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


Hi Srajan,
I realize you are likely in the thick of your move, so I am not sure if this is on your radar. I managed to snag the last of the Super Early bird Vita music servers last week for $699 and I think it has the potential to be a real gem, although it is always a gamble in this sort of situation. It will be replacing a Logitech Squeezebox Touch which seems to have become more problematic than its worth. I’m thinking the Vita may be a good match for the rave reviewed Chord Mojo, unless you can think of a better sounding, relatively inexpensive DAC than can play pretty much any hi-rez format. Value added, I can then also use the DAC for mobile applications. The USB output on the Vita is 2.0. I wonder if the Mojo uses this protocol? If not, the only downside would be that I could not play DSD 256 files since the Vita S/PDIF output only streams up to DSD 128. I suppose this is all academic musing since I have never even listened to a DSD file of any format and perhaps, like yourself, I may find it underwhelming. I am also not certain if the Mojo can be used while charging. (I have cc’d Edgar Kramer as well so perhaps he may have some insight into the suitability of the Mojo for the Vita). I did consider picking up the Native Wave as well but I feel like this is already a gamble. Perhaps you’ll end up reviewing it and I’ll regret my hesitation upon you findings!

On another note, I have been following your website for so long now, I feel like I’m part of the family, hahaha. You helped me build a very nice core system consisting of Zu Druid MkIV and Melody 2A3 amp which I’ve used for 8 years now with rare itches for upgraditis (except when I look at pictures of the Boenicke speakers! lust…). Instead, I have been tweaking it with tube rolling, cable changes and supports and the odd modification. Lately, I have added the Taket Batpure super tweeters (CDN $80 shipped!) that Marja and Henk were impressed with and I am a little shocked by its effficay with the Druid. My initial thoughts are that it seems to lure the Druid out of the shadows and create a more saturated and focused midrange as well as a more voluptuous soundstage. Overall, I would say this positively highlights the Druid’s tendency towards a 'live' sound. I unhooked them for a few days to do some cleaning and was surprised by the loss of life in the music. I look forward to doing some more on/off comparisons of these remarkable little drivers. Now, if I could just afford one of those Zu Submission subs.

Anyways, I hope your move goes well and I look forward to further dispatches from the Emerald Isle!
Kind regards,
James Hulsebosch

In effect, USB 2.0 just means better than 24/96 (and drivers for Windows). I've not personally heard the Mojo but would trust Edgar's assessment implicitly. Unless he specifically said USB 1.0, I'd assume that the Mojo does 2.0 no sweat. For money and size, that seems the DAC to beat. I'd gotten a note by the Vita people requesting news coverage but since we don't do crowd-funded items, not published it. So now you will be my inside man to report back how this project shakes out. And yes, a good super tweeter can have unsuspected benefits that mess just a bit with the head. With the pennies TakeT charge, theirs is a good entry into the genre. Happy to hear it works so well on the Druids.

We've landed last Friday and are 90% unpacked. Another week and we'll be fully up and back to business as usual. Though with the views, I'd hardly count it 'as usual'. Haven't made any sound yet but later this week I'll flip the switch and see what needs doing...
Cheers,
Srajan
Maybe even the electricity will be more green in Ireland too? The air will be more damp, the house made of different materials. Will be interesting to hear how it all 'sounds' once your metabolism settles after the changes. Savour it all! I plan to follow your example but deciding 'where?' is tricky, mainly because current house meets many requirements already.
Chris Skelton
Well, Srajan, I stand corrected. I sent you an email expressing my concern about the Job INTegrated being "on par" as you said, with the Metrum Hex, passive preamp, Job 225 and those "damn expensive"  interconnects between them. I finally pulled the trigger on an INT, burned it in for a whil, and have been enjoying the hell out of it ever since. To be honest, when the evaluation began, I tried listening for inferiority vs the separates. However, track after track I was left shaking my head in disbelief. The INT leaves me wanting nothing. Thank you.
Luka Kostrencic

You made a good choice. Thank yourself -:)
Srajan
Srajan,
You have reviewed many famous and expensive cables. Any reason for keeping a complete loom of Zu Event now?  Is expensive cable another myth? Or simply does the extra money not justify the improvements? I have the top models from Stealth, Kubala Sosan and Sablon. Really curious about your view on high-end cables.
Thanks,
Yu Bai

I wouldn't call expensive cables a myth per se. Some can be very good but so can their cost be truly heart stopping. Considering that I need multiple 6-metres runs, 6-metre long power cords, despise thick unflexible snakes that airlift lighter gear and can't justify expense out of all proportion with the actual ingredients... the Zu Event has emerged as my go-to loom. Other cables may have been a bit better here or there but overall, I've never been disappointed going back to the Zu. Since I own a complete loom with all the lengths I need, it's never occurred to me to replace it all with something new. And I don't need cables which colour the sound according to some designer's notion on "more beautiful". From that perspective, yes, a lot of expensive cables can be a myth in that their delta of better often is mostly different or, if better, smaller than I consider reasonable. Finally, I have no use for monstrously big connectors, chrome-plated cylinders, cable power supplies, embroidered silk sleeves and the rest of it. Cables as status symbol aren't my thing.
Srajan
Steve,
I was pleased to see your review. I purchased Sunil's NY Audio Show demo Bastanis Mandala Solos and have been working to dial them in. Sunil, btw, is a great guy with a tremendous work ethic! I happen to use a Border patrol amp.  Not a SET like you reviewed before; rather a P21 EXD push/pull. I like the pairing with a quad set of EML 300B even though I understand that the P21 might not be able to get the best from the Bastanis; and the Mandala might not be the best at showing the amp's full prowess. I tried Dayton 1000s and a pair of Bel Canto class D amps and settled on BenchMark AHB2s in bridged mono for the subwoofers.  A DEQX HDP-5 serves as a crossover and does room correction duties. I have to agree: in my limited experience, the speakers do some amazing things. It has been quite a paradigm shift for me, having moved my Merlin Black Magic VSMs into my downstairs solid-state system. I am using metal spikes under the speakers now and may try other types of footers at Robert's suggestion. I am also experimenting with items between the subwoofer cabinet and upper portion, the current favorites being Agora Acoustics Magic Hexa feet. Have you experimented in footers at either location? Another tweak I am trying out on the speakers are RSP901EXs from SPEC.  It's too soon to tell their true abilities, but they show promise.
Best regards,
Dave Derrick
Btw, recently a famous Chinese audio reviewer compared the Aqua La Scala MKII, Chord Dave and Prism 8XR converters. He clearly chose the Aqua as the best :-) 
Yu Bai
Hi Srajan,
Last November I strongly considered buying a Mandala kit. By the way, I live in northern California. Mr. Bastanis has two representatives in North America. One in Canada and one in New York. Both are very distant and one across a border. For that reason they would not be able to offer me any auditions or setup service. And without that, all their involvement did was increase the cost by nearly 100%. After some extended back and forth with Mr. Bastanis by email explaining to him that for me, his North American reps were pretty much worthless, he agreed to sell to me directly. Mind you, I still needed to find a local cabinet builder, source my preferred materials and figure out a way to power the 'sub' and configure it in the system. The cabinet making and materials I was able to do without too much trouble, although I won't count the time devoted, even though time spent does have a monetary value. I did this mainly because I felt the 'dealers' did nothing more than take a middleman cut, raising my out-of-pocket cost significantly, while my choice to take time to do the legwork myself was voluntary and 'free'.

I undertook this purely based on reviews of Bastanis speakers(particularly on 6moons). Unfortunately there was simply no way to audition them in California. I was seeking an open baffle design that successfully dealt with the standard known OB issue, and was of sufficiently high efficiency to work with low-power SET. To me that was a key element of the benefit of open baffle. Remember, all this without an actual in-person audition. I felt enough trust in the reviews (and reviewers) that I could make this leap of faith and it would work out as hoped. Whether the Mandala would set up well in my 4m x 6m room and appeal to me and work well with the other components I already owned was a big question that could only be answered by actually doing all this and paying the cost and finding out after fully making both the time and money investment.

Bastanis are fairly unique as far as I know. Most widebanders are 6 to 8-inch drivers in backloaded horns. Who makes a high efficiency flat response 12" widebander in an open baffle with a dipole super tweeter with a crossover consisting of a single capacitor? And then creates a sub design to complete the bass but leaves the particulars of that undone? It was the powering and configuring of the sub that undid me. If one is seeking the purity of a SET and no power-sucking crossover and real music bass as this design attempts to do, then one does not want class D plate amps or very expensive solid-state power amps or active digital crossovers or have to try to figure it out anyway. Attempting to do this was an exercise in frustration at nearly every step. The dealer markups were ridiculous, adding zero value, the suitable options to achieve the overall goal of compelling OB bass that blended perfectly with the other 90% of the musical spectrum was extremely difficult to figure out as a music loving end user without a team of experts on hand.

All Mr. Bastanis needs is to get a solid class AB plate amp (not class D) with simple controls (to dial it in situ) and sufficient power as so many other high-efficiency designers have built into their full-range designs. The need is not for dealers building the kits for you. All that does is increase the cost and take away the kit option. The need is for a complete kit. To read that he is seeking to take away direct sales in favour of a very small number of mandated middleman dealers is enormously frustrating as it essentially doubles the cost of the same performance quality for those who can build or have built the cabinet/baffles themselves.
Best Regards,
Ned Hoey

I would fully agree on the need for a complete approach and/or kit. Voxativ have a high-efficiency powered subwoofer, so do Rethm. Apparently that's coming from Bastanis too, either by way of a vetted recommendation or by branding their own bass amp/xover. Your bass frustration mirrors that of our reviewer and explains why his writeup was as delayed as it was. He did, however, end up with a workable combination he found to sound very good. It's all back to an unusual approach which, presently, hovers somewhere between DIY and small specialty dealer network. As you see, our next emailer Fareed made pretty much exactly the same point.
Srajan

I did read the letter from Ned Hoey in reference to his experience with a New York dealer (me at Beauty Of Sound) and the Canadian dealer that we are "worthless". He must not understand the nature of distributorship and the need for a certain percentage of markup to cover expenses such as show costs, import duties, taxes and shipping costs. He never heard a demo of the speakers and all I did was give him hours of service over the phone. I feel this letter is damaging to my business and I would like it if you would remove it. Thank you for this consideration.
Bill Demars
Beauty Of Sound

We don't delete letters as this would equate to censure. However, your view point is expressed as well now by having been added. I consider his opinion valid given that he lives in California whereas you do business out of New York -:)
Srajan
Hey Srajan,
strange detours those were, by your contributor Steve, to get the bass to work properly on the Bastanis. I would have thought such a situation would categorically preclude an award? I felt that the product was incomplete. It was left up to your man to make it work. Isn't that well outside common protocol?
Fareed

Bastanis are different. They're essentially kit speakers. As Steve reported, later this year the current dealer/distributor network is required to have their own wood shop solutions. This will offer a turnkey product including a properly vetted bass amp/crossover. Given Steve's breadth of experience across four Bastanis models, I'm perfectly comfortable with his decision to single out the Mandala for an award. It's the results which count. In this case, his accounting should save fellow travelers a lot of detours until the official Bastanis bass amp/xover recommendation emerges. When it comes to awards, it's the writer who actually heard the product who gets to say so. If I didn't trust my writers with that decision, I wouldn't have them on staff. It would have been strange to withhold an award until Bastanis issue a formal sub amp recommendation which we already know is coming. Steve ended up with a combination whose performance impressed him as much as he described. And... I agree with you that this was an unusual scenario. Preferably we'd have come in after everything was fully finalized from the manufacturer's side.
Srajan