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The first response is from someone who uses them, maybe he'll chime in here.
These are some testimonials from others on the Mapleshade site.
And here are three reviews from PFO on the ribbon ICs and speaker wire.
From that I think you can glean the sound Mapleshade tries for. That, and I don't see why you couldn't use the ribbon ICs in place of the 'digital' ICs.
All the best,
I was in the Mapleshade room at Capital Audiofest. Had a brief chat with Pierre there as well.
The setup they had there might have used their wires but I did not ask or check. They had a lot of CDs for sale. I bought 3 Pierre recommended.
]There were lots of carefully elevated wires (not sure whose or what model) running around their setup which featured teh Mapleshade modded small two piece Gallo Strada Reference (??) speakers with a small disassociated side firing woofer unit in a spread freestanding configuration that was very unique. I think there is a photo in the Stereophile report of CAF and I would tend to agree with the gentleman from Stereophile's assessment of the sound in the Mapleshade room in the writeup.
Unfortunately, the sound quality was nothing at all to write home about. Somewhat undistinguished and disassociated just like the physical appearance of the Mapleshade-modded Gallos used, not a good showing.
This was playing an REM hits CD, not a Mapleshade title. Regardless the setup needed some work.
I was considerably disappointed, though I don't know what I expected. Something more coherent with excellent soundstage and imaging I suppose, like when I play a Mapleshade recording at home (especially on the OHMs). Stock GAllo Ref 3.1's I've heard in the past were not my favorites either, but delivered a more respectable performance in terms of soundstage, imaging, and coherency.
I think it was mostly the speaker setup and I doubt the wires had anything to do with it.
I did take notice of their various wood component stands on display and they looked very well made and sturdy. The CDs, elevated wires, and stand products (tweaks) seemed to be the main focus of the room.
I know Mapleshade mainly for their very special recordings. I would be interested to hear their wires in a proper setup. In general, I tend to like wires that take a minimalist approach (like the DNM analog ICs I use) and the Mapleshades would appear to be in that camp.
Overall, I think MS is mainly in the recording and audio tweak business. Pierre is obviously a very smart guy with some unique ways of looking at things, so I can understand teh association with Gallo speakers there.
The moral of teh story for me though was there is more to good sound than some well executed tweaks.
Thanks, Map. Right now, I have a placeholder digital cable from my SBT to my DAC. I own a great digital cable from K-Works, but it is not long enough for this application (I need 2 meters), so the K-Works is carrying the bits from my Oppo disc player to the DAC.
A bunch of surprise expenses have forced me to put any upgrades, including this one, on hold for a while. But since Mapleshade offers a good return policy, I will get around to it eventually, and report back here.