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Hello! I seem to remember that you have no WiFi connections in your systems. How is your Mac-based system tied together?  Is everything hard wired, including your internet connection?  If so, how? Many thanks, Bill

30m CAT6 cable from router to iMac, USB out to reclocker. Simple. Srajan

Thank you for your answer. Aside from eliminating radiating devices in the home, are there sonic benefits to hardwiring my iMac to the router by cable? There seems to be some disagreement over the quality of sound between wifi and hard wired. Thanks again, Bill

I wouldn't know. Ours is a WiFi-allergic household so I haven't done comparisons between hard-wired and wireless. Wireless causes us headaches so would be entirely unacceptable even if it sounded miles better. In our case, it obviously wouldn't because if the listener is feeling unwell, the experience of listening to music is seriously compromised. Srajan

Interesting! I have not heard of that before. Thanks for the response. I know you are busy. Bill

Many people seem to be completely insensitive/immune to microwave radiation, hence the takeover of WiFi in all areas of life. Our brains must be ancient because we both feel it the moment my wife has to set our router to Wifi for a few minutes to download a book or two to her Kindle. If you don't have that sensitivity, then there's no need to bother for health reasons. Srajan

Ancient interesting concept! Are you affected in wifi environments outside the home—restaurants, coffee shops, pubs.—that have wifi?  Hard to escape entirely. I don't doubt that everyone is affected by wifi probably in ways that have not yet become apparent. Interesting to consider all the info that is passing by and no doubt through us invisibly as we just sit and have a cup of coffee. I may try turning off my wifi at night just as an experiment but, living in an apartment, most of my neighbors probably are using their own. Bill

Yes, certain commercial environments are very polluted by overlapping WiFi networks. That makes being there very uncomfortable for us. It feels like our brains are being bombarded and being exposed too long feels like being leeched of vitality. We live very remote in the countryside and our small town just has 4'000 inhabitants so we're quite isolated from that type of electro smog. Going to Galway which is the closest big city does expose us of course so isn't something we do very often. Prior to the Irish lockdown when we still went out to eat, certain restaurants were off-limits because of excessive WiFi coverage for their customers. And, there are 'counter radiation' devices one can get from health-related companies or so-called New Age shops that we've found to really work for us. So we have those as well for our cellphones which we don't use in the house, only on the road (we got an old-fashioned landline installed which really had the phone company at hello because, apparently, very few people still use them). So it's like with anything else in life. If you have a certain ailment or sensitivity like a food allergy, you get as informed about it as you can, then do what you can to best live with it. There's lots that can be done about WiFi radiation if one is interested to learn about it. Turning off the router's WiFi function during the night is a first step to see whether you sleep any better or wake up more refreshed. If you notice no difference, perhaps you have a modern brain that's adapted to this form of radiation already. Or perhaps, it didn't make a difference because you're still exposed to everyone else's WiFi in your apartment complex. Then you'd have to compare how you feel on the seaside or in the woods. And so forth. As I'm fond of saying, personal experience trumps all theory - including other people's experiences. While those will be true for them, they may or may not be true for us. We always have to try for ourselves, then trust our ability to decide. Srajan

Srajan, I just read your latest article for John. One phrase—former contributors Marja & Henk—startled me. I dived into your website and found the appropriate article on them passing. My apologies, I'm late to the news. It hit hard. Timing is everything. A few hours earlier I finished a short article that will be 'published' next Wednesday. My mum's eulogy. She died on 9th Feb, nine days after suffering a stroke. Five months after my dad went, in his case less of a surprise, a cocktail of dementia and other illnesses taking him. They were one, inseparable, married 64 years. A preview....

"One image sticks in my mind from not so long ago. We'd been for dinner at the Rose & Crown in Yealmpton. On the way out mum and dad were slightly ahead of me, looking frail. They were in their eighties by then. Dad reached down and took mum's hand. Very simple, very gentle, but it signified what they were all about, what really mattered to them. The love and support of each other. It's a very powerful memory. I have to say today seems like a send off for both of them, not just for mum."

It sounds like I could be talking about Marja & Henk. Let's just say I shed a tear or two. If Covid has taught us one thing, it's the value of our connections to other people. I skyped mum on the day of her stroke, she was in good spirits. Oh for that last hug we promised each other when all this 'nonsense' was over.  Stay safe my friend, my thoughts are with you and with Marja & Henk. I wish I'd known them. Phil Wright

Hi Srajan, do the 3afw energize the room sufficiently with the Zu sub and crossed over using your pre?  I'm torn between the 3a and Aurai M3. I'd be using both with a sub (Rel 212se) and an external crossover (JL CR1).  I love the form factor of the 3A but like an immediate and fast sound which seems to favor the Aurai.  The other option which I have room for are the M1.  I'm really looking forward to your review of the Aurai Junior. Thanks again for discovering the Aurai gear and all the other stuff you seem to uncover. I'm still gobsmacked by the Kinki M7. And also a heartfelt thanks for tolerating and responding to my e-mails. Some of this gear is difficult if not impossible to demo. I've got sufficient overlap with your gear to be able to triangulate towards a reasonable expectation of the realized sound. Best, Joseph Eagleeye

My room for the 3awf is 4x6m and yes, the sound|kaos can fill that and more to party levels. Because I didn't have much prior experience with proper cross-filtering, I kinda guessed when I ordered my preamp's filter to be -6dB/40Hz and -24dB/20Hz. The thinking was that since the port is tuned to 36Hz below which output falls off at 24dB, I'd ‘bypass' most the port action by setting my filter just above it. It's worked out a treat not only on this speaker but also the Dutch aluminators. There clearly are benefits to microdynamic expression and openness on the filtered mains. With your JL xover, you still get to play with shifting the inflection point of the hi/lo-pass so you might find that you like the handover to be a bit higher. And yes, the M3 sounds subjectively faster. With the REL and JL xover, I'd not bother thinking about the M1. In our big downstairs room, those hit a solid 33Hz so there's very little music signal a sub will add. The primary advantage now is more expanded dynamic range higher up. But the same would be true with the M3 or 3Awf to favor the smaller mains. Srajan

Srajan, I borrowed a Bakoon AMP-13R from Soo In and it does sound wonderful. My speakers are Gradient 1.4 which are very inefficient so even in a small room they are a little under-powered. Kindest regards, Chris Mercurio

25 watts from a single pair of Mosfets only go so far. Srajan

I plugged my Job back in. What a bummer. The only other amp I was considering is the Benchmark AHB2 but I think I’m likely going to be spoiled for almost anything else after the Bakoon. Chris

Well, yes... life after a Bakoon date tends to be dim. But Soo In is working on something with thrice the power so that might have your name on it when it bows? Srajan

Dear Srajan, I see the Kaiser Furioso Mini review has finally published. Thank you very much for that. The wait was worthwhile. But one thing I'm still unclear on. Even though I could easily comprehend your descriptions on how it sounded to you in your two rooms, I still feel unclear whether you actually liked the sound it made or not. Could you say some more about that, please? Tony

Then it sounds like I did my job, Tony. Whether a reviewer likes or dislikes a particular voicing is completely irrelevant. Our job is to just describe it. Otherwise all we would need is a single reviewer statement about the kind of sound they like which thereafter is being referred to in all reviews. Each review itself then consists of just one word. 'Yes' or 'no'. How helpful would that be? We all have different tastes. What's more, they can change over time. It's fine if sonic descriptions and reviewer reaction to them intermingle. But it's certainly not essential. Just remind yourself that you don't know me. I'm just  a bloke whom you've never met who sounds off online. What does it matter whether I personally like something or not? How does that relate to you in any way? Why should my personal taste become some kind of arbiter? See what I mean? Just take the totality of the descriptions I gave and see how those might work for you; or not. That's it. Srajan

Srajan, I have to thank you for this discovery. SS amps have come a long way. My Kinki M7 is still burning in on some Bhaava which is turning out to be a ridiculously good combo and something you alluded to in you initial review, although not directly; you had mentioned the Bakoon as potentially a good partner. Like you, I view the M7 as being in the same sonic family as the Bakoon, but maybe slightly less refined but with more power and ridiculous control over larger drivers. I also really enjoyed your Aurai reviews. I think the M1 with the Kinki's might be pretty tasty and an incredible bargain. Now I get why Kinki use Pure Audio Project speakers. That's the other combo that caught my eye as a possibility. If people like Nelson's designs on OBs, the Kinkis will soon be mentioned in the same way. Best, Joe Eagleeye

Hi Srajan. Hope all's well. I know you're evaluating some great monitor speakers at the moment. I thought this album by Turkish folk singer Ruhi Su would serve as a good source for vocals. His voice is very strong with sudden dynamic bursts: Semahlar - Çocuklar, Göçler, Baliklar. All the best, Mev

Srajan, FYI, you're a part of my collective memory forever. I read Stereo Review in high school in the late 80s and thus discovered hifi. Then I hung it up until around 2004 when a coworker showed me his tubed headphone amp. I quickly dove into the hobby in a major way and your site was a big part of it. From 2005-2015 I owned over $300K of gear. Not a typo. About $100K of that I spent thanks to you. My current system is a Melco server into a PS Audio DirectStream DAC into a Marchand XM66 crossover into dual REL B3 subs under 80Hz and Art Dudley's restored Quad 57s powered by a Croft Series R7 amp (I recently re-read your 2006esque Croft expose). In my huge room, the Quads cannot do it all. It doesn't really get any better than this but still I just bought a pair of ASL 845 SET amps. They come tomorrow. Paul Folbrecht

When I die, I'll have to will you some of my kit to make up for the grave expenditures I caused you. Of course I'm not planning to exit anytime soon so you may have to wait for quite a while -:) Srajan

On the contrary, I have only myself to blame. I accept full responsibility. Be well. Paul

Srajan, just chanced over your Linlai review. Didn't know they existed. Good on ya. So, new competition for the established players. Cracking. Not too impressed of course with your 101D findings. Nice though that the factory is already looking into it. You also indicate a second review that will give us more feedback. Don't they also make a solid plate version? Perhaps it was the mesh thing causing the microphonic issue. Anyhow, greetings from Perth and thanks for introducing me to a new tube resource. I think I'll check them out if I can find a local reseller. Lucas

I'm not sure about the true breadth of Linlai's current catalogue. Rachel handled both Psvane and Linlai until recently so cherry-picked the Linlai models she wanted to add to avoid too much overlap. Since then she's dropped Psvane entirely. Now Linlai could enter that breach; and/or Rachel will bring in other tube types/versions she didn't when Psvane still covered them for her. If you look closely at the 101D, it's actually not a woven wire mesh but punched/perforated plate instead. Not having alternate solid plates, I couldn't tell you whether that was the cause for the noise. I also don't know whether Linlai currently make a solid-plate 101D. I will check out the revised 'mesh' when Rachel has gen2 samples. What I will say is that my first 101D samples were very ringy when tapped. I suspect that noise reduction will require a more rigid inner structure equivalent to the 300B and 2A3 I tested. Srajan

Hello Srajan, I want to chime in on the latest emails by Peter and Craig. They and your answers made good points. But nobody mentioned advertising yet. For most of us, that's the biggest giveaway. How can reviewers maintain honesty when their livelihood is tied up with their opinions? Until that's no longer an issue, I personally think that all talk about honesty is compromised at best and wishful thinking at worst. Sorry, just had to get this out of my craw. Tony Treer

Ah, the old tit-for-tat argument. To that I simply say, good luck when you need the services of a judge, referee, building or car inspector, mediator or any other service professional who gets paid to render an opinion or interpret rules or laws. Reviewing is no different. It's work, it must be paid especially if the reviewer does it for a living and the commodity being solid is time spent to render an educated opinion or value/performance judgment. The potential for conflict of interest is obvious. So is that it can and must be managed. Beyond that, I'm back to letting our audience decide what they want to think and believe about how well or not we manage. It's a very basic very old argument. It won't go away until readers are willing to fund the reviewers they want to read and thereby replace the existing ad-based model. Since at least online the subscription-based model hasn't really been successful, some reviewers are currently trying to augment their ad revenues with Patreon contributions. Can those eventually replace ad revenues? I think the jury on that is still out. For us the old imperfect model continues to work so I haven't been motivated to change it. I rather create content than fight the system.

If you want to change the system, I can give you my business bank account number and you can start making financial contributions. If enough people did, reliably and on a monthly basis, the ads could eventually disappear. Until then, they are what they are: reminders that your privilege of reading us for free is paid for - just by others, not you! Srajan

Defend or impugn a critic's honesty? I just read Peter Borelli's post. It's an interesting dilemma. A critic's value is directly proportionate to the trust readers have in his opinion. That seems obvious. Proving a critic's honesty however is rather more difficult. As with a recording session, we are not present to witness what's going on. We're presented with an end result. At best we can triangulate what other reviewers say about the same piece and track a writer's consistency. But even that is guesswork. What if he's consistently lying, exaggerating or making things up? He still is consistent, just in a bad way. It's for that reason and more that I'm looking at reviews mostly for entertainment. Reviews keep me in the loop so I'm up to date on new hardware, trends and tech. If, as you would put it, once in a blue moon and not every month a writer gets truly excited, I'm more prepared to bookmark that review should the time come to buy something. In any event, Peter's email about perceived honesty just made me wonder once again how any of us could possibly have a handle on it. At the end of the day, it's all pure hearsay. You say something, I wasn't there. So I can choose to believe you or not. If I keep reading someone, I choose to believe them. Why bother otherwise? But I can't prove my response either way. It's just a gut instinct. What do you think? I'm sure you must have an opinion. ATB, Craig B.

I concur completely. For most, reading reviews is its own hobby. It's not primarily about purchase decisions but entertainment. That's why in my mind, a review should mix entertainment and education to have a reader walk away more informed and otherwise just a bit inspired or made to think. Disagreeing with a theory, presentation or finding is just as involving as agreeing with it, arguably more so. There just must be enough substance to dig one's teeth into; and clarity to understand the argument in the first place. Like you said, honesty can't be proven unless we were present during a review session to compare what actually happened against what ended up published. But even to say "what happened" includes tons of subjectivity in the reviewer's head which we won't be privy to; never mind that it could conflict with what went on in our own head (ear/brain) at the same time.

Whether people trust me or not isn't really my concern. It's to create content I'm happy to publish. That has to speak for itself. It either succeeds or fails. Which of the two is up to each and every reader. My assumption always is that if someone keeps coming back for more, they must be getting something out of it. And something is already more than nothing. In my book that's a win. After 20 years of doing this, I'm still here. Clearly there's sufficient readers who get just enough out of reading us to keep coming back. That's good enough for me. All the rest is for the readers to debate amongst themselves. If Peter's friend doesn't believe him or me, that's his right, choice and decision. That too is part of the whole review entertainment game. Review the reviewers. Play gotcha. Call out someone's opinion, name, appearance, room, taste in music or hardware. All of it is fair game these days. One needs good humor and a thicker skin to stick it out. Thankfully I enjoy the hell out of writing. Whatever unpleasant noise it might generate here or there is simply the price to pay for the privilege of making a purely self-taught living. Srajan

Hi Srajan, I just read two of the letters in your feedback section which moved me each in a different way. One was the letter from the fellow knocking Aavik's pricing practices and criticizing you and Dawid Grzyb for 'supporting'' such practices by reviewing their products. Perhaps he is right. Perhaps the price of that Aavik preamp is super inflated. I wouldn't know. But his criticizing you and Dawid was way out of line. And, as far as I am concerned, your answer to him was spot on brilliant.

The other letter which moved me even more, and in a different way, was the one Fredric Beudot wrote informing you of his decision to no longer review. I was moved to sadness for him. Due to aging, my hearing has of course has sustained a certain loss. I can no longer hear above 8000Hz. But within that range, I can still hear everything perfectly well. Life would become much flatter if I didn't have the music. On another note, Fredric wrote something in that letter which I found gratifying. It is when he thanked you for giving your writers creative freedom regardless of any commercial consideration. It was nice reading that - but not necessarily because I needed it. It simply confirms something that I have always believed about you.

I have had a running discussion with someone about your level of honesty and just a few days ago it came up again. Frederic's statement is proof that I am right and I intend to pass it on to my friend. If he were someone whom I did not esteem then I wouldn't bother. But I do esteem him and his opinion matters to me. So I am grateful for the opportunity that Fredric's letter has afforded me. Peter Borelli

Dear Srajan, great to see that KEF's new mini sub is on your agenda already. I'm most curious whether it can really do the 11Hz they claim. I hope you'll give that aspect its proper due and let us know how it does. Looking forward to it. Jamie

I don't have any music or test tones below 20Hz, Jamie. That's the infrasonic domain of the right blockbuster movie. You can't hear that, only feel it as ambiguous pressure. I'm personally far more interested whether in our bigger room, the KC62 can still hit 20Hz or 25Hz at sufficient SPL to register in the context of music played back at 85-90dB peaks which is the extent of our loudness. That would be musically relevant on the right tracks. The infrasonics you're asking about could perhaps factor in a serious home-theater review whose writer had an indexed library of movies that contain data below 15Hz; and competing subwoofers already confirmed to hit those depths. That isn't me, sorry. Wrong guy entirely. Srajan

Srajan, I just read your latest subwoofer review and really appreciate how you divvied out the pro and con sides. You clearly felt that the advantages outweighed the limitations or you wouldn't have given out an award. My question to you is very simple. Will you vote with your money and keep it; or hold out for something else instead? I really enjoy all of your reviews. Thank you. Conor 

I indeed considered it. I just packed it up so decided against. I'd want it for downstairs but there its early roll-off doesn't really add anything beyond the mains on reach, just replaces their omni bass dispersion. That's fab in its own right but ultimately I'd like to have something that also adds extra extension to earn its 'sub'woofer title. So we'll see. Will a bigger RiPol sub come around somewhere else? I've heard rumblings. I'm certainly sold on the concept even if it is very inefficient compared to say KEF's newest sub just featured in our news room which combines 2 x 6.5" woofers with 1'000 watts of class D and clever DSP to claim 11Hz from a very small aluminium box. But that will radiate omni again to create room pressurization effects and ride modes. Once you've heard super-clean bass without typical room effects, why would you want to go back? So for now I'm holding out to investigate more options first. Srajan

Hello Srajan, I just read that the MusikBass received your renowned Blue Moon award. Thank you very much! This is a great honor which motivates me to continue on my path. It is not easy to found and run an audio company from scratch, invest in development of a product, marketing, creation of a brand etc., but such positive feedback gives me confidence it was a good decision despite the challenges it already brought and certainly will bring in the future. Best regards, Michael

The pleasure was all mine. Well deserved! Srajan

LOL. Srajan, I see your man Dawid just drank the Aavik Kool Aid in one massive gulp. $350 Pascal board plus volume chip and input selector in a painted MDF box get €6'000, a few more twisted wire loops €10'000 and some extra titanium and a few more loops double to €20'000? Who is nuts enough to buy into this crap? Why are you guys shilling for it? This is the worst kind of rip I've seen in a long while. But with your own Aavik review in the pipeline, I guess you're smoking the same weed. That makes you another site to strike from my bookmarks. Deleted! Cheerio, mate. Mike Stanton

Cheerio, Mike. Our job isn't as profit adjusters or savings pickers. Our job is to report on various new hifi kit and how it performs. Then we trust the intelligence of our audience to decide how to spend their hard-earned money. Anything less would be disrespectful and overreach. Srajan

Dear Srajan, I've anxiously waited on your Kaiser Furioso Mini review ever since it reappeared. Now it seems to be dead in the water again like a lame duck. Is it really coming this time or are you just  teasing us endlessly all over again? Update please! Tony

There were delays due to Covid-19 at Kaiser but the situation has resolved itself now. The demo pair has been picked up, packed and is in transit as I write this. So yes, it really is coming now. Srajan  

Hi Srajan, I just wanted to take a minute to wish you and Ivette a tremendous 2021 that we all hope will see a semblance of normality resume, whether in public health or in politics around the world. I also wanted to let you know I won’t be able to contribute to 6moons going forward; there have been other times in my career where I have had to temporarily step back due to workload but this time is different. My hearing is actually declining more than is typical at my age and a condition that afflicted my dad and my grandpa around the same age and it doesn’t seem I will be able to change the trend. We never go deaf but our hearing ability is reduced and higher level listening—at level most folks would consider still low—will trigger pain which I have been increasingly experiencing for the past year.

It means that my days of critical listening are over and that I will have to focus my listening on short periods at low levels purely for music enjoyment purposes as they will unfortunately be far more limited than they have been; nowadays 30 minutes is about as long as I can go which makes listening to any Wagner opera a multi-week effort. My first review was January 2007 and those FJ OMs still have a proud place in our home-theater system; it has been a fun and enjoyable 14-year journey and I am sad to have to end it but I will continue to be a loyal reader of your musings. Thank you for the opportunities you provided me with and all the amazing gear that went through my various music rooms around the world over that period. Thank you for the freedom you give your writers and for never letting any commercial consideration influence any conclusion or writings.

It is crazy to think that we have never met face to face and I certainly hope we’ll get a chance to remedy this at some point in the future. I wish you the very best and continued success with 6moons for years to come. Frederic Beudot

Hi Srajan, hope you doing well in this pandemic time. This is regarding Cube Audio Nenuphar Mini with one Cube Audio Sub 12" amplifier pairing. Amplifier list: Aries Cerat Genus; LTA Integrated Ultralinear; Tektron 2A3/300B BPSE-I-REF; Line Magnetic LM 845 Premium. My listening room is not that big, ~15m² (current room) to 40m² (I may move to a new listening room). I can say that 90% of my listening habits towards rock and metal and sometimes female vocals, jazz, classical and orchestra. In terms of amplifier selection, which amp (brand/model) will have the greatest synergy with my Cube Nenuphar Mini and listening levels rarely past 95dB assuming we look for perfect balance of strong 3D holographic imaging, a wide soundstage, thumping bass for rock and metal, details at low listening levels and forgiving/musical. I'm open to any suggestion if you have any, whether it be tubes or hybrid or fully transistors Thanks, Ahmad Daniel Matsah

95dB in a small room is very loud indeed but your bass is already handled actively which takes care of the most challenging bits. Still, you assume that I could hand-pick a 'perfect match' between your speakers, a room I don't know, ears I don't know and from a list of amps of which I've only heard the LTA. Sorry, I cannot. All I can say is that I liked the LTA very much and it should work just fine. I just wouldn't call it or the speakers forgiving. But rock/metal, 95dB and forgiving don't seem natural bed fellows in the first place. Srajan

Dear Srajan, I've followed your journey into Furutech's NCF through all its stops to now wonder which of the many applications you feel brings the greatest return? It sounds like something I might want to try but it would help if I could narrow down which model in particular. Thanks for all that you do. Charles Hovler 

I would focus on either the Clear Line plugs or Booster Braces. Both are retrofits. They work with what you already have. Each Clear Line will take up an extra wall/distributor socket. The Booster Brace slips onto the power cord itself. That's the primary consideration between them. As I put it in the Brace review, they really are like cuff links on a dress shirt - the finishing touch. It's something to do when everything else is locked in. Srajan

Happy New Year, Sir! I have read some of your great reviews you wrote about hifi equipment, really nicely done! I'm a beginner to the high-fidelity world and looking to learn something new every day. I just bought a used pair of Audio Physic Scorpio 2 coming from a pair of Dynaudio x32. I'm driving these with a Roksan Caspian Mk1 but I feel this amp can't handle them. Could you please recommend me an integrated amplifier? My budget is £3'500. Kind regards, Alex

This one. It's $2'900. Srajan

Srajan, I just looked up your MusicBass preview to see whether anything had been added and instead, something seems to have disappeared? I could have sworn that you mentioned a matching outboard filter box from the guy who invented the RiPol thing, even had a photo or two. Now that's all gone. I was really looking forward to that because it could also work in a project I'm working on. What happened? Kamal

The owner of ModalAkustik informed me that Axel Ridthaler stopped production. Apparently a vendor for certain parts in it closed shop and replacements are impossible to come by. Axel had originally asked me to include his crossover in Michael Wydra's review a few weeks back. Now he backed out again. I removed all references to it as requested then. You could contact him directly to see whether he has any stock left? If not, Pál Nagy's forthcoming Gradient Box should suit. It'll be as flexible but add full remote control over all the adjustments so you can track them from the listening seat. Preview on that is up already. Take a look? Srajan

Hi Srajan, I've read a number of your reviews. I truly enjoy your descriptions of sound within and across different machines. I'm contacting you today to ask a favor. Specifically, do you have experience with the new integrated from Vinni Rossi? I like a full-bodied but very transparent sound. Still, I like the idea (more recently) of a one-box solution. I own a Pass XA25 but am looking at the AGD and now the Vinnie Rossi. Yes, unrealistic to ask for a comparison given all the variables they contribute to a listening experience. Would you own the VR? Thanks for your time and continued success. Best, Michael Whitehurst

Would I? Every day of the week and twice on Sundays. I've reviewed Vinnie's original Lio integrated and own his L2 Signature preamp. The current integrated is essentially that plus a Mosfet current buffer. Given how you describe your sonic preferences, I think that's an excellent choice. If you get the DHT not 6SN7 version, consider the Elrog ER50 to run in it. Even though it's a 7.5V tube, it runs like a dream on the 5V setting. I've heard Elrog, Western Electric, Tatatsuki, Electro-Harmonix and Living Voice 300B, KR PX4 and the ER50 is my favorite. I'm about to get Linlai 101D, 2A3 and 300B to test in it so that review would be meaningful to you as well. Srajan

FYI, Bassam Saba, renowned proponent of Arabic music, dies at 62. Michael Fanning

Hello Srajan: I just caught up with my monthly reading of your site and came across that Gradient Box. Clearly it won't work without a subwoofer which brings me to my question. Would you consider adding a REL or JL Audio subwoofer to that review? They are both famous for their overall quality so it would be good to know whether this external crossover can keep up with theirs. Thank you for your consideration. Jared

I'd really consider any sub since the Gradient Box is brand agnostic. That's the whole point. Neither REL nor JL have asked us for a review however so at the moment, nothing with them is planned. Should we hear from them, that could very easily change but for now the answer is no. Srajan

Dear Srajan, I see that you're putting the F8 review to bed so hopefully I'm catching you in time before it's done. You're listing the SIT-3 and F5 as upcoming comparators. Any chance you could throw an F6 into the mix? I heard it at a friend's so have a good reference on it which would be ideal to understand the F8 in an A/B. Thanks, Mike Fitzpatrick

I wasn't planning to. The F6 is out of production. So is admittedly the F5 but there's a reason for why I'm adding it which will become clear as the story completes. The SIT-3 is still available so potential buyers would want to know how the F8 compares. Dawid handled the F7 so I won't be revisiting that either. Srajan

Hello Srajan: Nice discovery of the Hypsos power supply. Great to see how quick they were to adapt firmware for higher peak current. From your review it's clear that one can only power one component with this even if that just runs on half power. Do you know of any plans to add an option for a second DC output so that for example two 12V/2A components could be driven together? Thanks, Rob

That's a great question but for HEM directly. I don't know whether their circuit lends itself to be adapted to parallel outputs that remain independently adjustable (to within the limits of the total power rating of course). Why don't you ask them? They're very responsive and if you learn anything, let me know. Srajan

Hi Srajan, unfortunately the last part of your Cube Audio Bliss C which you wrote after the preview's ''to be continued'' is missing. Is there any way to restore it? I have the opportunity to buy, at an incredibly good price, a pair of Cube Audio Magus. However the seller feels that all Cube Audio speakers simply don't do well with solid-state amplifiers. David Grzyb in his review of the Magus felt that they worked very well with the Trilogy 925 solid state, the Firstwatt F7 solid state and the Trilogy 903 + 993 (tube) amps which he thought to be the best of the three. In his opinion they all presented different flavors but all worked well. In your review of the Nenuphar 10, the FirstWatt SIT-1 was the top pick. Then came  SIT-3, F5, F7, PassLabs XA-30.8, Kinki Studio EX-M1. In his review of the Nenuphar 10, Dawid put it down to output impedance. Cube Audio Nenuphar performs best with amps of high output impedance and low damping factor. If I am reading your review correctly, you seem to think the same thing.

So, given the experience that both of you had some, solid-state amps work very well with Cube Audio speakers. I also received an email from Cube Audio in which they list a number of ampst they feel work well with their speakers. Amongst them there were several solid-state amps. My question to you is this: Keeping in mind that you did not review the Magus but given that all Cube speakers are built from the same basic design pattern and philosophy, do you have any thoughts on how well (or not) the Crayon CFA 1.2 would fare with them? And, if you know it, can you tell me please what the output impedance of the CFA 1.2 is? I can't find this stat anywhere. I looked at your review of it but while you indicate that it is low, I could not find a statement of how low. Peter Borelli

As I explained to you before and more than once, if a review got truncated during the site transition from static to adaptive HTML, whatever pages were sadly lost can't be retrieved. I don't know the Crayon's Z-out but you could ask them directly. That's no more difficult than asking me. I believe that Trilogy was a hybrid not full tube amp. As you reiterate, Dawid and I had good experiences matching Cube models to solid state. Since I wrote my own reviews and edited those by Dawid we published, I know perfectly well which amplifiers we mentioned. One of the reasons I covered in at least one of my Cube reviews, for why transistors can work well, is that they don't attempt extreme sensitivity. Unlike Voxativ who push toward 100dB ratings, Cube are happy with 91dB-ish values. That has the right transistor amps work far better than they would with equivalent Voxativ models. Rethm again go for higher sensitivities so prefer tubes on their widebanders.

What makes the right transistor amp? One with relatively high output impedance so lower damping factor; and of course zero noise. Would the Crayon comply? I don't really know. It's a 3rd-order dominant THD design so by nature emphasizes separation, articulation and resolution. Those are the same things good widebanders do already. It's why some people prefer 2nd-order dominant amps to counterbalance with more softness, blending and richness. SET amps are 2nd-order types as are single-ended transistor amps. It's why many people swear by the SET+ widebander recipe. It's why the transistor amps Dawid and I preferred on the Cube were the 2nd-order types.

Noise is an issue with any widebander. That's true even if they're aren't of extreme voltage sensitivity but certainly gets worse as those ratings increase. I never had noise issues with the Crayon but couldn't predict how yours would behave given the rest of your system. And a transistor amp isn't just a transistor amp. What sits before it? A DHT preamp like ours? A passive? A transistor preamp? What's the source? Whatever flavor precedes the amp should be passed on if the amp is sufficiently transparent. People who run transistor amps routinely inject mild or not so mild tube flavor in the source and/or preamp.

So, in conclusion, I can't guarantee that the Crayon/Magus combo would make you happy. You'll have to either risk it or not. Sorry but there's nothing I can do about that. Srajan

Thank you for the swift reply. The solid-state amps you and David preferred are 2nd order dominant amps. The CFA-1.2 is a 3rd order dominant amp. So that right there would seem to be a strike against it. With respect to the preamp, it would be the CFA 1.2's built-in stage but I also have the Kinki EX-P7. The DAC I normally use is the Chord Dave fronted by the Chord MScaler. The Dave also has a preamp stage. But I don't know if either of those would would fill the bill. What I also have which might work is the AMR DP 777 SE DAC and preamp. That is a tube component. Based on the information you have shared with me, the AMR DAC/PRE + CFA 1.2 pairing could be a solution. I need to find out what the CFA's output impedance and noise is. Once again I thank you for responding quickly. I learned something about the difference between 2nd order dominant and 3rd order dominant. I know that I can ask Crayon about this but I asked you because you respond quickly and I am negotiating the Magus purchase now. Peter

2nd-order is softer to prioritize blending, water-color transitions, tone density, richness and a more relaxed feel. 3rd-order is sharper to prioritize acrylic/oil separation, enunciation and subjective speed. There are no strikes against anything. There's just a different weigthing of certain attributes with all the varying degrees of either flavor. Chord's digital tends to emphasize resolution and accuracy to 'double up' on 3rd-order THD effects. The AMR's tube path option deliberately counter-steers them with 2nd-order seasoning. That's all which can be predicted. The rest should rely on personal listening. Srajan

PS: I asked Roland Krammer for his damping factor. "The CFA and CIA are around 30-40 with 4Ω which of course means that with an 8Ω loudspeaker the damping factor is around 60-80. That is very moderate but considerably higher than with any tube amplifiers."

Thank you for the sentiment in your recent piece, Unholy Oil. Never has respect been at such a premium as it currently is in the States. May we all be anointed. - Prana Distribution

Srajan, just read the latest preview on the Boenicke power amp.  How in the world does a bespoke Swiss-made 300wpc power amp from one of the finest European designers/builders go for only €2500? Yes, I realize that Sven will be selling direct but he could easily charge twice as much and still be in the affordable category. Believe me, I am staying tuned! All the best, Michael

These power electronics are OEM so he had to spend no time/money on their R&D nor pursue costly compliance certification. His work was that of a modifier who takes a given circuit then tweaks it to the hilt with parts and tech that wouldn't have occurred to the original engineers. And yes, other hifi houses with a similar concept apply higher multipliers but also go through the retail chain with its added layers of margins. Srajan

Any chance you will be able to compare with the Kinki EX-M7? I recognize one is AB at 250wpc, the other is D at 300wpc. Not as interested in power output as I am sound quality.  And one will run quite hot and the other won't break a sweat. Pricewise, they are both sub $3K in USD, so relatively equal.  Would be an intriguing competition, no? Michael

Not sure what makes you think I still have the Kinki? I reviewed that in May and it's December now. It's long since made onward tracks to another reviewer, sorry. Srajan

Hello, I just want to say that I'm very exited about your amplifier reviews coming. I have compared and played for a long time on both the Bakoon Amp 13R, the new Clones Audio 25iRX and the standard Moonriver 404. I trust your ears and look forward to seeing how your impressions will compare to mine. Keep up the good work! Best regards, Torry - Hagto Audio

I'm excited myself. I really liked the sound this chip made in previous amps I've heard so I have high expectations for these latest implementations. My 404 Reference sample is assigned to a UK review before it comes my way so it could still be a while. For the Clones too I don't yet have an ETA so both reviews should drop 'sometime' in Q1 of 2021. Srajan

Hello, I would appreciate any guidance you could offer concerning the suitability of the Audio Physic Midex in my dedicated room. A guy who used to sell a ton of AP here in the US at a store that employed him loves Codex and Midex. But as it pertains to my room, he said that Midex creates such sound pressure that it needs a room 3 x the size of mine. And Midex, like all AP speakers, likes wide placement and wants to be toed directly at one's face. My dedicated room is only 10 feet wide but almost 19 long and 9 high. Toeing very sharply inward would help with side reflections if they needed to be placed wide (close to side walls) and I have the Lyngdorf 2170 integrated with Room Perfect room correction. In your opinion, is my room volume and/or the 10' width problematic for Midex?  Do you have a sense of whether you could get them to sing in a room of my size? If volume is a significant variable, I do not listen loudly. iPhone dB apps read low to high 60s from my seat about 2 meters from the drivers. Now I am wondering if Midex sound great at low volume?

I heard Codex three years ago and liked them very much. I am pretty sure I'd love Midex unless my room undermines their performance or they require high volume to sound right. Also I heard the Avanti but did not like them. He is a great guy who now owns his own shop on the opposite coast from where he used to work. Without reservation he tells me AP and another speaker he does not sel are absolutely incredible speakers. I really appreciate that level of candor. The speaker he does have that I initially called him about is the Qln Prestige 3. Have you auditioned that one? The reviews are sick and this guy does say it is outstanding. Btw, no dealers are local to me. Thus my need to speak with those in the know. Thanks so much, Rick Cloud

I only ever tried Codex/Midex in my bigger room of ~15' W x 30' L with double-high ceiling. I set up all my speakers wide and steeply toed in and deep into the room so wouldn't single out AP even though Joachim Gerhard their founder did favor such a general setup. When your consultant talks of 'such sound pressure', he presumably refers to bass since SPL are just a matter of general volume of which you're in full control and don't do to any excess at all. Here I'd agree that both Codex and Midex would probably be too LF capable and could likely cause boom. I've reviewed the Qln and thought it very good though also too costly for the concept. Still, that's far more the type speaker I'd think appropriate for your room. If its sticker fits your budget, it should be under consideration. Too bad you didn't like Avanti. That too would be a better fit. ATB, Srajan

Hiya Srajan: Came across this Paul McGowan video. Given your recent sub trials, am curious what you think about his take on the subject. He seems quite adamant that leaving the mains alone is superior. REL too has promoted it for years and like him, prefer the high-level connection to the sub. How do you respond? Larry

For years I've run subwoofers in augmentation mode. That's a very imperfect attempt to mirror the mains's natural roll-off with a sub's built-in low pass. I've owned Richard Vandersteen's sub to have experience with his particular high-pass solution. Recently I've been able to directly compare augmentation to filter mode. The latter filters both mains and sub through a high-quality external circuit so the sub's own filter is bypassed. There's no comparison. Not only is the handover between sub and mains far more seamless and correct to suffer no sub bleed beyond where it's wanted. The audible gains of dynamic range for the mains are undeniable. To be sure, I'm not using the sub's own variable filters. So as far as I'm concerned, Mr. Gowan and my experience differ categorically. I've done what he proposes. I'll never go back to it. In fact, I'll be filtering my big system's mains in the upcoming year once I've identified the external filter and subwoofer I want to use. This goes back to a recent article I wrote. We can theorize all day long. That buys us a cup of cheap cold coffee. Or, we can mint our own experiences. They take more effort but suddenly we know what's true for us. That doesn't invalidate someone else's opposing experience. Theirs simply doesn't need to be ours. Know thyself is what matters. And on this filtering topic, I know what's true for my ears now. Srajan

Hi Srajan, I'm duly impressed by your sendup of the Soundaware gear. They're unobtainable in Italy which is hardly unusual but I'd like your advice just in case. Would there be any measurable advance in substituting a card-reading A1 for my makeshift rig which consists of an MacBook Air reading .flac and .aiff files stored on a 256MB pen drive with Audirvana 3? USB connection is to a reactionary Redbook Rega DAC which is the way I like it. Best as always, Michele

In my systems, any SD transport always outperforms a Mac/PC that doesn't run through an external reclocker. Once I add a good reclocker, the Mac/PC stream nearly pulls even but still not quite. If I used your MacBook Air in lieu of our big iMac, I suspect an even bigger performance delta. But, I don't know the resolution of your overall system nor do I know the Rega DAC. Even the latest Terminator Plus' USB input still benefits from an external reclocker so I would assume that your Rega would as well. Seeing how you don't use a reclocker but enter your Rega USB direct, an A1 as SD card transport to eliminate the MacBook would/should be a very nice upgrade for just $699. Again, much will depend on how resolving your system is in the first place. Srajan

Hello Srajan, nice to contact you again! I plan to set up a new system in a new listening space (about 5.8 x 7.5x 3.2m), the core would be a high-sensitivity speaker + low-power DHT amp which has always been one of my dreams.  I know you have deep research and many experiences in this field so could I hear some of your views and suggestions? About speakers, I most interested in PHY-based brands and I know after the death of Mr. Bernard Salabert, Ocellia seems to be the only option. I was told that Ocellia speakers are still available, what do you think about them and the difference of H21, H30 and the option with two TW37 tweeters and the H30 coaxial which has a single tweeter?

About DHT amps I have three options: Yamamoto A-010 with WE VT52 power tube, Shindo early Palmer monoblock which can use VT52 or 2A3, and the latest Triode Lab 2A3 EVO R could I also hear your views and suggestions of them? Of cours, I can accept more than one amplifier and because of the 16Ω high impedance, I also have a pair of 50W CLASS-A OTL monoblock made by  respected old specialist in Bejing, I'm going to have a try. My main digital source is an Audio Aero La Source which is my favorite for a long time and the record player is  Simon Yorke Design S9,. I love early music with historical instruments.

Thank you and hope for your reply! Best regards! Shuping Zhu

First off, starting with the speaker then considering the amp is the right way. Good man. That said, the expert on staff you should really be talking to is Frederic Beudot who owns Ocellia speakers and Triode Lab amps. My hi-eff experience is more with the Cube Audio/Voxativ types. There I'd single out Nenuphar Mini Basis or Nenuphar Basis from Poland. Getting proper low bass is important for recorded space. It's something all widebanders struggle with for obvious reasons. Combining them with custom-tailored active woofers is the solution. I share your preference for the WE VT52. The thing to check is sufficient SPL for your needs; and whether the amp will be quiet enough so you don't have hum between tracks. Here I will suggest something that might strike you as radical. Be assured that it works. That's to put the DHT into a preamp (I own the Vinnie Rossi L2 Signature and it can take the VT52), then go with a FirstWatt SIT3. Another amp you should have on your scope is the Thöress EHT integrated. You can find a review of it and the Vinnie Rossi in our archives. Hope that helps. Srajan Ebaen

Srajan, I thought you told me that you were apolitical; and then I read your "Things I learnt this year" and saw the word "bipartisan" when referring to an active subwoofer with analog lo-high pass! What gives? Kidding aside, it's been a great year audio-wise despite the pandemic. Thanks for keeping us somewhat sane! Cheers, Michael

I have to muddy the waters sometime or become a hermit. Srajan

Methinks a hermit and Ebaen are not contemporaneous! Michael

Not so, sir. I’m a caveman perfectly happy in my little hole. Working out of a home office going on two decades better have one comfortable with such a reality. With the worldwide web on today's finger tips, contemporary hermits can live quite reclusive and still be in touch with a few people. Srajan

Dear Srajan, I just found your newsroom post on the new Mark & Daniel range. That new driver sure looks the bomb. Any chance you're booked to review of one of those to give us the low-down? Thanks for your consideration. It seems you guys are always at the forefront of covering interesting new audio developments. Keep it up. Mat

The culprit here is weight. These modules only go to 200Hz so a companion subwoofer is mandatory. That's where the weight enters for synthetic marble cabs. Shipping heavy review loaners from Shanghai to Ireland and back could be more pain than it's worth. I expect that it would be contingent on them having a close-enough importer. I simply don't know what their distribution is like. Do they have somebody in the UK or France? Or perhaps in Canada where Glen Wagenknecht is well familiar with their line? We'll have to see whether they contact us. For now nothing is planned or in the works. Srajan

PS: We've now heard from the company who want Glen to do a review when the line is in full production. At the moment, many small details remain to be sorted so an exact date isn't inked. But something's on the books now and by owning the Maximus Monitor II, Glen is perfectly placed to assess whatever newcomer model he'll be sent. Unlike the existing models, we're told that the new line is also aimed at the firm's domestic market so pricing will be quite aggressive. Srajan

Srajan, I second Barry's curiosity about your current adventures in subwoofer land. Everything you've said so far makes perfect sense. What you haven't explored yet is to take the same concept to different filter points. With the Ridthaler filter, you'll be in an enviable position to move that up or down as you please and it is that which has me really curious. Will the standard 80Hz filter recommendation be better or worse than doing it an octave lower like you currently do? What exactly are the differences? I hope you'll cover this topic in good detail so onlookers like myself can save ourselves a few dead ends. Looking forward to it, Craig

I share your curiosity so yes, the plan is to move the hi/lo-pass filter point up and down to observe what happens to dynamics, soundstage cues, tone colors and any other aspect that might shift. Stay tuned. It looks like just another month or so before these games kick off. Srajan

Hey Srajan, cool new feature on the smaller Thöress. Will you do the bigger twin-horn version as well? That would be more representative of my own room so something I'm more curious to read about. Conrad

No. I signed up for the smaller one and don't have current plans to follow right up with the bigger version. One thing at a time. If the smaller one won't hold your attention, just don't read any more about it. I think there's plenty of people with smaller rooms who would be quite curious about a speaker specifically made for such applications. Srajan

Srajan, loved your icOn/Zu tangle and how you detailed out the advantages of the active outboard filter. If you were building a system from the ground up, today, just for your personal pleasure and without any review-related concessions, would you indeed go this particular sub/sat route where the main speakers work down to 40 cycles? Or would you go fully active or with bigger speakers like you did in the past? You've been at this now for a long time so with the tempered wisdom of hindsight and experience, I thought I'd ask about your current thinking. Keep up the good work! Barry

Excellent question. Bravo! I'm starting to think that for true bass, one needs a very specialized driver that'll suck at anything much higher than 60Hz. Conversely, big mid/woofers which can be made to reach down into the 30s with big enclosures, ports or quarter-wave lines are optimized for the midrange so that they can reach high enough to shake hands with a tweeter without going wonky. These are two very distinct job descriptions that require particular weaponry each. I'm still of the opinion that I prefer a simple two-way over a 4-way that would/should have that specialized low-bass only woofer. Passive low bass just isn't the same as active and the type amp that excels at well-damped infrasonics nearly invariably is overdamped for the higher freqs.

That being my thinking, now the recipe calls for a 2-way that's good to 40Hz so it will overlap with the sub low enough to maintain sufficient stereo rather than mono cues in the mid bass. My fixed active low/high-pass filter is a far more advanced proposition than trying to (cough) tag on a sub in augmentation mode. That lets the mains run wide open, then attempts to bring in the sub below their natural roll-off and do so seamlessly and without any fattening up of the mid or upper bass. I've tried. It's not even close!

I'll do more experiments next year but am already certain. For me, in the type/size rooms we always end up in, the two-way + sub with outboard active filter is the ticket. An option would be to replace the 2-way with a 1-way widebander. To hit 40Hz which I sense is vital, that would have to be unduly big. I prefer something more compact. My real question at the moment is whether that German RiPol sub, with some strategic infrasonic boost and sufficient amplifier power, will be good to at least 25Hz to compete with our Zu on raw bandwidth. That it'll be superior on texture and speed I'm already sure of. I've heard a number of RiPol bass alignments before. So far they simply all struggled to cross 30Hz. Fun and games ahead but I wouldn't be surprised if downstairs too ended up with its own version of this recipe. Part of it is to allocate different amps to the low bass and rest. High-feedback class D with oodles of power to invoke some lift at 20Hz if desired is perfect to direct-drive the woofer whilst the upper bands could prefer a low-feedback class A/B design with a bit less damping. So far that's been a trend in my observations so I'd be surprised if that much changed. I probably wouldn't go fully active yet because the sound I'm making now I've not quite heard with DSP speakers. But if I were to retire and downscale to reduce the hifi footprint to an absolute minimum, I already have the actives I'd happily live with then: the Fram Audio Midi 150.

In the meantime, what I have is exactly what I want to have. If something happened and I had to replace the lot, I'd do it the same way again. As you said, I've been at this for a while. Like everyone else, it's been trial 'n' error and buy 'n' sell. Now I've arrived at things that really work for me on all fronts so why change? Srajan

Srajan, I just caught up with my weekly 6moons fix to discover your preview on the new Moonriver integrated. I'd read a review on the John Marks site of the standard 404 just the week before. Nowhere in his did I find any reference to operational amplifiers in the output stage or in fact any reference to 47labs. I went back to check again and what he talks about are "power modules". I've now read up on all 404 reviews I could find and only very few dig into the op-amp angle. Kudos for reporting the facts without brushing over things with vague words like power modules. So thanks once again. Holger Scharmacher

It's not secret really (or wasn't to me) that Moonriver drives output opamps but neither is it outright advertised by name, probably because with some buyers, opamps have a bad or "cheap" rep versus discrete. As my preview states, I've owned the Patek gainclone and reviewed and enjoyed others. There's no reason to be biased against the concept if you don't need high power or low-Ω drive. Some Blue Circle amps in the past had what I believe were 200-watt op-amp outputs. I don't remember whether those were unusual high-power military parts or just many bridged/paralleled devices. All current others I'm aware of stick with the National Semi parts to produce about 50wpc into 4Ω and not stress these critters out. I've simply never heard one that went as gonzo on the power supply as these Swedish versions do, then packs in this many features. I can't wait to hear what theirs does. As the now expanded preview also says, numerous past Jeff Rowland amps used 6 x LM3886 per channel so the part has high-power implementation examples as well. It is a power module, just one based on an integrated circuit including comprehensive protection. Srajan 

Hello Srajan, I have published a new Lumaudis website and wanted to let you know that I quoted you on the home page and also added a link to your review. I hope this was okay. If not, it has been online for only day or two and no promotion was done yet so I can easily remove it. Some big changes took place at Lumaudis. I'm on my own now, two 'partners' have gone their own way setting up a new label. One of the side effects of this was the reduction of the Lumaudis catalogue to only one title. Not for long though, I already recorded new projects that will publish next year. Despite this not sounding very sensible at first, I decided to give my ex partners 4 titles without compensation while keeping the Lumaudis brand and Ne le tue braze album. Once again I must admit that your review of our Lumaudis albums gave a very good diagnosis of some issues that became more and more evident as time went on: production of exclusivist self-indulgent albums dedicated to promoting a single artist whose major goal was to build a monument to himself. One other issue I had to deal with and found especially difficult to swallow was really extensive editing (over-editing) of recordings for Edin Karamazov which he insisted on. That led to his new name Edit Karamazov. This was to make his performances sound immaculate but at the same time resulted in unnatural perfection. After taking a good break of repeatedly listening to this during the editing process, I found these albums quite fatiguing. It is very evident that this was not only due to chosen repertoire. I find it strange and sad how very talented musicians, being increasingly aware of the possibilities of post production, count on it even before the recording session starts, therefore come less prepared than in pre-digital times. What we are getting is something like Photoshopped music which in particular hurts when you apply these methods to acoustic instruments and classical music. It just ain't right.

My apologies for this rant but your views in your Lumaudis article made me try to explain the situation behind the scenes in more detail. I hope you are enjoying a good life in my second homeland—I have both Irish and Croatian citizenships— and that this virus madness is not affecting you too much. In my hometown of Zagreb we also had a serious earthquake in March of this year just when the lock-down started. Strange times to say at least. All the best, Marin Fulgosi

The website quote is perfectly fine but thanks for asking, Marin. Ireland is in its second nation-wide lock-down now for six weeks until at least December 15th but working out of the home for the last 20 years already, it's not a really big difference personally. As to the rest, it sounds like you rid yourself of some unnecessary baggage. Artistic egos can be tricky to deal with especially over the long term when you're counting on equal not skewed partnerships. You know how to find me as new releases drop. In the meantime, congrats on making a difficult choice which should turn out to have been the right one as you go forward as captain of your own ship without any mutinous crew. Srajan

Dear Srajan: I have a question about reclockers. You've reviewed a number of them over the years and own the big Soundaware. In recent articles you covered Denafrips and Innuos. Aside from features, how big are the sonic differences between them? I appreciate that it's difficult to assign percentages but if you could give it a try, I would much appreciate it. All my very best, Vijay

I hear the influence of reclockers in the time domain so better articulation of leading edges. That also influences separation. Because there's less blur, there's less warmth which is just blur masquerading as thickness. In very basic language, speed goes up, mass goes down. I find the difference delta of the best reclockers rather bigger than digital filters (I find most of those very subtle) and would group their benefits under higher resolution. Obviously thick warm electronics and speakers with plenty of phase shift already mask a lot of that so the benefits of a reclocker will become smaller, possibly meaningless. In a system already dialed for clarity, the differences are easily noticeable. Think better PRaT, energy and focus. As to putting numbers on that, I couldn't say. I'm not a computer. Srajan

Understood. I'm a bit disappointed to be honest. Some of your colleagues have no issue to say 73 out of a 100 or some such thing to indicate subjective values. Without that, it's impossible to know whether a difference will be meaningful or not. Vijay

I guess then you must ask those colleagues the same question. Srajan

Hi Srajan, just a quick heads up that the slow loading of your site has now refreshed to nearly instant as promised. Whatever you did, it worked so thanks a lot. Antoine

Pleased to hear it. You weren't the only one to notice that things had inexplicably slowed down. Turns out my site was under heavy automated hacking attacks which compromised its loading speed. We migrated the site to new hardware on the same Irish server farm with many new security protocols. That got us back to normal loading speeds. My upload times for publishing reset as well so what tech support did was/is much appreciated. Thanks for the confirmation. Srajan

Srajan, any plans to review Joachim's Surveyor or Vitesse models? They look stunning, with top drivers, the passive radiators you've talked up recently and of course they are from the Groβmeister of Deutsches speaker design. All that should be right up your alley? Here's to hoping! Thomas Kretz

Joachim knows who we are. His son delivered his single-driver widebander when I still lived in Chardonne, Switzerland. But he's not contacted us for anything since so nothing's in the pipeline. I certainly agree that these Rose Handwerk models look terrific and sonically most promising. I'd be all over them if I was asked. If certain brands prefer to work with other publications than ours, I simply can't do anything about it. That's just how things spread around and keep all of us in this sector busy. For now it looks as though Rose Handwerk pursue German reviews thus domestic sales. If so, an English review wouldn't serve them at all. Srajan

Dear Srajan, I've been following your unfolding subwoofer story with great interest. Now you've posted the updates to the icOn review and detailed out what the improvements are. You seem very excited so I'm curious to learn whether you'll eventually do the same thing for your main system? Karim Achianos

Clever question. I don't have another subwoofer in the crib and Zu's Submission is a bit of a beast getting up and down the stairs. It's now perfectly bedded in upstairs and I have no intentions of moving it downstairs. That said, I've certainly thought already about eventually augmenting the downstairs system with its own sub. That would mean a double outlay of another icOn 4Pro SE and top-flight subwoofer. I love what the Vinnie Rossi DHT preamp currently does for that system. A second icOn would eliminate the Elrog ER50. Plus, I'd have to explore suitable subs, probably a Ripol version like this. That could be something for 2021. Pál Nagy has already stirred that pot with a mysterious comment about his own nanocrystalline autoformers and NOS Russian tubes. Of course he's so buried in orders that making time for any new design might not be on the books for a long time. So, the long-winded answer to your question would be... maybe yes, maybe no. The bigger downstairs speakers don't leave much bass extension under the table. The primary appeal to separate out their LF to a suitably beastly subwoofer would be to increase the dynamic range of the main speakers. Srajan

Dear Srajan, I took a look at your link. That really is a very different and super interesting sub design. How come you've not reviewed it? Even the amp is unusually flexible with its comprehensive remote-controlled filter options. I haven't seen them this finely grained before either. I'd love to learn more about how this performs. Any chances of that? Karim

Their reply from today: "The reason why I'm starting to translate my website is because a distributor in Hongkong is interested to add my sub to his portfolio. I've not taken any specific action to do sales outside Germany, however I probably will next year. I'll aim to send you one right after New Year's eve." Srajan

Srajan, I just saw your reply to Gerd. You mention a revision to the Kennerton Thror. Or so I assume when that's the current flagship. What's that revision all about, please? I hadn't heard anything about it anywhere else yet. Terry

I didn't ask. I assume it could be primarily structural. At present, Thror uses a screw-lock adjustment whilst Wodan, Threkk, Gjallarhorn, Vali, Magni and M-12s all use a super-convenient elastic headband. I'm not sure but perhaps Thror and Odin Thridi will switch to the same scheme? We'll surely learn in due time what it is. Srajan

Very nice review on the Kennertons, Srajan. Does this mean you take a look at their flagship next? Like you must be, I'm curious how much better they can still make them. I'm living vicarious of course but a bit of free hifi entertainment in these dark times is very welcome, thank you. Gerd Gröniger

Just today Vladimir organized for the collection of Wodan but indicated that they would send me their flagship with latest revision next. I didn't ask when but yes, something along your lines seems to be in the works already. Srajan

Hi Srajan, so Clones Audio are back in the gainclone biz? That's really great to hear. Personally I think there's nothing better for starter amps if one wants a mature full-bodied sound. Do you have a notion yet what this one will sell for? I haven't been able to find anything on their website. Best, Ricky

Not yet. Mat had to transplant his entire family from Hong Kong to Taipei so many things to handle other than updating his website. I'm sure we'll learn soon enough. Srajan

Hi Srajan, your review of the Cube Audio Nenuphar 10 makes it sound like the definitive speaker when it comes to reproducing the real sound of natural instruments. You are not alone. Peter Breuninger of AV Showroom thinks that it is the perfect speaker. He is totally blown away with it. So, naturally, I am interested in it and would like some feedback from you. Given the fact that you were so impressed with it, that it created an almost psychedelic experience of listening to music for both you and your wife, I am wondering if you decided to own it? I am not a bass head. I don't relish bass that pounds you. But feeling the bass to some extent is nice. Quite unusually, by all accounts, the Nenuphar widebander produces good bass. But does the bass have real weight? Does it produce bass that can be felt as well as heard? It is clear from your writeup that pairing it with the correct amplifier is essential. In the review, the Crayon CFA-1.2 is not mentioned. A friend of mine posits the possibility that the CFA-1.2 could be a great amp to pair with  Nenuphar 10 due to the fact that it offers the possibility of controlling gain and has a setting option that matches it to the sensitivity of the speakers. What are you thoughts on this, please? How do you compare it to the sound|kaos Vox 3a to which you also gave a Lunar Eclipse award? I know you decided to own the Vox 3a and that is, I believe, the highest recommendation that any reviewer can give. Hope all is well with you, Peter Borelli

What's definitive? Only that all is relative and then there's death. This is a big deep box. The rear-loaded bass system is powerful just as described in the two separate reviews by me and Dawid. It's very full and present. Obviously it's also on the bloomier side just as certain ported bass would be. After all, the extra extension is created with resonances. I didn't try it with the Crayon so couldn't say; and I didn't compare it to the sound|kaos so wouldn't know other than triangulate the reviews I wrote on each like you're doing. My Swiss friend still listens to Nenuphar and previously had Voxativ. He's very happy with the Cube Audio. He also uses quite a lot of tubes in his system which is the traditional choice for this type of speaker. It prioritizes speed and resolution over tone and mass so electronic choices balance out the final mix of attributes.

Of course there's also Nenuphar with a smaller widebander and one of two active bass bins which I reviewed subsequently. That eliminates the bloomier aspects of passive bass milked from a bigger widebander with bigger cab plus makes the bass output adjustable to room, placement and taste. If I were you and seriously considered this type speaker—Voxativ have their own with active bass system—I'd focus on passive-on-top, active-on-the-bottom division of labor. It's the still smarter approach. Srajan

Thanks Srajan, that is excellent advice. Peter

Hey Srajan: I just saw that you're back in the saddle with Kaiser's newer compact. Good man. I'd all forgotten about it but rereading your intro, remembered and how at the time, I had wondered what happened. All is well that ends well? Keep happy and stay healthy. Roman Fricks

Indeed. They now have a pre-conditioned sample pair so the story continues. I'd be a bit shocked if it didn't end very well indeed. We'll see. Srajan

What's that? For a while now I've meant to congratulate you on your interior design choices but these latest two headphone supports really take the cake. Damn, where do you find this stuff? Particularly the dog racer is outrageous as a stand for what looks to be a Susvara or HE-1000? Way cool, Srajan. I take it these were one-off finds? I'd love to find something like this for myself. Any tips? Rory

My luckiest destination for weird/wonderful finds have been the TK MaXX discount shops in Castlebar and Galway. They buy huge lots of closed-out merch, discontinued stuff, stuff that's new but didn't sell in its original stores years ago. Now it's become a last-ditch effort to move. While our regional outlets emphasize clothing, they also do a bit of furniture, kitchen ware, bedding, picture frames, lamps, decorative items... and rare oddities like the sculptures I repurposed for headphones. In fact, a lot of the cool 'designer' bits in our current house are from there, often at real throwaway prices. If you have one of these shops in your 'hood—in the US they were called TJ MaXX—give it a try. You may have to visit regularly until one day you luck out. They have a big turnover so the inventory changes weekly if not quicker. Most the time there's no maker's label to learn who made it and where to look for more. So I have no idea who originally made and sold these particular busts. Of course right now such stores are considered unessential businesses so closed until the strict lock-down eases up. Srajan

Hi there. John here, a music lover from Dublin. I have bookmarked a few hifi sites including 6moons. I enjoy just seeing what's out there from a sound and design quality perspective. My setup is basic enough -  quite old Arcam/KEF. Not sure if I read it right but is there an offer on some speakers located in Mayo? In any case keep your blog going. Regards, John Sheehan

Correct, I'm giving away a Rethm Aarka active monitor pair. Pickup in person only because I no longer have packing materials. Despite the level 5 lock-down, other Dubliners managed to pick up their Zu Druid VI freebie by hiring a commercial van who was allowed to cross county lines. It's easily doable but a 7+ hour round trip. Where there's a will, there's a way. Let me know. Srajan

Srajan, so, Ancient Olso - plain, simplistic, according to the Polish reviewers unacceptably basic even but sonically surprisingly advanced? Should I get a pair for my son then? I can't quite tell from the pros and cons. Eamonn

I'm not about to spend your money and guess at what your son may or may not like, Eamonn. As usual, my review said what I had to say. Anything beyond that is for the potential shopper to triangulate and evaluate. That would be you. Srajan

Srajan, I just discovered the Aurai brand through your latest review, then read up on your earlier reviews, finally visited their website. What a letdown that was after your personal enthusiasm for the product and my own growing excitement. It looks like a 14-year old put that together in one afternoon What the hell? I can't be the only one to think that it's a total disservice to your reviews, the company and any chances they'll have at finding buyers. Consumers are getting more demanding by the year. I'm certainly turned off now. Just saying. Cheers, Bruno

You're correct. This is an interim site cobbled together by Alain Pratali the speaker designer. Site coding and the English language clearly aren't his strengths. He also doesn't pretend they are. He just needed something when my first review published under his own brand. He told me many months ago that he contracted with IT professionals to build him a proper website. Why that's not up I haven't the foggiest. I agree that the current placeholder looks way too amateurish and embarrassing in fact. But we all have different skill sets. I couldn't design a speaker if my life depended on it. And if I look at my earliest 6moons pages, I'm very embarrassed now. In the end, if you let the lack of a slick web presence dissuade you from these products, you'll lose out. In the listening seat, their website becomes irrelevant. You'll never go back to to. But if you do get one of these speakers, you'll get back to them on a daily basis. Srajan

Dear Srajan: I enjoyed how in your last speaker review [Aurai M5 - Ed], you dug into the fun versus serious listening discussion and how what will be attractive for critical listening can actually fail on fun. I would have hoped for more specifics but appreciate that the fun factor, if we call it that, really is quite slippery. You list a bottom-up balance and things like loose, bouncy, chunky and easy. All that makes sense even if it remains a bit vague. It's disappointing too that we don't seem to have an agreed profile which manufacturers could follow to make sure their stuff is fun to listen to. Wouldn't it be great if we did? With my best wishes for you and your wife during this trying time, Rakesh

On frequency response, many people not only in manufacturing do have solid notions on what makes for a pleasing tonal balance. That's not the flat-lined neutrality of the textbook. Others believe that the distribution of harmonic distortion is a big factor due to how our ear/brain actually works. They design with that in mind. Pass come to mind, so do Riviera Labs and Lamm Industries. In the end, I'm not certain that we're all wired the same. We don't respond the same and how we do can change over time just as tastes change. If so, the final arbiter is always the individual. That implies that he/she must trust their own five senses; and have curiosity to keep experimenting and discover and learn of more ways to improve their satisfaction. In this review, I could perhaps have been more specific. It's just that then I'd have defined fun in ways that are peculiar to my taste and how I hear. I found it more important to keep that more open and just suggest that having fun with gear should be more important than being serious and critical about it. Srajan

Hey Srajan, when will we finally get 6moons video reviews? I'm really digging what your pal Darko does and want to see your site make its own. Really, it's the future. Don't get caught out with the dinosaurs... Best, Rudy

I don't think so. As John admits himself, to go into detail, the written review is still the superior approach. Plus, he already does videos very well. He's hit his groove. I'm working mine. And I don't believe for a moment that reading will go the way of the dinosaurs, certainly not in my lifetime. So I'll remain working behind the keyboard not in front of a camera. After all, our motto is 'for audiophiles and music lovers who love to read'. It's important to know one's place and keep focused. Srajan

Hello Srajan, hope this finds you well and gesund in the green country! Please allow me following up on our earlier exchange on Amphion and Pass - back then I was about to purchase a used pair of 7LS but it turned out the speakers were damaged. A pair of Amphion 3LS came along and these are now driven by Crimson 630D 100w monos and fed by a Linn Majik DSM using the excellent Amphion speaker cables. Spendid sound, alas I recently moved to a much larger room with ca. 30m² and 3.90m ceilings, 3.5m listening distance. The 3LS always where a bit light on bass heft (not reach) and in the new room there is little room loading despite numerous attempts to work with positioning and Linn’s Space Optimization.

Moreover my experience with the 3LS is that they provide a very difficult load and the spec'd sensitivity of 86dB most certainly is not true. As evident in the PDF by attached, they measured the 3LS at 78dB and I am inclined to believe that number. Which brings me to my questions: since I like the general sound signature of the Amphions, I am thinking to indeed move up to the 7LS hoping the doubling of cone area will suffice to get more bass in the room. Since you have high ceilings yourself and a similarly large room and had the 7LS there, do you think they perform well in such context?

 Secondly I like to ask your take on driving 7LS with relatively low wattage. Reading your review on the SIT-3, I was quite astonished to see that this amp with its 18w into 4Ω apparently works with the 4Ω Amphion. Seems like the 7LS truly has a much better sensitivity. As said I’d like to ultimately move to a Pass XA25 which I heard in a colleague's system and which I find amazing - maybe this amp is peak Pass. Still, my experience with the 3LS cautions me a bit and a vote of confidence from your side would be encouraging. Thx a lot and much looking forward to your F8 review. Greetings from Neukölln, Seuchenhotspot, Carl

Noch immer gesund and fröhlich - thanks for asking, Carl. Being from the Pass not FirstWatt range, the XA25 will have a rather stouter power supply and its bigger dissipation surface as evidenced by its bigger heat sinks speaks to that. Also, its output transistors are 700-watt types, so beefier and with higher current than what's in the SIT3. So going from 18wpc to 50wpc into 4Ω traverses more distance than the numbers alone suggest. Herb Reichert at Stereophile has an XA25 which makes regular appearances in his speaker reviews. That gives a good reference for its drive into different loads. I'm not a head banger so don't listen that loud. That plus sufficiently high gain between source and active preamp means that even amps of lower power will go farther than their rating and a speaker's sensitivity might suggest for our bigger room. Another thing is that with Anssi's passive radiators, the bass of the current Amphion home range prioritizes timing and control over the dynamic whomp and bloom one can get from ported designs. That's a deliberate choice one must agree with - tauter snappier drier bass or a plumper fatter more redolent low end. Personally, I'd be a happy camper with the XA25/7LS combo which would go plenty loud for our needs. But what's loud to one guy could be mellow to another. That's hard to predict. I do remember specifically that the 7LS's bass in our downstairs room was surprisingly potent and extended for the small driver diameters involved. Srajan

Dear Srajan, you should ask to trial one of these servers. I have one here since yesterday. Nothing short of spectacular. I hated servers until trying this one. Using my huge Qobuz library through Roon is a real treat. Plus dynamics and depth are there also. Warm wishes, Johan-Frederik Hel Guedj

I'm just not a server kind of guy, Johan. I tried a few. As is, I can listen to Qobuz, Tidal, Spotify, all my locally hosted files plus buy music from Qobuz and BandCamp without one and do so without a Wifi tablet remote but with a far superior far bigger display. But I'm happy to hear that you found something that meets your needs and standards. Congrat! Srajan

Hello, any chance you'll be reviewing these Transpuls speakers soon?? I hope so, they appear promising from a vertically integrated manufacturer with some history!! Best regards, Steve Fink

We've never yet worked directly with Magnat so I don't think they have us on their radar. So likely not. It does however look right up John Darko's alley so perhaps he might?  Srajan

Srajan, I know that like Dawid you were in Aalborg to listen to all the Børresen speakers except for the flagship. You then reviewed the B-02 in your own system, he just reviewed the B-01 in his which you published. You both reviewed the sound|kaos Vox 3, Dawid even compared it to the B-01. Out of the two, which one would you buy for yourself in your smaller system? Thank you, Rakesh

No doubt the Vox. It's far from cheap but radically less than the Dane. Unlike the B-01 which prioritizes maximal SPL/bass abilities relative to size, the Vox 3a is more about tone/timbre and textural elegance. I don't play remotely as loud as the Børresen will go so would never tap that part of its package. Its sonic profile also diverges otherwise. That makes the sound|kaos the ideal fit for my personal tastes and hardware. But rather than keep asking me what I like, shouldn't you by now have decided what speaker you want to live with, Rakesh? Living vicariously doesn't feed the soul at all. Just make a decision and jump. There's no sharks in the water! Srajan

Which one do you think Dawid prefers? Rakesh

There's no snakes in the water either. As to Dawid's preferences, I wouldn't know. You'd have to ask him directly. His award for the Vox 3afw might be indicative? But give it a break now with these low-level questions. What someone you've never met or listened with prefers has no bearings on your own experience. We're reviewers, not priests, investment advisers, drug dealers or therapists. Srajan

Hello Srajan, don't know whether you've heard about Sweet Room from Devialet? It was part of a recent firmware update for the Expert Pro series. It requires that one measure a room with a microphone and program such as REW, then apply the data to a template which is then copied to SD card and embedded in the unit's internal code. Whew! In response to about ten attempts to make it work, I wrote the following on a Devialet forum:

"I worked in France for five years (2011-2015) with Groupe Michelin. I can say one thing about the French professional culture: there is an obsessive focus on engineering. For the most part, that obsession is a good thing. It leads to empirically driven solutions and a facts-driven approach. On the other hand the engineering obsession can also result in an inordinate focus on intricate, devilishly complex solutions. Witness, my friends, Sweet Room from "Ingénierie Acoustique de France"."

I can't wait to sell my Devialet and get a Kinki and Lumin to end the madness! Ha! All best, Michael

Writing clever software/firmware that's easy to install are two different things especially with room correction. Writing owner's manuals isn't easy. Some explain the most complex routine in unmistakable steps which even granny could follow. Others are barely comprehensible. Sounds like Devialet need better instructions, then get them from French into English without losses in translation? Or, that gig needs to be taken away from the engineers altogether and handed to a non dweeb who can explain it in the simplest terms. For people deep in the know, it can be from very difficult to outright impossible to understand what a state of no prior knowledge means to then adjust their explanations to that without any insider verbiage or short hand. The reviews we write for example do rely on significant prior knowledge and an insider terminology. To write them for total beginners, I'd have to remember 30+ years back to when I just started out and didn't know the difference between series and parallel, dipole and bipole etc. So I do assume quite a lot from our readers. Once Google Translator gets involved for non-English speakers, it gets messy quickly. Srajan

Hey Srajan, I see you've joined the dark side. Cable elevators!!?? Then again, thanks for including your free draping solution and mentioning inverted paper cups and other quick fixes. I can't copy your suspension trick because my system is like your main one, amp between speakers, no way to hang cables off anything. I find the Furutech thingies to look a bit  too industrial for our living space. The Shunyata stuff would go over a whole lot better. Any chance you'll review that as well? Fred Roma

Funny you should ask. I already forwarded this preview link to them to see whether they'd be interested in their own review. I checked and on their website at least, I've not been able to find even one on this product. But I've not heard back so it seems no dice. I'm not buying stuff just to review it, sorry. Srajan

Srajan, I just finished reading Dawid's splendid B-01 review which led to your B-02 review which led to your Z1 preview. From that I took away that the Z1's performance specs are  the same as the B-01's on bandwidth and impedance. Of course price and build differ a lot. Do you have any idea how much actual performance the Z1 gives up by comparison? These people clearly have serious engineering behind them but €12'400/pr for a 5" 2-way on a spiffy stand is still a huge commitment when one could buy a big floorstander from hundreds of other companies and have money left over for a really good amplifier. Øystein Anker

I haven't yet a clue. I don't know whether the ribbon tweeter is the same and how much the mid/woofer differs nor what 'losses' the crossover incurred to help reduce costs. Has it become a more standard parallel filter for example? What I can say? The B-01 plays crazy loud; far louder than I'd ever go. That makes it a personal non feature so one I'd neither need nor want to pay for. I suspect that the special air-flow cabinet, vibration attenuation, low-inductance motors and other trickery all pool into these extreme dynamic chops. But... if you simply don't play so loud to normalize the picture, will the Z1 lag far behind if at all? That's my main question. I also would expect small losses in resolution. Until I actually hear it, I simply won't have any answers. But if I indulge some wild speculation, under our actual usage conditions I'd expect about 85% of the B-01's sonics. Srajan

Dear Srajan, you just finished the Denafrips Avatar review and Métronome's Le Player 3 is next in your preview pile. Will you be able to compare the two? I am curious to learn whether at that level, there are any sonic advantages to spending more than the Avatar. All the best, Charlie

The Métronome isn't here yet but the Denafrips is already packed up for its next destination so no, there won't be a comparison, sorry. Srajan

Dear Srajan, I've followed Alberto Guerra's work in your reviews as well as Dawid's and those on Positive Feedback. I know that you're waiting on the new high-power monos. Do you already know what those will sell for? From your preview, it's clear that the electronics are the same, just rewired which won't cost a thing when ordered upfront. The real difference is the new high-power GaNTube. I'm very keen to learn how those impact the sell price of the standard Vivace. Do you know anything at all? Thanks in advance, Gary Preston

Alberto hasn't let on yet what Gran Vivace will sell for. Once I get review samples, I'm sure that number will be up and I can then publish it. If you need it now, best ask the man directly. Srajan

Srajan, quick question. Do you have an ETA for that small Ancient speaker that's been in the preview pipe for a long time already? This looks like something my son could enjoy but I want solid sonic comments first before I decide. Thanks, Rory Gallagher

Without warning Asahi Kasei discontinued a part which that speaker needed so Jaromir had to redesign the digital board to switch to a Crystal Semi part instead. Getting the new PCB made took a while. Now the revision is locked in I'm told and I do expect delivery very shortly. Srajan

Srajan, I was looking for the continuation of your Siegfried review but the preview has disappeared. Hopefully that is just a temporary glitch. I'm very curious to read about this legendary amp. I haven't been able to find any reviews on it anywhere so I'm really looking forward to yours. When can we expect it? Thom Frey

Unfortunately Siegfried and Uncle Murphy met en route to Ireland. Ensuing fatal shipping damage means no dice but a burial so the review is cancelled. Sorry. Srajan

Hello Srajan, as I am a vinyl first guy, you have been cult leader of digital that I secretly attend (Jeff Day brought me here). My inner hope has always been to be able to leave behind the fiddliness of vinyl.  Largely through my trust in you and triangulation with Darko and a few others, I leaped several years ago into digital to give it an honest go. MacBook w/Audirvana, Curious Cable USB, Vinnie Rossi Lio with Dac, Boenicke W5+. It has been enjoyable but never felt the endpoint unlike my vinyl system that has me at the finish line and has lasted longer than my first marriage. Now there is a benefit to your work you may be aware or not. It has been my experience that reselling gear that has the 6moons stamp of approval holds its value very strong. For someone who lives in Estonia and cannot audition a whole lot and money is sparser still, the best I can describe this feeling of safety is having a friend in the trenches with you.

Like always I write because I have a question. I want one final push into digital before I call it quits. I am all in with the Jay's Audio transport. I see it as the methadone to my vinyl addiction. Laptops, programs, USB, downloading, file types just replaced one fiddliness for another. And the thought that I can buy 1000 CD for €1'000  or less takes me back to the 80s when people were throwing out or giving away vinyl. I can sell the Lio and Boenickes (again, thank you) for a very good price for a better DAC and pre/amp combo to get the most from the Jay's transport. I think the Jay's DAC and Denafrips pre/amplifier are the way to go. Not sure on speakers.

The question is, am I throwing the baby out with the bath water by dropping the Lio and Boenickes. Will I get far enough with them? Are the Boenickes grown up enough (hairy chested and gold chained) to lay out everything the Jay's transport can give to finally convince me that digital is enough? An old friend, Joshua (aka Bob from Estonia)

I obviously don't do vinyl so expecting advice from homo digitalus to satisfy a vinyl fan could be a fool's errand. But since you did ask, I'd hold on to the W5+. Sven's speakers love power. Getting a hairier amp with a heavier gold chain will scale them up accordingly. The rest of your candidates sound very good to me. Sven of course is just about out with his 300wpc new baby amp (preview up) so that could be another contender. But the thing to perhaps sort out first is this: what about digital, precisely, has you still prefer vinyl? If we can nail that to the post, we'd have more data points to massage digital in the right direction. Whether we'd get far enough remains to be seen of course. Srajan

Vinyl erectus cave painting (in your description of the cowbell and the webs between notes, it's perhaps closest), here goes: it is raining outside. My eyes are closed as are the windows. There is a thin metal covering the outside window's edge. It has been raining for a while as the drops are hitting a wet surface. There is a gap between the metal and the wood sill. Rain hits the other wall's window sill gentler. Perhaps the wind is coming from the other side. The rain drops are of various sizes and hit different places with no repetition. It is a soft gentle rain slowing down. Large drops hit sporadically. Those must be from the roof. There is a beauty to this sound. It is comforting. This is my analogue source. It is not a bloomy tubey colored warm thing. The human ear is amazing. You can accidentally drop a coin in the middle of NYC during rush hour and without seeing tell if it is a dime or a quarter and where precisely it fell. You can listen to ear-piercing decibels without discomfort like a lawn mower or jets taking off.

Now for me digital is all of these situations with something off. That rain drop now irritates, NYC is one great big noise, loud sounds rip through your head. I don't think it is tone or dynamics or all that usual stuff. Digital does all of that amazingly well. The best I can think of is to shift to the visual realm. Imagine being on a hill top and looking out across horizon-to-horizon fall foliage. Countless leaves and countless colors. Not a single leaf is the same. Now digital would be everything like it except now instead of countless colors there is a set number of colors. A weak digital system would have a dozen. My current system, best I ever heard, would have 10'000, your best maybe 100'000? The real thing has billions. My analogue may only have 50'000 colors but it tricks me somehow into feeling there is more. There is a sense of losing yourself in a view of such severity that disappears when the variations are limited.

Now the problem with my analogue is that you get that view only with well-recorded albums (I hope you like 1950's Jazz and Harry Belafonte). With most vinyl you listen to the rain through a can in the basement with a string attached to another can placed in the room. Or you look out across the crest with a pair of kid's plastic binoculars. And somehow for me this is still better than the best digital. Going back to your cowbells, maybe I am chasing organic? Is it that cobweb we are chasing down? The Prometheus TVC is the only gear that swapping in or out puts a little bit it in or takes a bit out. Best I can describe, it takes the sound from the inside out where without it the sounds are more like a piñata. It is not much and I feel like if I could multiply this factor by 10'000, it would be game over. It's like getting a crumb of your favorite cake. I am currently thinking Jay's transport, DAC? (Jay's), icOn TVC, Kinki monos or Boenicke's amp. Or should I sit on the sidelines a bit more? Joshua

So color variety seems to be your thing then. Contrary to popular assumptions, for me that points at higher-resolution gear like DC-coupled amps of wide bandwidth and autoformer volume controls. Whilst tubes often 'do tone', it seems to me to be about additive harmonic distortion. It's not a true increase in tone color values because things sound more not less the same. To me, to hear more recorded timbre difference means lower noise floors and less gear-induced coloration. Here the icOn/Kinki pre/power combo sounds like a great candidate. Likewise for Jay's digital separates. I just can't be sure that your response to that sound would be the same as mine. It could be a costly experiment if it goes sideways or downhill. Srajan

Hello Srajan, I just finished reading your Denafrips Avatar review. Like you, my research can't find a single alternative that would be quite this exciting. So it's sad that Denafrips have suspended sales of this model until further notice. Did you know about that? Eamonn

I just found out. I'd packed up Avatar and Gaia to presumably have them move onward to another reviewer in the EU when Alvin explained that due to unexpected demand, the factory is temporarily back-ordered. Emphasis on 'temporary'. If you put your order in now, simply ask what the expected backlog is. Getting your name on the list would seem key. As my review explained, it's really worthwhile. So much for 'CD is dead'. Clearly even Denafrips didn't anticipate such proof to the contrary. Srajan

Good mornin' Srajan, I'm intrigued with your preview of the P1! I rarely look at the previews but I stumbled on the P1 today in my Sunday coffee hour. As you may recall, in my quest to replace a Devialet Expert 220 Pro, I was smitten with your review of the Kinki EX-M7. Indeed, Joël Chevassus was likewise smitten as he told me that he was having terrific results with the Kinki and his Vivid speakers. As I also own Vivid speakers, I was excited about the potential combination. But as the French say, "plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose."

Interestingly, you teased that the P1 might be battery operated. I saw in a Mono & Stereo interview with Sven that it probably would be à la Vinnie Rossi. I eagerly await your findings as perhaps a modestly priced (a contradictory term if I ever heard one) Swiss amp is in my future! All the best, Michael Fanning

P1 won't go batty. Sven explained that a/ the enclosure would have to be much larger and b/ that even with batteries, output power would shrink drastically to require highly efficient speakers. His like power so it makes sense that he'd want to maximize that aspect of his first small amp. Srajan

Srajan, I sense a striking similarity between Vinnie Rossi and Sven Boenicke. They both started in one field—Vinnie in battery-powered amps, Sven in bespoke solid-wood speakers—and then their natural curiosity led them down the audio development path. They both partnered with experts in other areas to further their craft, becoming system integrators of the highest order. In doing so, they succeeded as lone wolves in an industry dominated by audio conglomerates. In my storage cage, I have an early Vinnie Rossi Red Wine Audio customized by Vinnie so it could run on a marine battery!  Perhaps it should go in an audio museum one day along with some of Sven's early speaker designs. Thanks for introducing me to two of the towering talents in the audio industry. Plus, they are just nice and humble gentlemen! All the best, Michael

Dear Srajan, I've followed you since your early days in Taos and recently took a stroll down memory lane by visiting your archives by writer which I'd not gone to before. It was quite the reminder about just how many people have contributed to 6moons over the years. Have you stayed in touch with any of them who no longer write for you to know what they're up to now?... Charlie

Sadly John Potis passed away many moons ago. Others stopped due to health, marriage or career reasons. Yet others ended up with rigs so dialed to their taste that they no longer fancied messing them up constantly with review loaners. Others launched their own endeavors. Michael Lavorgna with Twittering Machines comes to mind. So does Edgar Kramer who, when his regular job vanished, wanted to write full time to join SoundStage! by creating an Australian subsidy. Joël Chevassus launched his French website, Jeff Day runs Jeff's Place which since has been absorbed by PFO. I've seen Paul Candy and Chip Stern appear there as well, Jules Coleman on ETM. Ken Micallef now writes for Stereophile. What everyone else who no longer contributes might be up to these days I don't know.

I'll add that writing about hifi means critical listening so the exact opposite of what a hifi is all about. Listening ought to be purely for pleasure, not to critique musicians, recording quality or to geek out over hardware FX. Reviewing for years can actively interfere with the hobby's heart. Should that happen, it's best to hang up reviewing. Also, assembling a system to one's dream balance only to keep changing it constantly means that one hardly ever hears it 'as is'. That can be a real wrecking ball on a happy hifi relationship. Once personal sonic tastes mature to become ultra specific, small deviations already mean less pleasure. That self interest now can't wait to take the review loaner back out and return to the original component mix. If so, writing about hifi hardware can become a drain, remaining fair and unbiased about it more and more difficult. Then too it's best to call it quits. I'm quite certain that some of these things factored in why some of these folks no longer review.

Finally, do anything long enough and at least certain things are bound to get repetitive, hence boring. I'm fond of saying that staying power in this game must include more than just a fascination with the hardware. Otherwise it burns itself out. After a certain amount of exposure, hardware gets more not less similar. For me it's the process of working on my writing which rejuvenates itself; and networking between readers and manufacturers. Those two aspects are always fresh. On its own, yet another cable or class AB amp or 2-way monitor wouldn't be. But add unfamiliar people behind a new company, perhaps even novel tech or a unique implementation or an engineer willing/able to explain something you always wanted to understand better and presto - out with the old, in with the new. Here being boss who gets to pick and choose and who is pursued by certain makers can be more stimulating than being assigned certain loaner items. Like anything, reviewing has its sunny sides and shadows. Managing both is important no matter how long one is in the game. It's one's willingness to manage them that could fail. Then it's time for a break or to quit. There's solid wisdom in the old saying that nothing fails like success. But the only people to acquire that wisdom are those who've achieved (a certain amount of) success. The others still believe that success will be the silver bullet or golden ticket if only they could get there. Not. Once you're there, new challenges await. Srajan

Srajan, where can I find more information on that Joachim Gerhard 3-way monitor you mention in a recent feature? I went to their website and couldn't find a thing. Help, please. Heinz Kopping

Go to their Facebook page linked to from their website. There are some photos of it. You can also read a bit more about in on Holger Barske's blog if you read German. More than that I wouldn't know. Once the design is locked in, you'd expect it to show up on the website of course. So perhaps they're still massaging the crossover? Srajan

Who is Martin Gateley? I have never been able to answer that! Mind you, there is some truth in the notion that designers design for themselves. Why not? Why would you call yourself a designer and not put your own stamp on it and speakers are just like watches. There is no gold standard so no one can tell you which is best. My kicks? Well, for one I do like to listen to my favourite music on a decent pair of speakers and quite like it when others enjoy them too. And there is of course design, minimalist, preferably just like a pair of Waves. My motivation is another story. There are two people responsible for getting me into this game. One is you and the other Sven or rather, his SLS speakers. I distinctly remember listening to them in Regensdorf in 2007 and subsequently reading your review. I just wondered at the time whether I could achieve something similar. Strange world. And I designed the first Popemobile when I worked in Dublin in 1979.  Admittedly it was only a Ford truck with a box on the back but I have a plaque from the Vatican to prove it.

Love the article by the way. What are you going to call the new venture? 6o’ And thanks, now I have to brush up on my bio which is nowhere near as good as that Finnish bloke's I have never heard of! Martin

Dear Srajan, I loved your HoroFi article. The only real jewelry men wear are watches. Women amass rings and necklaces and shoes, men collect watches. Like in hifi, it's the men folk who spend those bucks. But boy are space requirements far easier than they are for hifi. Watches are public, hifis are homebodies. For ego strokes, watches pull much harder and everyone has heard of Rolex or Breitling but who of the public knows Burmester? I think watches have a very big advantage with trophy shoppers. If AP can sell 40'000 watches at €1.1 billion a year (€27'500 average per watch!), which high-end audio brand can equal that? Devialet? I also found it interesting that AP want to control pricing and profitability with their own stores. McIntosh tried in the US but I don't think they've been terribly successful. Audio Research separating from the group is certainly suggestive. Anyways, thanks for a thoughtful article. You seem to know a fair bit about that market. Could conflict with your hifi habit if you ever get serious...  Roger

I know a bit from reading up on the subject. Also, our local jeweler, back in the day, used to sell very expensive watches. Today his focus is on €200 watches. He's been in the industry for decades and has lots of stories. Each time we visit to get a new watch battery installed, he regales me with another one. Over time, that's painted quite a picture. But for personal consumption, I'm purely on the Aragon level - cheap 'n' cheerful and Chinese. I lived in Switzerland for 8 years and saw how the very posh part of that business is done there. Crazy money. I stay well clear of it. Watching a YouTube video on how such watches are made... now that I can afford. So why not pass that bit around? Tyre kicking in style. Srajan

Hi Srajan, very interesting new feature on the connections between the industries of fine watches and hifi. I'm no watch nut but surely 1/100th of a second mechanical chronograph watches must be a typo. Who could and would make such a beast? Laurence Bertot

One would be the current £11'000 Zenith Defy El Primero whose large chrono hand makes one dial revolution per second to have the outer dial sub-divided to 100. But as I suggested in my article, human hand/eye coordination is far too slow to start and stop such a mechanism precisely on time. For real accuracy of elapsed time, you'd need laser triggers like they use them for races. So it's another of those wowie features which, once you think on their actual utility, become questionable though the engineering required to make it is bloody phenomenal. Srajan

Srajan, saw Venus II in the news room. Will you guys review it for those of use who can't swing the Terminator? Cheers, Frank

Us guys might if Vinshine Audio asks us to. The best guy for the job would be Frederic who just wrote up the Ares II and Pontus. We'll see. It's early days still and this new model just dropped recently.  Srajan

Dear Srajan, I read your brief piece on the Furutech gizmo. I wanted to commend you for again including opinions from a colleague at another site. You do this regularly which I find most helpful. Your competitors don't particularly where 6moons goes. Very rarely do I see links to your writing in reviews which they publish. Why is that you think? Back to the Furutechs, how big would you rate their improvement? I understand that you can't give out percentages like a computer but I could use something to help me get a handle on what to expect. Thank you very much. Gary Firth

I shall attempt a percentage and call it 5% just because. It doesn't sound like much and isn't; but you'd be surprised how noticeable it is when your system has good resolution. It's far more apparent than toggling digital filters in a DAC for example or rolling interconnects once you have something quality. About your other question, I know my perspective, not what others think. As to mine, I see the Internet as technological telepathy. With it, we tap into the global contents base. Ultimately, nothing in it belongs to anyone in particular. All is freely shared. Once I publish a review, it drops into that pool and becomes part of it. Competitors are aware of it whether they admit it or pretend we don't exist. I have no issue admitting that I'm aware of their reviews and read them to stay informed. Whenever their reviews intersect with mine, why not cross reference for multiple opinions and viewpoints to benefit the reader? I don't believe in a pie of limited size whereby sharing means that everybody gets smaller and smaller slices until there's nothing left to go around. I believe in abundance and networking and that the more we share and put out, the more comes back to go out again like endlessly revolving doors. So I don't really think in terms of competition. I see colleagues in the same biz. Like anyone else, I have favorites and some whose work I like less but as long as it's professionally presented, their work perpetuates the same industry I work in and which puts food on my table. That deserves acknowledgement and appreciation.

Granted, it's taken me some time to become more casual about our images or words appearing elsewhere without permission. I initially felt far more protective but eventually realized that just as thoughts aren't our own (they come to us but from where?), so Internet content dissolves ownership as though it belonged to all. Of course there's copyright because somebody created content so quotes must be credited and images reproduced must have prior permission. The need for professionalism and honor on that score tends to be far more apparent to people who make their living on the Internet. Regular users are often oblivious though they would feel very different if their own work, in whatever field, was suddenly stolen or borrowed without permission, even used by someone else to make money or further their interests. If one works on the Internet, one must simply become comfortable with the current reality of it, find a way to make a fair living whilst relaxing certain old-fashioned ideas about ownership and me+mine.

And, if I like someone's work and sending our readers to it with an embedded link can only benefit their efforts and help them grow... why the hell not? It doesn't cost a thing. It's free networking and stirs the pot. I'd be crazy not to pass it around. Srajan

Hello Srajan: One of my customers is in the commercial cable business and had this to say about the LessLoss Firewall which I thought you'd find interesting. "I really think that the Firewall units make sense from a physics perspective. What LessLoss have done is to exploit the order-of-magnitude difference in frequency between the usual sources of noise and the analogue music signal which is almost direct current by comparison. By tremendously increasing the surface area of a portion of the conductor, the high-frequency noise experiences an enormously higher resistance than the 'DC' signal and is simply dissipated into heat. Clever indeed! Of course they must have put a large effort into finding a material science lab that can make nano-level surface structures." Martin

Hello Srajan: I see that your devil and angel broke bread -:) I didn't expect so much agreement between pro and con but appreciate how you clearly itemize them for the BOP; and that this concept could still be finessed more before it becomes a fully integrated solution. Perhaps they'll take some of your suggestions and work on a one-box center with matching cords. I did look at Titan Audio. I saw that three of their power cords already come with an externally wrapped wire and micro plug. You could be correct thinking that those will attach to a DC power source. But why put that plug on the component not utility end of their power cords? More mysteries for you to solve. I look forward to it! All the best, Eamonn

They might just attach a battery pack like AudioQuest? When the time comes, we'll undoubtedly find out. Interestingly, their lay runs counter-clockwise to current flow as well. As to BOP, my understanding is that they're working on two extra chassis, one a linear power supply, the other a grounding box. Rather than integration, their aim unfortunately seems to be more (expensive!) chassis. Let's see what the Irish ForceField module turns out to be. It suggests a self-contained small pack hopefully without any fussy extra wiring. Srajan

Berning-Schmidlin. Wow! Michele from Rome

Hello Srajan: I've followed you from your Taos days and was wondering how the change from underground to mainstream publication has registered on you. You might not agree with the 'mainstream' qualification but I do think that at least online, 6moons has been part of the establishment for a number of years now. Have you noticed any changes in how you're being treated, what kind of product you have access to and so forth? My major is in Socio-Economics so I'm curious and thought that in your field you'd be a good person to ask now. Greetings, Heinz Honecker

Interesting question. By the way, I've no idea what Socio-Economics are, sorry. But I'll give it a shot. I'd agree that online, we're probably considered a solid fixture by now so I guess that means wer'e part of the establishment. Our content remains more global than regional which was always my hope. As to being treated any different, I don't really know. I work from home. I have for nearly 20 years. My primary business contacts are virtual. Those are the communications I know about. What happens behind my back I don't; unless I happen across comments elsewhere. That same ignorance extends to how we're being perceived. Readers who write in tend to enjoy our work. Manufacturers who work with us do as well. What those who don't write in or don't read us think I wouldn't know. Nor do I care. My focus is on creating quality content. I know there's an audience for it. The proof is that I'm still here 18 years later doing what I enjoy doing. What more do I need to know? For product, we're still focused more off than on the mainstream. That's because the latter is covered well already by others. We mostly respond to rather than generate review solicitations. I'm not sure how many rejections we'd meet if we were to exclusively or mostly ask for review items. We tend not to go after the hyper expensive stuff which, again, is well covered elsewhere already. Whenever we do ask for something to review, I'd say we get a 'yes' 90% or more.

In the end, you had a very interesting question but my answers seem to be very boring. Sorry for that. Srajan 

Hello Srajan: Not at all. A bit surprising perhaps but in hindsight, it makes sense that working in the virtual work and being as productive as you are, there would be little room or opportunity for the kind of feedback I was asking about. But you do attend hifi shows like the one in Munich. Certainly there you must have gained some kind of insight into whether anything has changed in how you and 6moons are perceived compared to, say 10 years ago? Heinz

Well, for starters, most everyone seems to know of us now or at least has heard of us. In that sense we're no longer underground but above ground. And, manufacturers do tell me that reviews on 6moons have more of an impact for them (stimulate more reactions) than they see for reviews which they get elsewhere. That's been actually quite consistent feedback. That could be one of those consequences of being around long enough which you seem curious about? If so, doing something long enough and with consistency equals a certain credibility could be a fair conclusion to draw. Other than that, I wouldn't know. Srajan

Fair enough, Srajan. I appreciate it. Heinz

Dear Srajan, I read your reviews concerning the Denafrips Terminator  and Plus. I also read the following review concerning the Terminator. The writer of it concludes that for pop/rock music he tends to prefer the Terminator while for most acoustic genres, especially classical and jazz (?), he leaned toward the Ayre QX-8. My question is, how does the Terminator Plus perform with chamber and orchestral classical music? The only R2R DAC I tested in my system is the Rockna Wavelight and I found it a bit fatiguing in comparison with my Lindemann Musicbook 15 DSD. Kind regards, Andrea Cristaudi

Different reviewers, different ears and opinions. I've not read that review nor have I any experience with the Ayre or Rockna. As to musical styles, my reviews use different types of music. Unless I specifically say otherwise, I've not heard a hardware 'bias' toward specific software. That doesn't exist in the first place. It's simply a way to point at certain sonic traits that could suit certain music better than others. Ultra-damped very powerful dry bass could seem more realistic for electronic and techno whilst an acoustic upright or bowed cello could sound more realistic with rounder more redolent LF. Etc. On the Denafrips, NOS/OS mode can affect how the transient/decay balance seems weighted and using the I²S input and changing the digital filters also has a small effect. With the Plus, clock sync makes a bigger difference toward higher articulation and crisper enunciation thus more perceived detail. I obviously couldn't predict how the Terminator or Plus would fare against your favored Lindemann. If you're happy with that, why change? Srajan

Hi Srajan, have you used carnet by any chance? If so, was it any good? One manufacturer wants to send me a pair of speakers and handle logistics via carnet which is new to me. Cheers, Dawid

A carnet is like a commodity's passport. It's a legally binding contract that accompanies a shipment and often arrives separately and with a seal. It allows the sender to avoid VAT. You're in Poland so part of the EU. Anything that comes in from outside the EU is charged VAT based on declared value which you as the recipient must pay. A carnet avoids that. It assures customs that shipment X comes into the country, then leaves again after a predetermined period. If it leaves as agreed, no VAT. Now it was just a temporary importation. If it doesn't leave, customs collects VAT after the fact. The carnet includes the mechanics on how.

Whenever I get product shipped in from outside the EU, I'm billed VAT. Then I bill the sender back. You've probably not encountered this before because you always deal with hifi shops in Poland who already handled that. As soon as you accept review items directly from outside the EU, there's VAT. Sadly shippers can't prepay it. So that fee is billed to the recipient: me or you. There won't be delivery unless it's paid, either to the local shipper's online payment collection terminal; or as COD or cc swipe to the driver. Don't pay and the package remains in customs limbo. Eventually it's assessed a storage fee.

A carnet avoids these hassles but most manufacturers don't know of the option. It's a lot of paperwork to declare a temporary importation and it's the shipping company which must provide it. Usually the customer service rep who handles a manufacturer's shipping account is the person to ask. If they don't know, the manufacturer must go up the food chain. So yes, a carnet as a temporary import declaration is good for everyone. You simply must keep the paperwork and reattach it to the shipment when it goes back to where it came from. That's the proof needed to have customs waive VAT on it permanently.

Some manufacturers think that they can just write "commercial sample, no value, to be returned" on a shipping label. That's ludicrous. Customs inspectors aren't morons. The only way to waive VAT is a temporary importation carnet as a legally binding contract which the manufacturer engages with the shipping company of his choice. The other 'solution' (to declare an artificially deflated value to keep VAT low) will not only backfire when a shipment is lost or damaged but can land it in limbo when the inspector challenges its declared value. If a package weighs 40kg, measures like a Pass amp and comes in from the US not Bali, customs won't accept a $200 value. Now they'll demand the real proforma invoice with the accurate value or they'll never release the shipment. If customs disbelieve a declared value, they might go online to retrieve it. Now they could find that a Pass amp retails for €7'500 (distributor price won't be listed) and 23% Irish VAT on that is more than €1'500. Happy days for all. Srajan

The carnet option involves lots of paperwork I presume? Did you have to set up an account somewhere to be able to receive cargo subject to carnet? Dawid

No. The recipient does absolutely nothing. The carnet is exclusively between the sender and customs. The only thing you do is hold on to the carnet to insure it accompanies the shipment when it leaves you. Srajan

Dear Srajan, following your current BOP article, I visited HifiClub's Korean website from your link and discovered their factory tour of Hifistay. Because you just reviewed their rack, I thought you might find this of interest. They actually start their article discussing a custom rack you ordered for your smaller components. They already have initial pictures of it. I thought you might enjoy seeing those. Please continue to discover exciting new products for our reading pleasure. With my very best wishes, Saim Heskimoglu

Ah, interesting indeed to see these photos of Hifistay's factory. Thanks a lot. Apparently this is just the first of a planned series of exposé on Korean hifi makers. I'm looking forward to see who they'll cover next. Hopefully it will include Simon Audio and Bakoon. I like their products. As to the rack, I didn't really order it. Rather, we discussed a review where I was asked how many tiers I'd need for one system. I mentioned that my upstairs components are half size. Now I learnt that Hifistay were already working on a 2/3rd rack. I signed up to review that but subsequently was offered the Mythology X-Frame first. Mr. Naiwon wanted to start promoting his new export efforts with that and the 'M' version wasn't quite ready yet. So we switched tack and I wrote up the big one instead. I'd only seen renders of the small custom rack he makes for the BOP Quantum components I just accepted to review. Interesting that for the M rack, each shelf will sit on its own roller bearings as is only optional for the full-size X-Frame. Thanks again for the link, Saim! Srajan

Dear Srajan, it is well known that you and yours enjoy your life without wifi. What are the methods you use to protect your information? Or do you feel your information is more secure going wired? Thanks, Fred Crane

I don't know what you mean by information. What information? Redundancy and backup protocols, secure browsing with hidden access points and more are all key whether one goes wired or wifi. Emails and websites and bank accounts can all get hacked so up-to-date malware protection, not saving passwords and more are all key. Staying away from social media which monetize private data is as well. Ditto having multiple off-line backups of whatever information one doesn't want to lose. I don't really see how the question of wired vs. wireles factors into this? To my mind, it's the same for either. The moment you're online, you're hackable, period. Whatever you want safe must be offline. Srajan

That answered my question, thanks. Fred

Hello Srajan: Angels and devils, I like it. Seriously, your latest preview on the Korean Quantum Field handles perception hurdles very elegantly. Now I'm very curious how this shall shake out. You referenced the CAD ground control so I looked up your review of it. I saw that you found its benefits mild. Meanwhile Michael Fremer can't live without it. And so it goes. Kudos for keeping us on our collective toes. Be safe! Eamonn

I like to document my instinctual reactions long before product lands. That parallels what consumers may be thinking just looking at an advert or web page. "Very expensive, dubious efficacy at best, more hifi voodoo."... things to that effect. I'm far from immune myself so it's only fair to list all the "B side" ballast. If actual auditions then go very much the other way—"hot damn, that just shouldn't be"—it's fun to see personal assumptions skewered. If they don't skewer—"just as I thought, overpriced bling of minimal efficacy"—it still demonstrates that without hands-on experience, presumptions hold no water. One must try things before one has earned the right to judge them. Either way it's anecdotal as-you-go reportage. It's not writing from hindsight neat and tidy without much of a sense of discovery or surprise because one already knew how the story ended before putting down the first word. That's always been my preference. It's how I start to write nearly all of my reviews - well before the product lands. I get to disclose my assumptions, concerns or expectations, then describe how they clash, decimate or prove out when the listening impressions begin. It's more unpredictable, therefore more entertaining (I hope).

As to the Ground Control, we live very remote and rural, Michael Fremer in a metropolis. That alone predicts very different conditions for noise pollution on the AC line. He also does vinyl which we don't. With the minuscule voltages and high compensatory gain involved in vinyl replay, that's exceptionally intolerant of noise. You'd expect his system to magnify noise differences to a very high degree. Finally, his system appears to be a lot more complex than ours so more exposed to ground-loop incidents. Different strokes. Srajan

Hello Srajan, a customer who followed your reviews for a long time suggested you try the Tubulus Argentus I²S cable. He suspects that you will find it very convincing especially with the Terminator-Plus. His exact words: "He could have the best of both worlds - resolution/clarity/sound staging + body/density/tone." This piqued my interest too! Many thanks, yours sincerely. Alvin Chee


Hello Srajan: I need some help. My friend Satya who is also my reseller is in bad financial straights due to Covid19. He also has a lot of debt with me and still must support his family with 3 kids. As a friend I really want to help him and for his family to survive. His debt to me is not my main concern. Two days ago I suggested that he make a proper audio website for the Indonesian market & enthusiasts. Apart from his own written material, I also gave him the idea to cooperate with overseas reviewers by translating their reviews into Bahasa Indonesian. Last month he asked some of his IT friends to make the basic layout for it and he met Endah who already has a website but no contributor for audio content yet. Endah herself is a widow who depends on her income from her website. Having shared this short story and my wish to help, I'm hoping for your okay to allow them to translate your reviews into Bahasa Indonesian. In my opinion, the more reviews they get to translate from overseas websites, the better for the future of their website and they can get paid by local distributors who carry the brands which are featured in those translated reviews. Let me know what you think. Hendry

First off, I would like to help if I could. But there are problems with your idea. One, I own the copyright to all our archived reviews going back to 2002. This content, though virtual, has real value. It represents my work of nearly 20 years; plus that of my contributors. Whenever I syndicate a review from another publication, I pay them a licensing fee to access their copyrighted materials. That reflects a commodity's value of the written work. Two, I don't read Indonesian. I'd have no means to check on the quality of their translations. Suddenly I'd have "6moons Indonesia" representing me yet no way to assure that it actually conforms to our standards. Numerous parties in different countries have asked me the same thing over the years. I've always declined for the same reason. The only other language I'm fluent in is German. It's why can translate our reviews. I've verified that they're doing a perfect job of it. I've also met the principals to be very comfortable on that level, too. So I'm sorry but no, I can't agree to your idea. It could very easily jeopardize two decades of hard work and I'm simply not in a position to risk that. Srajan

Dear Srajan, I am one of your readers who keeps close track of your personal system because it always means components and speakers you enjoy the most. I couldn't miss seeing the M1 speakers past their review still show up so was wondering whether you decided to keep them and replace your Audio Physic. That would be quite the endorsement. Thank you for all that you do. With my best regards, Gary Firth

As instructed, I'm holding on to this pair until the stablemate M Zero Junior arrives for its own review so that I can compare both models side by side. If I then get the urge once that review is a wrap, we'll see. Right now I'm certainly leaning that way. Srajan

Hi Srajan, just a quick shout-out and props for doing these twofers with Dawid. So far only Pass Labs seems to take advantage of planning for this from the outset. You have of course done reruns of the idea by publishing reviews Dawid did for his own site. I remember the Bakoon amp and smaller Boenicke speakers. Anyway, I wanted to say that planning for two opinions in one review is a brilliant move and I wish more manufacturers would take advantage of it. So keep them coming, boys. Kevin

In the case of Dawid and moi, there's shipping from the US to Poland, Poland to Ireland, Ireland back to the US or an EU importer. As electronics/speakers get bigger and heavier, that can amount to a pretty penny. I can't blame makers for not wanting to shoulder these costs. On the other hand, supplying two reviewers in two different countries for two independent reviews would cost the same. In the end, it's down to a preference. As a brand, would you rather have two separate reviews in two different publications; or two writers reporting on the same component in the same review? As always, we're down with either approach; whatever makes more sense to the companies working with us. And yes, it's a lot of fun to do it this way. I'm happy it's true also from the other side as a reader. Srajan

Srajan, just came over from through your rack feature and its embedded link. Wow. I had never given this subject any thought. A question then if I may. At what level of system expense do you think a quality rack becomes important? And what makes a quality rack in the first place to be different from what you call basic furniture? I can understand the concept but given the crazy pricing of the brands you mentioned, I'm very much unclear what us lesser mortals can really do about it. Hopefully you have some good news. Volkmar Kernig

Excellent question! I suspect that the most cost-effective solution would be an Atacama-type bamboo rack eventually augmented by ball-bearing isolation footers like Finite Elemente's €240/4 Ceraball. This would make sense in a system where each component costs, say €1'500. Srajan

Excellent, thank you. That's really good news and something I can justify. I'll start to investigate now. Much appreciated. Volkmar

I feel compelled to interject. Barry Carling's email points at longstanding abuse in hifi reviews, of endless equipment loans, favorable pricing and other quid pro quo. Do you really believe that keeping loaners after their reviews are published is any different from accepting bribes and other backhanders? Really, I expected a lot better of you. I think I shall stop reading you from now on. Bill Northrup  

By all means, reading us was never an obligation, Bill. As to 'favorable pricing', it's standard across all industries. Work at a car dealership? You get a better price on a new car. Work as a shoe salesman as I once did on Rodeo Drive and Melrose Ave? Get your pair at shop cost. Work at a restaurant? Hello free meals. There's nothing nefarious about so-called industry accommodations. They simply eliminate dealer profits since one buys directly from the makers. As to keeping loaners, I'd consider it theft. The term 'loaner' implies a short term. Here we're talking about extended loans as solicited by manufacturers after a review has published.

Reviewing becomes a costly enterprise for any writer who views having access to multiple ideally most varied specimens in each product category mandatory. Over the years, most such reviewers invest heavily into their tool box to offer incoming kit the best conditions. Reviewing €20K speakers on a €1K integrated isn't sensible. Nor is driving most widebanders with 200wpc class D. And so forth. Reviewers who accept more diverse product for review to give their readers a broader scope thus tend to buy far more stuff than they ever listen to at any given time. They in effect turn into miniature dealerships. The difference is that they hardly ever sell anything, just sit on stuff benched until it's rolled out for the right review occasion. If they do liquidate inventory to refresh it, it's not for a profit. This is where authorized long-term loans can fill holes in a reviewer's tool box to allow them to do a better more specifically tailored job.

Is it ideal? Not. In our model, readers simply contribute nothing financially yet expect us to do A/B comparisons across the board. The tools necessary to do that must come from somewhere. Ideally they're all paid for and owned by the writer. Ideally all reviewers had graduated reviewing school to work under vetted credentials. Ideally all reviewers had dedicated well-treated listening rooms. Ideally reviewers were independently wealthy to review without any fiscal recompense whatsoever yet be professionals not amateurs in all other regards. Ideally they'd buy all the products they review outright to eliminate any whiff of potential collusion. Ideally they'd review double blind and test all speakers in privately owned anechoic chambers. Etc.

At some point in that endless litany, reality steps in. I've worked hard on making ours as transparent as possible. Anyone who has an issue with our MO is perfectly free to do so. Of course had I not published John Lim's email in the first place, you couldn't have on this count. So you might ask yourself just why did I publish it? Srajan

Just a FYI. Your bud Michael Lavorgna is back on Twittering Machines. He couldn't stay away for long. Dieter

I'd noticed, thank you. I'm happy Michael returned to something he enjoyed; and that his time away recharged his batteries. The only good reason to stop doing something you enjoy is when you no longer enjoy it; or have other things you mean to explore instead. With AudioStream gone now, he might feel extra chuffed about the timing. Good for him! Rafe Arnott's Resistor Mag has gone live as well so the demise of one site gave us two new ones. Srajan

Hello Srajan, thanks for putting so much effort into these challenging reviews. I figured that it'd take a pair of very experienced ears and very high skill sets to review the Gaia, T+, D300Ref, standard Terminator and many rounds of comparisons. Thank you for doing this, it's much appreciated. Yours sincerely, Alvin Chee

My pleasure, Alvin. This stuff has features I'd not come across before so I learnt something which is always the most fun part of these assignments. So if you guys keep bringing it, we'll keep batting at it. Srajan

Hello Srajan, thanks for publishing John Lim's email. I often wondered how long-term loans for reviewers come about. As you point out, it's important that such offers are made once a review has published. In your experience, does this kind of thing happen a lot? Barry Charling

My standard MO is to publish, then email the link to the maker with a "will be packed up and ready for pickup tomorrow, please advise when to expect shipper" request. Now it may happen that a maker asks to leave their gear and see it appear in future reviews. The obvious risk? It could eventually find itself compared to something better/cheaper and steal some of the original review's thunder. Either way, it's extra hardware that reviewers must store when not using it. Unless it fills a very particular hole in their toolbox, it just takes up space. In this instant, I'll use it permanently in the upstairs system until it's recalled. Its demonstrable resolution gains will benefit all incoming review loaners in the interim to help me do a better job. That's a real win.

In the past with budget gear particularly from Asia, their senders simply didn't want it back. Two-way shipping + VAT-type fees already paid + getting back 'B-stock' must have made it more cost-effective not to retrieve such loaners. That I didn't want them or had any use didn't matter. Those were things I gave away. I also suspect that at the time, Chinese companies in particular were used to a review culture in which not organizing return shipments was status quo. At least in my experience, that's thankfully changed so no, it doesn't happen a lot. What occasionally does is much delayed pickups. The going joke with my wife is that we should start billing storage fees for stragglers which clog up our entry in ready-to-go parcel and boxes.

Particularly when they're costly and big, I'm often surprised by how casual certain shippers can afford to be about getting their goods back promptly. Gathering dust in our entry hall does nobody any good. These and related aspects are things readers in general never consider. And why should they? It's not their experience. Reviewing simply isn't all fun and games. It's real work that comes with its own set of imperfections just like any other job. And occasionally like in this instant, there are the most unexpected surprises, too. Srajan

Hello Srajan, thanks for your excellent review! Really, hats off to all the effort you put into reviewing our Mythology Transform X-frame. Mr. Pyun is very delighted and would like to extend his special thanks. I would like to ask one thing very carefully since I'm not sure if it is okay to ask such things. As long as you are fine with it, I wish you to keep this sample in your listening room for ongoing use. It will make it easier to review upcoming Hifistay products like the production version of the Perfect Board and our new Gyrotension footers. Whenever you need to take out the rack, I can arrange pick-up anytime. Please let me know what you think.​ Best regards, John Lim

I'm pleased to hear that you and Mr. Pyun are happy with my review. Doing a proper job of whatever we write about is always the goal. Your suggesting an extended loan after the review published presents no problems so the understanding will be that when you need it back, it'll be yours to retrieve at any time. For now I'll set it up in two-wide layout in my upstairs system this weekend. My thanks to Mr. Pyun for the unexpected offer. I'll identify it as "on extended loan" in my equipment listing so readers are aware of its status. Srajan

Dear Srajan: Has anything come of Daniel Brezina's virtual introductions yet? I took a look at the Czech companies he highlighted and GMG Power with their X-Blocker in particular looks most interesting. Would you consider reviewing it? Best regards, Holger Scharmacher

As it happens, already a week has gone by since Daniel's email which I replied to within the hour. Not one of these companies has contacted me to ask for a review or to follow up in any way. I can only surmise that either the sense of urgency and interest was his alone; or that lack of fluent English is the barrier. Certainly not having English web pages is for international business and some of these firms don't have them yet. That would need to be fixed before asking for a review in an English magazine. On that front, GMG are all set to go. So we'll see. If I'm asked, I shall certainly respond.

Incidentally, this kind of thing is why I deal directly with manufacturers, not 3rd-party intermediaries like PR agencies or importers. That way I hear things from the horse's mouth and get the most accurate in-depth product information. The other day a PR agency solicited me for an expensive headphone review. I asked for the owner's email instead to confirm interest. That man couldn't even bother to acknowledge my email with a "thanks but not interested" response. Clearly the outside PR man and the manufacturer he claimed to represent were on completely different pages. The same could be true here as well. I'm easy to find. Nobody needs an intermediary to contact me. Google translator works well enough. Srajan

Hello Srajan: Very interesting that the Korean rack would emphasize different sonic aspects than your resident version. Do you have any ideas why? Is it just an extension of the common observation that squishy rubber footers sound softer and fuzzier than hard metal cones? Cheers, Roger

I suspect so, Roger. During my Aalborg visit, I had opportunity to compare Ansuz roller-ball footers through different tiers of rising costs. Geometry or size never changed. What did was the hardness of the races where ball bearings contact the metal discs. "The harder the interface, the faster and more effective the transfer/evacuation of resonances" was my takeaway. In our rack, the first component interfaces are beech-wood discs. Earlier versions I used were neoprene. Hifistay's materials are a lot harder. In hindsight, it's not surprising perhaps that like Ansuz's titanium rack and scandium-diamond-layered footers, sonics would emphasize microdynamic contrast and transient speed. At least that's my entirely non-scientific purely observational conclusion. But there's no doubt whatsoever that different rack construction and approaches (needle suspensions, roller balls, viscoelastics) all sound demonstrably different. It's a little documented area of our hobby. Very few people go out to audition different racks side by side. A dealer will at best have one serious (i.e. non-furniture) line. Even if you're lucky to have two dealerships each with competing serious racks in your area like things from Grand Prix Audio, Finite Elemente, Silent Running, HRS & Co., you won't hear them side by side with exactly the same gear and speakers. Now it's up to crazy reviewers to tell that tale. Not many of us are crazy enough. Srajan

Hi Srajan, hope you've been well. I've really been digging some of your puns and wordplay recently. Some of them have been quite clever... I'm writing to let you know about something I just discovered. Maybe you already know but I hadn't seen it in your news section yet. FirstWatt is coming out with a new amp called the F8. I'm rather excited by this. I've gotten a ton of gear since we last talked but my favorite combo thus far is the Vinnie Rossi LIO DHT with the First Watt SIT-3 (both thanks to your reviews). The F8 will probably be killer as well. And what's even better is the name, it's like a pun in itself. And there are already awful things I love named F8, such as the ridiculous 8th movie of the Fast and Furious franchise and the latest album by Five Finger Death Punch. Keep up the awesome work. JL

Ah. I had missed the knock of fate so thanks for pointing me in the right direction. The J2 reborn with a simpler front end. Who woulda thunk it? Thanks. Srajan

Curious what's the best preamp you came across so far? I'm in the market for a good preamp. Thanks, Clint Tracy

Without specifying context, there's no such thing as 'best'. If you asked what my favorite preamp is—for our main system in the current room, from what I've heard that I could afford—it's the Vinnie Rossi L2 Signature with Elrog ER50. But why that should matter to you I haven't the faintest. It won't automatically translate to your system and room. Having never listened together, you also can't possibly know the sound I value and whether that would be your sound or not. I'm sorry but with this poorly focused a question, I can't give a better answer. Srajan