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


Hi Srajan,
How are you? Have you ever heard the Pass Labs Aleph 0 or Aleph 2 mono amps? Their specs look amazing on paper but since they are old designs of Mr. Pass, I wonder if they would hold their own in terms of transparency and resolution compared to good amps of the current day. What do you think about these amps?
Regards
Pani

Hello Pani:
Never heard them. When those amps came out, I was still in audio retail then sales & marketing and had a very modest personal system. Those amps and others like them were way out of reach for me then and I never had opportunity to cross their paths.
Srajan
I have been listening to the TOTL Forza cable on my LCD2 for a month, then went back to the stock cable and had a shock. The recordings sounded broken! So I paid up for the Forza. It transforms the LCD2 into something really magical  (probably does the same for all Audeze, which for me do not have great differences in sound).  
Giannis Bouc
Hello,
A quick question: what are the accessoires you put on several power amps?
Regards,
Ce Bauer

Those are mass dampers plus RF traps from the Spanish Artesania Audio company which makes my Exoteryc equipment rack. Six of them are part of any shipment of a double-wide three-tier rack. That's how I got them. But they are available separately as well. For a cheap DIY version of a mass damper, put some steel shot in a big ziploc bag.
Srajan
Dear Srajan,
I now have a pair of Voxativ Ampeggios at home. Your analogy with Turner paintings is - luminous.
Cheers,
Johan-Frédérik Hel Guedj

Congratulations. That's my favourite Voxativ model!
Srajan
Hello Srajan:
Did you really say it? Not really. I read Wojciech's review of the Wow Audio Labs components where he makes reference to your earlier review. He says that their casings reminded you of Boulder. That seemed very strange. So naturally I read your review as well. You mention Jeff Rowland for the finish, not Boulder. And Avalon for the enclosure facets. Don't you just love it when people misquote you?
Tom

It happens. I recall John Atkinson repeatedly wishing that people would actually read before commenting on their reviews when so often, comments make it clear that people didn't read (or at least, not very well). But c'est la vie. Writers write. What readers chose to do with our product—skim it, skip larger swaths, only read the conclusion, speed read to get the general gist, pour over every word—isn't up to us. Hence what they get out of it isn't up to us either. With a professional colleague one might expect better but we all make mistakes. I'm lucky in that our readers often point out ours so I get to fix them before they grow too old -:)
Srajan
Hello Srajan,
I’ve been on a long hunt for interesting preamps that aren’t too hard on the wallet. I’d like to collect three or four and change them out to add different tastes to my system. So far I’ve gotten one of the better ones from Hegel and now I just ordered this one: http://www.transcendentsound.com/Transcendent/Masterpiece.html It’s quite new, it’s different, it’s cheap so I thought I'd let you know.
Best
Walter Staehli

I was aware of Bruce's various Grounded Grid models but not of this one. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. And, have fun putting together your preamp spice rack. That thinking falls right in line with my own. Instead of spending all one's money on one super-posh component (whatever that means according to a personal budget), break it down into smaller bits and allocate those to multiple examples in the same category. It's the best way to learn; and it forestalls the inevitable boredom with sameness no matter how brilliant its level. As human beings, we get bored by lack of variety. Why keep selling and buying and selling and buying when there's clearly no end to it. Why not buy cheaper stuff you can afford to keep; and by keeping it, have more flavours to pursue that keep things interesting. Good man!
Srajan
Hi Srajan:
Being interested in the latest Metrum DAC, I'd found the first Pavane review through their Facebook page. Now I found your preview of it. I must say that I learned far more from you about how it works and on NOS DACs in general than from the entire René van Es review. What gives? No matter, you're surely one hard-working bloke. Keep it up!
Chris Nathing

What gives is, I think, a different focus. Each publication has its own. Such a focus includes product mix, narrative style and even word count. With a clearly communicated focus (or one established by simple consistency), an audience understands what to expect. Now they can flock to one publication because of it or avoid it because the focus/style doesn't match their own. With our tag line being "for music lovers and audiophiles who love to read", our focus has been clear since day one. Extra information is always available. In most cases, it just means a question or two to the designer. One simply must want to know to go beyond the basics. But it does make for longer reading. And some publications prefer a tighter more condensed style with less tech talk, figuring the latter can be chased down by those who really want to know. With today's search engines, that's a valid assumption to make. That's the beauty of variety, choice and competition. We all get to map out our own approach and the reader has more options because of it.
Srajan
Hello Srajan,
Thanks for your thorough review of the Cygnus open-baffle (well, the subwoofer is OB) speakers.  It is encouraging that 1) your always thorough reviews judge with the ear and an open inquisitive mind, sans some of the typical biases of old-school reviewers and 2) you have knowingly or unknowingly given greater exposure on several occasions to one of the great legendary audio minds, Siegfried Linkwitz. Just off the top of my head, in addition to the Cygnus, I recall you have reviewed the Bastani OB speaker and the Emerald Physic OB speaker, and I'm sure others.  Linkwitz' pioneering efforts and research first gave us the Linkwitz-Riley passive crossover network many years ago. Interestingly he has all but abandoned passive crossovers as "a waste of time..." if accuracy is the goal http://linkwitzlab.com/crossovers.htm.  

Linkwitz has nearly single-handedly advanced the knowledge base and scientific validation for the benefits of pistonic dipoles specifically, and dipoles generally. In the last 10-15 years his analysis, measurement and designs of so-called open-baffle (OB) or dipole loudspeakers has benefited many designers, the DIY community and advanced the state of the art in OB/dipole design, whether or not he receives credit. His measurement and analysis illustrating the ability of a dipole to effectively deal with room acoustics, enclosure resonance and uniform power response at all frequencies documents scientifically what most people hear when they listen to a dipole - an accurate natural sound. Linkwitz is quick to point out that an OB design does so many things fundamentally more correctly than a sealed or ported enclosure that it is difficult to design a bad sounding OB/dipole speaker. High output levels of deep bass in OB does become somewhat more of a challenge to the designer but Linkwitz designs have helped to effectively, if not inexpensively, address this. The reward of jumping through that design hoop is increased bass articulation as you verified in the Cygnus review. Magnepans, Quads, Soundlabs and other full-range dipole/OB, though not the pistonic variety of which Linkwitz is a proponent, are additional examples of dipole/OB attributes.

Linkwitz's life's work contradicts some of the errant yet foundational beliefs of large segments of the (flat-earthers) audiophile community. At over 77 years old, he appears to be in a hurry to openly share his research so that his findings do not perish with him. He has stated just this point. His site LinkwitzLab.com is a wealth of information and true education, free of antiquated voodoo, audiophile myth and legend. The entire contents of his site are available for a charge for those who would like for further research and education. Though he was head of research at Hewlett Packard for many years, he attempts to make his research as accessible as possible for those not necessarily mathematically inclined. One 'correction' to the Cygnus review. The Cygnus principal says his subwoofer is an iteration of the Linkwitz 'H' frame. It is not. It is a Linkwitz 'W' frame. I believe you included the example below in one of your previous reviews, showing both the W and H frames.

As always, an admirer of your writing and analytic skills. Keep up the good work. 
Best,
Ed
Have you ever seen a review of a Bakoon AMP-12R & the EQA-12R together? I can’t find anything about the Satri circuit but the company blurbs.
Steve Ericson

I haven’t, no. But seeing how I don’t do vinyl, I haven’t necessarily paid attention to it either. As far as the Satri circuit goes, my coarse impression is that it's essentially a high-gain op-amp executed fully discrete. And yes, details on it are sketchy for the obvious reasons. It's a very small company with a few decades worth of R&D and IP to protect. Plus I doubt that the average reviewer looking at the circuit could reverse-engineer or understand it enough to add anything salient to the discussion. That's why there is no meaningful 3rd-party data on Satri.
Srajan
Hi Srajan,
I am your faithful reader for many years. If I say that I bought a Burson 160, then Conductor, then Stello U3 and Job 225, you know I am your audiophile follower.  I greatly appreciate your last article about transports. I wonder if you could think about the comparison of: your Apple, a Windows 8 machine with Jplay and the Auralic Aries. I trust your ears, even more than mine. I use Jplay (I believe it is better than JRiver20) but would love to hear whether you hear difference with Apple/Audirvana or Aries, a very interesting product that's a bit different than those servers and it does not cost as much.
Best regards,
Bob

Our household segregates church and state, OSX and Windows. I use a Win 64/7 machine for work and the iMac for music. The iMac isn't partitioned so I don't run Windows on it. And on my work machine I had Jplay but didn't like how it worked when I switched between Youtube, Qobuz, Spotify+ and other programs. And, I never really got on with the JRiver interface either. In short, I'm afraid that on this count, you will have to trust your own ears more than mine -:)
Srajan

Hi, thanks for the immediate response. There are plenty of Windows 8.1 machines around so I hope you can borrow one for comparison. I am afraid, forgetting my ears, that my system is not as transparent as yours. Plus, you have an enormous amount of gear that you could use for comparison. I like your articles as I was never disappointed by your guidance. I am looking forward to reading about your Hugo listening experience.
Bob

In the end it is still your ears which you must please and your system which must do the pleasing. I'm afraid to say, I'm not going to borrow a Windows 8.1 machine to conduct this particular comparison. If you're curious about it, you will have to do it yourself. Which will be the most meaningful exercise anyhow as no matter what somebody else may hear or claim, if you can't hear it—because of your ears or your system's lack of transparency—there's no good reason at all to worry about any of it! -:)
Srajan
I really enjoyed the MAC/CD appraisal. Still, this bona fide audiophile codger uses his unpopular Nagra CDC as a main source and keeps no end of Flac files on a USB pendrive, with a battery-run Mac Air, Audirvana and Audioquest Dragonfly plus an Audioquest Evergreen cable as a perfectly creditable secondary. Some thoughts on the theoretical nasties stemming from the iMac's power supply?
Best,
Michele from Rome

Given that PureMusic buffers all music in solid-state memory and literally spins down the hard drive—to awaken it, I get the 'wheel of death' and have to wait until the machine awakens from slumber mode—I'm not sure how much damage the SMPS can inflict. It might, indirectly, by dumping infrasonic noise into the power line and infecting other gear. But that's addressed with my Vibex power filter. I'm well aware of many theoretical reasons not to use computers as transports. But there's theory and then there's listening. Like other audiophiles, I go by what my ears tell me.

Here's a nice example of how theory is trumped by experience. Is battery drive plus super caps better than an RF-filtered highly regulated traditional supply? Surely it must be. Well, Chord no longer think so. They're on record saying that if they designed the Hugo TT now rather than last year, it'd not get the current batteries or super caps. That's because they've since learnt how to match that battery power supply performance another way. I applaud their engineer's fortitude to say so -:)

Back to using a computer as transport, I'm well aware that it puts me in the 'deaf reject' category. I'm a bad bad audiophile. But hey, if it saves me very serious dosh of having to go after some silly-priced audiophile server that still needs a computer to buy music and can only be operated with WiFi, I laugh a very loud final laugh all the way to the bank. And I've got a far bigger display to work with, too.
Srajan
Hi Srajan,
I enjoyed your review of the Aqua La Diva. My own findings of the computer vs. transport vs. server conversation (not as a reviewer, but as a biased and soul-less retailer) aren't entirely in line with you findings/perceptions, but I don't doubt the merit of your view. I'd always hoped for a clear cut, and exacting answer, but it turns out there are as many parameters involved in the choice, as one might make in the choice of an analog set up.  (table, drive mechanism, arm, cart, cable, controller, add some salt and pepper, onions and cheddar and you have an Analog omelet.) Like you, I've found certain standards (USB, S/PDIF, i2s, AES/EBU, Ethernet) sound better on certain combos. I've also found certain software to work better with certain combos, and tend to prefer those where a good software has been purpose written. I have my leanings to be sure but won't share them here because they won't apply to many readers systems and I would be giving poor counsel as a result.

The sub culture I've found for transports is simple. People who like to grab their discs from their shelf, and play them...they don't want to down load them all, they don't want to send them off to a service to have them downloaded, and they don't want a computer around when they listen to music. The largest chunk of our population was born when a 'computer', was someone who worked on an adding machine. I think it's great that there is a true high fidelity option for those folks, or anyone who feels similarly, regardless of their birthday. It's not quite like spinning a record but it can be darned close. (and you can skip that one song you don't like on the album from your listening chair.)
All the best,
Fred Crane

I'm familiar with many of the arguments against computer transports of course, hence I've dipped toes into the server waters from time to time. As any audiophile does, I use my ears (and then my wallet) if and when something becomes a must have. So far I remain committed to the iMac - which isn't to say that I might not come across something better next month. But with my allergy against WiFi, it would have to solve the GUI issue in a novel wired way which thus far has proven elusive.
Srajan
Dear Srajan,
I bought a Class D Amp (Gato 250). I listened to it intensely for several weeks. Then I sold it. Besides a impressive listening experience, something else happened. I found myself more and more running around the room whilst listening to the music. After some days, I felt like my nervous system was overwrought and I had Ohrensausen. I switched back to my old Yamaha amp. I was able to sit in my chair and enjoy music again. I read—not totally understood—a review that mentioned the problem of pulse-width modulation (PWM), a carrier frequency above the audio band. I wonder if this is the context of my "nervous breakdown". Because I like the Class D Concept (energy efficient, affordable) and would like to give it a second try, I like to ask: should I give a different Class D Concept (NCore, ICE?) a try; or should I better skip the idea of purchasing a Peachtree or Wyred4Sound?
Thanks a lot for your thoughts and insights.
Kind regards,
Alexander

Very fair question but impossible to answer with certainty. I happen to hate WiFi. It makes me feel tense, "under bombardment" and plain yucky. Most people I know handle it just fine. A few months ago a friend and I listened to his Berning Siegfried 300B amplifier which also uses an RF-style carrier frequency to modulate the impedance. A third person in the room (and manufacturer of a competing 300B amp) claimed he couldn't listen to it without instant headaches. He begged us to turn it off. We weren't sure whether he was kidding or manipulating the comparison. In hindsight, I wondered whether he simply was hyper sensitive to said carrier wave frequency like I feel WiFi.

Electro smog is a phenomenon only marginally being acknowledged. I remember when I first moved from a 21" to a 27" iMac. There was so much radiation coming off its screen; and I was sitting within 2 meters from it whilst listening; that I thought I'd not be able to keep it. Only after installing some mysterious devices a friend of ours sells under the Tachyon brand did my sensitivity to that radiation diminish sufficiently to no longer veto that bigger iMac.

I've also had good results with so-called Schumann resonance devices. I believe sensitivity to electro smog is very real but until there's a bigger body of scientific work investigating it, our sort is on its own acknowledging it and making the relevant adjustments. I can't predict that another class D amp wouldn't put you on edge too. Nor can I predict that the 'voodoo' devices we use would work for you. All I can say is, trust your body and make your own well being more important than having scientific explanations or writing off your reactions as imaginary. Imaginary my ass!
Srajan
Shipping woes. I very much enjoyed your feature on shipping. in 1970, I  taped an amplifier to my torso under a bulky sweater whilst traveling from Istanbul to the US. I should have just paid for the customs and shipping. Trust me.
Frederic Crane

Some of the things we run into on this count beggar belief. So it was overdue to cover some basics and save ourselves and some of the other guys certain easily avoidable issues.
Srajan
Hi Srajan, 
the iFi Micro iDSD is so insanely great  that I feel your Hugo review will not be quite 100% if u do not compare them ...  just my 2 cents ...  
Giannis Bouc

My plan is to compare the TT against the standard Hugo since that's a key 'concern' for fence sitters who find the TT's price far too high vis-à-vis the Hugo which has gotten sterling reviews. Then I'll frame the TT against DACs I own (COS Engineering D1, AURALiC Vega, Metrum Hex) and against directly competing 3-in-1s like my Eximus DP1 to chime in on the headfi function. The iFi however isn't in the crib or on a review list...
Srajan
Hello! I have enjoyed your articles for years. Thanks for all the thought and effort you put into them - and for your helpful direct comparisons with other components, which are so often lacking in audio reviews. I have Avantgarde Uno Nano speakers and want to get a solid-state amplifier for them. I recently borrowed a Pass Labs XA30.5 from a friend and was knocked out by its performance. However, I'd like to see if I can find a cheaper FirstWatt amplifier (my big money is spent on tube amps) that is very similar. I need very little power so I'm thinking that one of the FW amps might give me similar dynamics, bass and detail for less cost. Which FW amp would you say is most similar to the XA30.5?Thank you very much!
Arthur Ball

I've never heard the XA30.5 but I reviewed and then bought the XA30.8. If the two X amps are similar, the review of the .8 does include comparisons with the FirstWatt F6 and SIT1. You might reference that review in our archives to get an idea on how these two brands compare sonically. The FW aesthetic is different. They're not just less powerful Pass Labs versions.
Srajan
Thank you for years of excellent writing. If you actually receive this through your spam filter, I'm proud to say I send out almost no fan mail. Your contribution to my audio pursuits warrants this effort because when someone does you a solid, you just have to try to make it be known that you noticed. You're a damn good writer writing about something very difficult to understand. Tough job well done!
Thank you.
John D Gerndt
Hi Srajan,
Some months back I contacted you about the suspicious nature of the Hypex marketing with continual deferment of your review due to manufacturing problems. Well, I have been able to do some interesting comparisons. I have run for the last 6 months a Pascal S Pro (Gato 250) module. The amp is very very good, like a Bakoon 12R on steroids. Must be run in balanced mode only, it's far better. The next test was Anaview's new module. This was good but nowhere near as open as the Pascal and a bit dry. Next came the NAD with the new nCore version. This was similar to the Anaview but a little more open. Next was the DIY version of the nCore. This came closer to the Pascal but did not better it. Finally the Mola Mola. That was the winner. It had the openness of the Pascal but added amazing grip over the speakers. When putting it into the system, my Trenner&Friedl Ra never sounded as good. Sounds like your new Pass Labs 30 watter in your comparisons. The amps run extremely hot (also the DIY version) but the local distributor said that the new cases were now vented. It looks like in the end, if you want the best, you have to pay for it. The Mola Mola are $15'000. One wonders how the other versions of the similar kitted amps compare. In the end, I am extremely happy with my S Pro Pascal. When run in balanced mode, it is a bargain. Always love your reviews. Keep up the good work.
B.
Dear Srajan,
I trust that you are well – and I love what "you’ve done" with 6moons, policy wise and on interaction and the reading experience.
Michael Hollesen, Klutz Design
Just saw your additional page for the GigaWatt review. Good thing you revisited the subject then. And as you wrote below, you'll benefit too going forward.
Jerry Haskins

Quite so. Adam knew his stuff and identified an improper combination of his own gear. And having determined that even on my usual Vibex conditioner there was a subtler but audible degradation with the PF-2 in the chain, I've now removed and replaced it with my new Zu power cables. So making that mistake netted a useful insight.
Srajan
On that R2R speaker, it's $50'000 and they use MDF?
Charly Beagrie

Dear Charly,
Thanks a lot for your question. During the development of this system we've made a good number of enclosures with many different materials. The comparative analysis of obtained measurements and test results as well as results of subjective examination and audition have shown that special MDF with high density is one of the best materials for this particular system. Many other materials and finishes are available for you for the same price.
Regards,
Artur 
PS. Sound first!
"...freshly minted Vegatarian?" Made me wince/grin!  :-)
Noel Prellwitz

That was the idea. I've been trying to connect poncified and Ponzi scheme and work it into a narrative but thus far failed miserably. Still working on it though. Where there is a will, there is a whammy -:)
Srajan

Hmmm...
Poncified - blown out, adding a few pounds, bloated, overdressed
Ponzi - fraud based upon payout of investor capital rather than profits There is certainly a lot of bloat in high-end audio but not a lot of Ponzi type fraud. The Internet has greatly helped consumers keep manufacturers somewhat transparent and honest. You may need to expand your narrative to whammy those two together.
Noel
Srajan:
What happened to the SVS Prime review?
Chris

Our writer already had the loaners and put in significant time to take them through their paces but then SVS and their PR firm opted to recall them and cancel the assignment. What I can tell you is that he was impressed by what he heard and felt they were punching above their weight.
Srajan
Hello Srajan,
I was just about to fire off a peppery question on what happened to the GigaWatt review. Then I saw it back in the preview area. Kudos for holding your conclusion and experimenting more given the manufacturer's suggestions. I really enjoy the transparency with which you operate your site. I always feel that the spirit of exploration and curiosity overrides any concerns over propriety. Good man!
Jerry Haskins

Making mistakes is one way we learn. The trouble with hifi is, unless there's obvious distortion or a dead channel, mistakes aren't necessarily obvious. Adam Schubert's comments opened up an opportunity to check out something I'd not considered. And if he's right, I'll benefit too since I'll then change this part of my setup. Talk about a win/win. Finally, being online affords us the flexibility to revisit things where needed and stick fixes or additions into the original page. It'd be silly not to exploit that option.
Srajan