I have recently struck some deals with a few of my vendors where I will now be selling their overstock, B stock, and other items as they come up. Look for Margules, some PS Audio, occasional Atlas Cables, and others. They will be featured here first, then later put on the internet for sale. To control distribution (and make some of my vendors happy) they will be here for 30 days, and if not sold, then will proceed to US Audiomart or Audiogon for sale. I do not sell on Ebay for several reasons. All CC and sale transactions are handled by Paypal. Some items will have warranties, some not, I will be clear about that in the item description. All items will have large discounts off the original retail, expect 20-60% off.
Also I will be carrying a selection of used gear as well. I check each piece out prior to posting on the internet, and generally run the item 2 or more hours. Items that haven’t been run in a while go to my tech, who thoroughly checks them out. These will come with his receipt, itemizing what has been done to check out or repair as needed. I only guarantee that the item works upon shipment. I also insure the shipping, just in case problems stem from the shipper dropping the item.
Please periodically check the website, as items will be here that are not listed on US Audiomart and Audiogon.
Shipping and shipping insurance within the continental USA is included in all purchases from this website. We can ship international, but the receiving party will have to pay for all duties and taxes. Marihart Audio will make an estimate of the duties and fees and add them onto the international shipping expenses. Experience has shown that the shipper generally never collects these fees at the receiving end, but from the shipper. On international shipping there will be an accommodation for the shipping costs within the USA and that will be credited to the international shipping costs.
On smaller items I will ship USPS-I have found they are quicker and cheaper. On international shipments, remember that USPS tracking is only in the continental USA, that ends once they hand it over to foreign mail servers.
Hours of Operation and Appointment Information
Hours of Operation
We are now open by appointment only, please call at least 24 hours ahead to set up an appointment. Am open for appointments only Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday, and occasional Saturdays. Please call first so I can kennel our dogs.
Marihart Audio is located in beautiful Weimar in the Sierra Foothills off I-80. Phone is 530-320-1576. Please Call First 24 hours in advance to set up appointments and to get our easy directions. Thank You
Return Policy, New and Demo Gear
Digital Audio Adventures
I have been experimenting with digital audio for a while now, and have read a number of articles written in Absolute sound and Stereophile. I have an older Windows 7 device that has been selectively updated-and please people-KEEP Windows 7 if you do high end audio. 8 and I understand 10 do not allow you to make the necessary modifications in the software to get to audio nirvana. Most of that is hidden, and geared toward low res files.
I digress. If you want to upgrade your older computer for audio- do two things right off the bat-install a 240GB SS Hard drive (7 times faster than stock) and a current 24bit/192 soundcard. Those two will set you back $600 or so, but are well worth it. I use the USB out to my Cary Audio 100T DAC, but it all runs through that soundcard. I found my J River was being down scaled to 16bit/44 by the old soundcard, no matter how you tried to get by it. It is frustrating to no end to download a good high res file and have it screwed up by an old soundcard.
Also I have found that power cords make a noticeable difference-upgrade that too and you will hear it-for the better. Play with different power cords-they will have different effects. I am using a lesser expensive Siltech for my computer.
Finally, the DAC is very important. The DAC’s in the computer soundcards are good, some better than others, but an independent DAC is superior. It doesn’t rely on a power supply that was designed to be the minimum necessary for the computer to function. Computer power supplies are notorious for some fluctuation, much greater than tolerated by high end DAC designers. The computer clocks are also not that precise, fine for digital, not for high res audio. The very design of the computer and its lack of internal isolation also adds jitter and distortion. My Cary Audio DAC 100T has high grade power supplies, a super accurate clock (all input is reclocked), and superb circuit isolation. This is typical of most high end DAC’s. The end result is audio nirvana-which I define as NO digital artifacts, smooth detailed reproduction, and music one can listen too for hours with no fatigue. Nirvana is very, very close to vinyl-my reference for all audio. Cary’s info is at http://www.caryaudio.com/products/dac-100t/
One note is the quality of the file-16Bit/44 can sound very good depending on the source. Better is 24/96 and 24/192. DSD is supposed to be the best, but as yet very little is out there on this format. I do find FLAC to be a bit better than WAV for PC’s. As always there are exceptions. I would be careful with 32/384-no one records in this format, and all files of this type are upscaled to the best of my knowledge.
I hope this helps you find your ideal digital. Contact me if you have questions at email@example.com.
Marihart Audio System Notes
Many of you may wonder what type of system we run here at Marihart Audio. We have an eclectic mix of gear, some old and some new. All of it is very high resolution, and being played in a tuned room engineered by Tony Grimani of MSR Acoustics. Sources are many: Linn LP12 table with Origin Motor and Controller with a Grace F9 Cartridge and Soundsmith Ruby needle; Soaring Audio Media Center run via USB through a Cary Audio DAC 100T (24bit/192); Exemplar 95 Blue Ray Player with external power supply; Phonostage is a Cary Audio PH 302MkII; Margules Audio BTV4 Bluetooth; and all Acoustic Zen Hollogram II and Absolute Copper interconnects. Amps vary: We use mostly a Cary Audio Ultimate SLI 80 tubed with EAT 6922, and Psvane TII KT88 (also use NOS Sylvania 6SN7). We are trying a pair of Stax DT100-M monoblocks and a prototype tube preamp (cannot reveal builder) in the system soon. Speakers are varying-right now we are running the Acoustat 2+2 that are rebuilt and strengthened over the stock unit from 1982. Sound? Very smooth, very revealing (to a fault), and very musical. Come by and listen-just give me a heads up. And bring some vinyl and CD’s.
Notes on the Final Sound 600i Electrostatic Speakers
Not having listened to the 600i ‘s for 5 years I was really surprised at what I heard. My system is a lot more resolving and musical than the systems I had at the time these were on the market. Final Sound actually had a really good speaker-not much below 50 Hz, but highly resolved mids and highs with a transparency not normally heard in speakers these days. I will know how dynamic they are in a couple days when they have some more time on them. They had probably 500 hours on them in 2008 when I was a dealer for them, but got packed up when Final went out of business. Since they cost me $3000 at the time (retail was $6000/pr) and are worth squat now I decided to keep them. Glad I did. My system now is the Cary SLI80 Ultimate, Exemplar 95 Blue Ray, Exemplar Phonostage, Linn LP 12 with Soundsmith Ruby/Grace F9, and all Acoustic Zen wire-Hologram II, Absolute copper, and Gargantua II power cords.
Room Acoustics and You
Room Acoustics are a commonly misunderstood factor in homes, sound systems, even 2 channel systems. The room is the final determinant of what you hear from any reproduction system. Yes improving placement of the speakers, even the equipment, can help with the sound, but ultimately the room determines what you hear. Research has shown that up to 80% of what one hears in music is the room, not the original sound from the speakers or the instruments. Speakers are some of the worst offenders as the tweeters and drivers tend to spray the sound out of the speaker in a 180 degree pattern-exciting the walls, ceilings, and floors. All of this sound bounces off these surfaces and winds up at your ear out of phase with the original signal. FYI-you can detect at your ear a phase difference of 1/3000 of a second at 500-4000 Hz-dead in the midrange where most music exists. Your ear is very good at discriminating direction and phase as well-so a note bouncing off the ceiling vs. a note directly from the instrument or speaker will not sound “right”. You can thank our ancestors and their survival skills for our hearing today. We really do need to know what it is and where it is so we can run from it and not be dinner. Unfortunately our hearing was developed for open spaces, not rooms. Hence the sensitivity to phase and direction.
There is also the interpretation of the sound that occurs in the brain. Ever notice how something sounds weird when you first turn on music then it sounds much better and more melodic a few seconds later? An excellent example of the brain in motion. The brain builds up a library of sound over your life, and then applies that to what you are hearing on a daily basis. Notice again how when you hear something new-you concentrate on it-to determine what it is (fight or flight response), then the brain files it for later reference. When you listen to music all of this comes into play. Research has shown that we tend to hear that that is familiar, not necessarily what is really being heard. Also our brain will filter out what is not important for us-this happens daily.
Next time I will talk a bit about room acoustics-the room itself.
Marihart Audio, PMI Engineering and MSR Acoustics
We are proud to announce that Marihart Audio has become dealers for MSR Acoustics line of products, and has PMI for your more involved acoustical engineering problems. MSR has a complete lineup of pre-engineered products for your audiophile and home theater needs. These are engineered for specific range of standard room sizes and are reasonably priced so you can get the most out of your system. As a dealer I can give recommendations and help choosing the right set for you.
For your more complex room arrangements and home theaters PMI offers engineering solutions and in home consultation to find solutions for your problems and needs. Literally anything is possible-do you want a home theater that doesn’t look like one-no issue. Do you want complete room isolation from the rest of the home-no problem. Both? Again no issue. Marihart Audio will do the initial meeting and take measurements and pictures. Later Tony Grimani (one of the top engineers in the USA) or one of his engineers will meet with you to nail down details and finish engineering. PMI has a host of superb contractors they use for acoustical installation and finish work. Marihart Audio has a set of pictures I can send you demonstrating these concepts and the quality of the workmanship.
We also help the homeowner with acoustical issues caused by hard surfaces-tile floors, lots of windows, and combinations thereof. There are solutions out there that help tame excess reverberation in the home that are unobtrusive and very effective. How we can help can be determined by a free in home appointment by Marihart Audio.
We look forward to this new phase of our business, and helping people find solutions to their in home issues.
For more info please check out: http://msr-inc.com/ for acoustical treatments and http://pmiltd.com/ for the engineering, design, and execution.
Guide to Cable Selection
I am writing this because there is a lot of confusion about cabling and how to put it together. When you want to upgrade your cabling please do not go the route of replacing one cable at a time. This puts you into a serious issue of trying to get dissimilar cables and cable companies to play well together. I have tried this for years with little satisfaction. And I am not alone in this discovery. Please get a complete loom (speaker cables, interconnects for all components, and even power cables) from a dealer and try that. You will get a much better picture of how that brand sounds in your system. And you may be in for a big surprise in that the lower cost stuff may sound better than using that one really expensive speaker cable or interconnect with your old stuff. I believe that the reason for this is that the capacitance and inductance of a set of cables from the same manufacturer are very similar, and that all manufacturer’s cabling varies widely on this issue. The amplifier, preamp, and source equipment are much happier looking at similar capacitance and inductance than widely varying ones (as would happen with different manufacturers). A good dealer should know what pairings work best within a manufactuer’s products and can make recommendations to fit your budget. If he doesn’t know-get another dealer-that’s his job.
What is the Sound of No Phase Shift? Notes on the Exemplar eXception
Nov 16, 2013
One problem all designers of high end gear face is that all (with few exceptions) capacitors induce some degree of phase shift in the signal. This is a major issue when caps are almost always used in the output stages of amplifiers. This issue has been almost never addressed to my knowledge in the industry (one of its dirty little secrets?). They have addressed how much latent energy is held by a cap ( see C1 capacitor upgrades-Conrad Johnson), but little on phase shift. This recently came to my attention through John Tucker of Exemplar because of capacitor phase shift research done in Japan. The end result was that all poly and teflon caps phase shifted except for one commercial cap made in France.
Enter the Exemplar eXception integrated amp. A new design by John Tucker-it utilizes these caps and other proprietary technology developed here by John and in Japan to give one phase shift free sound. I have been listening to it in my system for the last 3 hours-running through its paces-after giving it an all day warm up. I have never heard an amp that is as neutral, non-existent as this amp. There is only music-nothing else. Dynamic, warm, fluid, black background, timbre accurate, doesn’t begin to describe what I hear. On Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man (Telarc) the cymbals are fluid yet one can clearly hear the shimmer and metal in the instrument, the brass sounds exactly like brass, the kettles’ skin and wood resonate clearly, all with lots of air and depth. On Patricia Barber’s What a Shame (Café Blue) she is in the room, the wood in the stand-up bass giving the instrument shape and depth, the guitar’s attack forming in the air in front of me. And on and on. Perhaps my heavily modified Cary SLI-80 may give it a run-but there is a speed that the eXception has that I know the Cary can’t quite match.
On to Info on this Amp: 50 W/ch both channels driven at 8 ohms, high current solid state outputs with tube preamp, remote, silver aluminum face with 6 inputs, can be custom modified on inputs, comes with mute, and cinema bypass. Retail is $4950.
Dave Sykes and I auditioned the eXception against a reference system using the Pass Labs XP-30 preamp, XA-100.5 monoblocks, and XP-15 Phonostage, with an Exemplar Audio 93 for CD’s. Wiring was Zu Audio’s best, and speakers were the Zu Definition Mark IV. We listened to the Pass gear first, letting the eXception warm up, then put on the eXception. The results were quite surprising as we both felt that the Exemplar piece quite held its own against the Pass gear. On some cuts the bass was actually tighter than the Pass, highs were just as defined most of the time, occasionally there was a slight edge on the high brass and violin notes-but still well defined. Timbre accuracy and harmonics were generally exceptional-not indicative of an integrated costing 1/6 as much as the reference system. Both had superb depth and air, with a huge soundstage. Remember, the eXception we had here was a beta test unit, not the production model which has higher resolution and a faster power supply.
As a result, I ordered the eXception and should have it in a couple of weeks. It is by far a giant slayer-if you want world class sound at a budget price-this is it. I do recommend using it only on speakers with 90db sensitivity or better.
Announcing Margules Audio
I am proud to announce that Margules Audio of Mexico City is coming to town. I have looked at this manufacturer for the last 6 years, and have decided to bring in his superb gear. All gear is made in Mexico City in his own plant, and he even builds his own transformers to very tight specifications. Build quality is excellent, with an eye to beauty in the presentation, reminiscent of the Italian gear. Also Margules makes the gear with the idea of future-proofing, so as your needs change so can the equipment be reconfigured. He also has as part of his warranty a 6 month guarantee that any updates to the unit are free of charge-the only manufacturer I know to do that.
I will be receiving the Stereo Hybrid Integrated Amp ACRH 1.2 next week, and I already have the ADE-24.1, the Analog Digital Enhancer. The ADE removes 3rd Harmonic distortion common in less expensive DAC’s and CD players. Result is greatly expanded sound stage with more air and definition in the music. And NO Digital Grit. All for $275 retail. I have this unit for demo now in my shop, and will receive 3 more for stock next week. See http://www.margules.com.mx/magenta/pro_ade24.php?language=English for more info.
The ACRH 1.2 is an integrated amp using a tube (12AU7) line stage and a direct coupled solid state amp. Results are 100W/ch at 8 ohms, heavily biased toward the class A. It has a beautiful arched front, and is future proofed. It has a warm, quick presentation with a good sized soundstage and good depth. Especially good considering the $2200 price point. See: http://www.margules.com.mx/magenta/amp_acrh12.php?language=English
Check here for future additions to the Margules line. I will most likely bring in some of his superb speakers next.