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Review from
Fi: The Magazine of Music and Sound

(page 3 of 5)

At the outset I noted that my quibbles with the Klyne Sevens relate more to ergonomics and convenience features than to sonic qualities. In truth, though, they involve the intersection of convenience and sonics—the ability to adjust sound from and at the listening position. The line stage does not have a remote control. And these days I’ve come to the conclusion that remote control is a good thing, not only because I’m a lazy couch potato, but because I feel each recording has, at best, only one correct setting of volume level, balance, and polarity. Even level is not so much an option—a matter of personal taste and preference—as a question of getting the precise amplitude, image, and soundstage volume (the size of the space, not the amplitude of the sound within it) for a particular recording (like focusing a camera lens or adjusting the fine.tuning on an older TV). And getting that combination right, as well as polarity and balance, from something other than the listening position is like focusing a camera without putting your eye to the viewfinder: it can be done, but it’s not fun. So I feel remote control of polarity, balance, and volume is important, even though it may introduce potential degradation of sonics by adding IR switches and the like. Stan Klyne is working on a re. mote control but with some reluctance (for the reason I just gave); at present though the line stage doesn’t have it. And there’s no polarity switch at all (degradation results from extra switches, again, so Stan has avoided it so far). The lack of these things troubles me, but they may not matter to you. To a smaller degree, I’m also bothered by the stepped volume output knob which at low settings seems to have too wide a spread in its increments (though it has great feel), and by the unstepped input attenuators, which can be hard to match precisely if you set them less than fully open.

Far more important, though, is the sound of the Klyne Model Seven preamplification system. If I had to choose a single word to describe the attribute that makes the Klynes (both phono and line stages) so good, it would be “naturalness.”

Description and explanation of the key element in the naturalness of the Klynes involve a bit of theoretical speculation (i.e., the observational reviewer turning philosophical and increasing the ever pre. sent risk of making a complete and utter fool of himselfl. I think it involves a breakthrough by Stan Klyne in under. standing the relationship between transients and harmonics. Now, all of us are used to thinking about transient phenomena, particularly the way that sounds start—the initial pluck or whack or blat or whatever that marks the onset of a sound from an instrument or voice. We tend to refer to those components that can recreate such starts as fast, those that blunt them as slow. (Of course, transient behavior relates as well to the way sounds fade and stop, and to equipment that gets such fades or stops right or wrong.)

But most of us (excluding Stan Klyne) have, I suspect, given little or no thought to the transient, or time-related, aspects of harmonic behavior. We tend to consider harmonics in terms of relative, or proportional, amplitude; in other words, relative to the fundamental of a note as played by a particular instrument or voice, how loud should the second harmonic (or fourth or ninth or what have you) be? If, relative to the fundamental and each other, the amplitudes of the various harmonics are correctly proportioned, we believe we will hear clearly the distinctive sound of each violin or horn or voice, etc. In graphic terms, we would see nice, symmetrical wave forms, differing only in their spacing over time (frequency) and the heights and depths of their peaks and troughs (amplitude).


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