Quarter Notes #16 (Volume 4, Issue 4)

Updated: Sep 2, 2020

Dear Get Better Sound & Through the Sound Barrier owners,

Welcome to the sixteenth issue of Quarter Notes, published on October 29, 2014. Quarter Notes is a newsletter for Get Better Sound and Through the Sound Barrier owners, expanding on both, as well as introducing new and timely subjects.

Best email address

Since you’re reading this, the e-mail address with which I sent this QN must have worked. However, the only e-mail address I have is the one associated with your initial Get Better Sound or Through the Sound Barrier order. If you have an e-mail address that you’d prefer to use to receive Quarter Notes notifications, send it to js@getbettersound.com. Be sure to include the e-mail address I used originally, along with the one that you want to use to replace it.

Audiophile Angst

Although this article is about some issues I ran into with my own system, I am including it here as it may very well assist you with your own system – now, or perhaps in the future.

I don’t know about you, but every few years, I always seem to encounter this issue. Just when I have my sound system doing its thing, providing huge musical satisfaction, eventually some change seems to come along and it upsets my musical applecart. 

Things were really nice for several years. Then, due to some health issues that I’d had, Pam wanted to move to a one-level home. And so we did, about a year ago. We love our home.


But getting the sound right in my new room has been tougher than I expected. Then, when all was right with the world, and not long after we (the system and me) were singing, it came time to end my LARS distributorship.


Why was it time to call it to a halt? Honestly speaking, I just didn’t want to have to go out and call on dealers and do distributor stuff. I had done it for Avantgarde-Acoustic from 2000-2005 - I knew what was involved to do it right.


Engstrom & Ensgtrom’s THE LARS are great amplifiers. The best I ever heard. E&E deserved an active distributor. So I resigned. I sold the remaining amps back to them and arranged to ship out the demo amp I had used recently.


Time to find another amp.

And so the angst began.


Lots of folks have claimed that Tannoys benefit from a powerful amp. However, I wasn’t knocked out with the more powerful amps that I’d heard with my Tannoys. THE Lars were 36 watts/channel, and so were my Viva Auroras. My Audiopax Model 88s were 30 watts/channel. They all worked nicely with my 96 dB-sensitive Canterburys and provided musical bliss. 

Searching for more power, it didn’t matter as to the amp’s configuration – be they solid-state or vacuum tube amps. For me, it isn’t so much how they work – it’s how they reproduce music. A number of them were very good, but they didn’t have the immediacy, the connection with the music that I found with the LARS. 

During this time, I read Jeff Day’s review of the ASR Emitter II Exclusive amplifier, plus some other reviews. Jeff’s review (click here to open) was instrumental in helping me to focus my research. I’ve known Jeff since my Avantgarde days. Jeff is often in synch with what I value musically. Maybe more importantly, I know him to be a man of integrity.


Subsequently, after much research & listening, I finally settled on the ASR Emitter II, Exclusive version. Since this is an innovative high-power amplifier that acts like an integrated, (no need for a preamp, and it uses a special technique for ultra-transparent volume control), I could do without a preamp and the requisite IC & power cabling. Even so, with one amp section and three power supplies, The Emitter II Exclusive occupies a huge amount of real estate in any listening room  

Simple goal -- not so simple solution

Actually, I wasn’t looking to improve on what I had been enjoying. However, I WAS hoping not to slide too far backwards. After all, THE LARS with a great preamp and associated cabling was at least 3-4 times the price of the (admittedly expensive) ASR. 

Some components seem to settle in nicely after a brief period of use. But not my ASR – the “break-in” seemed to take forever. Finally, by the first week in October (2014) I felt that I had done all I knew to do for my sound with the new ASR amp. 

Admittedly, I was amazed at how tuneful the bass was. None of that over-damped quality you can get from some high-power solid-state amps. The upper mids and treble were wonderful as well. But even so, I wasn’t connecting to the music in the manner that I had enjoyed with THE LARS Type II amps. 

The range from about 250 HZ to 750 Hz just wasn’t providing the Presence & Tone that can connect you to your music. It was fine (maybe even great) by “audiophile standards”, but the musical engagement wasn’t as powerful as I’d hoped. 

I eventually did four primary things to make it happen (OK, I admit it – in the last few days, I have had the most powerful listening experiences that I can ever remember). Probably the biggest contributor to the increased musical engagement that I sought was the one thing that I never thought about until about three weeks ago!* 

  1. Slight repositioning of speakers

  2. Checked (and corrected) AC polarity

  3. Applied bamboo to the mix...

  4. Used the Ayre IBE disc, cut 7


  1. Slig