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July 31, 2006

July 31, 2006

In Memoriam

It was with deep sorrow and shock that I learned of the sudden passing, on Sunday July 30, of Dean Roumanis, chief operating officer of Krell Industries. I first encountered Dean on the telephone shortly after he joined Krell in 1986. Yes, I know, it is hard to believe that Dean was not with Krell from the beginning, but in fact there was a Krell before Dean Roumanis, although it is difficult to think of what it must be like there for everyone going forward without him. As would become typical of the future, our first conversation concerned a problem I was having with some piece of equipment which he handled without any fuss or drama in record speed. I knew at that moment that Dean Roumanis was the go-to guy at Krell, and for 20 years I went to him every time I needed to talk about anything concerning the relationship between our two companies. The Dean Roumanis I knew in the day was a world-class problem solver. He had the wisdom and reason to put his customers’ interests as the same level as Krell’s, with the result that everyone benefited pretty much equally. I deeply respected Dean’s sense of equilibrium. Often times I would enter a conversation irate about some such thing, and would finish satisfied that my points had been heard and my ideas considered.

Dean was a loving husband and father and is survived by a wonderful wife and children who, along with him, I am proud to say I have considered friends for 20 years. While I know that there is no such thing as an ideal marriage, I would always marvel at how well Sally and Dean Roumanis jelled. This might be the case, in part, because Sally Roumanis is the kind of person who brings light into every room she walks into, and it also might be that Dean was the kind of guy who could keep that light burning by tending the fire behind it. My heart goes out to Sally and the rest of the Roumanis family. Unfortunately, there are no words that can comfort, so I will simply say that Dean made a profound impression on me and hundreds of other people. He will be missed.

Those of you who’d like to remember Dean can donate whatever you’d like to the The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in his name.

July 19, 2006

Power!

There is nothing more confusing to the high-end audio user than the issue of power products and power conditioners. For good reason. Virtually every manufacturer claims to have discovered the holy grail when it comes to providing good clean power to audio/video equipment. Before we get there, there are some basics which you need to take in to account. The first is that no matter how good the power cords and how seamless the power conditioners which you utilize are, nothing will sound good if the polarity on your wall outlets are inconsistent with each other. Obviously, this does not impact upon those of you who plug everything into a single power conditioner which then gets plugged into the wall. However, many audiophiles try to maximize current delivery to their amplifiers by using separate individual isolated lines to source equipment and amplifiers. Great idea! But only if you maintain polarity. Virtually everyone has what is called 2-phase electricity in their homes. If you look at your wall outlet, you'll see a round hole flanked on the left with a short slot (plus) and on the right by a longer slot (minus). The electricity coming to you on the left and the right are the 2 phases. You have to make sure that, while wiring your house, nobody made the mistake of swapping the plus and the minus when the outlets were connected. If they did, this will not result in equipment failure. It will, however, cause severe ground loops (when there is more than one electrical path to ground for electrical/electronic equipment), and cause the whole system to sound indistinct and out of focus. The reason for that should be obvious. Think of your loudspeakers - when you hook them up out of phase, you get no bass and no center image. That is because the drivers on one speaker are pushing out while the drivers on the other speakers are going back in. The principle which causes the "bad sound" you get from speakers being hooked up out of phase applies equally to when equipment received its power out of phase, i.e., when you are using 2 different outlets to hook up your system, and when one of those outlets has the minus and plus swapped. If you want to use 2 outlets, which are not on the same duplex receptacle, please have your electrician do the following: plug a heavy-duty 3 prong extension cord into each outlet. Connect one lead of a volt meter into the small slot which signifies positive on one cord. Take the other lead from the volt meter and do the same thing to the other outlet. If you get a reading of zero, or less than 1 volt, you are just fine when it comes to polarity.

Another problem which can occur, and which can both damage components as well as make things generally sound pretty awful, is when there is some stray connection between the plus side and the center pin (ground). This can happen in a lot of ways when a place is wired, and should always be checked. Here's how you do it: take one lead of the volt meter, touch the center pin, take the other lead and stick it into the short slot on the left (plus) side. You should read no more than 5 to 10 volts (why not zero? the length that the wire travels between the main box and the outlet creates a phenomenon known in electrical terms as "induction", which will cause a minimum amount of stray voltage to arrive on the ground pin).

There are many other important issues to be dealt with when considering creating the electrical wiring for a home and/or apartment, when you have the opportunity to start from scratch. Issues such as grounding, wire size in the wall, and outlets should be taken up with your architect/electrical engineer if you are doing any major renovations or building a house.

Now that you've gotten your polarity straightened out, it is critical that you use a power conditioner which will eliminate as much as possible all of the stray noise which rides on the power lines, without in any way interfering with or changing the pure electrical waveform which you should be getting, or limiting the amount of current which you are drawing from the wall. The latter corollary virtually eliminates any power system which regenerates power from the wall. Why? Because, in order to deliver the full amperage capable from your wall outlet, the power regenerator has to be (and often are) the size of a small Chevrolet. Even then, you can hear a loss of dynamics. Clean power without dynamics is just not worth it.

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Burmester 948 Power Conditioner

We have discovered that there are three companies that manufacture power conditioners that can be used beneficially in any situation. They are Burmester, Shunyata, and Nordost. The Burmester Power Conditioner 948 functions unlike any other line filter on the world market. In part, the 948 is a 500 W Power Amplifier that works in parallel with the AC power supply and as an active system neutralizes any DC components in the 120 volts AC from the wall outlet. The patented circuit design does not limit the power to the audio system in any way and, thus, allows very powerful amps, including several large mono amps to be hooked up to the 948. With common passive filters this would only be possible at the price of deteriorating sound.

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Shunyata Hydra 8 Power Conditioner

The Hydra Model-8 combines high-current capability with Shunyata’s passive form of noise reduction and system protection to offer the perfect all-in-one power-distribution solution. All four of the Model-8’s silver-plated duplex outlets are isolated with their own buss structure and passively filtered, allowing each duplex to be interchangeably utilized for either high-current electronics or noise-sensitive digital equipment. The Hydra Model-8’s 20amp capability and 8 outlets will accommodate most entire systems on a single AC line.

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Shunyata Hydra 6 Power Conditioner

Hydra Model-6 incorporates all of the innovative design and technical elements -- save Shunyata’s FeSi-1000 compounds -- that have earned the Hydra-8 its unprecedented array of critical awards and professional endorsements. Shunyata’s six cryogenically treated Venom silver-plated outlets are connected to the Hydra-6’s massive silver/rhodium plated CDA 101 copper buss bars, eliminating all point-to-point wiring.

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Shunyata Hydra 4 Power Conditioner

Hydra Model-4 incorporates two of Shunyata Research’s cryogenically treated Venom silver plated duplex outlets, increasing system utility and functionality over the model two. Shunyata Research’s Trident-Defense System makes its first appearance outside of the Hydra Model-8 with Shunyata’s own 7-element Venom filter.

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Shunyata Hydra 2 Power Conditioner

The Hydra Model-2 consists of Shunyata Research’s cryogenically treated Venom silver-plated outlet that are hard-wired with Shunyata’s own high-purity CDA-101 cryogenic copper conductors. Shunyata Research’s exclusive Venom noise filtration provides isolation from line and component borne noise as well as low-level spike protection. 10,000-amps of surge and spike protection offer peace of mind without compromising performance. The Hydra Model-2 provides up to 20-amps of clean continuous current, and can be used with any of Shunyata Research’s high-performance PowerSnakes PaceSetter power cords.


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Nordost Thor Power Conditioner

Nordost’s Thor features IsoTek's Polaris-X circuit technology which eliminates product cross contamination, effectively offering any hardware plugged into the unit a clean power supply. This proprietary system shunts AC mains borne noise to Earth without compressing the dynamics of the music. This design also isolates each piece of equipment electrically, effectively giving each one a separate AC mains spur line. Other innovations such as sophisticated silver plated copper circuit paths and the use of silver solder throughout the system also improve overall performance. Thor also has full surge protection.

After you've selected the power condition for your system comes the necessary choice of power cords. We recommend those made by Shunyata, Nordost, and Synergistic Research.

By now, you all probably understand how a power cord can affect the sound of your system. The question is, isn't there one best power cord for all equipment? The answer is: I don't know. I don't know because I have never connected all of the Nordost and Synergistic and Shunyata power cords to every piece of equipment under similar conditions. I can tell you that there are some general compatibility guidelines which we use in recommending power cords for equipment that is based on our experience with our equipment in a wide variety of circumstances. So, in making your selection of power cords, it would be best to talk to one of our sales associates. One thing is certain, however. Any of the power cords made by Nordost, Shuntaya, and Synergistic Research will sound infinitely better than the black piece of rubber which gets shipped with the component as a freebee.

Recommended Systems

Customers have properly chastised me for showing only CD-based systems, as if that is what we, at Sound By Singer, really like. Point taken. The fact is that most people when they think of 2-channel audio systems today think of CD/SACD as their main, and sometimes their only, serious source. Boy, what they are missing! There is nothing like a vinyl record to bring music to life. But, then again, I doubt that many of you are unaware of this fact. Henceforth, we will make sure to put together recommended systems with both CD-only and analog sources.

SYSTEM #1:
CD/SACD: dCS P8i $14,000
Preamp: Tom Evans Vibe $4600
(Pulse Power Supply $4000)
Amps: Tom Evans Linear B monoblocks $16,000
Speakers: Peak-Consult InCognito X $16,500
TOTAL: $55,100

Analog Chain:
Phono Stage: Tom Evans Groove+ $7000
Turntable: Brinkmann Lagrange $11,270
Tonearm: Brinkmann $3650
Cartridge: Brinkmann-EMT $2850
Base for Turntable: Harmonic Resolution Systems $2400
TOTAL: $27,170

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BRINKMANN LAGRANGE

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TOM EVANS GROOVE PLUS

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TOM EVANS VIBE

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dCS P8i CD/SACD

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Peak Consult InCognito X


SYSTEM #2:
CD/SACD: Esoteric X03-SE $7500
Preamp: Tom Evans Vibe $4600
Amp: Tom Evans Linear A $8500
Speakers: Sonics by JG Allegra $7800
TOTAL: $28,400

Analog Chain:
Phono Stage: Tom Evans Groove $3600
Turntable: Avid Volvere Sequel $7000
Tonearm: SME IV $3200
Cartridge: Lyra Helikon $2000
TOTAL: $15,800

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AVID VOLVERE SEQUEL


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ESOTERIC X03-SE

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TOM EVANS LINEAR A AMPLIFIER

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SONICS ALLEGRA


SYSTEM #3:
CD: Cary CD303/300 $4000
Integrated Amp: Pathos Classic III $2750
Speakers: Audiophysic Spark 4 $3000
TOTAL: $9,750

Analog Chain:
Phono Stage: Trigon Vanguard II $500
Turntable: VPI Scout w/ JMW9 Tonearm $1650
Cartridge: Lyra Dorian $750
TOTAL: $2,900

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VPI SCOUT W/ JMW-9 TONEARM

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CARY CD303/300

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PATHOS CLASSIC III

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