magicos. i have the yg's ifyou remember...
Might I interject here? There's another contender from VTL that has not been mentioned. If you'll recall, in Wagnerian mythology, there is another rather brooding presence on the scene, a one-eyed God, who, in fact, triggers the whole Ring cycle by playing Alberich false. I'm speaking, of course, about Wotan. His namesake, the VTL Wotan, boasts 1250 watts in tetrode along with no less than 24 output tubes, 6550 or KT-88, in each monoblock.
As you are far and away the most reasonable and thoughtful guy on this thread (not including Mc), let me answer your questions as candidly as I can:
1)I do think TAS should have a policy among you , RH, and HP that provides readers with multiple evaluations of the respective merits of those particular products built with their eye on the state of the art and that you review the obvious competitors with some comparison by at least one common reviewer.
In theory this is a great idea, and really a bit of a return to the old inter-commentary system. But inter-commentary is now complicated by politics, personal and industrial. Let's be honest here: It's not the mid-70s anymore, when PHD, JWC, and HP got products and could freely pass them around. Nowadays, manufacturers would have to give their permission for such a round-robin (and, of course, someone would have to pay for shipment and insurance), and many manufacturers just wouldn't do that. There is this, as well: Over thirty-plus years HP has burned a few bridges and there are companies that simply won't send him product under any circumstance. Frankly I've burned a few, too, so this is also true to a lesser extent for me. Plus, each of us has his or her own history with certain marques and, naturally (and I think usefully), that history gives us a leg up on other reviewers since we've literally heard the metamorphosis of certain brands, sometimes over decades. We don't hand products to specific reviewers for no reason, and one of the chief ones is past experience. If you add this up, you see that in many cases formal inter-commentaries just aren't going to happen (even though it is a good idea). Informal ones, however, are possible. Indeed, I've done this deliberately and repeatedly in my show reports (which hasn't always earned me friends).
2)I do not believe all TAS reviewers are created equal , are interchangeable, all write or describe as well or are all as capable as critics- Do you disagree ?
No, i don't disagree. It would be preposterous to deny that not all writers are created equal. This said, I think our staff is overall the best in the business--the most readable, the most accessible, and the most experienced. Plus, I think our standard--the absolute sound--is the most rational and allows us to describe the sound of gear with greater acuity and with greater repeatability and extensibility. Readers can often take the same sources that we used to judge a piece of gear and listen for themselves and compare what they hear to what we've heard and to the sound of the real thing. This repeatabiility and extensibility is impossible with test-based reviews--and is confused when tests conflict with listening reports (as they often do) or when a "sounds good to me" approach rules the day.
3) I just can't seem to conclude that your excellent review of the dCS Scarlatti juxtaposed against your review of the similarly priced Burmester would not have been informative to readers- your preferences notwithstanding.
First, thanks. But understand that I wasn't offered the Burmester gear for review. I did review a Burmester belt-drive transport and DAC years ago--and liked it very, very much. But, Allis, say I did review both the Burmester and the dCS and, for the sake of argument, preferred the dCS. Does that ipso facto mean that you would prefer the dCS? I think not. Moreover, doesn't it make as much (or more) sense to review a second state of the art contender from a different vantage--to get the opinion of a qualified reviewer with very different listening biases than my own? Hell, you already know where I stand: I'm an analog guy in a digital world; Tony is less so (and so are most of the rest of you). Now, in this particular case, it might've been interesting to me to hear the Burmester alongside the dCS, because (going on past memory) the Burmester was the first player i ever heard that didn't sound "digital." It didn't sound analog either (like the dCS does). It was some third thing. in other words, I think I would've been hard-wired to like the Burmester.
I'm going to say something I probably shouldn't (even though I used to say it to myself all the time when I read TAS back in the day, and I'm sure readers still say it to themselves today): Don't you "read between the lines"? If I don't review something that you would've liked me to review (or formally comment on), chances are: a) I don't like it or don't think I will like it as much as other stuff that I do review (this, BTW, doesn't apply to Burmester or VTL); or b) the manufacturer doesn't like me (generally because of something I've said in a show report); or c) another reviewer has dibs on this particular product; or d) past history has dictated the choice of a reviewer other than me; or e) I just don't know anything about the product and would be ill-suited for a review; or f) a combo of the above.
We are in the business of serving our readers, and I think we do a superlative job of this. But we are also in business with an industry and with each other. Sometimes politics and collegiality come ahead of personal preferences.
I've been following this thread with some interest as it touches upon some very, very interesting points. You've managed in this latest post to really lay bare the inherent limitations of the reviewing system as it practiced - and I appreciate reading this level of frankness about the issue.
Those of us who have owned more than one amplifier or pair of speakers know that, ultimately, the amplifier and loudspeaker (via the cables) are a whole that is different than the sum of its parts. Greater than or less than, as an objective consideration, is impossible to arrive at - but we can at least acknowledge that a 610T or a Seigfried or a Wotan (per JH's interjection) will interact with a Wilson Alexandria, for instance, somewhat differently than it will interact with a SoundLab or an Avantgarde or a Magico. It's important to note that, while some qualities of the amplifier may transport between speakers, others will not, and so - as always, and depending upon your proclivities and your speaker - your mileage will vary.
This seems to me to be the essential difficulty a reviewer has when tasked with the responsibility to review a loudspeaker -or- an amplifier, as these are typically two halves of a whole that is, as I mentioned, different than the sum of its parts. How does a reviewer go about saying the most meaningful things about one of these products without also having tested it with a variety of the other?
Meaningfulness to the reader is truly what's at stake, and that seems to me to require direct experience in one's own system for a length of time with a variety of the matching component (for an amp under test - various loudspeakers; for a loudspeaker under test - various amps). It seems to me, as it may to other readers, that the value of a reviewer's opinion increases as the complexity of his testing and evaluation increases.
As a reader, I would love for a reviewer to span a few issues on the same product in various situations in order to lend a greater value to his opinion about the product - and this is especially true for amplifiers and loudspeakers, as I noted above.
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You make a very good point, Chris, which I almost (and should have) included in my little list: System compatibilities do play a part in who reviews what. For instance, I'm not going to be reviewing an SET amp with the M5s (or the 101 X-Tremes or the ML CLXes); I'm not "equipped" for that--at least at the moment.
Gentlemen: while it is regretable that similar equipment can no longer be compared by all TAS reviewers, it is still possible (nay desireable) for several, if not all, reviewers to gather occasionally at each others listening rooms to compare notes on the favoured setup of the day (and to copare notes on what constitutes the state of the art of the moment).
I have great respect for JV in that he was the only TAS reviwer to took on HP (still my favourite by the way!) and his notion that only a few pieces of equipment could be considered "state of the Art" at any one time (hence his rankings) . JV's position that there are many ways (and numewrous pieces of equipment) that get close to approching the sound of real instruments playing in real space, is far more realistic.
As HP stated years ago, all equipment has flaws, and while none actually really sounds like a live performance, we can objectively rate them according to how close they get to that goal, but still, in the end there is a subjective choice in which set of flaws we choose to live with. Having said that, I learned years ago that my own take on the sound of wires, cartridges, arms, amsps ans so on, always tended to agreed with HP and John Nork, and now with JV, but not necessisarily with many of the other reviwers.
It has struck me as most curious that I should totally agree with HP (or JN) about the particular colouration of say, a Koetsu cartridge, but in a system where only a few components were the same as theirs. Yet time and again I always heard and agreed with take on the merits of the reviewed equipment familiar to me. The lesson, as always, is to listen, read, re-listen, and find the reviwers who consistenly report what you hear. When that reviewer has been found, one can narrow the range of prospective purchases before making ones own decision.
So who cares if the VTL or the ARC or the CJ's have not all been ranked in one session, or by one reviewer; the pieces are all flawed to some degree, and in any case, the entire recording process is a wondrous Art, but still one that cannot replace the live experience. However, there is so much joy to be found in trying to reach that elusive goal, something that seems lost on all too many adiophiles according to the diatribes in this blog.
Wow I love the internet! After all the shuffling and the name calling the facts are as stated early on in this thread.
After reading all the exchange of words, i just would like to say that having heard diffrerent setup i can say that there is no way anyone can say which one is better in this level already. These two companies, vtl and arc, spends so much for RND and it is hard to think that they cannot achieve what they want to project as the best. I agree with you that these are references depending on what we like to hear and it depends on our preferences.
I for one owns the s800 and loves the transparensy and soundstage i get from it. I have heard the 610 and it is also good. I may go for either of the two and still achieve my preferred sound depending on the synergy of the source components, cables, preamps, conditioners, etc. So being asked this question of which is better would give you problems than the ABSOLUTE SOUND...
Both are very good products. You will never go wrong between the two. It is a matter of preference... AND AS A READER, I ONLY TAKE YOUR RECOMMENDATIONS AS STARTING POINT IN WHICH TO CONSIDER BUYING. I THINK NO MATTER HOW MUCH YOU RECOMMEND A PRODUCT AND THE BUYER KNOWS WHAT THEY WANT TO HEAR THEN SO BE IT. YOU ARE ALREADY SHARING TO US READERS WHAT WE NEED TO KNOW AS A MINIMUM AND THE LONG AND SHORT OF IT....WE STILL DECIDE.
I hope you just continue to share whatever you review and just be factual with what you hear....in the end...WHAT CAN REPLACE A LIVE PERFORMANCE BUT OF COURSE ....by a live perfomance. That is the absolute sound and all the rest is in our HEAD and for some in their pocket!
Jonathan-After now having read through this lengthy and sometimes contentious thread I am not sure if I want to thank or curse our loyal and vigilent customers and google alerts that occasionally bring to my attention "Scaena" in various websites, forums, magazines, posts, etc.
In any event I do have two small corrections.
Having surveyed the architecture and layout of Listening Room three at Sea Cliff ( with the Nola Reference system then in place) for the subsequent install of our Scaena Model 1.4 system I can assure your readers that HP's listening room is substantially larger than 3.5 x 4 meters (approximately 11 x 13 feet ) as stated by one of the posters to this thread. That room is nowhere near ridiculously small and it is likely larger than many reviewers or readers listening rooms and certainly capable of housing a large system such as ours or the Nola 's.
Secondly- while you have heard most of HP's current reference system at various places and shows - you have only heard our entry level Model 3.2 system at CES 2008 and 2009 and RMAF 2007 and 2008 and you have not heard the far more costly and superior Model 1.4 system that HP has and that we introduced and displayed only at CES 2007. Unfortunately, you did not get to hear the Model 1.4 system at CES 2007 but Dick Olsher of TAS did get to hear the Model 1.4 (now revised) at CES 2007 and he gave it "Best Sound at the Show" in his TAS CES 2007 issue coverage. Thanks.
PS-Just in the nick of time comes your clear, concise, and candid reply to the assertions and questions set out by Allis showing that a respectful discussion can result in a thought provoking exchange of ideas and can make a blog informative and revealing.
Please go back about 5-6 years intime...when the reference of HP was the ARC 600s... and in one of his piece he himself wrote that due to ARC taking their beloved ARC 600s he is left without a reference... then his search for a powerful tube amp started...bringing out the Antique Sound Labs' Hurricane to the picture...followed by VTLs...
For all I know, i dont know the reason why it happened...but since then may be ARC resisted sending anything to HP or HP rejected to review ARC...thats all i wanted to point out... nothing else...
thats the truth evidenced by HP himself in one of his pieces way back .
also JVs response to my initial post said it all to me..to me only...may be thats not what he meant..but to me it was confirmation...when JV said
"oz... no comment " and later on taken out of this thread...
as for MY choices and my taste Elliot.... I have bought my 610Ts way before JV reviewed them......and i find them utterly superior to anything i tried...even the VTLs that i tried...the only thing that came close was KRELL EVOs...therefore the KING sparing me is your shallow assumption...and let me tell you...assumption is the mother of all fuck ups!!!!! who am i to JV to spare anyways
On the other hand JVs review of Magico Minis helped me try them in my home system...and i didnt like them...i tried the first version...then settled with V3 after harleys' review pushed me in trying...no need to agree with anyone..i try listen myself and buy it based on my decision..not anyone elses...or recommend some product that i sell ...like you... I am not a seller but an enthusiast...i dont make money out of my recommendations .unlike you who is trying to make money... instead of calling people kings and their soldiers stick to your franchise rather than spinning marketing tricks as if you care...for all i care you are a salesman... and your fortunes and recoms may differ according to your % from that company...harsh but true...live with it....
Oz, I don't need to go back I am friends with the man. I know the truth and find your asumption
stated as if it is the truth to be offensive. You made a statement as if you knew the truth which you don't PERIOD. Mr. Valin knows the truth and he ignored comment. His final statement about how the review process works should be eye opening. I am sorry that you took personal offense to my comment to Mr. Valin but that is of course your choice.
Just so you have the facts I am a dealer for ARC not VTL. I don't know what tricks I am spinning but trying to let you see the truth is all that it is about. Rumors and fictious stories don't help anyone. If this helps me make a penny I certainly don't see how.
I have stated many times before I don't hide who I am and what I do and for the life of me I don't see how this can help me make a cent and perhaps you can tell me how this helps me make money. Money Oz is not my god i could have certainly made a lot more doing something else with my education and my life. You continue to make assumptions and you know what they say about what happens when you assume!
NOW JV..............go find a burmester CD player and tell us what you hear through them odysseys and the M5...........any loaners out-there?
Keep up the good work
You guys have too much time on your hands... Go out and listen to the stuff and form your opinions!
This is an excellent discussion, even with the unnecessary profanity.
My own experience jives with Jonathan's posts. But with a twist. I have, in recent years moved from Wilson loudspeakers to the Nola towers (the combination of enormous radiating area, open baffle, and vertical line arrays brought me closer to the "absolute sound" as I hear it. I also moved from the VTL Siegfrieds which were nothing short of awesome with the Wilsons to the ASR solid state integrated amps with their unlimited gobs of current supply on demand.
Accordingly, I completely agree with the proposition that speakers and amps be evaluated as combinations rather than separable components. I'd throw speaker wire into the mix to be complete. I have heard no logical argument yet to suggest otherwise.
The twist is as follows. In recent years I think we have crossed major thresholds in resolution on all dimensions. The noise floor has all but vanished in properly assembled systems and the transparency to the source is now at stunningly realistic levels. The confounding thing is that these levels are achieve often by different systems. The dCS Scarlatti brings us very close to analog like transparency and presentation, but it does not sound like analog in many dimensions. To my ears, the Scarlatti system is equally convincing as my Walker turntable. But it's different.
So a question to all on the thread: might we be getting so close to the "absolute sound" but from slightly different angles? I would use the analogy of blind men and elephants, if it werent so cliched.
There is no such thing as the Universally BEST component in any category. Searching for something that does not exist is a fool's errand.
"There is no such thing as the Universally BEST component in any category. Searching for something that does not exist is a fool's errand."
However, the drive to achieve is often fueled by that very foolishness - and sometimes, when the wind is right and the stars are aligned, the errand produces something better than fantastic. It produces something legendary.
Here is where the old Buddhist man comes down from the mountain, his kind eyes radiating wisdom through their soft, wrinkled slits as he tells us that it is not the destination that has value - it's the journey.
It might be nice some time after the man comes down from the mountain that he shares his findings with the other leaders of the tribe. Nah this can't happen its audio!
The wise man found there was nothing to find but more paths and more paths and more paths ... and some of them were psychopaths, and some were sociopaths! ;-)
Were any of them signal paths?
'twas the road I chose.
When he arrived at the bottom and found two pairs of very large vacuum tube mono amplifiers
He looked around, scratched his head and realized that he has no where to plug them in.
So the moral of the story is dont go down the path less traveled because there is no electricity there.