Bob Wood's 
Date of "Visit":
15 July 2000

29 October 2000

Third "Visit":
27 October 2002

the system and the room


right speaker and lenses


e-mail to:
Bob Wood


I have been in radio, first on air then in management (programming) for almost 25 years.  I also am a voice actor, and as a result of these vocations, have found myself in literally hundreds of broadcast and recording studios, from real cheesy to awesome.  Just a few days ago I spent three days in a Dallas, Texas, studio, TM Century, (A Berger
design I believe) as our radio station produced a custom jingle package  (35 voices - 7 x 5 tracks)  (7 piece brass section).

When I programmed a country music radio station (WBOB, 1993-1997), new artists would come into my office and sing to me from about 6 feet away. So I have had a lot to compare with my home system. I have been to hundreds of rock, pop, and country concerts

I prefer a sound that's BIG - tall, wide, and deep.  I seek crystal clarity and the removal of any digititis, although I'd never go back to turntable inconvenience.  I listen at about 85db.

For years I had a pair of Klipsch Choruses on VTL Tiny Triodes, a match that, in the right room, was surprisingly good.  I still miss those dynamics.  And those little amps (great reviews) had a certain magic.  I just loaned them to a friend who decried the lack of bass but was seduced just the same!

At some time back, I leased a time-share at the House of Rationalization, which led to Wilson Watt/Puppy 5.1s.  The way that happened was I had visited the showroom to hear several OTHER pairs of speakers which were highly regarded but didn't blow me away.  I casually asked the store owner about those speakers turned away from the others, in the corner... and he simply said you should hear them, proceeding to hook them up.

My jaw dropped.  HERE was a depth and clarity and specialness I hadn't heard in the others.  Did the deal. 

Back home I began a long period of realization that those speakers only sounded that way when mated with the best in the store.  I say LONG PERIOD because it took many upgrades of everything else in the system to wring top performance out of the WATT/PUPPYs.  I'm pretty certain that wherever I go from here, i.e.: SACD or similar, the speakers won't be the weak link.  My bass is somewhat off, as I have two units of couch between the speakers  (not easily temporarily removed; permanent removal would tamper with general WAF!)

Even though my speaker cables are long (almost 30 feet), they were tuned by Transparent audio to be correct. I know this is atypical but I think folks who put their rigs in the near soundfield bass can get bad vibrations to be worse than a longer run of speaker cable (although compensated, to be sure.)

Perhaps adding to the sound is the fact that the electronics are 20 feet from the speakers (behind the listening position) so they are less likely to be affected by vibration versus more standard 'between the speaker' positioning.  The speaker cables run under the room (through the lower level of the house in a storeroom.)

WAF has kept me from moving the two unit sofa between the speakers which has to futz with the bass!  The Skylines are mounted on a 4 x 4 foot board with is hung for listening sessions.

The Power Plants made quite a difference and I look forward to the multiwave option, which I've ordered.

The type of music I listen to: Pop  30%, Rock 25%, Eclectic (country, new age, jazz) 45%

My favorite test CD's:

Steely Dan - Gaucho:  I know this so well that Fagen's voice alone tells a story.  Also Fagen's Nightfly for a gem that would expose anything not up to speed or clarity.

Basia - The Sweetest Illusion - well produced.  Notice piano, choruses (Basia often sings with layers of herself) brass, impact, soundstage.

Luther Vandross (any of the latest) - balance and vocals

Prince - Emancipation, Rave un2 the joy fantastic.  If it's on one of these, it's on purpose:  some cuts are distorted, some breathtakingly clear.  Plus he's got side to side and front to back (3D) ear candy which I love.  His songs constantly reach out and draw you in.  A showman like no other.

Philip Bailey - Chinese Wall - I believe Phil Collins produced this and apart from Easy Lover which I find too commercial, the percussion is outstanding and can really pop on the right system (especially horns) plus the various recordings of Bailey's voice (this was between his stints with Earth Wind and Fire) are illustrative.

There are others, some for simple sound (tone) and others for more complexities.  Lisa Loeb on VH1 Storytellers is the best from that CD on my system.  It's a stunning performance! 

I haven't settled on any bass champs probably because my room (it's huge, 25 foot high sloping ceiling, 40 foot length, up to 20 feet wide at parts) and my speaker positioning attenuate the bass although I could play cuts which would convince otherwise.  It's still part of my puzzle.

System's Components

CD Transport:

Theta Jade with jitter reduction and laser linque

D/A Converter:

Theta DS Pro Basic IIIa balanced (laser linque)


Audio Research LS5MK 3 modified to take non-standard power cord.

Power Amp:

Audio Research VT-100 MK II with separately wired fan circuit (to allow multiwave from Power Plant).


Wilson WATT/Puppy 5.1s.

Power Conditioner:

Power Plant 300 on front end.  Power plant 600 on amp.

A/C Cables:

Bybee, Electraglide, PS Audio Lab cable


All balanced Transparent Reference

Speaker cables:

Transparent Reference

Room Correction:

4 RPG skylines behind speakers, 5 Argent Room Lenses to sides of speakers. 12 foot foam wedge in corner for bass.


Bybee speaker filters, Bybee quantum charger on P600, Black Diamond racing cones on all units. Stand: Salamander

Bob's comments about his System:

AA: "Bob, how would you describe your system's sound?"

BW: "Increasingly large.  Fast.  Detailed.  I write 'increasingly' because that seems to be what the latest upgrades (Power Plant 300 and 600) have unleashed.  It's a big soundstage, high and wide more than deep." 

AA: "Do you think there is room for improvement?"

BW: "If the reviews of SACD are correct, absolutely!  I'm also interested in speaker correction and room correction a la Perpetual Technologies or TACT.  It's pretty darn good now." 

AA: "Have you got plans for upgrading?"

BW: "Power Plant multiwave upgrades are ordered and am in the process of wiring the amp's fan to run independently so I can take advantage of multiwave on the P600 feeding the amp. 

I will move to SACD or Universal when enough music product becomes available.  I admit I think the Theta gear is very impressive (especially since the Jade Transport with jitter reduction and laser linque) and I must have equal or better CD performance to switch, because I don't want to step backward while still playing my collection."

rack with the Sony SCD-1

"Re-Visit" Notes (29 October 2000):

After reading the various raves on the web about the Sony SCD-1, I was eager to hear it! Although I FOUND one to LOOK AT, I was unable to have an audition at the local big box store since their amp had one blown channel (THAT'LL move a lot of product!)  Don't you hate it when you go into a store and clearly know more about the product than the salesman?  Half a Krell is no better than no Krell at all!

So, since I have this time share at the House of Rationalization, and I don't want to waste it, I did my careful internet search of prices and made the leap to mail order - sight unheard, or whatever.

The big box came from J&R In New York.  Crushed.  Now there's a confidence builder about as impressive as the release you are forced to sign right before general surgery!  Luckily, the box within the box was intact.  I suspect those new shipping air-bladders that are replacing styrofoam peanuts are actually inflated sales claims. And just as helpful.

So it was with a little trepidation that I tried to un-inner-box the SACD-1.  First impression - hey - the sides aren't silver.  (Can you tell from the pics?  I couldn't!)  Gloom.  What else?  What about I can't lift it!?  Trepidaton turns into palpitation! I thought I COULD get it up (ahem) - fifty pounds is well within my range.  But not to a level of almost 5 feet (top shelf in rack!)  That was funny.  I couldn't do it.  The step stool too flimsy.  I feared getting it almost in then having it fall to the floor. Finally I threw away my testosterone-club membership card and asked my tiny 98 pound wife for about ten pounds of heft, which she gave me in exchange for four more pair of black shoes.

So there it was.  Shiny on front.  Dull on sides.  Hey!  Crummy instruction manual.  For $5K list they ought to do something other than print on near toilet-paper.  Maybe I could get a job working for SONY explaining how things should be?

The sound.  Initially, I stuck to CD.  Call it feed-forward buyer's remorse.  If I could enjoy CDs then I could HOPE for wonderful SACD.

Turns out it DOES take quite a while to break in.  If criminals took this long to break in, all the thiefs would be in jail!  Well, either it's the SONY or me, but I'm enjoying it as a CD player enough that I've sold my beloved Theta transport and am trying to move the Theta  D/A to some loving home.  It's a wonderful unit.

I hooked up the SONY to try it as a transport through the Theta D/A and decided it was a tie at worst, slightly cleaner at best.  Don't like the filters.  Prefer Standard.

By the way, I suspect a lot of the disparity in opinion on various store auditions is based on improper break in.  I don't know exactly WHY it's a factor, but it surely IS.

SACD?  I have ONE I like a lot, others sound only marginally better than CD.  This side of the player has fewer hours on it.  I suspect the newer recordings will be better than the older material they seem to be releasing first.  I'd describe the difference as more focused, better bass, size reduced over the Theta combo, less digititis in the highs.  I look forward to collecting more titles, and find I am buying things I WOULDN'T want on CD just to discover what sound awaits.

Meanwhile a woodpecker has pecked a hole into the siding on our house and is living inside the wall, eating the house from inside out.  Sometimes it taps along to the music.  It didn't do this when I played the Theta.

Watt/Puppy 7's


Third "Visit" Notes (27 October 2002)

Every once in a while I get a contact from someone who visited this site. The last one was from the Philippines! It's a worldwide treat!

So for the record, and for anyone who might actually read this, and perhaps for my psyche, here's the latest installment... interestingly enough, with each one I feel I'm DONE, but as you will read, I seem to find plenty of new territory to explore!

To the SCD-1: I do feel overall it is superior to the Theta rig I sold, but then I read threads of modding and fell under the spell not once but TWICE. (Richard Kern was the modder.) Packing the 50+ pound beast up and trying to get it safely back and forth to Oregon (from Minnesota) was somewhat iffy but I will testify it CAN be done.

Most of my listening is to redbook CDs. I have maybe a dozen or so SACDs but generally the music available isn't sufficiently to my tastes to intrigue me no matter what sonic delight there is - and there IS, but I'm more into this hobby for the music. So everything I report is from the CD side of my universe. Yes, a good SACD is better than a good CD. But a bad SACD is worse than a good CD.

Modding was simply amazing. It took that player to a whole other realm. It amuses me to read of folks comparing this unit to that unit STOCK, because apparently that's ONLY a starting point. (In fact, I wonder how many equipment opinions are based on non broken in, non synergistically or poorly set up gear in general!) Simply put, everything, in every way, was a LOT better. Here's an analogy I've never seen: it's the difference between stale bread and freshly baked. That good. But a warning - there's a bout of nasty self doubt at about 160 hours for maybe 60 hours as the sound turns shrill and broken. Sun does shine on the other side of the storm but I can't imagine anyone not thinking they had just voided the warranty and ruined their player. This isn't just my opinion - you can catch the story on threads at Audio Asylum if you wish - but living through it, the experience was bad enough that those posters' postings didn't make me think mine wasn't ruined.

So, the SCD-1 is fine, just fine.

Meanwhile Wilson had upgraded the 5.1 Watt/Puppies to a 6.0 version, which I never heard, but read that they were much better than the 5.1s. I try to avoid the local showroom of my dealer because that means I can avoid spending! I almost bought a pair from Jim Saxon in Costa Rica - it was a great deal but I couldn't sell my 5.1s in time, and then that window of opportunity seemed to close. I admit I was worried about the connections, imagining the boxes sitting on the tarmac under a tropical downpour... not to cast aspersions on Jim, rather, on the El Unknown Cartage Company.

Some time passes.

Wilson announces Watt/Puppy System 7s. This, after some raves surrounding the more junior Sophia. I figure they HAVE to improve the Watt/Puppy or lose sales to the half priced Sophia. But I can't find one to hear, can't make it to New York to the big show to hear the introduction, and I sit in Minnesota thinking.

Wilson, for all its success, just baffles me when it comes to naming their products. WATT I get. Puppy is the woofer - cute, maybe too cute, but okay. MAXX... WHAM.... WHOW... a theme develops. Then WITT (what?)... CUB... now SOPHIA? What's next? AUDREY? Well, they have collected, though the local dealer, more than $36,000 of my money so FAR, so who's the fool here?

You can guess I ordered the 7s. Against all rules of logic - listen LISTEN - LISTEN WITH YOUR GEAR!!! Call it my mid-life crisis.

Welcome to BackOrderLand. Where, perhaps, hundreds of other men of middle age sense the WATT/PUPPY progression has reached a new level. It can't be dotcommers. Maybe it's a mass realization that the young sexy actress won't ever call and life will pretty much continue in a straight line and...

The wait. As I search internet sites for any word on this speaker, SOUNDSTAGE has a pair for review but they aren't talking. Audio Research is in line for a pair (my amp and pre are from Audio Research, up the road a few miles.) There some buzz from the Expo - and Wilson places second in participant polling (but that included their huge FAT BETTY? sub woofer.) I wait.

And sell my 5.1s to a fellow in LA who, from our phone conversation, seems to be a good guy who will appreciate what he's got. I feel like the transaction is a win-win. We both got a good price, fair value.

Into music withdrawal.

And then - they've arrived. Dealer arranges delivery. Then shows with three not four boxes since they wouldn't all fit into truck. Imagine how much worse waiting becomes when you have parts of the speakers in crates (Bad Back Warning: Don't Lift Them Out And Even If You Do You Can Only Hear One Side!) Scheduling difficulties for days - then the final crate - the UNcrating.

The hook up.

The first CD. Tizzy. Mids wrong. Crates into garage. Wife happier. Break-in commences. I open some wine the next night and get semi hammered as I listen... as the sound opens up - or the grape opens ME up - hey, this is stressful, I'm stuck with a very bad decision if these don't turn out to be great - these are the latest last speakers I'll ever ever buy! Through the Cabernet they sound great. And indeed a whole other thing than were the 5.1s. I can discern more detail, more tone, more words. More wine? Thank you I believe I will.

Soundstage - by now at 8 hours in - is not wider than the speaker placement, and depth I think is limited by room considerations, and I am listening without my ByBee speaker filters while I await connection adaptors from Nordost. But I am listening to CDs I know are NOT state of the art (I work my way up)... and I love them. Not only are they listenable but enjoyable!

Then my preamp again develops a noisy left channel and I again sit with no music after 80 mile-an-hour trip two to the Audio Research shop. While there, I figure, complete the insanity or purity or whatever it is, and go for the capacitor upgrade to Infinicaps.

There's not much in my life that I feel I can nudge closer and closer to perfection - or at least as good as possible - and this has been a 20 year process. I think I'm maybe as close as I can come.

But I wonder about cryogenics. Would my interconnects survive?