Marja & Henk
Financial Interests: click here
Sources: PS Audio PWT; Dr. Feickert Blackbird MKII/DFA 1o5/Zu DL-103; Phasure XX-PC;
DAC: Phasure NOS1 DAC; T+A DAC8 [loaner]
Streaming sources: XXHighEnd; iTunes; Devialet AIR; La Rosita Beta; Qobuz Desktop, Tidal Desktop; Sound Galleries SGM 2015 [loaner]
Preamp/integrated/power: Audio Note Meishu with WE 300B (or AVVT, JJ, KR Audio 300B output tubes); dual Devialet D-Premier; PTP Audio Blok 20; Hypex Ncore 1200 based monoblocks; Trafomatic Kaivalya; Trafomatic Reference One; Trafomatic Reference Phono One; Music First Passive Magnetic;
Speakers: Avantgarde Acoustic Duo Omega; Arcadian Audio Pnoe; Podium Sound One; WLM Sub 12; Sounddeco Alpha F3; dual Zu Submission MKI; Soltanus Virtuoso ESL.
Cables: complete loom of ASI LiveLine cables; full loom of Crystal Cable cables; full loom of Nanotec Golden Strada; Audiomica Pearl Consequence interconnect; Audiomica Pebble Consequence;
Power line conditioning: PS Audio Powerplant Premier; PS Audio Humbuster III; IsoTek Evo 3 Syncro; AudioMica Allbit Consequence
Equipment racks: Solid Tech and ASI amplifier and TT shelf
Indispensable accessories: Furutech DeMag; ClearAudio Double Matrix; Franc Audio Ceramic Disc Classic; Shakti Stones; Kemp polarity checker; Akiko Audio Corelli
Online Music purveyors:,,, 
Room treatment: Acoustic System International resonators, sugar cubes, diffusers
Room size: ca. 14.50 x 7.50m with a ceiling height of 3.50m, brick walls, wooden flooring upstairs, ca 7 x 5m with a ceiling height of 3.50m, brick walls and concrete floor downstairs.
Price of review item:  €1'995

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We call ourselves lucky to be able to work and play with many outstanding pieces of hifi equipment. It keeps us curious, involved and in a constant search for more; music that is. The flow of coming and going equipment is the base for satisfying our musical addiction. With so much beautiful music available which warrants the best possible playback, the search never ends. Not that it's easy anymore. The times of spending a whole Saturday in a record shop are long gone. The Internet is now the biggest source of information but just as time consuming as the record store visits were then. If your musical taste is not Top 20 mainstream, you're in for a challenge.

Never mind, once a new batch of music is acquired, be it on vinyl, CD, DVD, download or marked as favorite in a streaming service, it's playback time. Enter the electronics one needs to achieve mission-critical success. Depending on the medium your music is issued on, you need a source. You need a converter of some sort; an analog phono stage or a DAC for the digital stuff. Then amplification means a preamp and power amp/s. Finally there are the speakers, preferably with separate subwoofers. All this will be powered from the AC coming into the house which means power cords; and which must be interconnected which means more cables. Once all of these preparations are done, music can be enjoyed.

Within this overview, the analog part today is the most straightforward. That's because the adage of digital being easy is outdated. Digital is getting more complex by the day. An integrated CD player was easy. Open the drawer, pop in a CD, close the door and hit play. Connecting the CD player was easy as well. Just one interconnect from the player to an analog input of the preamp. Done. But then the fidelity movement began to advertise for separates. You better used a CD spinner and separate DAC to be legit. Much better sound quality was the promise and of course a high-quality special 75-ohm digital cable was needed between spinner and DAC just like that extra power cord. DACs in turn followed their own evolution. Upsampling and oversampling caused wars between devotees just like the ideal bit and sample rate.

A dapper effort to introduce SACD for improved fidelity did not catch enough momentum. In the DAC world various camps gathered around beliefs that a certain chip from Burr Brown or ESS Lab was Valhalla, soon to be challenged by Thor's hammer, analog ladder DACs and FPGA-based designs. At the same time spinning digital media waned in popularity. Transfers from discs to hard disk offered more possibilities for meddling with bit and sample rates. All kind of software players hit the market. Music lovers in the digital age had to become computer whizzes to get the best from the endless possible settings in hard/software. The music hobby spawned a computer hobby. Meanwhile sources started to offer music at higher-resolution downloads. Web shops let you download 24-bit files at 44.1 kHz or multiples thereof, some at a price. More recently, high resolution went liquid to stream. The availability of better Internet infrastructures offered more bandwidth at a low price at least in the urban West. The latest offshoot on the resolution tree is called MQA, a proprietary codec which wraps a high-res file inside a lower-res file. This technique is a sort of Jack of all trades as it offers normal Redbook playback plus higher resolution as long as copasetic soft/hardware can unfold the wrapper.