2003 Blue Moon Award Winners in the Audio Reviews Categories

The 6moons Blue Moon Award is bestowed only on components or music releases of rare excellence. The following audio components were deemed outstanding for the specific reasons cited.

For English speakers not familiar with the colloquial phrase "Once in a Blue Moon", it connotes an event of considerable rarity, like finding a pearl inside an oyster. The actual occurance in its original and proper meaning relates to the extra full moon in a quarter of the year when there are four full moons rather than the usual three. The division of the year into quarters for this purpose sets the dividing line between March 21 and March 22. This relates to the rule for setting the date for the Christian Holy Day of Easter. It depends on the last full moon (as calculated by a somewhat inaccurate formula) on or before the Equinox on March 21.

This meaning of a blue moon was lost when the editors of the original Farmer's Almanac died. It was recovered only when researchers for Sky & Telescope magazine noticed that the Maine Farmer's Almanac from 1829 to 1937 reported blue moons that did not fit the meaning of the term calendar blue moon as has since become convention when people have taken to calling a full moon a blue moon based on the Gregorian calendar. By this use of the term, a blue moon is the second of two full moons to occur in the same calendar month. This definition of blue moon originated from a mistake in an article in the 1946 Sky & Telescope magazine, which failed in an attempt to infer the earlier definition used in the original Farmer's Almanac. It was helped to popularity when a Trivial Pursuit question used this as a source for one of its questions. Sky & Telescope discovered the error nearly 60 years later and the magazine printed a retraction and correction. But by the time the correction came about, the calendar definition had already come into common use. Because it is so much easier to understand, the mistaken calendar-based meaning has stuck.

Regardless of these arcana, a blue moon sighting refers to something that doesn't happen very often - a perfect image for a selective award and a fitting tie-in to this site's lunar identity. To read the winning reviews, click on the respective links below. But first, a reason why you should:

Reading improves your vocabulary, Officer Maiden. You should try it sometime. Though I suppose you can get by with just looking at the pictures."
"Ooh, I'm cut to the quick on that one," Maiden said.
"If you cut us, do we not bleed?", Belisarius asked.
Maiden shocked the hell out of me by giving the next line: "If you tickle us, do we not laugh?"
Belisarius clapped softly. "Touché, Officer Maiden."
"Big and well read," I said. "I'm impressed."

He pulled a chain out of his pocket with keys on the end of it. "Don't tell the other cops. They'd think I was a sissy."

I looked up at him, all the way up at him. "It's not reading Shakespeare that makes you a sissy, Maiden. It's that damn gun. Only pansies carry that much hardware."

He unlocked the door at the end of the hallway. "Got to carry something big, Ms. Blake. Balances me out when I run."

From Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter novel
Blue Moon
I was not planning on issuing any other type of award outside our already sparingly administered Blue Moons. But the appearance of Anthony Gallo's latest $2,590/pr super speaker on my own floor in April of 2004 simply necessitated that very unexpected action. What could be more rare than a blue moon and still be of lunar origins? A Lunar Eclipse of our 6 moons course. With the Reference III being the first-ever such recipient, I honestly don't expect another one this year - though never say never as Mrs. Moneypenny would remind us. Simply put, to garner a Lunar Eclipse award, a component has to combine the following attributes:
  • Implement unique technical solutions
  • Be a giant killer (it's easy to advance the state of the art when money's no issue)
  • Be styled and configured such as to become a real-world product for real people with realistic constraints of budget, space and appearance

Now you'll appreciate why a Lunar Eclipse recognition from 6moons must by necessity remain a very rare occurrance indeed.

Three years after launching this site, the $2,800 Zu Cable Druid Mk4 appeared in my reference system in May of 2005 and warranted the only second-ever bestowal of our Lunar Eclipse award. As with the Gallos, I bought a pair. You see, this award business is serious and means exactly what it says - you can play in the big leagues without forking over big-ticket salaries.

Some cynics have suggested that if a return to sanity really was on my docket, why did I not buy a pair of Paradigms and be done with it? That's certainly an option. However, it completely overlooks that sanity need neither equate mainstream nor mandate mainstream products as though stellar performance for a relative song couldn't also be found in the more esoteric strata. By the same token, to go esoteric for its own sake is just as questionable as believing that value can only be found with large corporate entities. Both Gallo Acoustics and Zu Cable are smaller enthusiast HighEnd audio firms dedicated to offering high-performance value product. Both have really hit one out of the ballpark with these two models!

Then tube man John Potis stumbled upon the Bel Canto Design analog switching amps called Reference 1000s for their 1000wpc output into 4 ohms. They became both his new high-power reference amplifiers and our first electronics to garner our rare Lunar Eclipse recognition. These amps are small, lightweight, ultra efficient, brutally powerful, very suave and, as the caption describes, quite a far cry from what one might traditionally expect of a muscle transistor design, soncially.

The following awards were given out in 2003.
Audio Zone PRE-T1/AMP-2:
For ''Musical Energy, Excitement and a Live Presentation" in the small separates category
Ohm Walsh Micro Tall:
For ''Transcending Expectations & Class" in the $1,000/pr loudspeaker category
BPT BP-3.5 Signature:
For ''Best We've Yet Heard" in the AC line conditioner category
Eastern Electric MiniMax:
For ''Finesse, Adaptability & Build Quality" in the tube preamplifier category
Sonic Euphoria PLC:
For ''Transparency & Low-Level Dynamics" in the passive preamplifier category
Art Audio Carissa:
For ''Refinement, Fun & Raw Drive" in the SET amplifier category
Stereovox HDXV:
For ''Extreme Value Surprise" in the digital ic category

Coda-Continuum Unison 3.1 Limited:
For "Complete Package" Excellence in the integrated amplifier category

Shanling SCD-T200 Vacuum Tube SACD Player in Level-1+ Modification Guise:
For "Excellence in High Value Modifications" in the tube SACD player category

Music Maker II Moving Magnet Phono Cartridge by The Cartridge Man:
For "SOTA Performance at Working-Class Pricing" in the moving-magnet cartridge category
Audio Zone AMP-1 by Audio Oasis:
For "Most Exciting Early Discovery of 2003" in the 1-input integrated amplifier category
VBT Magellan VIII:
For "Pitch Definition, Pace & Rhythm Magic" in the subwoofer category
Bel Canto Design DAC2:
For "Affordable Peak Performance" in the digital converter category
Zanden Audio Model 5000 MkII:
For "Analogue high-Definition Performance" in the digital converter category
AUDIOPAX Model 88:
For "Engineering Brilliance & Massively Musical Success" in the tube amplifier category