For previous articles in this series of industry features, please refer to the archives.
July 2014 - Illusonic - It seems like such an obvious thing. Be sure to suffer the disease before you pursue its cure. Promises of 'better' can simply compel all of us to self medicate when there's nothing substantially wrong with our hifi. Case in point. Over the weekend Christof Faller of Illusonic took the 3-hour train ride from Switzerland's northern German part to visit our southern French-part digs. I'd stopped in their Munich HighEnd 2014 exhibit and expressed interest in their proprietary DSP. This was him following up...
July 2014 - Of Cyprus cheese and other chewables. Cyprus is a destination beloved by British tourists and expats. And the most popular food in the UK is Indian. Hence Cyprus has a number of Indian restaurants which cater to these visitors to the Eastern Med. Order a saag paneer in Limassol and chances are that it'll substitute the traditional Indian curd cheese with a specialty which like the sweet Commandaria wine is popular on this island that's half Greek, half Turk: halloumi. Related to mozzarella, this originally sheep but now often cow milk cheese retains its form under heat, thus is often served grilled or fried. With the Brits considering Australia their second home, it's no surprise that...
June 2014 - A broken business model. From the perspective of online hifi review publishing, the ad-based business model would seem badly broken. Let me explain. Quite a rarity on the net, pay-per-view porn sites create their revenue stream exclusively with subscriptions. Failing to appeal to such baser instincts, almost all web-based hifi publications rely on ad revenues instead. That's where it gets weird. Say you saw a dentist. You, your insurance or some government-subsidized plan would pay for those services. Nobody would dream of no money exchanging hands; or paying by detour into the dentist's favourite charity because, somehow, taking direct money made the dentist and his services circumspect...
June 2014 - Darko goes global - Our Down Under correspondent and contributor John Darko hit three hifi shows across three continents and four weeks to muse over major trends in a compact retrospective after coming up for some air...
June 2014 - A visit to Goldmund - The company's Rodolphe Boulanger invited me to check out their new active wireless monitors and forthcoming Job PRE2 preamplifier in their facilities on 3 Chemin du Pré Fleuri in Plan-les-Ouates outside central Geneva. But that was just the beginning as it turned out...
June 2014 - Hello F6 - FirstWatt is all wrong if you chase bling face plates, milled-from-solid cases, hernia-inducing bragging rights and butch power ratings doubling into half an ohm. But if your needs coincide with one of the special-app models in this second catalogue from legendary amp designer Nelson Pass—he takes care of big power with Pass Labs—this brand is a treasure trove of very special finds. Having reviewed the lot, our archives tell the individual tales. The arguably biggest blow to 'normal' users came when the model F5 was discontinued. It was applicable for the most conventional speakers relative to the other FirstWatt amps. As such it was the easiest entry into the range. Now the clouds have parted. Enter the F6...
June 2014 - Super monitors. Today's flagship speakers are far more horsepower than the average consumer will ever tap. Hence they're more proof of concept and trophy hifi than sensible real-world products. Buying more than you need is excessive and wastefully inelegant. That said, if you wanted to play at the edge of the art, there is one speaker type which does make sense: the super monitor. This describes a hi-tech compact stand-mounted design which combines ultra-performance drivers, exceptional attention to resonance control, advanced cabinet design and proper crossover execution with quality parts to deliver usable bandwidth of 40Hz-30kHz with peak SPL that make sense in a domestic living room...
June 2014 - Wiener Lautsprecher Manufaktur - As I wrote in my coverage of this year's Munich show, a surprising new brand from Austria emerged from the three short letters WLM. Originally known as Wiener Lautsprecher Manufaktur, Hannes Frick's company had eventually become known simply by its initials WLM which were easier to spell and pronounce. In München former WLM designer Martin Schützenauer had split off with a new partner under the relaunched again fully spelled-out brand name whose logo now abbreviates as WIM. During show time their new website wiener-lautsprecher-manufaktur still had a place holder. Two weeks latter it rolled over to the freshly minted wlm-audio...
May 2014 - High-end hifi as fashion show - Joël Chevassus writes a terse commentary on the press junket the Fine Sounds Group held at the Munich HighEnd 2014 show...
May 2014 - Munich HighEnd - As happened at CES with the outboard T.H.E. show, already four years ago HighEnd Munich (originally in Frankfurt) generated its own called Hifi Deluxe. Such parasitic events obviously undermine the stellar under-one-roof convenience of the Munich convention center called the MOC. It quite brazenly poaches audio visitors who are in town only because of the HighEnd show's massive PR machine. Responsible for the present cookoo's egg in the Marriott Hotel on the Berliner Strasse are Volker Bohlmeier of Einstein Audio and Dieter Mallach of Malvalve... pages 1-19 live to conclude this report.
April 2014 - Aries - Wireless streaming at 32/384 and DSD128? You bet. It's here now...
April 2014 - Ponofication - Pono’s just concluded Kickstarter campaign netted above $6'000'000 in pledges against an $800’000 ask to become one of this portal's most successful pledge drives in their history. It means Pono's Toblerone-shaped hi-rez portable software player designed by Ayre—the original Meridian platform was canned—will become Chinese-built reality. Whilst committed audiophiles already were listening to Astell&Kern or HifiMan players with very similar feature sets more than a year ago (yawn!), Pono front man Neil Young moved things into a different arena. Pono was not technical news at all. Pono was simply bringing the audiophile message—of sound better than MP3—to another audience. That was the news...
April 2014 - Cully Jazz 2014 - Though we now live on a mountain, close proximity to the Montreux and Cully jazz festivals affords us access to interesting concerts, never mind the Paleo festival, Lausanne casino and various Geneva venues. The final show of this year's Cully Jazz was a twofer entitled Fabulous Oriental Night. It featured Dhafer Youssef from 8:30-10:00 and Ibrahim Maalouf from 10:30-12:00. The former revisited tracks from his latest Birds Requiem CD, the latter from his award-winning Illusions album...
April 2014 - Axjet - Ever heard of a three-way single-driver speaker? Here is one - the Axjet from the UK. Marja & Henk have the story...
April 2014 - Delays: How much is too much? My friend Dan is unusually patient. You might say he can afford to be since he's well off. But that's no reason for abuse. Consider the gestation of this order which was solicited by the manufacturer, Clayton Shaw, on July 9th 2012 and hadn't been delivered by April 10th, 2014...
March 2014 - A new sound room - Moving is a bitch. But every three-or-so years the lady tends to visit upon us. And the outcome is always great. So the bitching about it really ought to stop. Sez my wife. Me... I do tend to go on about it. But the result this time really merited the considerable efforts so there.

Here's the final page to report on the acoustic differences with the former place.
March 2014 - 2nd hand - The term conjures up flea markets, Salvation Army stores, going antiquing and in general the potential for a good deal. Today I'll apply it to hifi reportage. What's second-hand hifi reportage? How about commenting on a formal review whilst packaging it as a type of editorial? Comments on published writing are the stuff our forums thrive on. Yet those posters never propose to present their comments or critiques as a form of 'review'; as a formal review on a formal review as it were. Yet precisely that sort of thing is now starting to pop up in more formalized settings. As someone who makes a living from reviewing to spend considerable time on the job, it's a bit as though writers of such pieces couldn't be bothered to produce their own reviews...
March 2014 - Diapason factory tour - It’s not that I'd ever complain about being a reviewer. Au contraire. I feel lucky having turned a hobby into a quasi profession. But when in December a spontaneous invite to visit Italy arose, more precisely Brescia in the Lombard region - that was a highlight. I packed my bags and quickly accepted Alessandro Schiavi’s offer to pen a Diapason factory tour. Okay, confession time. To me Italy is a crown jewel: the never boring landscapes; the varied vegetation; the pulsing old and new culture; cities like Rome, Milano, Venice, Syracuse, Florence, Naples and Messina. Now add their cuisine and wine. God must have been Italian to be so generous to one country...
February 2014 - Acoustic treatments & aesthetics - Acoustic treatment is a twice cursed audiophile matter. First and foremost, listening room acoustics derive from complex interactions of factors that are difficult to understand and even harder to model by the novice. Second, it quickly becomes difficult to reconcile aesthetic considerations and the effectiveness of passive acoustic correction. No sane person wants to live in as stressful an environment as this one except perhaps for some hardcore bachelor. But as soon as Mr. bachelor softens up to find a permanent mate, aesthetics become a serious issue again. The larger the room, the greater these inconsistencies will be....
February 2014 - Syndication - For years we've been syndicating regular reviews from the German fairaudio.de and Polish highfidelity.pl websites. By syndication I don't mean links to elsewhere. I mean formally published reports in our pages where layout and photos were simply reformatted to fit our website. Later we added Australia's DigitalAudioReview.net. Even more recently we began collaborating with Audiophile-Magazine and AudioMagazine from France and Russia respectively. My rationale for such arrangements has always been tri-fold: 1/ to expand our own mix of voices and products; 2/ to give manufacturers added exposure in a different language; and 3/ to collaborate with other publications in the same sector...
January 2014 - Triangle Electroacoustique - Joël Chevassus reports from this French loudspeaker factory...
January 2014 - How to reinvent oneself? When Jim Thiel of Thiel Audio passed away in 2009, his vacated engineering position wasn't filled until September 2013. Then Mark Mason became the company's new director of product development. Coming directly from SVS where he was responsible for their Ultra range, he'd previously worked a long stretch at PSB. The first indication of where Thiel in their new 'Mason era' is headed comes from the TM3. That's a $2'999/pr monitor ($599/pr stands) which flips the firm's trademark sloping baffle to the back. The front is vertical, the back angled. With stacked Ply, cabinet construction has gone original Magico Mini...
January 2014 - Looking back over 2013, I'd predicted—speculated, hoped—that it'd be the year Bruno Putzeys' Hypex Ncore 1200 tech would make serious noise in the market. It did and it didn't. Curiously those who made any actual noise were the OEMs, first of these Merrill Audio with their Veritas models, second Bel Canto Design with their new Black range whose power modules run low-gain Ncore boards. BCD's move from tubes to Tripath then ICEpower and now for their statement model Ncore is descriptive. Numerous reviews (Tone Audio, PFO, Dagogo) and show sightings of the Veritas monos gave them the high marks which my own review of this technology in the Acoustic Imagery Atsah monos had suggested were due...