sound by singer high end audio video tel: 212.924.8600 - fax: 212.366.6351
242 West 27th St, 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10001



August 2007

August 06, 2007

The Scarlatti Inheritance

It has been almost a year since our last "bimonthly" newsletter has appeared. You can blame it on the departure of our IT guy who has since been replaced. You can blame it on our great good fortune of being kept amazingly busy by the requirements of our customers or you can blame it on the Bossa Nova. Even better, forget the blame and consider all the new and interesting components Sound by Singer has in store for you.

First and foremost, we are thrilled to be adding 2 major lines to our roster of authorized dealerships. MAGICO, a relative newcomer to the high end audio scene, is one. The other is Vandersteen, a company which has been a pillar of the high end speaker manufacturer community. More on these later

Second, we have recently renewed the lease to our store for another 10 years. So, it looks like we'll be here at 18 East 16th Street, New York, NY 10003 for at least another decade.

DCS: The Scarlatti Inheritance

For almost 10 years the dCS Verdi Encore/Elgar Plus have occupied the universally-recognized position as the best sounding CD/SACD playback system in the world. Those days are over. With the introduction of the dCS Scarlatti STT CD/SACD transport ($32,999.00) and Scarlatti SDC d/a converter ($23,999.00) a new standard in digital playback has been set, one which I, personally, would not have believed possible. Say it any way you want, "there's a new sheriff in town"; "the king is dead, long live the king"! Or, "meet the new heavyweight champion of the world". Use any metaphor you can think of to describe a palpable superiority in performance and you are only scratching the surface of how musical and how much better sounding the Scarlatti system is than the Verdi Encore/Elgar Plus. This is due not only to dCS' new advanced algorithm but also to a level of construction quality and parts selection which is an order of magnitude better than its forebear. The Scarlatti transport/DAC are built like the proverbial brick s-- houses. Most impressively, the Scarlatti transport employs Esoteric's finest VRDS/Neo transport mechanism which is available only in the Scarlatti STT CD/SACD transport and the Esoteric P/01.

I have a turntable/tonearm/cartridge/phono stage set up which tips the price scale north of $90,000 and, frankly, I could not tell the difference between 90% of the source material played on the Scarlatti versus my turntable. Yikes!

There simply isn't any question about it: you need to own the Scarlatti transport and DAC!

We are ready to take your order for delivery within 2 weeks. or if you need convincing, come on down and we'll do an A/B comparison between the Verdi Encore and Scarlatti system. Just don't plan on getting up quickly. You will be in a state of shock.


These words are never truer than when applied to speakers, because, no matter how good a transducer looks (the "is") it is the "does" part, how it sounds, which determines whether a speaker is a swan or an ugly duckling. At first glance, anyone can see that Magico speakers have the "is" part down. With a passing nod to the Biedermeier school of design, the Magico cabinets are impeccably crafted out of solid hard wood in graceful lines and nearly perfect proportions.

Their matte black curved anodized aluminum front baffles not only set off the natural beauty of the wood finish but also allows Magico's proprietary Nano Hi Fi Tech® drivers to be directly mounted to them from the rear without the use of a single screw between metal and wood. This ensures perfect and reliable coupling for years to come.

So she's good to look at, but can she cook? The answer is - yes, and then some. Because it is the "does" part of the Magico's beauty which sets them apart from other speakers. As aesthetically pleasing as Magicos are to look at, they would have to be 100 times more visually appealing before their "is" measures up to their "does". You see, Magicos "do(es)" everything right. They are unbelievably open and reproduce the midrange as well or better than anything I've ever heard, with a timbral accuracy that is simply uncanny. Transparent as a mountain lake, the Magico's reproduce highs that go out to light speed without ever sounding glossy or tinny and display a verisimilitude in high frequency reproduction unmatched by anything I have ever heard. Every nuance is there, every bit of detail, apparent not in an artificial or contrived way, but with that you-are-there quality, which sends goose bumps down your spine and makes you reach for your checkbook.

It is an article of faith amongst those of us who use Nordost Reference Valhalla cables that they are the least colored and most neutral signal products ever designed. Remarkably, this faith is about to be challenged by Nordost itself with the introduction of their ODIN SUPREME REFERENCE cable system.

Simply put, the ODIN SUPREME REFERENCE cable system is the finest collection of interconnects and speaker cables (power products are on the way!) ever to be made and come closer to sounding like "no cable" than anything I have ever heard including Valhalla.

What does the ODIN sound like? Well, like nothing, of course! But, if you want to know what happens when you substitute ODIN for Valhalla: Take the extraordinary effortless, temporal and spatial organization which Valhalla brings to musical signals (and which makes every other cable sound sluggish and slow) and add a whole new dimension of harmonic definition and texture without even slightly diluting the speed and order which set Valhalla apart, and you have ODIN. Add a palpable extension of bandwidth on the top and bottom and you have ODIN. Listening to ODIN after listening to Valhalla, every note sounds more real both in and of itself and in the context of all the other notes being rendered not only in terms of timing and speed, but also in regards to harmonic structure, pace and temporal texture. (Borrowing generously Roy Gregory's review, "Hi Fi Plus" date..)

Replacing all your Valhalla with ODIN is the Holy Grail, but changing even one Valhalla cable for one ODIN cable is enough to transform sound of an above average audio system to an almost unbelievable degree. If replacing the penultimate cable with ODIN brings you so much closer to the music, what happens, you may well ask, if you substitute ODIN for any other manufacturer's cable? The answer is the sonic equivalent of the parting of the waters, drawing water out of a rock, or manna from heaven. (Maybe it should be called the Moses cable.)

ODIN performance does not come cheap, even though, the results are well worth the cost. Fortunately, Sound by Singer and Nordost have put together an exceptionally brilliant trade-in program for both Nordost and other cable owners. Very simply put, we will take back any Nordost cable for its full retail price, cable for cable and length for length against the price of the same length and type of Nordost ODIN cable.

On a 1-meter length, the retail price of ODIN cables are 31/2 times that of Valhalla which, while extremely expensive, is exceptionally reasonable considering what just one ODIN interface does for your system and a bargain when you think about the cost of other manufacturers' top of the line cables which don't do anything nearly as well. Fortunately, additional meters are priced quite a bit more reasonably.

For example, while a 1-meter of ODIN interconnect is $16,000, each additional meter is only $4,000 more.

While it may be hard to get your head around wires which cost so much, try to think of what you would spend to eliminate the negative effect that wires have in the first place when used between components, and I think you will agree that ODIN, which nearly realizes this bit of magic, is worth every penny. I will contact you in the next week or so to follow up on this letter. Meanwhile, happy listening and think about what ODIN can bring to that experience.

There is not much debate about the fact that, other than their Odin cable, Nordost Valhalla is the finest signal cable in the world once it is thoroughly broken in. As a seasoned audiophile you probably know that. What you might not know is that a little while ago Nordost introduced an entirely new line of high performance, reasonably priced interconnects and loudspeaker cables (the Norse series) which carried through that Valhalla kind of speed, lucidity, transparency and weight right on down the line.

Simply put, substituting any Nordost Norse or Reference series cable in a system for any other similarly priced wire is the sonic equivalent of cleaning windows that have not been touched in 20 years. This was a revelation too important not to share with any music lover out there. So Joe Reynolds, president of Nordost, and I decided to make it easy. Trade in your cable. We’ll give you a credit for whatever its value actually is, from zero on up, plus pay you 15% of the retail price of the Nordost cable you purchase from us to replace it. How could anyone say no?

Thiel 3.7: New in every way but the pedigree

The enjoyment of music is a uniquely rewarding and inspiring experience. At Thiel, their passion is to provide this experience for their customers and therefore their standard of speaker quality is nothing less than fidelity to the music - a complete and perfectly accurate translation of the musical signal. For the CS3.7, Jim Thiel's goal was to achieve a level of performance greater than any previous product he had designed by incorporating everything Thiel had learned and every innovation it had developed over the last 30 years, and then adding some exciting new ideas to overcome limitations of previous designs. Has this goal been achieved? We think so, and then some. The Thiel CS3.7 is one of the great speakers that have ever been made at any price. Consider the following:

The Thiel CS 3.7 achieves the following performance attributes:


Extremely accurate tonal response achieved by exceptionally accurate frequency response, very low diffraction, and elimination of significant resonances. Octave-averaged response is within plus-minus 0.5 dB.

Very high resolution of detail achieved by drastic reduction of audible diaphragm resonances, very, non-resonant, sonically inert cabinet, time coherence, extensive use of premium quality polystyrene and polypropylene crossover capacitors and numerous other details of design, engineering, and construction.

Truly realistic and natural imaging provided by complete elimination of phase distortion (true minimum phase response), time coherence, exceptionally wide and even dispersion of energy at all frequencies enhanced by first-order crossover system, low diffraction, and very low levels of delayed resonant energy.

Preservation of dynamic contrasts achieved by very low driver distortion, high efficiency, very low delayed energy storage, and very low power and thermal compression.

Focal - JM Lab Electrifies

Focal - JM Lab Electrifies its followers. You probably wouldn't be getting this newsletter if you already didn't know about the Focal - JM Lab Utopia Be and Electra Be lines of speakers. The Grande Utopia Be, Nova Utopia Be, and Diva Utopia Be are the stuff of legend. Their extraordinary technical innovations were incorporated in 2005 by Focal - JM Lab into its Electra Be series of transducers, among which is included the now famous Electra 1027 Be. Famous because it produces a clarity and verisimilitude unparalleled by any speaker in its price range. The only criticisms which have been leveled at the 1027 Be vis-à-vis much larger speakers relate to how loud they play and how deep they go. These criticisms have been silenced by the advent of the new Electra 1037 Be which replaces the two 6 1/2 inch woofers used by the 1027 Be with three 7-inch "w" sandwich low frequency drivers in a slightly larger tower format. The result is all the clarity we have come to expect from the 1027 Be with dynamic range and low frequency response equal to all but the very largest and most expensive speaker systems. Vive La France.