Your space to participate, comment and critique. Email srajan @ 6moons.com to submit your entry.


Well, keeping in mind 12 years of poetry and prose, your finest hour may have arrived with "even saints have arse holes". Love it.
Frederic Crane

All the talk of soul and Seligkeit made me do it, your honour -:)
Srajan
Hello Srajan:
I just came from ETM where Ron Nagle had published a short world's first review on the Pass Labs XA30.8 for their November issue. Then I saw yours. If ever there was an example why your reviews have become so distinctive, this would have to be it. No comparison!
Neal Wheatley

In our early years, we too had "world exclusive" type tags because when you're new, you're looking for opportunities to distinguish yourself. But even with careful canvassing, it really is impossible to make "world's first" type statements given how many review media there are today in many different languages. And what if, as seems to have happened in this instance, two reviews publish just a few short days apart? And what if a reader stumbles over the 'later' one first? Now such statements look just a bit embarassing and uninformed. That's why many years ago I gave up on our tags. It's of no consequence whether one is first, second or fifth. The important thing is to create a fair and comprehensive review that covers the subject in full. It would seem you agree.
Srajan
Dear Srajan,
I enjoyed the Puls review. I know the speaker, like all of Joachim's, will find its audience. For me it brought to bear that to some extent we can have it all (whether or not we want it). In digital, that can mean something like my Rockna/MSB experience of late; completely natural and all there. The same can be said for Boenicke's forays where there is tone and everything else. I'm seeing this more and more across the entire spectrum of equipment. Basically, soul is on offer with delineation in serving sizes heretofore unheard of. Most recently a famous analog writer penned that the top cartridges are now far more the alike than different. Of cours, there is still plenty of room for personalities. You'd have no issue sussing out Rethm from soundkaos from Voxativ from Albedo from Trenner & Friedl etc.etc etc.. But they can all give you an elevated experience that seems to lack little when properly paired.
Best,
Fred Crane
So Vinnie Rossi has changed the design of his components like you/I change our socks over the years. Why now go modular? I`m intrigued as to why the change in direction.
Rodney Evely

I'm not sure I follow your sock example. He came up with a new better platform and decided to sell exclusively direct. And he wants to give his customers the very best value. Now he liberates them even more from buying stuff and features they don't need so they can tailor a component exactly to their requirements and change it a few times in the future to morph to whatever they alter in their systems. I for one find the new direction perfectly self-explanatory. For more you probably should email the man himself. I don't want to speak for him.
Srajan
Hello Srajan,
I have been enjoying your website for some time and in particular, lately the enthusiastic reviews on the ‘Job’ amplifier combination. You extensively tested them with a variety of speakers but no panel types. As an owner of Quad’ and looking seriously at purchasing the Eminent Technology ET-8b, how would you expect the Jobs to perform with these speakers?
Regards,
Gary Marinko

I don’t own panel speakers, hence their absence in my reviews. The Job 225’s power supply isn’t very big. If tasked to power very low-impedance speakers with wicked phase angles aka power soakers, I’d consider it less ideal. Magnepans are notorious for lusting after power. I imagine the ET-8b, being terribly inefficient, is another such design. I’d hesitate to recommend the Job 225 without knowing from first-hand experience that it’d be equal to the task. I’d expect that the forthcoming Job monos (ca 300 watts) would be more appropriate but also about twice the money -:)
Cheers.
Srajan
Hello Srajan,
having followed you for years, I wanted to compliment you in particular on your fairaudio syndications. As a German, I very much appreciate how you really nail these translations yet still instill into them your own voice and personality. I've also noted how certain writers which in German are somewhat of a hard read suddenly have become far easier to follow. I don't see any other magazine do this so congrats on yet another area of distinction for 6moons.
Rainer Müller

A proper translator of course wouldn't dare inject his or her own personality. That would be complete anathema to the task. But merely generating a carbon copy, albeit in another language, I'd find terribly boring and bureaucratic. I thus use translating in a way that becomes a co-creative endeavour. Original meaning has to be captured precisely. Yet if there are three or five different ways of expressing the same thing with the same weighting the author gave, I pick the one I feel closest to. That injects the personal colour you commented on and none of the German writers seem unhappy about it. As to ease of consumption, if I can make three sentences out of one really long one, that's what I go for. Certain sentence structures in the original can get so complex or ambiguous that by the time you've arrived at the end, you're no longer sure how it started. Whilst my approach works, it's important to distinguish that a professional translator—someone properly trained in the art—would (have to) do it differently. But then we're not translating a United Nations keynote address -:)
Srajan
It was interesting to read about Nagra's development of an HD1000 amp! Thanks for the great info and photos. I noticed that their listening room had much Nagra gear in it but no VPA amps. Do you know if the VPAs are being phased out,or being updated in a new version?
Best,
Chris Osler

Nagra's room would seem to contain whatever they're working on at the moment. Since the new project is a high-power Mosfet platform, that's what was there during my visit. As to future projects, I believe it's a fair assumption to predict that the 'HD1000' platform will be scaled up and down to hit various power and price points in mono and stereo casings. About new or revised tube amps, I've been told that Nagra's Chinese distributor has been asking for something beyond the VPA. Whether and when that might come to fruition I have no idea. I've not been told anything about the VPA going away and in fact they showed with it at the just concluded RMAF show in Denver. That would rather suggest that the VPA is here to stay..
Srajan
Your upcoming review of the Suesskind Puls speakers put me in mind of these: http://www.tonepublications.com/review/blumenstein-audio-thrashers-speakers/. Also, congratulations on your discovery and investigation of the very-hot-in-high-end-studio monitoring Amphion speakers. Great timing. Similarly worth investigating because of their sound, progeny and price (outstanding, Indian and cheap) are the newly released Sonodyne SRP 800s and SRP400s at a shockingly low price. Both are generously bi-amped,but the 400 has an analog (line level) crossover while the 800 uses an internal AD/DA with DSP including amplitude response correction for better linearity and crossover duties being handled in the digital domain. Both 400 and 800 go lower than they should for their respective sizes. One last hot item from the pro world which you may already be aware of is the Crown Audio XLS Drivecore Series amplifiers, all but the model 1000. The 1500, 2000 and 2500 models are creating quite the buzz. Nothing like clean plentiful dirt cheap power!
http://www.crownaudio.com/usa/amplifiers/xls-drivecore.html.
Cheers,
Russell Dawkins

Great tips, Russell. Thanks. Smart-money shoppers indeed do (or should) pay close attention to what's going on in pro today.
Srajan
Coaxial consigliori, enjoyable Sunday morning reading of your most excellent Pass and Suesskind Puls previews. And, maybe you could see your way to giving (real) Tannoys an informal audition?
Keep up the lord's work.
Michele from Rome

Well, er, cough... I'm not sure whether most the current Tannoys qualify as 'real' -:)
And the Japan-specific vintage models which in this context are the real deal get rather large and heavy. Despite my new elevator, I still gotta manhandle speakers up three flights of outdoors stairs to get into the building's hallway. That limits size and weight of what I can accept. But it's a thought and I'll look through their present catalogue to see what might be doable...
Srajan

i've been through 15" pro monitors, rubber surround and cloth surround 12-inchers both Tulip and Pepperpot Alnico and am currently living with the 15" latest-but-one version Canterburys. In my experience, the newer cloth-surround Alnicos will whup ass on every vintage cone in their old boxes. Do try one. Mark Sammut was the one who told me the FirstWatt F5 would be the best match for them. I only wish they wouldn't call them Prestige models. They'll be naming them after Port vintages next.
Have a nice Sunday.
Michele
As a 'Wigwam' reader, I've been following a guy called Simon who's an expert woodworker. He's made a couple of Klipsch copies and moved on to big Tannoys. Now he's making them to order. Here's a link. One day I'll go visit...
Chris Skelton
Vinnie Rossi. Ok, where do I place my order? I have been looking around for something like Lio for over 6 months but there was always something missing. Either I could get the phono but not a DAC, or a DAC but no phono; or more often than not it was not modular and future proof (which on a DAC is insane to be locked in forever). Or it had compromised preamp functionality or a compromised amp; or way too much power and damping for my Ocellias. I hope Vinnie is not going after a market of just me but he has me. And the front is Corian made by DuPont - now how much better can it get? Do you think he could license a SIT2 module from Nelson and stick it in there? -:)
Frederic Beudot

Agreed. This looks like very smart product. I like everything about it and I haven't even heard it yet. (And for those who don't know, Frederic works at DuPoint, hence that line.)
Srajan
Just read one of the letters in the feedback area and your response to that. As we mentioned before, the new wide layout for texts is not our favorite. So we had to figure out an option to wrap the long text lines around and thus reduce or even eliminate any additional head movement to read the text.Here's our solution for Firefox which we run on both Windows and OSX
platforms: make sure the Menu Bar is visible by not using full screen mode (F11) and have the Menu Bar checked when right-clicking the top of the browser window. Then under VIEW select ZOOM and then Zoom Text Only. Omitting this step (in other words using the default setting) enlarges the text but loses focus on the page—it falls over the edge—and lines will not get wrapped around. Now go the a 6Moons page and adjust the text size to your liking by CTRL- or CTRL+. Nice free side effect is that you can put your reading glasses away and lean far back from the screen when really going for extreme magnification.
M+H
By the way, I read your WTF article and I liked it a lot. This Chinese mentality really kills small companies. It's a tough world... :-)
Regards ,
Konstantinos Papachristou, Black Pearls Audio

It's quasi expected from one certain Chinese mentality based on sufficient case evidence though it doesn't excuse it or make it any better. Nor does it say that all Chinese companies operate that way. Many clearly do not and take the same pride in original design and engineering as their Western counterparts. But when a German company signs on to exploit the same mentality and excuses it with a "what do you want" reparté - then we're in trouble I think and allowed to wonder, WTF. That's why I had to say something.
Srajan
Hello Srajan,
I read with disbelief the blatant copying of Amphion's designs. I last spoke to Anssi at Bristol this year and he works very hard to produce excellent products and be out there in the marketplace. I wish I could post your article on Facebook to alert people to the poor business decisions of many Chinese companies. Is there a way we can do this?
Best Regards,
Bryan Taylor
The Gramophone Inc

I don't do social media because I value my privacy. Hence no experience with or tips on how to flow my article into Facebook. But it should be relatively easy to embed a link, no?
Srajan
Hi, Srajan,
I too was having some "eye" problems with the new format, having to toggle my split 1/2 screen image left and right (on my 24-inch Samsung). Then I remembered the little 'open square' icon in my browser at the very upper right next to the 'X'.  I clicked on it and voilà, 6moons opened up filling the entire screen. Ahhhh - .what a relief it is, and the new format is now far more enjoyable. An old school fix. -:)
Alan Kafton

To fill your screen up more, try 'CTRL' and '+'. Eventually of course you'll lose resolution with images but you should be able to do it once or twice without noticeable ill effects. And of course the opposite ('CTRL' and '-') works to shrink things. That'll be more for younger eyes who want a smaller font. That's why I enlarged the general font. You can narrow the site at least once and end up with closer to what it was before.
Srajan
Srajan,
first let me preface my comments with the important stuff: I've been an avid reader of your site since its inception and an even longer fan of your writing since pre-6moons days. I've felt for quite a while that you do a better job, hands down, than anyone else in the industry both in describing and characterizing the item under review and in placing it in an appropriate context within the industry. You've also set a new, almost unheard of, bar for professionalism in your field, through your behaviour towards those in the industry with whom you must deal and, perhaps more importantly, through your expectations and demands that those in the industry reciprocate with similarly professional and responsible behaviour. This sense of shared respect and professionalism has been sadly missing in many though certainly not all areas of the audio industry vis-à-vis audio journalism. I can only wish you well and continued success, for selfish reasons (I get to keep reading you and your team's reviews!), for many years to come. I can't help but think burnout is a very real and ever-present danger in your line of work.

But, to the immediate reason for my note: I have to respectfully disagree with the apparently strongly favourable majority opinion on the new layout, based on previous published comments. While I would agree that the overall appearance of the new layout is attractive, fresh, and clean, the extremely wide single-column format is disastrous for me. Though my aging eyes may be partly to blame, my corrected vision is quite good and I've never had a problem previously with your layouts. But as someone who routinely reads your site from several different platforms--large, wide-screen monitor, as you appear to use, plus iPad and even (horror of horrors) printed copy--I find the new layout almost unreadable from the latter two formats. The problem is not only one of font size, though a larger font would help to a certain degree. On the monitor, of course, it's trivial to enlarge anything sufficiently. The problem with the other two formats is two-fold:

1) The extra-wide single column format means that, for such devices as an iPad or hard copy, enlarging is no longer feasible. One can take an online page with a narrow column of content and expand it in a variety of ways for easy reading and/or printing. But the new layout leaves me almost no options: I can no longer enlarge the iPad page because it immediately becomes a "shift-right, shift-left" for every line. So I'm faced of necessity with fitting the entire extra-wide single column on the screen in a font size truly too small for comfortable reading. Expanding the font size is no longer an option. For hard copy (I know, an archaic distinctly non-green practice), I must resort either to print landscape or copy everything into Word and then print at a reasonable size. Even a large monitor is less than ideal since the line width is 'hard-wired': if one enlarges the page, the margins quickly drop off the left and right sides of the screen rather than wrapping properly, so one is back to scrolling right, then left to read a line.
2) Many, many years ago, when I was doing some professional writing in earlier careers, there was a generally acknowledged view that overly wide columns just made for difficult reading for a variety of reasons. Whether that's still the view or not, I personally find it extremely difficult to read something that stretches across the width of my screen from side-to-side, regardless of whether it's on my laptop, my 24" wide-screen monitor, or a landscape-aspect piece of paper.

If I'm in the apparently distinct minority, so be it, I'll have to live with it. But I at least wanted to cast my lone opinion out there, for what it is worth. Again, please keep up the outstanding example of responsible, conscientious and intelligent writing and reviewing that you've introduced, to my mind, into the audio world. I'm a true fan.
Best,
Jerry Powell

Hello Jerry:
Appreciate both the sugar and the vinegar! I admit that the revamp addresses PC/MAC users with standard to mega monitors, not the 'narrow-guy' smartphone and iPad readers. For the latter, the 700-pixel width was ideal. For the former, it left far too much redundant screen space on either side. I had to decide which way to go. Modern content-management software has rescaling functions within certain limits but they affect layout. And because I'm a neat freak who wants the thing to look the way I laid it out, I stuck with the static DreamWeaver software rather than WordPress or similar. I deliberately enlarged the font for the content pages (industry features, news, music reviews and, coming up, the audioreviews for which we're working on the new javacript this morning) to make reading easier for aging eyes (mine, too!). It also insures that if one does hit CTRL and the minus sign to shrink site width, one can still read it. Plus, the new width makes for shorter main content pages (the news page will always be a scroller) and allows the use of significantly larger photos.

And to be honest, I haven't heard of too many folks who print out reviews to read them. Then the best solution would be a PDF-formatted delivery like Tone Audio do. For now I'm afraid that where you're concerned, I'm committed to the new thing. Apologies if that doesn't really serve you.
Srajan
Hey Srajan,
love the new look but what's up with the narrow reviews?
Jonathan Meyer

I'm awaiting revised javascripts for banner rotation in the new layout before I can start to format our reviews in the wider size. This also requires larger photos so previews started in the old format will still publish in it. Once the new script has arrived and been perfected for actual use, I'll begin to publish reviews in the new wider format. It'll be a gradual rather than sudden transition however.
Srajan
Hello Srajan,
Here’s to the new look! Overall, it’s easier on these old eyes, involves less scrolling and presents larger images on the ‘News Room’ page. Quite nice. One can see everything at a glance and negotiating content is much faster. Is this the author's version of a new and improved circuit board? I can only imagine what kind of amp or speaker you’d design :-)
All the best,
Tim Patchett

A crap amp and an even crappier speaker is what. I'd best stick to what I know - but I'm glad you agree it's a nice improvement -:)
Srajan
Hey Srajan,
I wanted to just drop you a note to let you know (A) I found your piece about the state of affairs as concerns reviewing/ads/etc to be good reading and hope that the new approach is bearing fruit and (B), to let you know that I really like the new look of the site. There’s a sense of positive abundance about it and a good vibe, to boot - high coolness factor. Congrats!
Chris Sommovigo
Hello Srajan,
Just read your review of the Aurender ms and had a good cackle at the wifi undertone! As a parent who has pulled my children (7+10yr) from school this year as the school swapped over to "paperless" - I feel more than a little isolated when pointing out the errors of the radiation trend to a phone-absorbed population! When a typical classroom is measured (25 children), it reads higher than the base of a cell tower! btw, where the Aurender kit is made ranks as number 1 for internet/wifi use. A place to avoid :-)

Please keep reporting on the wifi madness, perhaps even measure kit for RF leakage, certainly a point as upsampling and digital seems to be the norm now. If it is a stated parameter there will be no option but to consider proper shielding in a design. Keep the makers on their game!!
Take care,
Graz


Hello Graz,
like you I feel a bit like a voice in the wilderness when it comes to this topic. But I'll certainly remain vocal about it since I'm very sensitive to its effects which keep reminding me just how troublesome this entire trend has become. It's precisely what led to the subsequent aria ms assignment whose manufacturer appreciated my concerns and went the extra mile to custom configure a review sample to run with a wired remote control solution.
Srajan
Hi Srajan,
I really enjoy your thorough reviews which are probably the most informative there is. I would appreciate your insight on what move I should do to improve my system. I have a Wadia 781i, an Esoteric A-100 and a pair of Verity Audio Parsifal (first generation) with Nordost Valhalla cables. I listen mostly to rock music (CD and SACD) at low to moderate volume in my dedicated 13 x 20 room. I have been appreciating this system for many years but I have the itch to try something new. My hopes would be to increase the dynamics in the bass and add more “air” around the instruments.
What do you think?
Sincerely,
Gaetan

Good timing. On one of your two wish list items, I do have a very solid idea. I had Matthieu Latour and Philippe the HD DAC's chief architect from Nagra over yesterday. We listened together to the Elac 4pi Plus.2 omni ribbon super tweeters I just reviewed since I had them set up and they were both curious about these Teutonic mushrooms. Matthieu initially was a bit skeptical about the raw concept of adding a super tweeter to a modern ceramic tweeter which by itself already extends higher than we can hear... but both of them agreed that it improved the sound in noticeable ways. Philippe had brought a St. Matthews Passion recording he traditionally uses for tests as it is a very challenging recording. It was gratifying to have two very keen listeners confirm the efficacy of this device. It's in the currently active review gallery. Take a look to learn what it does, specifically.

To increase bass dynamics usually requires bigger or more woofers to move more air. A subwoofer would be a logical avenue to pursue but with speakers like yours which in your room should act full-range already, proper integration would be very challenging. You'd probably not want any assist above 30Hz or so, hence require a massively steep low-pass on the sub. From experience I can say that a standard 4th-order filter even at 10Hz leaks far too much to be useful in such an application. You'd need a sub that uses a DSP crossover and allows the programming of far steeper filters. Then that'd be something to pursue. I believe that the new soundkaos isobarically loaded subs with outboard amplification and built-in miniDSP module could suit and allow for exactly that. Inquire with Martin Gateley through his website. Those would be my two ideas which keep what you have (which is of very high quality) but add some assist at the very edges of the audible range. Of the two, the Elac strikes me as a no-brainer with no integration issues. Sub integration with your speakers would be more challenging.
Cheers.
Srajan
Wow, I just saw the site changes. Looks much much more impressive. I like it!
Sasa Cokic
Hello Marja,
Really enjoyed your review on these Polish Sounddeco speakers! Don't recall any mention in review or on their website about  availability in the USA? Would you have any thoughts on this after speaking with key company figures? Thanking you in advance, 
Steve

PS: I enjoyed the photos in your article, it looks like you have not one,but three different systems to choose from, two of which are horn-base. Lucky you! Any thoughts on new Avantgarde Zero1 active hornspeakers?

Hi Steve,
we forwarded your mail to Greg in Poland. He will get back to you. You’re right, we are in the lucky position to have three systems ready for use in one room. In fact, there is a fourth one as well with the planar Podiumsound speakers but that system needs rewiring to fire it up.We are still waiting for a promised pair of Zero’s for review…
/M&H
Dear Sir,
I have been following your reviews on the Vibex devices with much interest. I note that you likened the combination of the Granada + Alhambra to salt and sugar and its effect on one's system to depend very much on where the system's existing sonic balance lies. May I know then if in your opinion, the Granada + Alhambra taken together is in anyway similar to the Vibex Three 11rR as I note that the 11R works on both AC and DC filtering. Thank you very much for your time and attention to my query. And thanks for the excellent work on your reviews!
Kind Regards
Andrew

Since I own the Three 11R, I feel confident saying that the G/A combo is demonstrably superior. Just the Granada alone is more effective than the Three 11R. That was unexpected but a sign that the designer hasn't rested on his laurels and really advanced his craft.
Srajan
Dear Srajan,
I have very much enjoyed reading your headphone-related reviews. I wanted to recommend that you try putting Mr. Speakers' Alpha Pads on the Beyerdynamic T1. With them on, the T1 sounds more similar to the LCD-2 and makes for a really engaging listen.
http://mrspeakers.com/product/alpha-pads-genuine-lamb-leather/
Best wishes,
Haidar

Interesting. I replaced ear pads on two HifiMans with those that come stock with the HF-560. That made a nice difference. And I've always said that Dan Clark's pads are the most comfortable I've come across. Didn't know that they'll fit the T1 though. Cool top, thank you!
Srajan

The alpha pads transformed my T1. Before they were lacking in (sub) bass but now they are full and rich and far less sibilant. I think it will change your opinion of the T1. It certainly did mine. Also, they fit fine.
Haidar
Hello Stephæn,
My name is Lalle and I live way up in the mountains in the north of Sweden. Abisko is the name of the village I've lived in since 1981. Check it out on the Internet! For some years I've read many reviews on amps, CD players, loudspeakers, cables... and now on the Black Pearls phono stage. Thank you! It's an amazing review. Almost more like a very good novel. The way it's written, the words, the feeling in it, the realizations... everything. To me it's very good literature. Makes me just want to grab the telephone and phone this Greek guy to order one. I've known about Black Pearl for some time and was really waiting for this review to come. In 1-4 years I will probably update my whole music equipment. What I have now is from the early 1990s. I'm waiting for the reviews on their pre and power amplifiers that I hope you will review some time in September/October this year. But if they get words like this, the way I feel today, I will probably really think about getting a whole Black Pearls system. I'm far from an audiophile. I just love sounds. Maybe in a special way. And from what I've read, it seems that Black Pearls deliver it.
Thank you once again.
Lalle

Lalle,
Thank you for the very kind words. I did look up Abisko and the latest census shows you are among only 85 inhabitants. I have no doubt that you love sounds in a special way. Since your location is 195km north of the Arctic Circle, I also suspect you know a thing or two about natural beauty, especially when it comes to viewing the aurora borealis. And I'd imagine a great sound system would come in handy during the nights of the midnight sun!
æ
A good friend has the Job 225 and is getting the Boenicke W5se for a secondary system (must be nice, huh). I’m looking forward to the pairing and am curious about the sound. I suspect it will be to my liking. Right now, I’m going Vega to EAR 868 to J2 to Strada2. Very much a warm lit-from-within sorta presentation although most wouldn’t ever suspect that as the outcome. Very good dynamics in a nearfield setup.

Sonically, I think my tastes might be maturing. I used to be all about lightning-quick transients, now it’s all about a meaty energized presentation. Meaty and energized rarely go together. And there’s the rub. That’s what I find interesting about the Job/Boenicke combo. You’re the only reviewer who does the unlikely pairings and mixes and matches things wildly. Thanks for that. I find it much more fun to discover an unlikely pairing than to only mate reference-level gear. Too bad Crayon doesn’t offer the amp section of their integrated in an amp-only configuration.
Best,
Joe Eagleeye

Therein lies the rub indeed. We're fully agreed -:)
Srajan
Hi Srajan,
I saw on your site that you're gonna review the Chiara. When I was at the Munich High-End show, I heard them and was very impressed. The Kawero Classic was very special but so is their price. I read your review about the Zu Audio Submission subwoofer and can tell that you loved it. It made me look into its small brother the Undertone (space-wise it makes more sense for me) but I still haven't decided whether I should add a subwoofer to a stand-mounted speaker or go for a floorstander.

Are you going to review the Chiara together with the Submission?  It will be very interesting to see how well they are integrated together and maybe also will be an alternative to more expensive floorstanders like the Kawero Classic? Do you have an estimate when you will get the review pair?
Cheers,
Guy

For most, the Undertone indeed is more sensible - half the size, half the price and the same driver and electronics. I personally lean to monitor + sub over floorstander if the monitor is bass-extended enough to only require <40Hz fill. I tend to get the most linear performance from that. I also find it far more cost-effective. The last 20 cycles are the most expensive to get from a passive speaker. But then they're fixed, not adjustable. And yes, I will try the Chiara with the Zu. It may not need it however. Or, the 4th-order low-pass of the Zu may not be steep enough even at 10Hz and bleed through where it's not needed. We'll see. I'm not certain on ETA. It'll be in person because Kaiser have another delivery and setup to a Swiss dealer. August tends to be vacation month in Europe so I'd expect we're looking at September.
Srajan
Hi,
it has been many years that I've read your reviews and I thank you for all the work you have put in over all this time. You are an absolute reference for hifi. I am writing because I live on an island where there are no hifi stores and where it is difficult to get components to evaluate. I'd like to know what you think of my system and what you would recommend to improve it. My system is composed of the Ayon Audio CD3sx which I also use as pre; a Burmester 956Mk2 amp; and Raidho C1.1 speakers all wired with Cableless Cruiser. The system sounds very good and every day gets better. The CD player has only 80 hours on it and the more I use it, the better it sounds.

What I can do to improve without losing the good already accomplished? Replace the Burmester amplifier with an Ayon? I particularly like the sound of Ayon. It is very open and lively. Or better, add a dedicated preamplifier first? The one in the CD3 is good but a Polaris 3 is something out of this world although so is the price. Maybe I could buy a smaller Ayon model? I've only tried the Polaris and don't know if the smaller model is worth it. The Raidho speakers sound really good but they are difficult to drive and I don't know if a tube amp will get the best of them. So if I were to upgrade the speakers, would you recommend staying with Raidho and maybe go with the C2.1 or D2; or to try something else? I've heard good things about Ayon speakers. They should be easy to drive but I've never had the occasion to listen to them. I've listen to Ayon with the Martin Logan Montis and they sounded very good.
I thank you in advance for your consideration.
Kind regards,
Thomas

You're a very sick man, Thomas. I say this as a fellow addict. You've only got 80 hours on your CD player and already you worry about the next upgrade. You love your speakers yet are ready to change them for another brand. And like all addicts, you haven't diagnosed your condition. Before you can improve anything, you must determine what is wrong. No diagnosis, no cure. I appreciate that your island location limits you but given that you describe your system as sounding very good and getting better every day, it seems you've done very well for yourself. Don't you think that perhaps you should take a break from your upgrade addiction and just enjoy things as they are?

Of course telling an addict to stop is impossible. I understand that. I simply couldn't begin to assist you. Things aren't as you imagine them to be. Simply listing gear which you own doesn't tell anyone else what it will sound like in your room. If you had very specific items you didn't like; and very specific qualities you meant to keep; and some understanding what component was causing what... then you'd have the beginnings of a game plan. Personally I think a much better plan for now would be to live with your system as is for a few months to half a year to really get to know it before you even contemplate any changes -:)
Srajan

Thank you Srajan, for your reply to my letter. You are definitely right!
Greetings,
Thomas
Srajan,
Thanks for the excellent Munich show wrap. I attended the show as well and purchased a pair of Sven's amazing Boenicke W5 on the spot. By the time I had given Sven my details you had left the room so here I am asking for your advice.My goals is to build a high-quality desktop sound system around the W5. As source I was thinking of the Astell&Kern 120 where I would upload my HD music files and also use it as a streamer for Qobuz (not sure if I need to purchase A&K USB cradle to do that). Alternatively I could use my Mac as source with a Halide USB bridge I already own. Which DAC/amp solution would you recommend to drive the W5? My instincts would favour a one-box solution like the Gato 250 but keen t> hear your thoughts. I noted that you own a Red Wine modified A&K100. What's the benefit of the RW mod? Which 'travel-friendly' headphones would you recommend? And finally, should I go for the A&W a a source, which cable would you recommend to connect it to the DAC/amp?
Thank you
Vincenzo Picone

Travel-friendly headphones: Aedle VK-1 is what I own and use.
Travel-friendly hi-rez source that doubles as a desktop source: A&K 100MkII as USB or Toslink 'streamer'. All-in-one desktop amp/DAC/the works: April Music Aura Note Version 2 (even adds killer headphone output, tuner and CD player) is what I use -:)
Srajan

Srajan,
3 more questions for you:
• the April Aura Note 2 is not imported in the UK and the only models I can find are 120V. Is it possible/EASY to switch voltage?
• in your latest review of the Aptica I saw a pictures of your W5se on your desk. How are they supported/attached (would love to set mine up in the same way!)
• Following an extensive demo in Munich and your review, I am buying the Enigma M1 + Sopranino. Will the Devialet 250 which I own be a good match?
Vincenzo

Sieveking Sound in Germany distributes the Aura and will be able to help with a proper 230V unit. I ordered a pair of taller stands from Sven so the W5se would float above my glass table top for more room and a tidier setup. The Devialet should be brilliant on the M1 + Sopranino combo. Lovely choices you're making all around!
Srajan
Srajan,
I enjoy your reviews immensely. Based upon your opinions, I happily own a FirstWatt J2. I have been following the JOB Pre2 review with great interest and am curious about its exact voltage gain specifications, which remain unstated. Surely with the JOB 225 featuring a massive 35dB of gain, the Pre2 must be almost passive in order to make the duo useable. And if so, does this leave the Pre2 slightly down in jump factor as with other truly passive preamps (even the ones with 6dB on tap like Music First, Django etc)? Are you able to confirm? Appreciated.
Sincerely,
Tony Wainhouse

I don’t have the voltage gain spec. But that isn’t the relevant thing relative to the Job 225’s gain. The relevant thing is the PGA of the preamp which parses attenuation in 0.5dB steps rather than apply a log taper like conventional pots do. No matter how much gain a circuit has, if you offer attenuation down to full mute in 0.5dB steps, you’ll be able to match it to anything. My Esoteric C-03 can be set to zero gain. So can my Nagra. But zero gain doesn’t equal passive. You’ve still got active voltage rails; and buffered impedance-compensated outputs. That’s different from the true passives. So no, I don’t hear reduced jump factor with the Pre2. To me that argument is one of those audiophile theoretical ideas which doesn’t add up in reality -:)
Srajan

Srajan,
Many thanks for your prompt and thoughtful insights on this. I hear what you are saying when you make the point that a nil-gain preamp does not denote a passive preamp. And thanks for highlighting the JOB’s rather unique volume control system on the Pre2. I had completely overlooked this aspect. As I understand from your comments, the volume increments are so small that the Pre2 potentially makes preamp power amp gain mismatches, at least as far as sufficient usable volume control increments are concerned, a thing of the past. Interestingly, after reading about your many escapades with TVC preamps, I have recently inserted a Django preamp into my system of FirstWatt J2, Blumenstein Orca/Dungeness (active) and the results are simply breathtaking but also quite contradictory.

Firstly, with the Django and J2 in service, this is perhaps the finest sound I have ever achieved. However, when the music gets very heavy or complex, it is as if the J2 now runs out of steam. That is to say that during particularly demanding material, the J2 now appears to now have insufficient power to maintain the excellent dynamics heard in simpler music. The sound seems to harden and vocals sound a bit 'pinched' and shut in. If I didn’t know better, I would assume that this result was symptomatic of insufficient amplifier power to drive the 90dB loudspeakers with their solid 8-ohm impedance, single driver, no crossover and active subs during complex and demanding material. But this is not the case when my other two active preamps—one solid state and one tubed—are feeding the J2 in the exact same system. (Admittedly, the overall sound was less good than with the Django).

As you will know, the Django has a switch to introduce 6dB of gain but this does nothing to resolve the dynamics problem during heavy or complex music material. So as you have rightly identified, this problem is not a gain issue. As a cross reference, I recently stayed with the Django preamp and switched out the J2 in favour of my 150w/30dB gain Holfi Power 150 power amp, a wonderful, zero-feedback solid state amp from Denmark. With the big Dane providing the juice, the dynamic problems during complex or heavy material completely disappeared but the Holfi could not quite match the J2 for sheer articulation and realism during less demanding music. As a result, the J2 went straight back into duty. But the test proved to me that a Django-based system could indeed deliver full force dynamic, within the context of the right power amp/loudspeaker partnership.

So I simply cannot explain why the J2 drives my speakers perfectly well with an active preamp but not with a passive preamp?  All avenues suggest that this is a passive versus active preamp issue. Perhaps the ever-so-slight additional drive that an active preamp contributes gives the J2 a small but critical boost and just makes the difference in my system?  If so, the active JOB Pre2 could eliminate the current dynamics problem in my system?  I suspect that the Pre2 could potentially lose some of the precision and purity of the Django at the same time. I may have this wrong. Perhaps there is nothing wrong with the drive delivered via the Django in combination with the ultra-transparent J2?  Maybe the superior resolution of the combo is simply exposing the (typically) large amounts of compression that get applied to highly dynamic recordings?I simply don’t know. I guess that’s why we love this infinitely mind-bending hobby that we share? I’ll just keep listening. Hopefully this lot makes sense. I expect that you receive thousands of emails so thanks again for making yourself available to comment, Srajan. Appreciated.
Tony

The Django’s 6dB of gain are passive and generated with a step-up transformer function built into the attenuating transformers. So even then it’s not active regardless of voltage gain. The FirstWatt M2 generates its gain passively in the same fashion except more than 6dB. But that's an active circuit. With my Esoteric’s switchable gain (0, 12, 24dB), I have a quasi analogue ‘tone’ control. Zero gain sounds fastest and leanest, max gain sounds warmest and bassiest. That’s despite the fact that with max gain, the volume control setting obviously is way down whilst with zero gain it is far more open. 

On the amp/speaker interface, you’ve got current delivery and output impedance as factors which influence apparent drive and control over the speaker. And you’ve also got output impedance of a preamp as a factor on how well it will drive an amplifier. That’s where passives can fall below actives. And usually whilst producing more grip, bass and mass, actives give up transparency, speed, lucidity and micro detail compared to passives. So it tends to demand a well-chosen set of compromises between both approaches.

There’s an intermediate option of the ‘activated passive’. That’s how Wyred4Sound does it. Until unity gain they apply no gain so their device works like a passive. Above unity gain they kick in active gain. Once the volume control setting stops attenuating the source voltage, the device urns into a conventional active. But in passive mode you’ve still got active voltage rails, impedance-compensated outputs and such to not operate like a conventional passive on those counts. The mPre is a sub $1’000 piece that impressed me a lot when I reviewed it. No idea though how I’d feel about it compared to the Pre2 since I never heard them side by side.

The Job Pre2 is a wide bandwidth design like all of Goldmund’s stuff so it doesn’t suffer a time lag between low and high frequencies. This makes for a very articulate lit-up energetic precise sound. I’ll find out how much voltage gain it produces before I wrap the review. How it’d work versus the Django into your J2 and speakers I couldn’t predict of course. Thankfully the Pre2 isn’t too costly where, perhaps, it’s a gamble that you could justify either way? What I can nearly predict is simply that any active preamp in the sane money realm will subtract some of the transparency and openness of your TVC. You might have to prioritize based on what type of music you listen to most.
Srajan