Jonathan Valin says the Soulution 760 DAC is the best he's ever heard. Your Thoughts?

Ron Resnick

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Jan 25, 2015
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JV presents a sort of chicken and egg argument for me. Does he choose products because he thinks they ae the best? Or is that his reward for providing a review sample?

I think virtually all reviewers are subject to an understandable "reviewer preference bias." I think people naturally want to review what they think they are subjectively, experientially or historically likely to like.

Don Saltzman is not going to be excited or interested if Robert Harley asks Don to review entry-level USB thumb DACs.

But isn't this true of everyone? When we are interested in auditioning a type of component do we seek to audition components we suspect we might like, or do we seek to audition components we suspect we will not like?

On the other hand, and this just occurred to me, maybe reviewers would be most intellectually objective if you gave them two rival components of a type they don't care for. No one would be wrong for accusing me of having a natural bias toward analog playback. But if you talked me into comparing carefully and patiently two rival DACs in which I have no natural interest I bet we would learn something.
 
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Ron Resnick

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Except for the typo you are right on target. Anyone who has been in the same room as J V while listening to music knows this. At a couple of audio shows, I overheard Valin discussing sound quality with the exhibitors in a few rooms; almost invariably you could see the exhibitor trying to be courteous rather than incredulous, and wondering how this deaf hack could have an audience for his opinions.

"Anyone" . . . "knows" this. ???

This is way over-broad, and misleading.

I have been in the same room as JV at audio shows numerous times, in Los Angeles and Munich. I have overheard JV discussing sound quality with the exhibitors in a few rooms. (I find it very interesting to listen to reviewer comments to exhibitors, so I do my best to eavesdrop.)

Sometimes an exhibitor is indeed disappointed or incredulous at JV's comment, and is nonetheless trying to be courteous. But rather than assuming that JV is objectively incorrect, as you do for some unsubstantiated reason, I give JV credit for candidly appraising the system he just listened to without pulling punches with the exhibitor.

There were rooms in Munich which JV later wrote that he liked very much, and which I did not care for. There was one room in particular he loved, and in which I barely could stand to listen, and I walked out after only a few minutes.

But to post that JV is "deaf" or a "hack" is patently absurd and obnoxious. Please provide us objective evidence that JV is "deaf" so we can evaluate whether this assertion is anything more than vile anonymous internet nonsense (i.e., "trolling"). For example, please provide us with JV's hearing test.

Please explain your theory and understanding behind Tom Martin's business model in which you believe that the senior editor of his high-end audio subjective review magazine is "deaf."

Thank you.
 
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Ron Resnick

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Exactly, and I know people who have been to his house and said how dreadful the sound was.

This is hearsay which makes little sense on its face. Please provide evidence of this serious allegation. JVs sonic preferences undoubtedly are not everyone's cup of tea, but I am skeptical in the extreme that JV's systems sound objectively "dreadful."

Feel free to have one or more of these "people" write to me privately to substantiate your assertion. I promise to keep their communications strictly confidential.

Thank you.
 
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rbbert

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Dec 12, 2010
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Please provide us objective evidence that JV is "deaf" so we can evaluate whether this assertion is anything more than vile anonymous internet nonsense (i.e., "trolling"). For example, please provide us with JV's hearing test.

Please explain your theory and understanding behind Tom Martin's business model in which you believe that the senior editor of his high-end audio subjective review magazine is "deaf."

Thank you.
Note that you ask for objective evidence in the first sentence I excerpted (see below), then go on to mention the subjective review magazine JV writes for and ask for objective evidence that he is "incorrect" (this is a tautology in case you hadn't noticed) ;)

Also note that JV is the senior reviewer for a print and on-line magazine with an unknown number of readers but certainly in the tens of thousands, while our posts here are read by how many (orders of magnitude fewer)?

And perhaps I should have written "tone-deaf" rather than "deaf." Let's just leave it that in my personal experience JV is tolerated due to his position at an influential review magazine, but not particularly respected by many in the industry.
 

Gregadd

WBF Founding Member
Apr 20, 2010
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I think virtually all reviewers are subject to an understandable "reviewer preference bias." I think people naturally want to review what they think they are subjectively, experientially or historically likely to like.

Don Saltzman is not going to be excited or interested if Robert Harley asks Don to review entry-level USB thumb DACs.

But isn't this true of everyone? When we are interested in auditioning a type of component do we seek to audition components we suspect we might like, or do we seek to audition components we suspect we will not like?

On the other hand, and this just occurred to me, maybe reviewers would be most intellectually objective if you gave them two rival components of a type they don't care for. No one would be wrong for accusing me of having a natural bias toward analog playback. But if you talked me into comparing carefully and patiently two rival DACs in which I have no natural interest I bet we would learn something.
You make goo points. moreover the manufacturer is more likely to assign its' product to a reviewer predisposed to issue a favorable review/ But then what happens if there is a negative or unfavorable review? one (JV) could see his review samples dry up. Often times the price point product is not only more challenging to build but is far more interesting.
 

Elliot G.

Industry Expert
JV said this was the "best " he has heard. Well OK then however he is an die hard analog person and to my knowledge has not had many if any of the contemporary contenders.
Consider this for a second:
If I take an 8 year old to Longhorn Steak house he thinks its the best steak ever. It might be to him but that doesn't mean its better than Peter Lugers etc.
To someone with very little interest in digital ( JV) this may be the best he has listened too. A word to the wise :)
JV has written some excellent reviews and although I personally have argued with his different types of listening preferences ,so that he has a slot for everything , which might make political sense , it is not how I see or perceive music.
Jon can hear and he can write but make no mistakes the magazines are for profit and must do what's best for their bottom line. Its only Rock n roll...

We need to see the whole picture not just the clips.
 

Voltrix

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Apr 5, 2020
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Not really surprised by JV's conclusion here as I myself have been using the 760 DAC for a number of years and it certainly sounded better than the likes of MSB Select II. I would certainly recommend everyone to give it a listen in their own system and make a direct comparison before getting baffled by the review.
 

jep123

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Dec 23, 2012
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JV reviewed the MSB many issues ago and really liked it. It opened a door for him reg how good digital playback can sound if I remember correctly.
If he likes the Soulution even better, well then it is his opinion.

JP
 
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Al M.

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Not really surprised by JV's conclusion here as I myself have been using the 760 DAC for a number of years and it certainly sounded better than the likes of MSB Select II.

Better: Could you be more specific please? Thanks.
 
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Raker24

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Jul 28, 2020
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I'm sure he can hear better than some people can spell. :)
In a written interview many years ago for his previous magazine, Jonathan Valin admitted that he was almost deaf in one year, so he listens to timbre etc rather than soundstage
 

Raker24

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one ear
 

Daverich4

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May 8, 2020
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In a written interview many years ago for his previous magazine, Jonathan Valin admitted that he was almost deaf in one year, so he listens to timbre etc rather than soundstage
Jonathan Valin has been deaf in one ear for the entire 20+ years he’s been at The Absolute Sound?
 

Raker24

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Jonathan Valin has been deaf in one ear for the entire 20+ years he’s been at The Absolute Sound?
Seems so. Unless he’s miraculously recovered his hearing after his stint at Fi
 

Daverich4

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May 8, 2020
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Seems so. Unless he’s miraculously recovered his hearing after his stint at Fi

Perhaps you were remembering someone else?

“Another example is Larry Kay, the publisher of, and reviewer for Fi Magazine, who admitted to being profoundly deaf in one ear and yet was able to write solid and believable equipment reviews – even claiming, by virtue of practice and other, perhaps phase or amplitude-related clues, to be able to perceive and judge imaging and soundstaging effects which logic would indicate should be impossible for him.”

 

Raker24

Member
Jul 28, 2020
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Possible, it was more than twenty years ago, and human memory is fallible. But I do remember Valin. Since back issues of the defunct “Fi” magazine are probably very thin on the ground, difficult to verify that way …..
 

Jeffy

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Apr 27, 2014
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By the way A system that is accurate and neutral should also be musical. If it is not musical its not accurate. I'm talking about accuracy to the recording. If the recording is musical an accurate system will convey that and not add or take away from the original source.
 
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knghifi

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Dec 7, 2014
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By the way A system that is accurate and neutral should also be musical. If it is not musical its not accurate. I'm talking about accuracy to the recording. If the recording is musical an accurate system will convey that and not add or take away from the original source.
What's neutral, accurate ...? It's all subjective and personal preferences. Instead can't hear too well, how about different preference?
 

divertiti

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Jan 12, 2021
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@musicfirst1 OP, from the top dacs you've heard (DCS Vivaldi, the Trinity, the MSB Select; the Kassandra, the Tambaqui etc.) how would you rank them? Of course it's not possible for accounting for personal taste and variation in system synergy, but how would you rank them just as you heard them?
 

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