Transparent Musiclink Plus vs. SC Analog Two (w/Bullet plug)

polkatesepolkatese Posts: 6,772
edited September 2003 in 2 Channel Audio
Thanks to Greg (gshisme), I am now the proud owner of Transparent Musiclink Plus. Hook it up last night, and were able to do a couple hours intense listening on these ICs.

Equipment:
Rotel rsx-1065 Receiver
Polk Audio LSi9
Sony XA3ES CDP

material: Diana Krall - The Look of Love album
Fourplay (Bob James - Elixir

Method of comparison:
the Sony CDP has both fixed and variable analog RCA outputs, I calibrated the variable output to equal the fixed, connected both SCAT Bullet plug and TML Plus and do A/B comparison on several tracks that I am very familiar with (sonically). In particular, "Look of Love" (DK), and "Play Lady Play" (FP)

The difference is not night and day, and yet, distinct and obvious.

Overall presentation goes to Transparent. I would described it as Lively (or airy), compared to SCAT, which is a tad dry. At 50/90 volume level on the Rotel, Transparent's presentation is more "emotionally involved" (lack of better word), and I can see, on classical music, it can have a powerful impact. Imaging and soundstage is definitely better than SCAT. Off a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being better), I would give SCAT a "6" and TML Plus an "8". On price/performance value (if both were brand new), I would give SCAT an "8" and TML Plus a 6. Of course, subjectively speaking on both counts.

Low: TMLP noticably more solid, controlled, and dig deeper. In a stricly two channel listening without a sub, I can hear distinctly the difference.

Mid: Vocal is cleaner and real, to the point that you can feel more emotion on TMLP. better overall ambiance of an acoustic instruments.

High: Both are accurate, clean, no brightness, and warm. Here is an easy "no difference" between the two. I can't make any differentiation on this quality, hence the conclusion is both are superb in its presentation.

One last point that I thought is interesting, on my other system with the REL (on two channel), the overall presentation advantage of TMLP has much less impact. In other words, the difference between these two ICs are less profound, since the sub fill in the hole. But then, I have LSi15 that has better "coverage" in the low end. All in all, in a strictly two channels mode, I would paired LSi9, (which I am still amazed by its versatility and performance to this date), with TMLP to give me the most listening enjoyment (at the right price point) that I can get.

In conclusion, thanks again to Greg for the superb transaction and
deal on TMPL, without it, I may never experienced TMLP!
I am sorry, I have no opinion on the matter. I am sure you do. So, don't mind me, I just want to talk audio and pie.
Post edited by polkatese on

Comments

  • hoosier21hoosier21 Posts: 4,397
    edited September 2003
    I would be interested in knowing if you swapped the IC's from fixed to variable and variable to fixed if your finding are the same. The variable outputs go thru a whole different circuit than the fixed outputs, this would change the sound as much as the different IC's.

    Just a thought
    Dodd - Battery Preamp
    Monarchy Audio SE100 Delux - mono power amps
    Sony DVP-NS999ES - SACD player
    ADS 1230 - Polk SDA 2B
    DIY Stereo Subwoofer towers w/(4) 12 drivers each
    Crown K1 - Subwoofer amp
    Outlaw ICBM - crossover
    Beringher BFD - sub eq

    Where is the remote? Where is the $%#$% remote!

    "I've always been mad, I know I've been mad, like the most of us have...very hard to explain why you're mad, even if you're not mad..."
  • polkatesepolkatese Posts: 6,772
    edited September 2003
    Yes, I did...I tried both connections using each ICs to see if it makes any difference, and can't tell the difference, once I calibrated the level. You are right, though, the signal must have run through different circuit, at a minimum, the potentiometer.
    I am sorry, I have no opinion on the matter. I am sure you do. So, don't mind me, I just want to talk audio and pie.
  • hoosier21hoosier21 Posts: 4,397
    edited September 2003
    cool, I have got to upgrade my IC's
    Dodd - Battery Preamp
    Monarchy Audio SE100 Delux - mono power amps
    Sony DVP-NS999ES - SACD player
    ADS 1230 - Polk SDA 2B
    DIY Stereo Subwoofer towers w/(4) 12 drivers each
    Crown K1 - Subwoofer amp
    Outlaw ICBM - crossover
    Beringher BFD - sub eq

    Where is the remote? Where is the $%#$% remote!

    "I've always been mad, I know I've been mad, like the most of us have...very hard to explain why you're mad, even if you're not mad..."
  • danger boydanger boy Posts: 15,888
    edited September 2003
    curious. what was the length (1m) or? and what is the cost difference of them new?

    also curious what IC's were you using before this upgrade?
    PolkFest 2012, who's going>?
    Vancouver, Canada Sept 30th, 2012 - Madonna concert :cheesygrin:
  • polkatesepolkatese Posts: 6,772
    edited September 2003
    DB,
    it is all 1m length, I usually go by default 1m, since I never know when I am going to rearange gears

    I have been using SC Analog two, and still using them. They are still the deal of the century, as far as my satisfaction to its quality and performance. I had tried a pair of SCAT will bullet plug termination, and it does sound better than RCA, so this is the next journey to audio bliss (will try it on 5.1 setup later, now 2 channel only plan). I think I will mix match them with SCAT on 5.1 setup, with the TMLP driving the main L/R, and the rest on SCAT.

    btw, price wise, SCAT is $54 (for 3 ft, or roughly 1m), and TMLP new is $270/1m (I think)
    I am sorry, I have no opinion on the matter. I am sure you do. So, don't mind me, I just want to talk audio and pie.
  • pjdamipjdami Posts: 1,898
    edited September 2003
    Hey Polkatese, great review man. I knew your curiosity would eventually get to you. I may be partially to blame for this as well but its for a good thing. Glad to see you got the TMLP from Greg and a great deal too! I was considering it myself but after some discussions with Dan we felt that my system was maxed out as far as resolution goes with the ML that he sold me. The plus may have yielded some minimal gains for me over the regular musiclinks and even Greg told me that some folks actually prefer the Musiclinks over the plus. So I decided to upgrade wire on my dedicated two channel rig instead.

    Yes, I did the same comparison a few weeks ago and I agree with your assessment of the bass and midrange. The midrange with transparent / Rotel / LSi still stuns me especially with female voices like Diana Krall, Natalie Merchant, Norah Jones, etc.

    Yes, the "air" and seperation of the instruments is evident to me as well with the Transparent ICs. The SCA2 is good but "smears" more of the instruments together. I did find on the highs that the SCA2 was a tad bit more treble or hotter like putting the treble +2 db with the TML. I couldn't do a A / B test on the fly like you did though and had to rely more on memory.

    I'm like you and glad that I found a great deal used. Retail prices for this stuff is hard to swallow but if one can find a good deal used from a trusty friend then its gold.

    Glad to hear that you notice a difference and that it adds to the enjoyment. If one can afford it, half the fun is experimenting around with all this stuff to taylor or fine tune a sound. I'm burning in some new Kimber Kable 8TC bi-wire speaker cables on my B&K / LSi 9 two channel rig tonight as I'm typing this. New toys are always fun.

    Paul
  • RuSsMaNRuSsMaN Posts: 17,995
    edited September 2003
    Great review - well written!

    I think the differences you are noticing are possibly the difference in a true-balanced (twisted pair) cable, and a coaxial design.

    I like the fact that you show the xparent does provide improvements, but it also says a lot if you look at retail pricing, how well the SC performs.

    Keep the reviews coming...

    Cheers,
    Rooster
    Check your lips at the door woman. Shake your hips like battleships. Yeah, all the white girls trip when I sing at Sunday service.
  • polkatesepolkatese Posts: 6,772
    edited September 2003
    thanks, Paul! yeah, it's all your fault! :D Your review intrigue me to try it out, indeed. So, when opportunity presented itself, I jumped! I might get more of Andrea Bocelli album to exploit more of this new sonic nuances..

    my Philips is in the shop for tube mod, can't wait to hear 'em with TMLP.

    Russ, thanks for the feedback and comment, that could be it! I wonder if I can find some write-up on these over at Jon Risch's DYI page...
    I am sorry, I have no opinion on the matter. I am sure you do. So, don't mind me, I just want to talk audio and pie.
  • dorokusaidorokusai Posts: 25,436
    edited September 2003
    Polkatese - Nice review, enjoyed the comments. I was going to run a 30' extension of SCA2, SCAT reminds me of some odd websites out there, but have since went to the dedictaed 2CH setup idea. The previous plan was to use my Sony as the pre, but that went out the window real quick. Anyways, keep on listening! I sound like the audio version of Frasier Crane. I have decided on Transparents evil twin, MIT for the cables in the 2CH.
  • polkatesepolkatese Posts: 6,772
    edited September 2003
    thanks, doro..

    How do you like your double run? I used the internal biwire, works great. Let us know how you like your MIT when you are ready.
    I am sorry, I have no opinion on the matter. I am sure you do. So, don't mind me, I just want to talk audio and pie.
  • dorokusaidorokusai Posts: 25,436
    edited September 2003
    PT - I am really pleased with it. The SCDR, was the closest to the thick MC Original that I had previously. I wanted to keep a thick gauge for the all the runs. The jacket, construction and AP banana's on all the ends looks good. My primary motivator was custom lengths, and Frank was very accurate and accomodating.

    I am a fan of SC, and although I won't be using them on the hardcore 2CH setup, I really feel the value in them. They are much better than the low/mid level MC that I have used before. I can't include Z/M series for MC, because I think they are the only lines worth owning.

    Yea, I will give a full review for the entire setup when I get all the pieces. This crossover rebuild is hurting my head.

    What are you getting done to the pre? Mod sounds interesting :)
  • mantismantis Posts: 15,374
    edited September 2003
    polkatese never ending quest for perfection.....how close is is rig???About as good as it's going to get.......very close to the word......

    good going my man

    Dan
    Dan
    My personal quest is to save to world of bad audio, one thread at a time.
  • polkatesepolkatese Posts: 6,772
    edited September 2003
    Doro,
    great to hear you enjoyed your SCDB. I agree, they are great options, especially when you are looking at 5.1 wiring, that can get expensive really fast with esoteric wiring. The mod is being done on the SACD player. Here is the list of what is done on it:
    1. R-Core (r) power transformer, Custom built to our specs in Japan. It has 10 times smaller magnetic field than any other transformer.

    2. Various Power supply upgrades, including Shottky and HEXFRED, latest technology rectifiers (specially selected for best sound), highest quality Voltage Regulating devices and highest quality Panasonic capacitors as we find them more neutral sounding. Also highest quality Wima (Germany) capacitors used for bypass instead of some ceramics used in the original design, and for signal conditioning.

    3. SE Triode, Pure Class "A" output stage built around Super Linear 6H30pi Dual Triode, which is the latest development in the Vacuum Tube industry. It is transformer coupled.

    4. Unique Output transformers, Custom built to our specification in Europe.

    5. Super precision, 1.5 ppm (parts per million) stable, temperature controlled oscillator (Clock), Custom built to our specifications in USA. It incorporates all the benefits of the "Super Clocks" you know in a small, shielded SMD package.

    6. Pure 99.999% Solid Silver wiring for the signal path. Teflon insulated.

    7. Transport upgrades and damping to prevent unwanted vibrations. Includes CD tray clamping.

    8. NO capacitors, NO op amps, NO negative feedback on the Analog signal path.

    9. Point - to - point wiring for the Tube Stage and its power supply. No PC Boards! Just like a vintage, or very expensive modern tube amplifier!

    In my opinion, I think this would be the area that will yield me the best bang for buck in the next upgrade. I know LSis will pass thru the signal as is, amplification is where I want them to be, so source is next. We'll see and I'll report back once it's in the house.
    I am sorry, I have no opinion on the matter. I am sure you do. So, don't mind me, I just want to talk audio and pie.
  • polkatesepolkatese Posts: 6,772
    edited September 2003
    Dan,
    I think will stop now! ;) thanks....
    I am sorry, I have no opinion on the matter. I am sure you do. So, don't mind me, I just want to talk audio and pie.
  • dorokusaidorokusai Posts: 25,436
    edited September 2003
    PT - That sounds great, who is doing the work? I think I know, but can't recall the website....I have pondered that also. I agree, it is a worthy upgrade. Looks like you have rounded out most of the easy things, now it only makes to sense to start thinking "inside" the box.

    I just picked up a couple isolation products from Bright Star that have helped my resonance and vibration issues for SACD alot. I was getting so much, it was like a speaker was inside the player. Ikea is to blame for the root cause. The internal dampening you are having done is a good idea.
  • polkatesepolkatese Posts: 6,772
    edited September 2003
    here is the link:

    http://www.aplhifi.com/Philips1000.html

    we'll see how it comes out soon, hopefully!
    I am sorry, I have no opinion on the matter. I am sure you do. So, don't mind me, I just want to talk audio and pie.
  • mantismantis Posts: 15,374
    edited September 2003
    polkatese,

    Yeah right:p

    Dan
    Dan
    My personal quest is to save to world of bad audio, one thread at a time.
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