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Anthony’s Blog

Sound & Visions December 2020 Newsletter

By Anthony's Blog

SOUNDS & VISIONS: THE SSV NEWSLETTER
Happy Holidays, Specialty Sound & Vision Partners!
Dear SSV Partners: Please note, the SSV Newsletter is now divided into two parts, “SSV News” and “$pecial Promotion$”

SSV NEWS
NEW SSV Dealer Marketing Resource
As both Specialty Sound & Vision and our Vendors continue to grow, we’ve been developing better ways to deliver marketing content and collateral to our Dealers. Our latest effort places the most important Marketing Resources on a discrete “Resources” tab on our Website:

Resources

LEON TcFIT: NOW HALF PRICE!!!
Since its introduction, TcFIT has been the best-selling product in Leon history. Designed to offer Leon’s “Custom Tailored” look for the Sonos Playbar, TcFIT includes a Frame, Bracket and bespoke Grille custom made for each television and application. Now, enjoy the bespoke beauty of TcFIT at HALF Dealer Cost. TcFIT for Sonos Playbar only, while supplies last.  Please call for details…

CAMBRIDGE AUDIO
Andrew Robinson Names Alva TT Product of the Year
Our Alva TT Direct Drive Turntable with Bluetooth aptX HD has been named 2020 Product of the Year in the Best Turntable and Best Design categories by popular YouTuber, Andrew Robinson!
“It has to be said that the Alva is just in a league all its own…”
Check out the winners here: youtu.be/odmAicAdFrw
CXA81 and CXN (V2) Featured in The Absolute Sound
Our CXA81 Integrated Stereo Amplifier and CXN (V2) Network Audio Streamer were reviewed in the December issue of The Absolute Sound, which is on newsstands now.
“At a little over $1000, the CXA81 could be the perfect start to a system that is one step up from entry-level high end…Highly recommended!”
“As for the CXN (V2)….Also highly recommended!”
Read more here: https://www.theabsolutesound.com/
CAMBRIDGE MARKETING ASSETS: Cambridge Audio’s “Partner Resources” offers images, info and anything else you need to support Cambridge Audio sales. Please contact us for access

Audiolab: NO Shortages and Holiday Specials
A massive three-day fire has destroyed the Nobeoka City, China factory of semiconductor producer Asahi Kasei Microsystems. Audio manufacturers around the world will experience shortages; fortunately, Audiolab is one of the few vendors that doesn’t rely upon this supplier. Audiolab is in-stock and will be available throughout the coming months, with Special Pricing Through December! (See details in Special Promotion$ section of this Newsletter)

JL Audio Sales: Backorders Being Filled
As you’re probably aware, growing demand for JL Audio Subwoofers have caused unavoidable product delays; fortunately, JL is filling backorders much more quickly than most other vendors and it looks like ALL backorders for NY Metro Dealers should be filled this month. Going forward, please place orders early to ensure timely arrival.
Download the NEW JL Audio Brochure here https://jlaudio.widen.net/s/0mzmsrvwiz

Simaudio/Moon: New Price Sheets and Airplay 2!
–  Simaudio has released New Price Sheets, which SSV mailed on Monday, 14 December. There are a number of price increases, all effective 31 December. Please use this as a “Call to Action” to close business.
–  AirPlay 2: all Moon MiND- and DAC-based components now feature Apple AirPlay 2! Older components can be upgraded at Special Pricing through 31 January, 2021. Please ask.

Thorens
Introducing the TD102A
newest fully automatic turntable from Thorens, the TD 102A.  The 102A will feature a carbon fiber tonearm, switchable phono pre-amp and installed AT VM95E cartridge.  It will have an MSRP of $899.99 and be available in the US during February. Please see Part 2 of this Newsletter for Special Introductory Pricing.

TD124DD First Review!
We’ve received the first Thorens TD124DD Review, from Germany’s
Stereo Magazine and it’s a rave! https://stereo-magazine.com/review/thorens-td124dd-review?fbclid=IwAR1AyDZIeLrIRA81rQCrs2qMyINcWM2Q1-oLNwOnXxxIT3Kw9_KZfA0CJLE
With a US MSRP of $14,000, the Limited Edition TD124DD includes a NEW Ortofon SPU cartridge (SPU TD 124), Gloss Plinth, state-of-the-art Tonearm designed to match the aesthetic of the original EMT as well as a Flight Case and individually numbered Certificate of Authenticity. Sure to be a Collectors’ Item! Please contact SSV for availability and demo programs office@ssvreps.com

Wisdom Audio: ICS3 and SUB1 Installation Manuals
We have just received a series of six (6) Installation Guides for Wisdom’s ICS3 “Minimum Aperture” speaker and SUB1 “Snorkel Sub” and assembly is progressing according to plan. Please ask us!

$pecial Promotion$
Audiolab 6000-Series Holiday Promotion Continues!
SSV is pleased to announce a Special Holiday Promotion of Audiolab’s most popular components!  The promotion concludes at the close of business on New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2020. Included is a newly augmented sell-through credit on 6000A  Play: Promo retail has been reduced to $999.99 and Sell through credit increased to $107.00
This promotion is based upon sell-through, so Price Protection does not apply.  Please contact SSV for Details. office@ssvreps.com
Sell through claims must include documented customer purchase info for the promo period and reflecting Promotional Price.  All claims for sell through must be submitted by Friday, January 29, 2021.

Cambridge Audio ALVA TT: NEW Lower MAP
Complete with Moving Coil cartridge, phono preamplifier, aptX HD Hi-Res Streaming and British-Made one-piece tonearm, Cambridge’s ALVA TT was a steal at $1,699. MAP has been lowered   to $1,199 making the ALVA one of the best buys in Analog!
EAT Prelude Promotion: Full Margin at $995!
EAT’s “Best Buy” turntable is now an even better deal!
Mix and Match any five (5) EAT Components and Preludes are invoiced at Full Dealer Margin based upon a $995 MSRP. Buy six (6) or more Preludes and receive a “REVOLV Record Care Bundle” including Record Cleaning Fluid, Record Brush and Electronic Stylus Gauge with every Prelude purchased. Limited availability.
With many sub-$1K turntables unavailable, this deal should be a slam dunk!

Thorens
Promo #1
FREE TAB1600 Extended through 31 December!
Thorens NEW TD103A turntable ($1,299.99 MSRP) has arrived and we’ve got a strong Introductory Promotion: for every TD103A you sell, a TAB1600 Isolation Base ($249.99) will be provided at NO COST! This program enables you to show a $250 Package Discount while maintaining your full margin! Conditions apply, so please contact us at office@ssvreps.com for details.

Promo #2
Introductory Pricing on TD102A
Thoren’s newest fully automatic turntable, the TD 102A, will feature a carbon fiber tonearm, switchable phono pre-amp and installed AT VM95E cartridge.
It will have an MSRP of $899.99 and be available in the US during February. We’re featuring an INTRODUCTORY DEALER DISCOUNT for all orders placed before 31 December. Please contact us at office@ssvreps.com
for details.As always, SSV is here to support you.  Please let us know how we can help!
– Representing The Finest Brands –

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Torus Blog

By Anthony's Blog

“Did You Just Buy A New TV?”

…or, Why You Need A Torus Power Conditioner

 

Can a product actually be “…too good for its own good?” Sometimes, a component does its job so well, it’s possible to take it for granted. Case in point: Torus. Torus line conditioners are among the highest-performance brands SSV represents but, because they never call attention to themselves, it’s easy to forget about them.

I’m ashamed to admit that Torus has occasionally slipped my mind, even though I have FOUR of their units supplying perfect power to my various audio and theater systems, with never so much as a hiccup out of any of them. It took a visit to one of my dealers to remind me of just how much of a difference Torus Power products can make.

A couple of weeks ago, I visited Craig and Elena Abitz of Installation Specialties in Albertson, NY. Craig has been a long-time supporter of both SSV and Torus. He told me that, recently, he upgraded a loyal client’s system with a Torus unit. When the customer’s wife came home, he and Craig were watching a movie. She stopped, looked for a couple of minutes and asked: “Did you just buy a new TV?” He hadn’t. The simple act of plugging the television into a Torus Power product had profoundly improved its image quality. That story drove home just how impressive Torus Power Conditioners truly are.

More than a decade ago, when SSV represented another (now defunct) brand of power conditioners, one of my most technical—and skeptical—dealers proclaimed their product “…a black box filled with snake oil.” I have to agree that many power products offer dubious performance claims which cannot be supported, either by measurements or technical specifications. No one will ever accuse Torus of such pseudo-science: the company’s technology is both straightforward and unimpeachable.

It is also expensive. The lowest-priced Torus model—suitable for a couple of low-amperage source components—retails for $799, while Torus’ largest and most sophisticated units flirt with $28K. The reason they’re pricey? You can’t cheat physics. The “Core” (pun intended) of every Torus product is an oversized, over-spec-ed and overweight toroidal transformer engineered and manufactured by Torus, the most capable of which weighs over 600 pounds. These pricey transformers are the only universally accepted means of lowering noise, eliminating ground loops and protecting electronics from power surges, voltage spikes and more catastrophic power problems without introducing problems of their own. No snake oil here!

Further proof of their technical “Chops,” Torus is managed by a team of engineers who, upon request, often help design and specify power systems for their clients of whom are recording studios. These enterprises are notoriously frugal, yet they seek Torus’ engineering expertise for one reason: they deliver results.

Whether it’s cabling, resonance control or power conditioners, the “Accessory” category, more than any other, is rife with products and manufacturers whose performance claims can’t be proven; however, it would be unfortunate, as well as incorrect, to assume that all accessories are snake oil. Nothing could be further from the truth. HRS (Harmonic Resolution Systems) resonance control products and Straight Wire cables—both of which are proudly represented by SSV—deliver the goods in terms of manufacturing, materials and measurements. In the category of power conditioning, Torus reigns supreme. Let us show you why.

Anthony’s Blog – October 2020

By Anthony's Blog

Maybe it was the irresistibility of the Cambridge Azur 851W or maybe I struck a chord with tales of my “Forced March” into old age: in either case, my last blog generated an unusually high number of responses, the first of which came from my good friend—and oldest client—Jerry Willsie of Straight Wire. Jerry loved the blog and suggested that I try the amps with a pair of Straight Wire Pro Thunder Power Cords. Five days later, the cables arrived at my doorstep.

At $700 for a one-meter cable, Pro Thunder is, in absolute terms, expensive. In relative terms, however, it’s a downright bargain!  Straight Wire’s flagship AC Cable is actually less expensive than many companies’ entry-level product but its build quality is absolutely top-of-the-line, employing the superb WattGate connectors at either end with artistically accomplished terminations: shrink-wrapped, crimpled and encapsulated in silver solder. Eight Compressed, 14-gauge OFHC (Oxygen Free High Conductivity Copper) conductors—3 for each polarity and a pair for the ground path—add up to 9 AWG of ultra-pure copper for both positive and negative power paths: more than enough to handle 20 amps. (Interestingly, Straight Wire recommends their less expensive “Black Thunder II” Power Cord as the sonically superior choice for source components, where current draw isn’t an issue. Gotta admire this company’s downwardly-mobile honesty!) The white mesh “Tech-Flex” jacketing adds an upscale aesthetic.

Driving the Cambridge AZUR 851Ws, the Pro Thunders improved dynamics across the volume range, but especially at the highest output levels, where musical climaxes of all genres were at once more relaxed and composed. At the other extreme, silent passages seemed marginally more silent and backgrounds blacker which, in turn, seemed to render images with a touch more dimensionality.

The preceding description is an accurate assessment of my listening sessions. It is also cliché. Audiophiles expect High End power cords to lower noise and improve high-level dynamics and the Pro Thunder most certainly does. What was more impressive was the manner in which these cords added humanity to the music: inflection, breathiness, that silence in between the notes that is as important as the notes themselves.

At $700 each, the Pro Thunders are more than a third the cost of the ($1,699 MSRP) Azur 851W power amps with which they were used. So, the question becomes: are they worth the money? For me and, I believe, most audiophiles, the answer is obvious, as cabling has become a component in its own right and the Pro Thunders endowed the Cambridge amps with a greater degree of refinement than they—or any other high-power amps at this price range—otherwise exhibited. More importantly, in a world where Power Cords routinely cost over $10,000 (really), the Pro Thunder delivers a family-sized serving of the very best available for an insignificant fraction of the price.

I wonder what a system wired entirely with Straight Wire Power Cords—Black Thunder on the front end, Pro Thunder on the back—would sound like? Highly recommended.

Anthony’s Blog – September 2020

By Anthony's Blog

Cambridge Azur 851W: For Golden Ears In Their Golden Years

In less than 2 months I’ll turn 60 and, unlike the ageless Michael Fremer, I’ll need to start changing my lifestyle to reflect my years. I’ll contemplate clipping coupons, shopping on Wednesdays for the Senior Citizens Discount, joining AARP, moving to an “Over 55” community and referring to everyone as “Sonny” or “Kid.” And of course, the half-million-dollar stereo will have to go because at my age, I’ve been told I can no longer hear the difference.

I mention all of this because I recently purchased “Budget” amps for my shore house: not because I can’t hear, however, but because I CAN. The centerpiece of my shore house system is a Bespoke Audio passive preamp, which both Fremer and the dear departed Art Dudley reviewed—and loved—in Stereophile. Still, despite what Bespoke says about “Universal compatibility,” this passive didn’t like many of the amps, even some insanely expensive ones, with which I’ve partnered it. It’s worth the effort though, not just because this preamp has the potential to sound great—ultra pure and dead-nuts quiet—but because it is the single most beautiful high-end component I’ve ever owned. Visitors to my home routinely stare at it with lust and envy. I like that!

For the past couple of years, I’ve used the Bespoke with a few carefully chosen, very expensive amps and it sounded pretty damn fine, in part because I was driving an efficient pair of speakers. Recently, I changed to less sensitive loudspeakers and dynamics suffered, a point that was driven home when Tom Altobelli, President of Woodbridge Stereo, visited, looked admiringly at the preamp and asked about it. When I told him it was a passive he knowingly nodded “That explains it.” I immediately understood. And agreed.

So, here’s the part where my impending decrepitude comes in: I knew I needed a more compatible amp and if it were ten years ago, money wouldn’t have been an object but now, my miserly older self told me it was.  Which is how I wound up with a pair of Cambridge Audio Azur 851Ws.

Despite my newfound frugality, I actually hadn’t price-shopped the 851Ws, rather, I was searching for maximum input sensitivity and input impedance. At 0.775 mV and 38 kOhms (both figures for Bridged, Balanced Input) respectively, not to mention 500 Watts into 8 Ohms and 800 into 4, these are the most appropriately-spec-ed power amps in my rep portfolio. Then I looked at the price. At $1,699 MSRP each, they’re also the least expensive power amplifiers I sell, as well as the most versatile, offering both XLR and RCA inputs and outputs, two pairs of binding posts per channel, 12V triggers, remote control, switchable Stereo/Bridged/Biamped modes as well as switchable AC Voltage and a bunch of other goodies that make the 851W work in situations where most amps won’t.

I’m old enough to remember the hoopla surrounding the ADCOM GFA-555 when it debuted in the ‘80’s. Also 200 Watts Per Channel into 8 Ohms it became, for a decade, the benchmark for entry-level high end amplifiers. And yet, it couldn’t approach the 851W’s gorgeous aluminum casework, its connector complement and connection versatility, the discrete toroidal transformers for input and amplifier circuits…or its sound. The onset of old age has undoubtedly dulled my sonic memory but I don’t recall the 555 being nearly this refined, nor did it combine treble airiness and detail with a total lack of transistor grain the way the 851 does.

I spent much of last Friday installing the 851Ws, rebuilding my racks and rewiring my entire system to accommodate them. As I wrote earlier in this blog, these two amps—at under $3,400 MSRP per pair—replaced a vastly more expensive stereo amp (name withheld to protect the innocent) and outperformed it from the moment I turned them on. (Sensitivity and compatibility have something to do with this, but not everything.) When my girlfriend—a musically sensitive listener but not an audiophile (thank God!)—arrived in the afternoon, she had no idea that I’d changed gear but she immediately heard an improvement and asked why the system sounded so much better…why the little details that replicate reality were so much more present. She got it right away, without any coaching from me.

The next day, Tom Altobelli came over for dinner again and sitting at the table, back to the stereo, he noticed something different and asked me what had changed. Tom is a Cambridge Audio dealer and glancing at the 851Ws behind him, remarked “I just sold one to an old client and he loves it! Any idea why it’s so cheap?” Honestly, I have no idea how Cambridge does it but I’m happy they do and even happier I bought mine.

The Cambridge Azur 851W is certainly an ideal “Entry-level” amp for aspiring high-enders but, on a selfish note, it also seems the perfect amp for “Golden Ear” music lovers entering their Golden Years: they’re powerful enough to drive most any speaker, versatile enough to work in any system and, at $1,699 each, inexpensive enough to respect the retirement account. The only problem I can see is that, as these amps are built to last a lifetime, they’ll probably survive their aged owners. Choose your heirs wisely….