This CD is smoother, wetter sounding, and a more musical sonic follow-up to the Doc. Extremely clean highs, nice and open sound. Pre-Manley tube compressor era, I'd say. This has more of the "discrete" sound to it, like Bernie Grundman's stuff and mine does. This album's first cut, "Last Plane Out" is stellar, but the rest of the songs aren't nearly as sparkly. Did the producers want to keep this contrast? For me, the second cut, "Turn It On Salvador" is just a squeeze dull compared with the sheen and pizzazz of the first cut.
Here, then is a musical dilemma. Keep the original vibe, or tweak the rest of the album a bit more to get up to the level of one lone song. Remember rule 1 found on my Secrets of Mixing page. No Doubt - Return of Saturn I can just see it Bob Ludwig gets the word I'll give it to ya hot! Peg those meters, baby!
Nice 3-D stuff in the mixing, and it makes interesting "Missing Persons-meets-alternative" music. Just don't play an older record like some tame Led Zeppelin before you play this piece. Unless you're right next to the volume control, you'll find your speaker cones stuck to the opposite wall when this one comes on.
Bob also mastered Creed's "Weathered" album super -hot-a-mundo I communicated with Bob, and I asked him if the level was his idea or someone else's request. He said [paraphrased], "I sent two versions to the record company, one less hot than the other. They picked the hot version not my preference. You will flatten the heck out of the dynamics, lose punch, and box the mastering engineer into a corner so that any over-processing can't then be undone.
Great sound, Bob. This is a great record to listen to guitar, drum and vocal tones. Juice Newton - The Trouble with Angels Glen Meadows does a fine job of bringing a refined smoothness and high-end sizzle to this cd. I would have preferred more consistent levels from song to song, but the producer of this CD might have asked Glen to let more variation come through.
There is some tightly packed limiting and compression that's apparent here, but again, I don't know how much processing occurred at mixdown. Check my notes on compression. Clear and bright with a tight but conservative low end, you can't knock this blockbuster hit. When you compare this more naturally breathing album with the "in you face every second" sound of some other cds, one wonders Shania's new record "Up" is nicely mastered by Stephen Marcussen - full bodied and even levels from song to song Madonna - Ray of Light Ted Jensen's up to his usual great work.
Excellent levels, dynamics, warmth, smoothness, mood, musicality, you name it. Mariah Carey - Rainbow Bob Ludwig and Herb Powers at the mastering helm s let the dynamics breathe more musically than some pedal-to-the-metal CDs such as the recent Destiny's Child record. If the music industry ever decides to set a standard for CD levels, these gentlemen should be a couple of the chief people we listen to.
I do have to mention here that Bob and Herb have a distinctly different sound. Herb starts off the record with Mariah's voice being full of airy-crispy-sizzly hype top-end compared to Bob's more elegant, buttery sound.
As a mix reference, you may want to carefully study the liner notes to see who's sound you prefer Tevin Campbell - T. A nice variety of producers bring out Tevin's best on this album. I mean this is a compilation album of producers of the world! And of course, my hero, Bernie Grundman at the mastering helm. Nice level, but not as loud as newer records, but it's still big!
Bernie gets the hi-mid-low perspective as close to perfect as I've heard. I spoke with Bernie about Michael Jackson's "Invincible" album I believe him. Nice level Bob Ludwig at the mastering helm. This CD is extra smooth on the warmies, but if you listen to the voice, you'll hear an appropriate amount of highs. This means that the guitars and drums were somewhat dull in the mix. Ok, it's that early alternative sound. I would have added slightly more highs, some mids to make the guitars grind and the snare snap more, and then de-essed it so that the vocal didn't bite on the ss's.
I think it would have retained the alternative vibe, and been more immediate sounding. Keep in mind, however, anyone the band, the label, the lawyers could have influenced the sonics on this record.
Donna Lewis - Now In A Minute I think the producer of this record wants that warm analog sound, and it's there, but it could be more transparent and immediate sounding. It's got that big level, and that smooth Bob Ludwig sigh sound, but there's some audible compression here and many places along the engineering path where it can show up.
I think there's something to be said for a little less sound saturation when you're not trying to do blood-and-guts punk alternative metal music. If it's metal, then hey, make it hurt just kidding! I wonder if Amy's producer wanted it this loud, or if it was Bob's idea?
I mean, it's Amy Grant, not Courtney Love! Either way you look at it, Bob always gives a nice hi-mid-lo balance to everything, letting a little extra high-end hype come out on Amy's wonderful voice. More clarity than some of today's alternative records that emphasise more warmth.
Ok, it's a sound. It's a hit. So what if you hear the compression. Good point. Remember Rule 1. There are no rules. Never Keeping Secrets Babyface. Dre Day Dr. Stay Eternal. Informer Snow. Girl U For Me Silk. I Get Around 2Pac. Wendal Arrested Development. Reminisce Mary J. Something's Goin' On U. Who Is It Michael Jackson.
Whoot, There It Is 95 South. So Alone Men at Large. Slam Onyx. Keep Ya Head Up 2Pac. Cry for You Jodeci. What's My Name? Snoop Doggy Dogg. Queen of the Night Whitney Houston. Luv 4 Luv Robin S. Alright Kris Kross. Fortunate Son 2 Creedence Clearwater Revival.
Dreams Fleetwood Mac. Heat Waves 2 Glass Animals. Forever After All Luke Combs. Brightside The Killers. Spirit In the Sky 2 Norman Greenbaum. And here, the Mk2 did not let me down, delivering almost every word on the first pass.
Really spacious! The way this loudspeaker evokes real emotions, not just goose bumps, is uncanny. The Mahavishnu Orchestra's The Lost Trident Sessions, recorded inbut resurrected in and digitally re-mastered in bit digital form, shows how the Mk2 can take the "confusion" out of classic fusion.
This album really showcased the incredible speed of the Mk2's drivers. Joni Mitchell's Blue first brought to my attention the Mk2s ability to reproduce height. My ears fall slightly below the center of midrange and even further below the tweeter. Perhaps the vaulted ceiling had something to do with it, too. John Marks' bit recordings on Music for a Glass Bead Game were another set that seemed especially analog-like thru the Mk2. The transparency of these recordings of string instruments showed off the superb tweeter that took the harmonics far higher than I can cognitively recognize.
Yet there was no denying the openness and sense of fresh air up there. The tip-off was the fluidity and the absence of irritation.
You could hear the edge of the notes, but they didn't cut off your ear. This was truer when the Mk2 was powered by the VAC rather than the solid state Plinius, although the Plinius sounded considerably better through the Mk2s than I anticipated. Hugh Masekela's "Stimela" revealed the dynamic contrast capabilities of the Mk2 as the "coal train" pulled into the station and when his trumpet cut through the live venue.
The choir in Lyle Lovett's "Church" revealed the outstanding clarity at the back of the soundstage, as did Bruce Springsteen's overdubbed refrain "57 channels and there's nothin' on" in the song "57 Channels". This was the clearest I've ever heard the refrain.
The soundstage itself is slightly recessed, but the depth of the soundstage goes way back, virtually to analog dimensions. Paul Simon's "Diamonds on the Souls of Her Shoes" and Bob Seeger's live version of "Turn the Page" are conspicuous for their lack of transparency in comparison with the other recordings on my compilation disc.
But with the Mk2 and all the other goodies now in my rig, the difference was greatly diminished. The fourth movement of Mahler's 1 st Symphony with Leonard Bernstein conducting the New York Philharmonic embodied most of what I think of when I think of classical music. It came across with force and finesse, allowing me to experience both the whole orchestra and zoom in on individual sections.
The vastness of the venue was convincingly recreated. The list goes on and on without the Mk2 ever stumbling. The only quirk I noticed was in the rear-firing ambience tweeter. It did not seem to have the range of volume adjustment of the earlier VR-4 models I've used. Nonetheless, the goal of holographic sonic imagery with outstanding clarity was certainly achieved and the depth of soundstage was as manifest as Albert suggested it would be.
While the listening chair was the best seat in the house, even sitting off axis when friends came to visit provided very enjoyable listening. The Question of Value Like Dave Wilson with the Watt series, Bobby Palkovic with the VSM Merlin, Israel Blume with the Coincidents, Richard Vandersteen with his whole line, and some other less visible Album) who escape me at the moment, Albert Von Schweikert has a design philosophy which reviewers have repeated endlessly and you can read on his website.
And like these others, he has continually refined driver and crossover technology and improved cabinet integrity to maximize the design concept over many years. All these men sweat the details. Albert talked about the oversized crossover coils and driver magnets he used to prevent distortion at high volume. They do LOUD very well. I spent some time at dB at the listening chair without feeling like I was punishing myself. And he spoke of the crossover as the "heart" of the speaker system with extremely expensive German Mundorf capacitors and Analysis Plus internal wire made here in the USA.
He praised the speed and detail of the Audax Aerogel midrange driver from France with a composite cone made of carbon fiber powder, Kevlar threads and cellulose acetate pulp. The Vifa dual ring silk tweeter from Denmark contains no metal, diamond, ceramic or other harsh additives. It sings all the Album) to 40kHz, he claims. I can't hear that high, but there was no denying the sweetness of string instruments and the seemingly unlimited air at the top end.
Do I repeat myself? Moreover, these are all highly customized drivers made to Von Schweikert's specs so they will integrate at the designed crossover points. Likewise, even the inductors in the crossover are wound to specific values required by the specific drivers he uses.
Nothing is "off the shelf" here. And the results? As someone sang, the sweat pours out like honey. It Had To Be You - Silk (4) - Lose Control (CD even more important, where most successful businesses have a board of directors, Albert has a review group of peers who listen to his new creations and give him feedback on how they compare with the competition he has targeted. I've only heard these loudspeakers at shows where the rooms were less than optimal and the supporting systems far outstripped the cost of the rig that has come together for this review.
But like a rock in a sling, the listening room and how a system is tweaked can be powerful equalizers. From what I've heard, it would not surprise me if a lot of people considering the targets mentioned above pocket the difference and come away with Mk2s.
And many who are considering lesser loudspeakers may very well dig deeper into their pockets once they've heard the Mk2s. They're that good, if not even better. The two-box format obviously has certain limits, which opens the door to a series of loudspeakers above the VR-4 group at substantially higher prices with evolving cabinet designs and driver complements. While this leaves the company in some pretty heady territory, I expect this decision maximizes Albert's energy and the expertise of the entire Von Schweikert team.
Not having heard the SR version since the New York show in where it was shown in a small room, it is difficult to estimate how worthwhile the upgrade would be. If you own the SR now and have the opportunity to audition the MK2, I emphatically recommend doing so.
And the closer you live to Temecula, CA, the easier your decision may be. You should most certainly take advantage of the benefits of the SDS Isofeet whether you decide to keep your SR as-is, or upgrade to Mk2 specs. Check, Double Check I find it helpful to revert back to the original system to verify my findings.
Because so many variables were changed in the rig, I backtracked in stages. First I removed the Isofeet from between the upper and lower modules. There was an immediately apparent loss of focus, but the transparency remained pretty much intact. Then, I swapped out the Mk2s for my reference Kharmas. They came across as being sharper and more aggressive than the Mk2s. I realized that the soundstage of the Kharmas was not more forward than Album) Mk2s, but rather it was the distortion on the edges of the notes, the harder sound that made it seem like the musicians were closer.
In contrast the Mk2s had a much smoother overall presentation and the bass was noticeably deeper. The bass of the Kharmas, however, is often under rated. It is quite tight and goes down deeper than most people probably It Had To Be You - Silk (4) - Lose Control (CD, but not into the very deep bass as does the Mk2. Where they were positioned, neither loudspeaker exhibited a mid-bass hump that is so highly prized by head bangers.
Alternate placement can change that if you wish. This took much of the edge off the Kharmas and made them easier to like by softening the image slightly. This is just the opposite of the effect the Von Schweikert cables had on the Mk2s where it tightened the focus and sharpened the edges to bring the music closer to the ultimate quality of the recording.
There was also a small loss of transparency in reverting to the JPS Labs cables, though to be fair, they were much less expensive than the Von Schweikerts, and certainly made the music with the Kharmas more listenable. At this point, it became obvious that much of the increase in transparency I experienced with the Mk2s was due to the cables and the VAC amplifier. This tells me that the Mk2s are extremely qualified to pass on whatever signal they are given and deserve to be preceded by very fine components.
How fine, you ask? Probably the best you can afford with out being foolish or jeopardizing your net worth. Given the amount of work required to switch back to the Manley Album) and my CAT preamplifier, I didn't backtrack that far. Nor did I go to the trouble of making an in-room frequency response chart. The tonal balance was extremely smooth to my ear and I didn't hear anything I wanted to change, though other folks may have a larger appetite for bass. I could feel the bass in my chest at the appropriate times, but it didn't pin me to my chair.
Summary It wasn't until the final combination of products came together that the Mk2 became as fast and coherent as electrostatics, as Albert claimed. That is quite an achievement. True, my front end could use some upgrading, but I think I've pointed you in the right direction here.
Be clear; this is a Real World loudspeaker that is capable of world-class performance in medium to moderately large rooms.
To reach that goal, you will need to surround it with very fine components connected with high quality cables. Tweak your system and tune your room and you will be handsomely rewarded. The Sound Dead Steel Isofeet will be very helpful in this regard. In small to medium size rooms the newer version of the JRs with the right amplification might do you very well.
Specifications Type: Dynamic-driver four-way system using a triple-chambered transmission line and two-piece stacking enclosure system to eliminate resonance and ensure image focus. Driver Complement: Two 8. All drivers use proprietary Advanced Motor System with low distortion design.
Indian Friends - Violent Headache - Police Brutality (CD), Bleeder, Sipulinpoimija - Bohemika - Kyyhkysen Luut (CD, Album), Verdi* / Z. Milanov* / R. Tucker* / J. Metternich* / J. Madeira* / R. Peters* / Orchestra E Coro Del, Not For You - Pearl Jam - Vs. / Vitalogy (Vinyl, LP, Album, LP, Album, LP, Album, Album, Album, Albu, Bitter Loss - Entombed - Left Hand Path (Vinyl, LP, Album), Tea for two - Ben Et sa Tumba - Danse (Vinyl), Liebe Uber Alles - The Violet Burning - The Story Of Our Lives (CD, Album), Sexy Body Girl - Shaggy - Mr. Lover Lover (The Best Of Shaggy... Part 1) (CD), T.V. Girl - Green Apple Quick Step - Reloaded (CD, Album), Only You - Andrew Lloyd Webber - Starlight Express (CD, Album), H-Moll - En Si Mineur - César Franck, Concertgebouworkest, Orchestre National De LOpéra De Monte-Car