SIGNALS & NOISE (Letters to Editor) (Jan. 1988)

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Battle Report

Dear Editor:

Bravo to Michael J. Rodney for his letter ("Signals & Noise," August 1987) regarding the service side (or lack thereof) of the audio industry. While I empathize with Mr. Rodney's comments, I also find some small consolation in his confirming that state-side audio enthusiasts experience the same frustrations as we do here.

It's good to know that Mr. Rodney found performance and service satisfaction in the McIntosh company. I've been fighting an almost year-long battle with New York Audio Labs, which offered to modify my Moscode 600 amplifier. They accepted my deposit but have not yet performed the work or replied to my request for a refund.

-David S. Stott, Jr., Paris, France

Editor's Note: Harvey Rosenberg of NYAL replies: "The recent disaster on Wall Street was the death blow for NYAL. I am going to have to put the company into bankruptcy. There were a couple of people who did not get their amplifiers modified."

Let It Be

Dear Editor:

Your October 1987 issue contained several letters from angry readers who bought Beatles CDs without knowing they were in mono. I do not understand why they didn't know; long before the discs were released, numerous articles appeared in newspapers about the discs being in mono, and still more appeared after they were released.

I bought the discs knowing they were in mono. It didn't bother me that much, although Capitol could've crammed both a mono and a stereo version on one disc.

-Ki Suk Hahn, West Covina, Calif.

An Encouraging Word

Dear Editor:

In regard to two letters printed in the October 1987 "Signals & Noise" column ("Two Sides of a Coin"), I would make the following comments:

In a day and age when your Equipment Directory has over 261 different listings for speaker manufacturers, with products ranging in price from $79.95 to $100,000, I commend the entire Audio staff for its ability to accurately cover as wide a diversity of products as it does! As a professional involved in the field of music, I appreciate the reviews of automotive equipment, knowing its ability for true high-fidelity reproduction, which apparently Mr. Paskowitz isn't aware of. Also, as a subscriber to Stereo Review as well as Audio, I can accurately state that your magazine still very much caters to high-end equipment, whether it be car audio, home audio, or home video.

I fail to understand why someone such as Mr. Bufka would continue to read a magazine that he is unable to appreciate. Keep on reviewing the categories of equipment that you are now doing such a good job on. You can count on me to be renewing my subscription for many years to come.

-William S. Wells; Nashville, Tenn.

Happy Family Member

Dear Editor:

I would like to second Michael J. Rodney's "nomination" of McIntosh Laboratories as a company deserving praise for their outstanding service to their customers ("Signals & Noise," August 1987). I am pleased to have been a member of the McIntosh family since the early '60s and to own components still performing up to their original specifications.

-G. Gary Kirchner, M.D.; Lancaster, Pa.

Voice of Experience

Dear Editor:

You've made an excellent choice in having Frank Driggs review jazz re leases for Audio. Having read his writings in many contexts, especially set booklets and liner notes, I've come to appreciate him as an authority who in deed knows what he's writing about.

Since reviews are necessarily pared to the bone, his every sentence rings with truly detailed knowledge and experienced listening and thought. I think the reader can count on the accuracy of his judgments and summations. Al though his writings are frequently on reissues of "period" jazz, you could just as well employ his knowledge in the review of anything current. Let him take a crack at that marvelous electronic stuff that takes some of today's musical giants six months to a year to get right.

Speaking of musical giants, I loved those letters about The Beatles CDs and whether the albums were originally in mono or stereo. I put such discussions in the category of UFO sightings and the new cleft in Michael Jackson's chin.

-Geoffrey Wheeler; Manassas, Va.

The Megabuck Stops Here

Dear Editor:

I read with interest the letters of Ronald Stone and Bruce Bender ("Signals & Noise," November 1987) concerning the Mark Levinson No. 20 mono amplifier review by Laurence Greenhill and David Clark. It appears that Mr. Green hill and Mr. Clark's high commendations are predetermined because they know they are dealing with a mega buck product. I wonder how their opinions would change if they believed the unit cost $4,000 less, or, conversely, if they were led to believe an $800 amplifier had a $4,800 price tag. I believe they could be far more objective and more frugal with superlatives if they were unaware of the manufacturer, model, and price of the unit to which they were listening.

-Jerome Swabb; Erie, Pa., USA

Examining an Issue

Dear Editor:

I have some comments on several articles in the November 1987 issue of Audio: First, in "Digital Domain," the metal oxide varistors (MOVs) connected to ground in Fig. 2 are a no-no, according to electrical codes. I know; I sent a sample computer to Underwriters Labs connected just this way, and it was rejected. The MOVs do a good job:

Last month a neighbor dropped a tree across a 125,000-V transmission line so that it fell on the 12,500-V distribution line. Several thousand houses had TVs, VCRs, microwaves, computers, etc. destroyed. All I lost were some MOVs and ground-fault interrupters.

Unfortunately, my garage-door opener had its MOV soldered in a circuit board. The runs were vaporized! By the way, MOVs have a finite life. Each time they absorb a surge, their characteristics are changed somewhat. A Transorb, a large zener diode, does a better job, but it is very expensive.

Second, a note about "Spectrum." Thomson SA, formerly Thomson-Houston, is an offspring of an American company of the same name. In about 1890, it merged with Edison to form General Electric. How about that! Third, the Brush Soundmirror mentioned in "Behind the Scenes" came out in about 1948. Our local radio station had one, and later our high school band did also. The tape we had was not plastic, it was paper. You really had to be careful on rewind.

Finally, I think all the fuss about copy-protecting music is ridiculous. I expect it to be about as effective as the car seat-belt interlock. I can't imagine spending good money for a recording with a hole in the middle of the treble.

I'll stick with the discs I've got, going back to 1908.

-Gilbert A. Johnson; Woodinville, Wash.

Let's Discuss It

Dear Editor:

John Eargle's review of the CD recordings of Holst's "Planets" ("A Plethora of Planets," October 1987) is to be commended. Mr. Eargle's understanding of each recording's background and the effect of the techniques involved is second to none. The combi nation of technical insight and musical sensitivity in one writer is a treasure that should not be kept in a closet! Please see if Mr. Eargle can be persuaded to do similar comparative re views. There are too many $16 CDs out there which are not deserving of the medium and which need to be "discussed."

- Jim Fullmer Salt Lake City, Utah

Adventures in Collecting

Dear Editor:

So much has been written about CDs since their inception, but little of it explores their psychological impact on our music culture. Although I have al ways found the prospect of pure sound very exciting, there are other considerations which fit into the total picture.

CDs sound great, but somehow, watching them spin is about as exciting as watching a blender. Having been conditioned to deal with analog formats for years, it may be a long time before digital finds a place in my life.

As a collector and student of many different forms of music, the analog world has allowed me some colorful adventures. It is an alien planet filled with hidden treasures. At junk stores and yard sales, I often find near-mint LPs in a vast variety of bizarre and obscure pop mutations for as little as a dollar--or sometimes even a quarter.

Along with closed-out 8-tracks, I can use them to re-create this lush landscape piece by piece on cassettes.

The final quality depends on the equipment and skill I use.

These types of diverse, odd artifacts would never translate into CD culture; they would never make it onto disc. At premium prices, each CD is a finished piece of permanent software. I'd have to like the music quite a lot to make each investment. There are few modern releases I like and even fewer I would play all the way through in any format. Vinyl-to-tape is a state of mind-interactive, creative, and flexible. The digital world is a perfectly consistent mirror image, but the surface is flat, hard, and cold.

Beam me up, Scotty.

-Theodore Curley, Framingham, Mass.

Righting a Wrong

Dear Editor:

We at ECM Records are pleased that Edward Tatnall Canby enjoyed Kim Kashkashian's recording, Romances and Elegies for Viola and Piano (November 1987, "Compact Discs"). Unfortunately, he misidentified the musicians in the review. Please note that it is Kim Kashkashian who plays the viola and Robert Levin who plays the piano.

-Kathryn King, ECM Records, New York, N.Y.

Editor's Note: Please forgive the error.

We hope our readers were more ob servant than we were: As anyone can easily see, it is a viola (and not a piano!) that Ms. Kashkashian is holding up in the photograph that accompanies the review. -E.M.

(Source: Audio magazine, Jan. 1988)

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