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  • in reply to: IsoAcoustics Gaia Footers #571

    I’ve used IsoAcoustics products elsewhere and like them.

    My new Majestic 845’s required 18 footers. IsoAcoustics Gaia’s would have been too cost prohibitive for me. So, I went with Herbie’s “Threaded Stud Glider – GIANT”! I didn’t audition the speakers without footers, so I’m unsure how sonically beneficial the Herbie’s are. Even if they are modestly so, the GIANT’s improve sliding on carpet. For critical placement listening, they serve the slider purpose quite nicely.

    FWIW, I have auditioned other Herbie’s products and they always have performed well above their price points.


    in reply to: Using WiFi Plugs to Power/De-Power Sounlabs #556

    I completely concur TWB. Indeed, via my previous communications with Dr. West he explicitly advised as you said, that there is NO reason to cut the power to the speakers. If there were a reason to do so, I’m positive that Dr. West would have installed automatic shut-offs as my Martin Logan’s have.

    Having owned M1’s, M1PX’s and now Majestic 845’s, I’m on my 3rd. pair due to upgrades and I have left them all powered-on 24/7. My only reason in contemplating otherwise, was due to my “Audioneurosis” — aka
    “Audiophoolishness” (grin)….

    in reply to: Using WiFi Plugs to Power/De-Power Sounlabs #552

    “John V”, Thanks for the “male-female extension with inline switch” Amazon link. Did you do a test to see if the in-line switch made any noticeable differences?

    Having spine and hip issues, bending over to plug/unplug etc., is very difficult. Hence, my thought of using a WiFi plug. However, doing so may be of no value. Because as some here have stated (including Dr. West), there is no downside to leaving the speakers plugged-in 24/7. But, if I’m NOT going to use the speakers for an extended period, I often felt that they should be de-powered – with “felt” being the key word.

    “D10”, logically, I agree that heavy gauge (&/or audiophile) power cables shouldn’t make a difference with SL’s. In fact, Dr. West has said the same from a pure power requirement perspective, as you suggested. However, the miles of power lines, transformers before the line into the house is oftentimes used to site “non-sense” for utilizing a special ~6-foot cable from the wall to equipment, or using special mains receptacles. Which is similar to the bits-is-bits argument when it comes to USB cables, Ethernet cables and all other hardware in the streaming/computer audio chain – i.e. they shouldn’t make a difference, as long as bits-are-bits. But I’ve found that they, power cables, receptacles, dedicated lines do make differences. Are the differences sufficient to spend $100’s or $1,000’s of dollars, well therein lies the dilemma and question?

    Line noise is a different matter than current carrying. As I initially mentioned, some Soundlab owners have posited that cables can modify line noise (into and out-of the speakers) and improve sonics. Some cable manufactures specifically design cables for digital and other sensitive equipment for that purpose. Whether they work and would do anything to improve Soundlabs is the question for which I would love to have others experience and input. Especially as I mentioned in my case, auditioning items like power cords — where bending is involved — is very difficult and painful.

    in reply to: Using WiFi Plugs to Power/De-Power Sounlabs #548

    The system had been played for a couple hours before unplugging each speaker to install the plugs. Each speaker couldn’t have been de-powered for more 45 seconds to a minute. However, perhaps that was sufficient to do as you advised, initiate the: “30-60 minutes to stabilize the electrical field after being plugged in”.

    in reply to: Speaker cables #513

    chungjh, I have information to add to my above post. This information is pending Administrator approval. Why, I don’t know. Hopefully, the Admin will append what I submitted to this thread. If not, I assume they will give me the Ok to insert it….

    Since you mentioned them, I have had good luck with Synergistic interconnects. Formerly, I used them when I needed swtiching capabilities. Now, because I’m running a dCS Rossini DAC direct into Atma-sphere MA-1 monoblocks, I’m using cables furnished by Atma-sphere’s Ralph Karsten. As others have mentioned, Ralph believes if the connected equipment is “truly” balanced, differences in cables become quite minimal. Ralph’s cables were as inexpensive as the referenced SignalCables. My guess based on some of Ralph’s posts that I was able to find, is that the cables he provided were probably fabricated using some sort of studio-type cable like Mogami.

    At any rate, like my reasoning for purchasing the SignalCables, because of XLR interconnect cost, I thought they would be a great starting point for potential future auditioning. That is, not much to loose because they are such economical baselines.

    The bottom line is that I believe it is really difficult trying to source cables based by Manufacturer name alone. Because of equipment and room differences, trial and error — meaning auditioning — distinctly enters into the cable decision making equation.

    Hopefully after Admin approval, there will be more to follow….

    in reply to: Speaker cables #503

    I found cables with ICR (Inductance, Capacitance and Resistance) specs that my research suggests were appropriate for electrostatic speakers. I bought them from Signal Cable (http://www.signalcable.com/).

    I opted for SignalCable’s “most pricey” “Silver Resolution” pair. Beginning at $289 a pair, “pricey” they are, when compared to SignalCable’s lessor priced other 2-models. But compared to the market, they are pretty darn inexpensive.

    So far, without directly comparing the Silver Resolution’s to anything else and with my new Majestic 845 speakers which replaced a M1PX Soundlab pair, the SignalCables are sounding fantastic. When price is factored in…well, what’s not to like!?! And with a 30-day trial period, there is nothing to loose.

    The cables I compared the Silver Resolutions to memory-wise, were Synergistic Research wires. I had used them exclusively with my M1PX’s. However, before the Majestic 845’s arrived, the cables developed an intermittent short and hence, were unusable.

    The Synergistic cables I used were their “Absolute Reference Type 1 Speaker Wires (X2)”. They are approx.15 years old and were a used pair when I acquired them. Their original MSRP was around $6k. I wouldn’t pay anything like that for speaker cables in 2008, let alone now. But after I made a deal for a used pair of CAT JL3 monoblocks, the dealer threw-in the Synergistic wires, probably because they were only 1M in length and thus a difficult resale and perhaps because he had already made a profit when he sold the CAT’s & cables to their original owner.

    However, over the years, I did audition the Synergistic cables against some others. But, the results never caused me to switch-out the Synergistic wires. Over the years, the cables I auditioned the Synergistic “Absolute Reference” wires against were: Purist Audio Proteus Provectus, Straight Wire Expressivo, Magnan Signature and Kimber Bi-Focal.

    I do plan on trialing some much more expensive Nordost cables. I’m choosing Nordost because of my past experience with them, but primarily because Nordost is one of the few companies that publish their cable’s (ICR) electrical specifications. I wonder why that is? Yeah, I believe I have a clue! While I recognize that specifications alone, never fully tell the tale, specs would at least give us auditioning starting and comparing points.

    Continued on My Following Post –>


    This new subject obviously went (appeared) as expected. Thus, chungjh’s “Speaker cable” thread must somehow be locked or prevented for further posts. Is that the case and will it be reopened/rectified? Thanks, Mike

    in reply to: Atma-Sphere MA1 3.2 vs Pass XA60.8 amp #427

    chungjh: Because Soundlabs are a line source, being close to the side walls shouldn’t be an issue.

    I previously had my M1PX’s within a foot of the sidewalls in my 14-1/2 foot wide room with no center image issues.

    Your placement specs seem to be well within reason.

    Accurate toe-in should provide a very solid center image, as long as your listening chair is exactly between both speakers. If you haven’t, measure one speaker’s placement — corners of each speaker to the wall you say is “about 5 ft” behind the speakers — and adjust the other speaker’s to those dimensions, to make sure both are as exactly placed the same as possible.

    Moving further back or closer shouldn’t affect the center image as long as your listening chair (& head) is Centered Exactly between the speakers.

    It might be worth a shot to play a mono source to more accurately check center imaging, presuming both speakers are in-phase.

    One speaker biased different than the other could affect center image. If you have a test CD with a center output individually for both right and left channel, and a decibel meter, you could check one speaker’s level against the other’s and adjust the bias accordingly. However, if you biased both speakers as the manual explains, the difference should be minimal. For the most part, bias should only need to be slightly tweaked. My bias pot’s positions have always been very close to each other’s — if one is at 12 o’clock, the other has always been very, very close to that. Thus, I wouldn’t expect large differences between one speaker’s bias pot’s position and the other, unless something is amiss with the speakers, pre-amp, amp, or very unlikely, perhaps the cables. -Mike

    in reply to: Atma-Sphere MA1 3.2 vs Pass XA60.8 amp #414

    When hearing Brian’s U1PX’s driven by Atma-sphere MA-1’s, we never got into clipping level concerns. However, I never had him stress them or play at a level higher than he did, because I was happy with his chosen level and what I heard.

    Brian also had the Atma-sphere MA-2’s on hand. They had a bit more gravitas (if you will), but besides that, essentially sounded the same as the MA-1’s. Again I didn’t do a how-loud-will-they-play comparison between the two amps, as higher volume levels weren’t warranted for my tastes. -Mike

    in reply to: Atma-Sphere MA1 3.2 vs Pass XA60.8 amp #406

    My experience concurs with D10’s.

    A few years ago, when auditioning amps against my CAT (Convergent Audio Technology) JL3’s, we tried a Pass amp in the 250 watt range. It was a no-go!! And this was with consummate Backplates and PX panels. You said you had NON-PX panels and didn’t mention the Backplates. In any case, with NON-PX panels, the more watts the better – my guess the Pass x350 at a minimum with the x600 Pass probably more like it!

    Before acquiring CAT amplification, I used a stereo Mark Levinson 336 amp @350 w/ch. It did just fine with the Soundlabs I owned then — M1 NON-PX panels, NON-Consummate Backplates.

    Years ago, upon auditioning Parasound Halo JC1’s and then CAT JL1’s (a crazy underrated 100 w/ch.) against my Levinson 336, the CAT’s won absolutely hands-down — no comparison, no contest!! The Halo JC1’s were comparable to my Levinson. At that time, the cost difference was $10k for the Levinson vs $6k for the Parasound Halo’s. Thus, lacking a lengthy audition comparing both amps, my conclusion was that the Halo’s were a bargain. Because the CAT JL1’s were so damn much better in every area, there was no need to do a lengthy audition of the Parasounds. The CAT’s simply CONTROLLED the Soundlabs to an astonishingly degree when compared to the other 2-solid state amps. Bass was better, drive was better and nothing was diminished as far as resolution and frequency response was concerned. In fact, midrange was comparable to the SET amplification magic for which I had previous experiences — of course that was with other than Soundlabs (grin).

    Later, after purchasing the CAT JL1’s (8 output tubes per monoblock) a few years thereafter, I had the opportunity to upgrade to CAT JL3’s (16 output tubes per monoblock).

    Primarily Convergent Audio Technology (CAT) is known for their pre-amps. But from my experiences, CAT amps are where the company’s sweet spot really resides. However, because 55-pound transformers are used in the CAT’s, they are 190-pound (each) beasts. This coupled with my ensuing hip and spine problems, plus a sacrificial resistor at each tube socket, prompted me to seek different amplification. Unfortunately when a CAT’s (1 of 32 [CAT JL3] output tubes goes, it generally takes a resistor with it. In that case, one needs to manhandle 190-pounds by flipping the amp on its top, removing dozens of screws and de-soldering / re-soldering a new resistor that acts as a fuse. This was becoming a much too much of a literal PITA for me!!

    Thus, I auditioned the Pass Amp previously mentioned, a Mark Levinson in the range of 250 watts and Atma-sphere MA1’s. The Atma-sphere MA-1’s were comparable sonically and in drivability to my CAT JL3’s. And at 36-pounds each and with fuses as opposed to (32) PITA sacrificial resistors, the decision to trade my CAT’s for the MA-1’s was an easy one!!

    I should add that during my auditioning of the MA-1’s, the Mark Levinson choked – its protection circuit shut it down. Whether that was because it was fairly new or not, I don’t know. Additionally, the dealer had brought a pair of Rogue amps, but with the Levinson experience, he didn’t even take them out of his van.

    The MA1’s drive my M1PX with their consummate Backplates with aplomb. How well they would do with NON-PX panels and NON-Consummate Backplates I don’t know!?! Perhaps someone can chime-in with their experiences of MA1’s and the Soundlab A1’s you specified.

    After buying the Atma-sphere MA1’s, I must add that Ralph Karsten is one of the best and kindest manufacturers I have ever had the pleasure of dealing. He responds promptly to emails and does a good job of hand-holding new customers. I had an initial issue with the DC-Offset Adjustment. And Ralph simply advised to switch one tube from one bank of the amp to the other. Surprisingly, this can be done while the amp is operational, with the important proviso that heat-preventative material/gloves be used!! This robustness of hot swapping tubes and with a design of fuses as opposed to hand soldered resistors was a huge boon for me verses my CAT experience. I couldn’t recommend more than I already have the Atma-sphere / Soundlab combination. It just works!! -Mike

    in reply to: Footers for Soundlabs #274

    Thanks John V for mentioning Herbie’s Giant Stud Gliders. On Herbie’s Stud Glider page, one needs to scroll down to see that larger “Giant” ones are available.

    As I plan on replacing my M1PX’s with the larger Majestic 845’s now that I have the ceiling height to accommodate M-845’s, the Giant Gliders are definitely on my short list.

    Unfortunately, because of their size, auditioning footers with Soundlabs is a difficult task. Perhaps an owner or dealer that has had the ability and wherewithal to evaluate several different footers will chime in….

    With my purchase of “Tiptoes” decades ago, I found that footers do indeed make a positive difference. I just wonder what that difference may be when it comes to Soundlabs?

    in reply to: Best amp/preamp to go with SL? #242

    “….SL speakers being highly revealing, will show the character and quality of a preamp clearly.” “Your budget will be a factor. Everything matters. Clean power, vibration control, etc. are also important.”

    I couldn’t agree more TWB!! SL’s are only held back by the upstream equipment. My experiences with this concept make me wonder how much better could SL’s actually sound!?! I think I’m pretty much at their best, but…??

    Soundlabs are amazing transducers. Before replacing my M1’s in 2013 with M1PX’s, my son and I attended the 2012 RMAF mainly to audition speakers. With the exception of some open baffle designs, horns, electrostats and other planars, nothing else provided the “effortless” presentation of those types of speakers.

    My personal ownership experiences and findings suggest that potential speaker buyers should listen to as many different types of speakers as possible — cones & domes, stats, horns, ribbons et al. From those, down select to a type and then proceed to audition speakers within that type. This may be a bit simplistic, but definitely a way to pare down the myriad of available speakers to audition.

    in reply to: Best amp/preamp to go with SL? #235

    I have been impressed with the fact that one can pull and switch tubes from the Atma-shpere’s while they’re running. Of course some highly insulated “grilling gloves are necessary, unless fried fingers are on the menu that day.

    I also asked Ralph Karsten a similar question about switching speaker cables and interconnects and whether it was prudent to do so with the amps in standby. Ralph said standby was fine. But he then advised that he usually didn’t bother with standby and just left the amp on, saying it was “pretty good that way”.

    in reply to: Best amp/preamp to go with SL? #224

    Your question reminds me of my experience when switching from a Levinson 336 to CAT-JL1’s almost 20-years ago. Before this, my mind was stuck in the measuring/comparing wattage mire. That is: how could the CAT JL-1’s at 100W/Ch drive my then M1 Soundlabs (no PX panels, Torrid II or Hot Rod electronic upgrades) better than the Levinson 336 at 350W/Ch? Thus, I delayed dragging the pre-owned CAT’s — 190lb (each monoblock) — home from my audio dealer’s for an audition. But I convinced myself to not only try the CAT’s but Parasound JC1 Halos. Upon hooking up the CAT’s, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. The entire frequency spectrum was better and I could find nothing worse, only better (harmonics, immediacy, imaging, sound stage, et al! However, drive was the big difference. Bass was better, but what about treble, it too was better….there were no downsides, only pluses!!

    The CAT’s controlled/drove the Soundlab’s like nothing else I had heard to that point in 2006! The difference was so great that I jumped up from my listening chair and let out of few expletives while pacing to and fro. I had finally heard for myself what all the tube-talk fuss with Soundlabs was about! Of course the CAT’s (as I imagine the VTL’s are), are anything but run of the mill tube amps!!

    At any rate, the MA-2’s should drive Soundlab’s — let alone PX Panels with Torrid II (Consummate) Backplates — with aplomb. My MA-1’s perform very nicely with my M1PX’s with current SOTA backplates.

    When I first obtained the MA-1’s, I frequently watched the meters when I thought I may be pushing things, but the meters never exceeded their limits, nor did I hear any signs of clipping. So, with my rig/room, the MA-1’s are more than satisfactory.

    As a side note, I heard the MA-1’s and MA-2’s back-to-back in a large room and the 2’s were a tad/bit better. However, “better” simply means that the MA-2’s drove the U1PX’s with a little more gravitas, for lack of a better word to describe the difference. My point in saying this is, I can’t imagine the MA-2’s will run out of gas.

    However, it would be beneficial if you would report your actual findings after you install the MA-2’s. If you haven’t heard the MA-2’s and Soundlabs, my experiences suggest that you are in for a real treat!!

    in reply to: PX panel vs Bass Focus? #189

    TWB, You mentioned Shunyata power products. Are you using their power cables for your Soundlabs? If so, which ones?

    Speaking of cables, what speaker cables are you using?

    Lastly, thanks for your comments on your two systems.

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