I’m a break-in believer

I am a believer in break-in of audio components. I realize that some disagree, and I am open-minded enough to accept their right to be wrong.

Once I hooked up a system with a long run of cheap speaker wire and the sound was way too harsh. I did a seven-day break-in with a cable burner and was rewarded with acceptable sound. I have a Cable Cooker and have always “cooked” my cables three days just on general principles, though I should report that my cable suppliers do not think the difference is large.

Some say that when you break in speakers you are deceiving yourself that they sound better after break in because you are just getting accustomed to the sound. Not so. When I had a storefront I often put new models of small speakers on display, only to hear weak bass and harsh highs, so I made it a practice to break them in by putting them in a storeroom hooked to the low voltage tap of a transformer. Two or three days of continuous 60 Hz was enough to significantly improve the sound..

Listening only before and after break-in meant that I had not grown accustomed to the sound, and in the store I had the added advantage of daily comparing various speakers with a switcher with our very familiar playlist of demo tracks, so I knew the sound of each demo track and each speaker from excessive repetition. (Yes, I have heard Dark Side of the Moon more than once.)

With electronics , because I lack confidence in my memory and because it takes at least a week from first listen to the broken-in product I don’t even try to compare before and after sound. I do, however, have several friends whose hearing and memory I trust. I believe them when they tell me the improvements they hear make as much as 15% to 20% improvement.

Posted in Amplifier, bel canto design, Bookshelf Speakers, Cables, CD Receiver, center channel speaker, Components, DAC, Equalizer, Gallo speakers, GoldenEar Technology, Hybrid amplifier, Hybrid integrated amplifier, Marantz CD network receiver, Music Hall 11.1, Network receiver, Network receiver, Phono cartridges, Power cables, Preamplifier, Speakers, Standmount speakers, Subwoofers, Tower speakers, Turntables, WireWorld cables | Tagged | Comments Off on I’m a break-in believer

Anthony Gallo Acoustics has a new owner

News about Gallo Acoustics

I got into Gallo Acoustics with their round micro speakers, which were and are pricey but amazingly good. Not just “for the size,” but just plain good.

Back in 2003 the Gallo Acoustics Reference 3 tower was introduced and was the best speaker ever for $2500 a pair. I loved them then and I still do, but as the price went up to $3295 for the Reference 3.5 there was a lot of disappointment, though they were still a bargain at that price. After the 3.5 went away there was no replacement. In fact Gallo hasn’t had a Reference tower speaker for a while. I kept calling their national sales manager for updates for what seems like seems like years (actually it was years) for news about a new Reference tower.

The new speaker kept getting kicked down the road, and now I have some doubts whether it will ever happen. Gallo Acoustics has a new owner. It is NWX Group, their long-term European distributor. The new owners have extensive experience in high-end audio distribution and manufacturing. Their REVO digital audio brand (revo.co.uk) is sold around the world and is the recipient of multiple product design awards and What Hi-Fi? magazine Product of the Year awards. They say, “We anticipate that production of all AGA product lines will recommence shortly.”

Maybe the new owners will be able to shed light on future prospects as they get around to contacting Gallo dealers.

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McIntosh goes Internet

The information below is quoted from a Strata-Gee.com article

 Multiple sources have told us that McIntosh Laboratory, Inc., a brand once deeply committed to the specialty electronics retail channel, has notified dealers by phone that for the first time in its history the company will allow Internet retailers to sell the brand. The list of online dealers that will be authorized to sell McIntosh products includes Amazon.com. The news has sent a shock around their dealer base and we have heard from several very loyal, long-time McIntosh dealers…who are very, very angry. Last week dealers were contacted by their various McIntosh representatives and informed that the company has decided to authorize sales of a selection of McIntosh models through a limited list of Internet retailers. While the list of approved Internet retailers may have been short, the impact on dealers was big, as it includes Amazon.com, the 800 lb. gorilla of Internet retailing.

No Comment from McIntosh

We made several attempts to contact executives at McIntosh for comment on this story, but our calls were not answered by the time this story was posted. And other McIntosh-related sources we did reach, for a variety of reasons would not comment on the matter.

Most of the dealers we spoke with felt completely blindsided by the company’s actions. Although some mentioned that they viewed the move as another deteriorating step after the company authorized sales of McIntosh products at several Best Buy Magnolia departments. None of the dealers that we spoke to said that they had been consulted prior to the decision being made.

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A chat with Sandy Gross

Sandy called asking my opinion of the new Triton Two+ and Three+. They were breaking in, so I had to put him off a week. Having finally broken them in and put them in my room I called him back to share my observations, and during the chat he passed on some interesting information.

First, there will be no Triton One+. Yes, people have asked, but Sandy says that the One is not to change. The One is GoldenEar’s best, and the GoldenEar team’s efforts have been aimed at bringing the voicing of the One to the Two+ and Three+.

(Did they succeed? The short answer is YES! Details to follow soon.)

There will be no upgrade kit to make Triton Two into Triton Two+. The barrier to this is that the new crossovers are responsible for much of the improvement, and to upgrade would require interior cabinet work because the wire harness for the new crossover is different. Since it runs from the base to the top through partitions, and is glued airtight, the changes would be absurdly hard to make.

He discussed the existing ForceField and forthcoming SuperSub subwoofers. All GoldenEar subs are designed for maximum musicality, as opposed to maximum boom and lowest low end. But clearly, they are still quite capable of shaking the room when the sound effects call for it.

We talked about the two types of subwoofer fans, the “deep and loud” group and the musical accuracy group. Sandy designs for musical accuracy. By using digital signal processing GoldenEar subwoofer bass is tailored to respond to 20Hz and roll off below that. That prevents the cone over-extension, distortion and loss of control that destroy transient response and make a distorted boomy sound.

(My store held many Loud Car Stereo contests so I am very familiar with the “deep and loud” mentality. And I am sure all of you have sat at traffic lights and been subjected to that kind of bass. Now we have home theater system owners who only care about how deep and loud their subs play. They who miss the point of musicality.)

Sandy shared some information about his ForceField subs. They all have downward-firing passives which exert so much force that they had to be fitted with special large vibration absorbing feet. With regular feet they would bounce violently with the bass, and with points they would drill holes in the floor.

The new SuperSubs have passives top and bottom whose inertia cancels each other, and woofers side to side to do the same. The use of four radiating areas on each sub acts in many ways like having multiple subs in the room in terms of exciting different eigenmodes (room modes) and, also, comes very close to approximating an ideal pulsating sphere. This design makes a sub that is so free of vibration that a coin can be balanced on them when playing full tilt. GoldenEar has patented this design.

New Music Hall MMF 5.3SE has carbon arm

The first shipment of 5.3 turntables were mistakenly shipped with metal tonearms instewad of the carbon arms. Music Hall reduced the price of the 5.3s to the price of the 5.1s to quickly sell through this shipment. It has succeeded with the 5.3SE, and the 5.3SE with the carbon arm has arrived.

5.3 with metal arm and Ortofon 2M Blue cartridge is still $875
A terrific deal while it lasts!

5.3SE with carbon arm and Ortofon 2M Bronze cartridge is $1395

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New Gallo, high-end USB cables, Triton One

email questions and answers

“Hi Wylie, I was wondering if there is any information out yet on the new Gallo Reference 3.5 replacement speakers?”

My reply:

Interestingly I asked that question of the Gallo national sales manager last week. Anthony Gallo is working on a new model with a target price around $4,000 to $4,500 a pair, and the new speaker is expected by the end of the year. Having said that, I was told that only Anthony knows the details, that he is still in development, and that Gallo production estimates have been known to slip by months, even years. Nevertheless I am hopeful because Gallo’s speakers have always had innovative engineering and wonderful sound.

“Wylie, have you tried any of the USB cables from WireWorld?”

My reply:

Yes. But please don’t ask me if they sound better. Although I use an upper level WireWorld cable in my system, I haven’t done any comparisons, I just wanted to be sure I use a cable I know is top-notch. I know there is a view that all HDMI cables have the same performance, and another view that some high-end cables are better. I have no technical qualifications to judge this, and insufficient patience to do listening tests. I just got one I trusted and stopped there.

I also know that there are the same viewpoints about analog cables, and I know from experience that many cables sound better than others, even though the Internet is littered with accusations that the idea of better cables is “snake oil”. Of course some of the snake oil accusations might have merit. Even good products can be over-hyped. For example I recently got an email with a link accusing Audioquest of false demonstrations. True? I don’t know.

This reminds me of a story I heard long ago about a guy who went “behind the curtain” at a local Advent dealer and found resistor networks behind their speaker demo wall that assured that Advents would be louder than all the other speakers on the wall. My point is that even great products, like the Advent speakers, are sometimes marketed in a suspect way.

There is a GoldenEar Technology thread on AVS Forum

Most of the GoldenEar owners who post here are home theater guys. Link

Here is a comment I cut and pasted from the thread:

I haven’t posted in roughly a year since I bought my Triton Ones, so I thought I’d give a quick update. These remain to be the best speakers I have ever owned (and remember they are right next to my 10k Focal Electras). They are beautiful sounding in every audiophile adjective I could sputter about them.

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GoldenEar Technology upgrades the Triton Two and Three

Five years ago the Triton Two was GoldenEar Technology’s first speaker, and it was an immediate sensation. The Triton Two stunned audiophile reviewers and listeners with its combination of excellent sound and moderate price, so much so that many reviewers compared it to speakers costing three times its $3,000 price or more. One reviewer went so far as to put it on a par with $20,000 speakers. In following years, as smaller GoldenEar speakers were introduced, reviewers and other listeners noted continued improvements: GoldenEar’s team was making each new speaker an exercise in improvement, redesigning and refining the drivers and crossover. Finally the Triton One became their crowning achievement.

Rather than rest on their achievement the GoldenEar team, headed by Sandy Gross, used the lessons learned from their research on the Triton One to create the Triton Two+ and the Three+. The goal of all this re-engineering was to have the Triton Two+ and Three+ sound more like the Triton 1 at a lower cost and a smaller size.

How well did they succeed? Here are some early responses to the new speakers:
CES 2016 Quotables:

Residential Systems – John Sciacca
I listened to the $2500/pair Triton Three and was blown away by the depth, dimensionality and just stomp-on-your-chest bass. It’s cliché to say “Sandy did it again!” but new Triton Three+ is simply stunning at $2500/pr.

The Absolute Sound – Jim Hannon
GoldenEar Triton Three+ loudspeakers are amazing values.

Stereophile – Herb Reichart
Both models could move and handle like European race cars. Compared to the Triton Five (I really liked them), the Two+ and Three+ played faster-with greater detail, presence and agility. They shed more light on the music. They did jump and jive…Two impressive high-end loudspeakers at a very comfortable price.

HomeTheaterReview – Adrienne Maxwell
GoldenEar’s demo of the smaller Three+ sounded fantastic.

Sound & Vision – Mark Fleishman
One of the two best demos at the show…GoldenEar’s Triton Two+ and Triton Three + have been upgraded to adopt the same sonic signature as the Triton One.

Secrets of Home Theater – Jim Clements
I must agree that both models (Triton Two+ and Three+) displayed the Triton One pedigree that has won over music lovers around the globe.

Dagogo – Marc Silver
On the Model Two+, I found the bass nicely extended with very fast transients and impressive extension. The mids were smooth and focused and the highs were open and airy – all the things I look for in any high-end speaker, but especially appreciated in one at this price.

Posted in Bookshelf Speakers, center channel speaker, GoldenEar Technology, Speakers, Standmount speakers, Subwoofers, Tower speakers, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on GoldenEar Technology upgrades the Triton Two and Three

The Absolute Sound reports on WireWorld’s Cable Polygraph

David Salz of WireWorld demonstrated his Cable Polygraph at the Rocky Mountain AudioShow. Here are excerpts from the report:

 He (David Salz) then proceeded to play paired comparisons of a direct connection vs. a particular cable, some of them from competitors. Even with the modest system and less than ideal listening conditions, the colorations imposed by each cable were immediately obvious. Although no cable is perfectly transparent, Wireworld’s cables, particularly their upper-end models, sounded quite close to the direct connection. Moreover, some of the non-Wireworld cables were revealed to be grossly colored.

 Although veteran reviewer Robert Harley heard obvious colorations, the reader comments cable atheists were quite sharp: “…it’s hard to fathom how they’ve convinced themselves that an (albeit) very short bit of wire (call it what you will) and 2 RCA plugs isn’t an interconnect and that the wire used plus the connectors themselves have no net effect…”

Wow, now that’s a rebuttal to puzzle the experts – a cable denier saying the test is invalid because a very short wire surely has an effect. The remaining comments were also indicative that the readers were mentally distressed to think that cables have different sound.

Link: The Absolute Sound

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Deals on 180 gram vinyl LPs

The chain Half Price Books has opened a store near me. Among its offerings are 180 gram vinyl LPs for $13.99. The selections are standards – Take 5, Kind of Blue, etc. What is interesting is that they are not USA labels, but are from Europe. Maybe they are lower quality than the USA versions, but I generally respect European standards of quality. My son bought Take Five when visiting and in my system it was fine.

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New from Ortofon, Lehmann, and Music Hall

Ortofon cartridges and Lehmann Audio phono preamps –

Excellence made in Europe

I won’t attempt to list and describe the full lineup of Ortofon cartridges, as I just counted 37 models on my list. I have had much success with Ortofon’s 2M cartridges, which are the standard for performance at reasonable prices. Now Ortofon has new Quintet series of moving coil cartridges that is becoming the same thing in the moving coil world.

The USA importer also has Lehmann phono preamps. The Lehmann Black Cube series has been a solid recommendation for quality and value for several years.

I have decided to try a cartridge/phono preamp, an Ortofon Quintet Bronze moving coil with a Lehmann Black Cube SE MkII. I haven’t set this rig up yet but based on the great reviews for both, and consultation with Ortofon USA’s representative I have high expectations.


 Early word on the new Music Hall turntables

MMF 2.3 – Someone took advantage of my special first-buyer price, so I set one up for him. It’s a really good table, upgraded from the 2.2 with a carbon fiber tonearm, better bearings, detachable RCA cables and a vibration isolated DC motor. The cartridge is a Music Hall Spirit, made by Audio Technica. The 2.3 retails for $499 with a black plinth; red or white plinths are an option at a $50 upcharge. (There’s also an SE version with a wood veneer plinth for $750, which sort of amazes me, but I checked and that’s really the price.). I believe that the 2.3 is good enough to take upgraded cartridges and perform with bigger boys.

MMF 7.3 – One person took advantage of my special offer, so I have set one up for him. The DC motor now has built-in electronic speed control, the tonearm is an upper level carbon fiber arm, the platter bearing assembly is upgraded, and it is available with or without an Ortofon Bronze cartridge. Since the Bronze is a $440 cartridge, but Music Hall adds only $200 to the $1395 price of the 7.3, this is a great option.The one I set up sounded comparable in comparison to my VPI HW19/SME 309/Grado Ref Sonata. The Grado has a softer warmer sound than the Ortofon, as would be expected, so I was presented with the choice of a warmer sound or a more dynamic accurate sound, but both at a high level of performance. As you can guess I vacillated depending on the LP. Now I know why some guys get two-tonearm tables.

 MMF 5.3 Lemonade from lemons
No, the 5.3 is a not lemon. The story is that Music Hall has found a way to turn a mistake into good news for the customers. Among the improvements that turned the new tables to the .3 series was a carbon fiber arm for each table, but when the 5.3s were unpacked the arm they found was the previous 5.2 alloy arm. All the other upgrades were there, but not the arm. Sending the tables back to Pro-Ject factory in Europe was not an option so they cut the price of the 5.3 to the price of the 5.1 – $875. That includes an Ortofon 2M Blue cartridge. There is an SE version that has a 2M Bronze for $100 more.
This makes the 5.3 a real bargain. Nobody asked for the special first-buyer price for the 5.3 or 5.3SE, so it is still available. Once this reduced price shipment is sold out Music Hall will bring in the fully upgraded 5.3 table at the original higher price.

MMF 9.3 Priced at $2395 with Goldring Eroica LX cartridge or $2195 without cartridge. The 9.3 follows the 9.1 was just announced. Sadly I have no explanation of the upgrades, but I have asked for one.

Musical Design – aptly named

While waiting for a customer to pick up a serviced Musical Design D-75 power amplifier I put it in my system. WOW!
I wish I could write like a reviewer so I could sing its praises. I have had Parasound Halo, Pass Labs, Vincent Audio and Bel Canto amps in my system so I think I have been exposed to quality, and this amp just got it as right as I have heard. ( OK, it’s been a few years since the Pass Labs, but I judge on the enjoyment scale and I have a decenrt memory for that). As this one is several years old I am hoping to borrow a more recent version from John Hillig.

Happy listening,


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The Evolution of GoldenEar Triton speakers

  In 2010 the first GoldenEar Technology tower speaker, the Triton Two, arrived. A $3,000/pair tower with a folded ribbon tweeter (called HFVR), two bass/midranges, two subwoofers, two passives, and 1200 watts built into each tower, it was an immediate sensation, getting twenty five rave reviews/awards, most of whom compared its performance to speakers costing up to $20,000. (All Triton reviews and awards are at http://www.goldenear.com/products/triton-series?gktab=6)

A year later the $2,000/pair Triton Three came out, essentially a smaller version of the Triton Two, with the HFVR tweeter, one bass/midrange, one subwoofer, and 800 watts. Its 4.5″ bass/mid benefited by some design refinement but the smaller overall size worked against it. It did not get the attention and adulation of its big brother, though its one reviewer preferred it to the Two when the bigger sound is not needed. To me it is the perfect blend of a monitor speaker and a subwoofer for full range performance in a smaller room.

In 2014 came the $1400/pair Triton Seven, with the HFVR tweeter, two new bass/midranges, one subwoofer, and two passives. (no powered subwoofer) This one hit the spot and got fourteen good reviews. As an illustration of the work GoldenEar spends refining its products, one of my customers so preferred the midrange of the Seven to that of his Triton Two that he traded in his Twos. Of course it must be mentioned that he has a larger SVS subwoofer and a smallish room so he didn’t need the bass of the Two. It has been mostly popular in smaller rooms and in home theaters with a subwoofer.

In 2015 the $2,000/pair Triton Five arrived, essentially a bigger and better version of the Seven. Bigger cabinet, bigger bass/midranges, four passives. And not just bigger, definitely better, because GoldenEar’s engineers had been working their magic of constant refinement and development. Most listeners said that the sound from the mid-bass to the top treble was a step above all the previous Tritons, as you can see the seven reviews at the link above.

But shortly later in 2015 the ultimate Triton arrived – the $5,000/pair Triton One. It’s bigger and better in every way than all the previous models, though admittedly the Five’s mids and highs are so similar that it could be a close debate. after all, both the Five and One were developed very closely in time and share many refinements. The Triton One is the latest and greatest achievement of GoldenEar’s design staff, and was named 2015 Speaker of the Year by three audiophile magazines.

But wait – while the Triton One is the greatest, it is no longer the latest. At CES 2016 GoldenEar will be showing two new models – the $3500/pair Triton Two+ and the $2500/pair Triton Three+. My first word of these new speakers came two days ago in an email from Sandy Gross. Here is what he says:

The new Triton Two+ and Triton Three+ incorporate Triton One technology and voicing to dramatically upgrade their sonic performance into Triton One territory. In fact, within their dynamic range and bass capabilities, they sound almost virtually identical to the Triton Ones in terms of voicing, soundstage and imaging. The Triton Three+ is in stock and shipping, we expect the Triton Two+ in stock and shipping around January 20th.”

So now we have improved versions of the Two and Three, upgraded in sound quality to be comparable in sound to the One, though not as capable of the dynamics and bass of the One. This is exciting! I listened to the Two as my main speaker for four years and its dynamics and bass were always amazing. I am really excited about hearing these new Tritons.

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