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


Hello Srajan:
Interesting experiment by M&H, on class D, super tweeters and high-efficiency speakers. Kudos to them for being so adventurous and curious. I saw on the maker's forum that they're planning to release a 30V Maraschino version which they claim is especially suited for that type speaker. It's surprising that your writers have such good results with their nCore and now DAC monos. One would hope that turn-on noise can get sorted. Otherwise it seems to be an uncommonly unexpected but successful combination. I always learn something when I read you guys. That's what makes it so much fun!
Jürgen Holl

Quite. It's a testament to the ultra-low noise floor of these designs. They put out 10 x or more the power of single-ended triodes so often favoured in such applications yet are absolutely noise free (which rarely ever is the case for SET). M&H had an earlier "death by DC" incident on those widebanders. Because their Bruno Putzeys amps have a very clever error log in their firmware, they knew what had happened, except not which upstream component had caused it. After seeking advice from a variety of experts on how to categorically avoid the possibility of a future driver murder (those drivers being expensive to repair or replace), they opted for the Music First Audio passive magnetic preamp. That features multi-tapped gapped transformers for attenuators to become a DC blocker. With the Maraschinos being DC coupled like my Job 225, various FirstWatt and their nCores but being alone in exhibiting this turn-on pop, we can't explain it. The manufacturer is adamant that we're the only ones to have ever experienced this out of more than 100 Maraschino customers. He feels something is the matter on our ends. Perhaps. All we can say is that other DC-coupled amps in our possession turn on and off without even a peep. But again, you're spot on that the sonic success rewrites expectations. This would seem to offer an unusual alternative for owners of speakers which, on the face of it, would seem to need no more than 1 watt. We keep discovering new stuff all the time. As you said, that's what keeps it all good fun (and us on our toes -:)
Srajan
Srajan:
As a physician who has all too often struggled through his own 'self medicating' efforts at matching components, I wanted to address comments you made in your recent First Watt review. You described so accurately 'how a remedy can turn poisonous' with the attempts being 'haphazard' and, at best, only leading to 'partial' success. I could not agree more and only wish that I was as well informed much earlier on in my own personal journey of over 40 years. Having owned Audio Research, Pass, Lamm on the front end (among others lost to memory) I know now, in financial hindsight, that my efforts were indeed haphazard and fraught with a lack of cohesive listening skills. And this is exactly where your insight and criticism are so valuable and necessary. To that end I continue to enjoy your recommended pairing of a Crayon CFA 1.2 and Boenicke W5's. To use another term from the review, count this 'buffoon' happy. 
Rich Lavoie

It'd be nice if premium hardware combos weren't the stuff anecdotes are made of but scientifically predictive. Alas, having tried many 'shouldn't work' or at least, 'not well' pairings which worked very well indeed whilst more obvious ones didn't, I'm still in the dark as to how to reliably predict a good match. As you said, at least we're left with anecdotal stuff. One would hope for more but at least, that's better than nothing.
Srajan
Greetings Srajan,
I have been anxious to read M&H's review of the 60V Maraschino as a triangulation to your original 48V inspection. Incidentally I purchased my own 60V after reading your remarks such as "open sky treble" and "baby cherries do the air thing better". I was extremely interested to hear how Tommy's amps would stand up against the acknowledged heavyweights in the Class D sector. Mostly for my own satisfaction since I love my pair so much. The latest left me a little unclear and I was hoping a little clarification might be made. The review itself didn't really speak much to the sonic differences of the 3 brands as much as to the operation or functionality of Maraschino and the benefit of a super tweeter. Although the bandwidth information is interesting and one can extrapolate as you mention, phase stability in the upper reaches means purity in the accepted listening range, I don't feel readers got any better handle on the differences between Putzeys', Devialet and Maraschino's characteristics in general. Is one more detailed, is one stronger bass, is the subjective resolution better here or there? In the end, did the reviewers have a verdict on sonics?

Anyway, one such statement that left me pondering is as follows: "That recording already fantastic in the humble Redbook format gained in presence—that is the correct word here—when we compared the nCore reading to the Maraschino version. Remarkable to say the least!" Remarkable in what way?  nCore or Maraschino? I know there are never clear winners or losers, and that's not the point anyway. I have always appreciated that in your personal reviews there was always the previously mentioned triangulation efforts to help readers understand that they could expect certain differences more or less compared to A and B.

Any further insight would be wonderful. Thanks as always for your ongoing efforts! 
Steve Miller

Since I didn't write this review, I couldn't possibly add anything. Given that M&H don't own production nCore but an early OEM demonstrator pair, I think they weren't too keen about getting into comparisons there. They'd not be representative of actual Mola Mola Kaluga amps. Still, I got the clear sense that the Maraschino had slightly heavier low bass and more sparkle on top. Beyond that, it's well feasible that two class D amps designed for superior specs—that would apply to both Tommy's and Bruno's—would sound far more alike than not. Relative to their Devialet, I understood that the Maraschino didn't suffer dynamic compression on their ESL and had far more headroom. As to more specifics, you'd have to email Marja & Henk directly. I wasn't there to hear anything. I just published what they submitted.
Srajan

Hi Steve,
sorry we’ve not been clear enough for you. To start with your pondering question: it was our intention to express that with the Maraschino, the Redbook renderings gained in presence. That is compared to the nCore based amps which are our reference and we think the more neutral class D amp. The Devialet is a completely different cookie. It is a 1wpc class A amp with a class D turbo. Regarding the startup, we always use the source --> preamp --> power amps sequence with plenty of time for each piece of equipment to settle in. Still, the Maraschino is in our opinion too noisy with sensitive speakers. With speakers rated lower than 94dB, the pop is very well acceptable. 
Hope this clarifies things,
/M&H
Enthralling or entrancing if you will, that's the F7 review. This is the kind of stuff I want to read when considering how to spend my money. Specifically it tells me the F7 could be a leetle too wet on my Tannoys and Harbeths which are the perfect foil for the F5. Now about the layering. Doing the tube Mosfet thing (puleeze not fetty mosses), the F5 layers better than the Nagra 300p but the tubes still win out in sheer image density. It's only a phasey effect but I like it. Also, I put the F5 up against the Nagra MSA in my rig and the MSA won, exactly for the reasons you described when comparing the F7 to the Nagra 100 watter. Still, you can't buy everything, particularly when it costs almost eight times as much as the runner up.
Keep up the lord's work
Michele

PS: Actually, the MSA costs 4 times as much as the F5. Can't do math but I'm very good at counting pennies.
Dear Srajan,
Last year I read in your News Room about the Optoma NuForce STA 200 amp. This amp seems similar to the Job 225 but is cheaper and in my opinion looks better. Is there some hope to see testing/comparison in the near future? I am also curious about the mentioned Goldmund/NuForce collaboration where the STA 200 is concerned.
Thank you,
Benjamin

Nobody from Optoma NuForce has been in touch with us so until they do, hope merely does springeth eternal.
Srajan
Talking about beautiful objects in audio (Meze), which is the best looking audio item you have ever seen? Maybe the Yamamoto A06-3?    
Giannis Bouc

If one likes red, then the Yamamoto would indeed pack a real visual punch. I enjoyed the Kaiser Acoustics Chiara on its integral stand but that's a more polarizing affair. The Eversound Essence active desktop speakers are really slick to my eyes and certain B&O designs are absolute classics. Questyle's QP1R staring me at the face as I type this too gets high marks for industrial design. Best-looking of all? Blondie our cat when she's in deep purr mode.
Srajan
Srajan, thanks to you and Dawid for a fun and interesting joint F7 review. It gave us a great cross section of speaker and reviewer pairings! I have been a fan of Nelson Pass for some time, building a B-1 buffer and owning the F4 and the Aleph 30 (playing right now). I can't give up my Gallo 3.1 for their sound and looks. Given your knowledge of their load characteristics and the F7, do you think they would make a good pairing? Thanks again,
Ron Cagenello

Are you a gambling man, Ron? Kidding aside, seeing how well the F7 did into our German Physiks HRS-120 which combine a 'weird' driver on top with a sealed woofer, I'd have to suspect that yes, the F7 would do just fine. Your Gallos load their woofers into a very small canister and just how low that driver can be pushed seems to depend on how much of amp muscle precedes it. Here I couldn't predict whether the F7 would eclipse your Aleph 30. Given how the F7 did vs. our XA30.8 again on the HRS-120, there's a better than good chance the F7 would surprise you all around. But in the end—and as our lineup of F7 speakers showed—exactly what makes an F7 match ideal remains a bit of a mystery.
Srajan
I just familiarized myself with your final page for the F7 review. Quite a read, as usual. To sum up, we heard similar things, didn't we? Thanks for the teamwork opportunity, this was plain fun!
Dawid Grzyb

Yes, I'd say we heard very similar things indeed. And yes again, collaborating on an assignment wasn't just fun but also unusually useful for the readers I think -:)
Srajan
There you go! When reviewing headphones, one needs to know not only how they sound but how they fit. And, for some of us who are 50+, physiology comes into it. Men's ears get larger with age! Knowing that your (Srajan's) head is 7+5/8ths, your comment that the Meze are a bit 'on-ear' helps in valuing them. Love the craftsman concept but they do need to fit, be comfortable and sound reasonable!
Chris in Bristol
Srajan:
With all the talk on MQA, I'm surprised you haven't weighed in. Any good reason for that?
Holger Scharmacher

I don't know whether you'll consider it good but I certainly do have a very simple reason. I haven't had opportunity to compare MQA files with non-MQA equivalents to have any opinion based on experience. I've read the papers on the technology and appreciate the potential benefits. But until there's sufficient music to enjoy with it, we're back to SACD, DVD-A and any number of prior schemes. They all read promising at the time but didn't get sufficient traction in the marketplace. For now, I think the MQA coverage in certain quarters of the press is a bit premature. It's like Pono all over again. I won't get involved until I can review an MQA'd DAC and/or plug-in with MQA-coded files to sort out the benefits from a consumer perspective. And I do appreciate that for change to happen, one needs momentum where the press can play a vital role. I'm just not that interested to be a technology pusher/supporter based on paper arguments before I've had any personal exposure. Not having attended CES 2016, I've thus far had zero exposure so I'm keeping quiet and let others evangelize who've already heard actual music via MQA. I'm having visions of the whole silly "does it DSD or not" movement. People turn fashion items into must haves and suddenly become fence sitters who wait for the next big thing that may never happen whilst missing out what's here in the moment: cubits of 16/44 PCM music sounding perfectly lovely if treated properly.
Srajan
Hi Srajan, 
Thanks for clarifying Dawid's experience with the FirstWatt F7 amp for us dumb heads. Also nice to see you acknowledge the issue of matching amp to speaker load for best results. I'm very much looking forward to hear your impressions of F7 vs XA30.8.
Jeff

You’re welcome though I’m not sure why acknowledgement of the amp/speaker interface would come as any surprise. It’s very basic and very obvious.
Srajan

Yes very obvious but you'd be surprised how many people still judge an amp by how many watts it produces, as well as have no idea how little voltage swing they actually use. I'd say it's more than 90% of audiophiles including DIY people who should certainly know better but don't. It's still a black art to most. I have only recently discovered my own road to Nirvana after 10 years of DIY and 30 years as a consumer of audio equipment.
Jeff

Wherever possible, I try to rattle that particular fence but eventually, one just has to assume a base level of reader understanding or one repeats oneself ad nauseam. I’ve covered the "how many watts do you actually listen to" theme repeatedly. But it does require that people actually read that stuff, think it over and then do a simple experiment with an iPad-type SPL meter. That's how one qualifies how loud one listens to calculate what that means relative to distance losses, speaker sensitivity and amplifier power. And yes, this presupposes 'active' readers, i.e. those who process what they read, cross reference, then apply the information. It's not about mindless consumption. But it's an assumption I do make and very happily so. As I'm fond of saying, I trust in the intelligence of our readership implicitly. How we write and present ourselves is a deliberate filter in that regard. Writing to and for the very lowest common denominator is not our focus.
Srajan
Srajan,
could you update us occasionally on the great dedicated computer audio machine vs. plain old Mac debate? Think it's a fundamental topic. Also, great solid work on F7, Heco and Blackbird. Awaiting yours on Nelson's latest.
Michele

'fraid not. As a dedicated Mac-for-music man, I'd be entirely the wrong guy. I've tried a few so-called audiophile music servers and haven't really gotten the message that they're better. I keep using my iMac with 32GB of RAM and PureMusic.
Srajan
Dawid,
Thank you for your FirstWatt F7 review: you've conveyed very clearly to a novice like me what makes these amps special. I understand that the F7 requires highly-sensitive speakers and moderate sized rooms to shine.My listening room is 6.5x5m, sources are a PTP Lenco L75 turntable and Auralic Aries + Devialet 250 (which I can use as Dac/pre-amp with the F7). I listen mostly to jazz and classical, at medium-high volume. Main speakers are Lawrence Audio Double Bass (24Hz-40kHz, sensitivity of 89dB with an average impedance of 8 ohms and never going lower than 6.4 ohms) and Boenicke W5se. In your opinion, would the F7 work well in my setup?  Which integrated dac/preamp (€5-10K range) would pair best with the F7 should I move the Devialet to another room?
Vincenzo Picone

Dawid will chime in from his end. Having heard the Double Bass at shows and considering its driver complement, I predict that your Devialet will work much better on them. With the Boenicke meanwhile, you could well prefer the F7 for the reasons Dawid described vis-à-vis the NuForce monos which in this case stand in for your Devialet.
Srajan
Dear Srajan,
I was delighted to ready your review of Gato. I am a big fan of 6moons I think it is the best site for audio people. Only highfidelity.pl is close. As you can imagine I want to buy Gato Audio. Few people recommended it to me. I am using Harbeth M30.1 with Leben CS 300 and I think he is to weak. I was stunned that you prefer 250 not 400. I was listen to them I audio shop but is hard to say what it will be better. I hear that 400 is more sweet more buff, 250 is more open more icy with better imaging? But in shop is not easy to decide what is better. Can you help me and solve this problem what in long term will be better for me? Is harder then ever because this shop is giving me very similar pricing for the 250 and 400.
Warmest regards,
Janusz Mirowski

I described why I preferred the DIA 250. Your preference could well be the opposite. Seeing that your shop has both, why don't you listen to either and decide for yourself? It's far better to trust your own ears than those of a stranger who, in this instance, hasn't heard the Harbeth on either Gato.
Srajan
Srajan,
any updates on the Kii Three you were so excited about at the Munich show? It's gone a bit silent and I was curious whether you were anywhere near reviewing one?
Holger

At the Zürich show in the fall, I was informed that they were back-ordered until the 2nd quarter of 2016 (which could mean April to end of June). Since I wasn't on their list from the first production run, it won't happen anytime soon if it does at all, sorry. There is, however, a very comprehensive German review available that tells all.
Srajan
As a longtime now retired café owner, I was surprised to see a café pic on the mail page. Here's my input.

Yes, that's me, in a customary 'hawaiian' shirt. I used to tell people running a café (the Royce Rolls, wholefood/vegetarian, est. 1979) was merely an excuse to play my own choice of music all day via big old Heathkit speakers stuck on top of the fridges. Notice lots of gig posters at the front, too. The café was on space which in the 60s had been used as a 'dressing room' for gigs by Rod Stewart, the Stones, John Leee Hooker et al at the "Chinese Blues2 night here at the Corn Exchange, built in the 1700s.
Chris Skelton
Hi Srajan, 
Read page 4 of the Heco Direkt review. Very complete.  It says something I suppose that all of the speakers it's being compared to are 2 to 5 times the price. Good to know about the tweeter implementation. I wonder if the Vega would be better on that tweeter than a tube output dac. This is just me second guessing, no offense meant.  We're getting some great results with the Trafomatic Premise. We did make a few more changes. The output transformers now have a better EI core and put out a few more watts. It allows for a better top end and more control. Also, I asked Sasa to up the power of the headphone output (3 watts at 50 ohm triode), which is actually more powerful than his stand alone Ref 2. The price is the same. At CES, I had some time with the new Sennheiser Orpheus. Right after we get the world food and water everywhere, I think every man woman and child should have an Orpheus. I think when ours comes, it will have to stay on display as a public service. Spent most of my time at CES in the Aries Cerat room. Despite show conditions and a few choices that were made in the name of functionality rather than sound, it was superb.
Best regards,
Fred Crane

Our man in Cyprus has very good ears indeed. He's simply a bit uncompromising when it comes to optics and component sizing.
Srajan
Hello Srajan,
I read your Heco Direkt ongoing review with pleasure and attention. I naturally enjoyed the part about impedance. This is an area that reviewers and manufacturers sometimes prefer not to elaborate on, but one that is highly revealing on the behavior of a loudspeaker. It is correct that you can linearize impedance of the upper part of the response curve via an RC filter (called Zobel) that counteracts the effect of the voice coil inductance. At lower frequencies this is not the case, as the impedance presented to the amplifier is mostly dictated by the acoustical properties (resonance) of the enclosure, the energized air mass coupled to the membrane. Most amplifiers prefer a purely resistive load (flat impedance) but in real life, it does not happen. Impedance swings are like a trailer on the back of a car. If you always travel on level terrain at the same speed, it does not matter. But going downhill with a heavy trailer in tow can take you off road and at the same time, going uphill can significantly slow you down.

A loudspeaker is like a car going uphill and downhill at the same time but at different frequencies, sometimes in the same octave. If you factor in phase angle swings, like heavy crosswind, it may prove hard to drive! Perhaps it is why we sometimes speak of "hard to drive" speakers. In some cases, the designer would, as is the case with the Heco speaker, tune the enclosure in the middle of the saddle - yielding two benign peaks of similar amplitude on both sides of the tuning frequency. In other cases, the box would be tuned at a lower frequency, trying to extend low response with a design that creates a big impedance bump at higher frequencies... or do the other way and go for a higher tuning frequency, which limits low response but raises output in the power zone while pushing the impedance spike lower in frequency, below the frequencies actually reproduced by the speaker.

This is true as long as you simply feed T/S parameters in a simulator but there are other, perhaps more creative ways to deal with impedance and acoustic loading. Transmission lines and horns comes to mind where the impedance peaks are lower in amplitude and harmonically spaced and spread over 1 or 2 or 3 octaves. Or stuffing. Or both. Or with a double or triple cavity box. Or with a resistive (aperiodic) vent. All those possibilities became arcane in recent years, perhaps because they are hard or impossible to accurately model in a computer simulation. Whatever the case, it is always a design choice (whether educated or not) and commandable for a reviewer to raise the question of impedance because as you underlined, it affects the performance of the whole system.
Best regards from Montréal,
Robert Gaboury
Dear Srajan,
Best wishes for the New Year. I was wondering whether the Blackbird was going back to Russia post review or whether there was an option to purchase it and pick it up locally given I live nearby? Just asking on the off chance.
Best Regards
Gregory

That would depend on its designer Alexey Syomin. If he signs off and confirms receipt of funds, you absolutely could pick up this sample when I'm done with the review. It sounds like a win/win to me.
Srajan
Hi Srajan,
I'm highly interested in picking up the Job INT since I've passed on the 225 to my brother. I've all your articles on Goldmund and would like to know if you can answer a few questions. The innards between the Metis 7 and Job INT look identical to me from the photos I've seen right down to the DAC daughterboard. I don't consider the two blue caps to be of significance since photos from the HDA and Goldmund factory visit show they use those in Goldmund equipment as well. I'd like to know if you can confirm whether the Metis 7 is using the PCM5102A as well?  I see that the HDA is using a different DAC daughterboard based on the PCM1798 so I assume the DAC section is interchangeable/upgradable (internally to Goldmund) while the amp board is the same. I understand the HDA is using N5532A for the output stage and would be curious to know the opamps for the Metis/Job since it's not obvious from the photos. I'm also assuming the toroidal transformer is the same size between the Metis 7 and Job INT since they look exactly the same from the pics and power output ratings.
Best regards,
Adrian Leung

As my photo credit of the Metis 7 explained, it was taken by a dealer. I've not personally seen or inspected one to answer those questions, sorry.
Srajan
Srajan,
I hope in your review of the Heco Direkt you get a chance to pair it with the Job Integrated. That seems like it could be quite a tasty combo. Take the meatiness of an 11" driver and mate it to the resolving and fast Job. Yeehaw!
Best,
Joe

The Job INT has been reboxed awaiting its pickup a few days ago, sorry. No can do.
Srajan
Srajan,
following your passion for Revelation by the Khoury Project, I dipped into the music via youtube tonight and was totally immersed within seconds. Such subtle, sublime, complex, joyful music beautifully played by adept and masterful musicians. Thanks to your pointer, I’ll be seeking out this album hopefully as an LP, CD and hi-res download. Please, some more recommendations soon.
Kind Regards,
Peter Familari

Karim Baggili "Kali City", Vicente Amigo "Tierra", Miguel Poveda "Coplas del Amor", The Taksim Trio 1 & 2, Wolfgang Meyer "Boleros", The Secret Trio (Tamer Pinarbasi, Ismail Lumanowski & Ara Dinkjian) Soundscapes... that should get you going in the right direction.
Srajan
Happy new year, Srajan.
Long time fan, this is from your Job INTegrated review: "It's a modern highly resolved fast wide-open perhaps slightly cool and crisp sound. With properly endowed speakers, soundstaging is nearly holographic. With the wrong speakers or ancillaries, things can get too lean, bright, cool and forward." So what kind of monitors would you suggest for them in the same price range? Also I'm sure everyone considering a similar setup will agonize over going with a nice DAC + active monitors. Any thought on how the sound signature will be different, comparing INTegrated + passive monitor vs. a DAC like Metrum Musette and a pair of active monitors?
Dadbeh Shaddel

Re: the first question, the sentence you picked paints the Job sound in a nutshell. Now all you need do is apply either the 'like+like=more like' or 'opposites attract' methods of system building to figure out what speakers to match. I'm no expert on $1'695/pr loudspeakers but it should be relatively straightforward to identify examples of the warm/fat and lean/fast schools to make the connection. Re: the second question, no idea. In general, and for the same price, the active monitor route has the potential for more linearity, adaptability and bandwidth since the designer controls the amps/drivers interface and deals in active not passive crossovers and possibly even room-correction/boundary DSP. Both questions are highly general and non-specific, hence my answers can only be likewise.
Srajan
Srajan,
Firstly happy new year. I've just read your recent review of the Job Integrated and Joel Chevassus's review of the Lumin M1 and am in a bit of a quandary as they both seem to be fine examples of integrated DAC/amplifier solutions, which is what i'm searching for. However it is really difficult to judge the relative strengths of each and how they apply sound wise in relation to my Harbeth M30s (not 30.1s). The Lumin has an advantage as it is a streamer and that is the basis of my current system configuration, however the Job sounds like it would mate beautifully with the Harbeths and exploit their best features. Both units cost near the same and seem to be of high value and with no local agencies for either an on-line purchase without hearing seems to be the only option. Can you or Joel compare the relative sound of each?
Glenn

Sadly we cannot. Neither has heard the other unit. That's the flip side of a rag-tag band of reviewers all over the globe. We don't daily commute to a shared office. For anything we don't review ourselves, we're no different than our readers. We read what our colleagues have to say but don't have personal experience. Sorry -:)
Srajan
Srajan,
Happy New Year! Thank you for the wonderful reviews you brought us in 2015. I see you have several headphone amp reviews coming up. Looking forward to reading them. Wishing you a happy 2016!
Yu Bai
Hi Srajan,
I heard this guitarist at Mezzrow in NY and people kept talking about him and his brother. A friend of mine, a long time tenor player, said Luigi who pays alto and tenor was rare in his ability, not a Bird clone but with that same freedom of technique. It will be interesting to see what more will come with such facility. They're deep into the jazz idiom thus far but I imagine other genres will get a piece of them. Look for Luigi and Pasquale Grasso: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hMsoMLS9gzA 
Cheers,
Fred
I just read the review of the Qualia physic S922.sdr with great interest. I have been using a Genesis Digital Lens (late 90s) for over 10 years. My reason was more pragmatic than esoteric. I wished to use a 5-disc CD carousel as source but the sound was unacceptable. The effect of the Digital Lens was profound; all the good things mentioned in the review. In addition, it contains numerous input/output formats rather than just XLR like the S922.The right kind of re-clocking truly brings digital one step closer to analog.
Jason
Srajan,
I found your wrap on Sasa's Trafomatic Belus amp review most interesting. Am I correct in seeing a minor critique, about his speakers being not mainstream enough and too different because he must voice to them? If that was your meaning, I would agree. Shouldn't every electronics designer have multiple pairs of speakers for such R&D, preferably examples that are all very different in design, specs and sound to insure a good match for a broad variety? It would only make sense, wouldn't it?
Holger Scharmacher

It was less of a critique—we're all limited/set by our speaker choices—and more of an observation and explanation. Correct, if all you have is a 100dB widebander with a whizzer cone and active bass system, one might wonder how an amp designed to complement that would work on a standard passive three-way of 90dB efficiency with ported loading. Knowing the Maarga because I reviewed them; and noting the amp's own voicing... I saw a very direct cause/effect connection. I figured that pointing it out would create one more data point for those familiar with the Rethm sound. I've been to Sasa's place to know that he's limited on raw space. Just so, it might be time for him to expand his speaker options for the reasons we just discussed. Though it wouldn't be a new transformer winding machine; half a ton of iron laminations; or other inventory parts or machines which he uses directly for his business; it would be a good investment for a circuit designer reaching out to a global audience with very broad speaker options. But that's just me. I wouldn't dream of telling Sasa how to run his business just as I reserve the right to run mine as I see fit -:)
Srajan

I have used DeVore Nines too as well as hard-drive vintage Revox Forum B  when I develope the Belus. Maarga in the end was mostly to make this amp dead quiet with noise and hum . Some things I can't hear over the Revox and Nines I can hear at a two meter distance with the Maarga.
Sasa Cokic

Interesting dialogue and it reminds me of the discussion with Sasa after my review of his 300B. I found the same sonic signature and attributed it to the same reason but it might just be that Sasa likes this looser warmer voicing. Considering that I like SET amps, a lot, it's like saying he is laying on the sauce a little thick. Which puzzles me a bit because when he made your EL84 monblocks, he went for a significantly different balance and seemed to love it. In a 300B SET that can be understandable (although not an obligation as I have found out with other brands like Ocellia or Triode Labs), but in a hybrid solid-state amp, it must be a deliberate choice. 
Frederic Beudot

I tend to agree. Of course like everyone else, Trafomatic have dealers who have come to rely on certain sonic expectations. If you're known and successful for one type sound, it makes no sense to upset the apple cart.
Srajan
Hi Srajan,
I must thank you for deep reader's delight. I think your S.A.Lab Blackbird descriptions (still unfinished) are not only an audio review but also a sort of good literature. Some thoughts on hifi such as you stated are close to me, too.
Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!
Yours
Artyom
Dear Srajan,
Appreciate your website, great to see that an alternative voice is available in high-end audio. I live in France just across the border from Geneva. Have vintage Thorens record player and a heavy silver pioneer amp from the seventies. Also in the kitchen, we use a vintage pioneer receiver from the seventies. In the living we have bipolar man-high Mirage M3si from the nineties, bought these second hand years ago. Have always liked the sound of the good quality Mirages from those days. Finding a good quality amp has been a challenge. First used Van Medevoort, but once we tested the smaller Simaudio, things fell in place. So enjoy music these days! It does not have to be high end, I also enjoy old equipment which I bought second hand. Still thinking about making a step forward once and a while, but expect at that moment to spend some severe cash.

Reading your website print, noticed combinations/sets are not often spoken about. Why not? Would love to see a recommendation per price class (speakers and amplification). What combination works for a budget of 2k, 5k, 10k, 20k or 30k? What speakers combine with Goldmund Job 225 or Pass XA30.8? Also noticed not that many dealers provide this kind of info. Chattelin in The Hague openly states Devialet 200 is a great combo with Magico S1, but that is basically it. Why not provide for a matrix with great working combinations?What is your thought about this, or is this something you try stay away from?
Enjoy NY, regards,
Albert-Jan van der Mei

Why do you think combinations/sets are not more spoken of? Could it be that reviewers tend to own one system, at most two? Could it be that they review one component at a time? Could it be that they have neither the money, space nor inclination to inventory lots of hardware to assemble various systems from which, unless set up and playing, just sit on the sidelines gathering dust and taking up space whilst their value declines from year to year? Really, to assemble systems from the ground up requires lots of boxes. That's the purview of dealers who tend to know very well what goes with what (obviously within the confines of the brands they have). That's before one asks what type of sound a customer might be after. That, after all, is the crux of the issue. With an assortment of kit, one could assemble a variety of 'good' systems but their appeal, from listener to listener, would vary widely. Anyone who believes in a cookie-cutter 'best of' approach attached to certain price tags per system is, at least in my mind, rather viewing this all far too simplistic. Sorry to disappoint.
Srajan
Dear Srajan,
I  have used two Primare 928 monoblocks for almost 30 years now and thought it would be a good idea to look for an integrated for my Harbeth Super 5HL. Listen to something new. Of course there is a lot out there but I have seen three amps which swim around in my mind: Spec RSA m3xa , you yourself wrote a critic, Jeff's Place likes it; the LFD Audio NCSE MkII which I understand is more or less the amp for the Harbeth but has never been reviewed in 6moons; or maybe the new Hegel H360. Have you ever heard the LFD? If yes, is this the amp for Harbeth? I write you because here in Lyon none of the above mentioned companies are represented. Thanks for your site which I always read with a lot of interest. I don't know many journalists who take the time to try out let's say an amplifier with several different loudspeakers!
Best regards,
Jørgen Skadhauge
Double bass player in the Opera de Lyon orchestra

I sadly have never yet heard an LFD amp either at a show or at home. That said, Jeff Day at Jeff's Place is an experienced Harbeth owner who should have useful opinions. Another one is Wojciech Pacula at highfidelity.pl who runs the big Harbeth as his reference speakers. I think either of them might have more specific feedback for you than I could.
Srajan
Not f7air. No offense to Dawid but you're the FirstWatt veteran. A second opinion from a rookie is nice but the first(watt) opinion should be yours. Damn, real hifi sure is fun.
Michele

No worries, I'll pen a full review as per usual. It's simply that Dawid being a FirstWatt/Pass Labs virgin will go first to remain unencumbered by my opinion. Whether I'll support or contradict his findings remains to be seen but it'll be a true 2-for-1, with the younger writer coming first to present the perspective of a true first encounter with a Nelson Pass creation. He's up against enough pre-existing stuff as it is. I want to see what he has to say entirely independent of what I might think. That'll be interesting for the readers as well.
Srajan
SE:
KIH #28 is outstanding. You should charge for this information. Keep up the good work.
Dan Ellis

None of it is any less or more than perfectly common sense. That going on 20 years in the business suggest that it's less common than it should be... that was the impetus for writing it. Call it laziness. Now I can point people at it rather than having to spend a few hours talking about it when newbie manufacturers come to visit and hit me with the same questions all over again. #29 will deal with dealing with reviewers and that shall complete that triptych -:)
Srajan
Hi Srajan,
Wishing you and Ivette a merry Christmas and happy New Year. from Vancouver Island. Still enjoy your site almost daily although I'm pretty much old school with no interest in music servers and streaming. Not much interest in the portable players either, and no interest in boom box music on my motorcycle like so many of the modern ones come equipped. I enjoy music in the atmosphere of my home listening room. And yes I enjoy my CD and the few SACD I have. Still enjoying my Avantgarde Duos, Wyetech Sapphire's, Bat 51se and Dan's modded Oppo. I'm in the process of building a new audio misc cabinet with CD shelving above. I've outgrown my existing one and have some new ideas for my aging eyes wanting to ditch the flashlight when searching for that particular CD as the upper valance puck lights no longer do the trick. New CD shelving will incorporate hidden (out of sight) LED strip lighting for every shelf...can hardly wait!

Always enjoy and look forward to all Nelson Pass related articles. There was a time when I was almost prepared to give a left ...let's say leg for one of his Threshold amps. A most interesting and talented person! I'm also amazed with all the headphone development and selection over the past year. Haven't owned a set of cans for some time, but the day may come again. Thanks again for the past year of the "best" Web audio read out there! And all the best in 2016.
Ed King 
Dear Mr. Ebaen,
thank you for all the hard work you do for us audiophiles around the world! Your texts are priceless for us who can't audition all that audio gear that's out there. I live in Croatia, and if you wonder why my email address is montreux@ - it's because I love Montreux and Switzerland very much. I was there for the Jazz festival 3 times and met many wonderful artists, including Claude Nobs and BB King, God bless them. In photos of your listening room, I see the view from your windows, so I know that you live in Montreux or somewhere near. I think you are one of the luckiest of persons, to live surrounded with such beauty, and I mean the landscape, the music and the best audio gear ever made. Every day I eagerly wait for your fully completed review of JOB INTegrated. I need it to decide what to buy: JOB INT, JOB 225 or Gato Audio DIA-250. I already read all you wrote about them. Here where I live, I can't try out anything,so I must rely on reviews - and I trust no one more than you. If you are willing and have a few minutes of your time, maybe you could help me to make a decision?
Best regards,
Mate Filipovic

Given exactly when the Job INTegrated arrived, I have one more assignment that precedes it before its time comes. This means that the review should publish 1st or 2nd week of January. I also had to put some time on it in a secondary system and haven't yet done serious comparative listening to have anything useful to share now.
Srajan
Srajan,
KIH #28 is possibly the best hifi related non-review piece I have read for ages. It's also something which needed to be said, read and implemented. You speak for a great many audiophiles in publishing this article.
Keep up the good work.
Best regards,
Brad McIntosh
Dear Sir,
I read your review of the FirstWatt F6 Mosfet, production sample. I heard the amp on the Internet with headphones. I am interested in this amp. I called the importer of Pass Labs in the Netherlands about availability. Nada, zero, zilch! So maybe somewhere in the future you may for whatever good reason you have, decide to sell this amp. Would you be so kind then to think of me!? You have a great site. When I am tired after a hard day's work I am still able to read you writings. Its a kinda clear refreshing style.
Yours sincerely,
Kees van Woerden

If you contact Reno Hifi in the US who trade in new and refurbished FirstWatt amplifiers, I'm sure you can secure your personal copy of a 240V F6 right now. As far as I know, the Pass Labs and FirstWatt distribution chains are run entirely separate.
Srajan
Hi Mr. Srajan,
under your advice I bought headphones Dharma D1000 and I must say that they are truly amazing, I only really have a small problem with my tube amp. It is that I feel a hum in the background. Also I possess a HiFiMan HE1000, but with this I do not hear any noise. I would like to ask you, I read that you have a lot of consideration for the amplifier April Music Aura Vita, in your opinion is it a good choice to match the Dharma D1000?
I am open to other recommendations, my dac is Bricasti M1, thanks for your time,
Salvatore Landolfi

As the review suggests, I like the Aura Vita very much as it is a 50wpc Mosfet speaker amplifier whose 6.3mm headfi port taps directly into the main outputs through a load resistor. It is far more powerful than required but for that reason my kind of default drive-anything headphone amp. It is really excellent on the D1000. Depending on your budget, other personal favourites are the Bakoon AMP-12R, the Goldmund Telos headphone amp and the Questyle CMA-800R.
Srajan
Hi Srajan,
I have to say the Cembalo Labs and Noble reviews are perfect. Perfect descriptions, and I loved the writer's POV. Congratulations to your new reviewer.
Fernando Furman

Hadi's dad's health is in a bad way; and Hadi is going through a major career change. Consequently, he may have to go silent for a while until things have stabilized in his personal life. But for now he will certainly enjoy your feedback
Srajan
Hi Srajan,
Thanks so much for the lovely review! Wow! You are the first person to call out how low the distortion on the bass is. You nailed that spot on. I think sometimes people think the phones are bass light because they don't hear the fuzz (truly) and aren't used to hearing the fundamental so clearly. Do you think that's so? 
Cheers,
Dan Clark, MrSpeakers™

Absolutely. When I was still in audio retail, we sold the early small-cube Sunfire subs - the ones that walked about the room due to the enormous internal pressures and asymmetrical force distribution. Those had easily 10% distortion but people liked how 'loud' they sounded. It's also common to clean up bass distortion when one applies proper resonance control such as engineered equipment racks or speaker decoupling. And the first thing people will say is that the bass sounds a lot cleaner but also more lightweight. Dirt = SPL perception. So yes, I would agree 100%.
Srajan
I'm one of those who plays the advocate for vinyl and its superiority, but of course Darko is right. To me, however, there is so much more than just, "What's better?" Of course I love music, always have. One of my earliest memories is of playing a record of some African Christmas music on a child's phonograph, I felt such a sense of joy and wonderment; I must have played it many many times. I'm still chasing that enchantment four decades later, and sometimes I even capture it. I love the thrill of listening to new music and knowing right away that it will become a part of my personal canon. But I also love sound; the physics of it, the miracle of hearing and perception, and the equipment used to capture it and play it back. In Chicago a while back I was just blown away by a great sound. A building was being taken down by a big ol' machine with a huge claw. This thing had a good muffler, or at least the engine noise wasn't obnoxious. It was breaking chunks of a great old wood floor from an exposed second story. The cracking noise of the majestic planks as they yielded to the inevitable force was just astounding. As an audiophile, it was fun to realize that no megabuck system could ever make such a noise. And it wasn't just because it was loud. I couldn't really say how loud it was but it was  more that it had some extreme vitality, or something...

I'm also a sucker for lights and dials and vacuum tubes and meters. Right now the tubes on my Modwright Oppo 105D are glowing a delicious orange while the amber meters on my Luxman L550-ax are keeping perfect time with the music. They look great and sure, I think the look of them makes the music sound better. I admit that I'm not objective. Listening to my stereo is all subjective; I'm not reviewing it, just enjoying it. That's why I know for sure which medium is by far superior to all others; it's always the one I'm listening to at the moment. My vinyl playback system has some real drawbacks compared to my digital front end. But I love the sound of it. Just appreciating the fabulous engineering that goes into the fact that a tiny electric generator tracing the shape of sound waves etched in a plastic disk adds to my enjoyment. And it's always so much fun to see what oddball LPs there are at garage sales and used record stores. Yet another way of enjoying this hobby of ours. It's not only about The Absolute Sound.

I'll throw this in for the fun of it. A little evidence that in some way, sometimes, vinyl has an edge over digital. At my bakery cafe below, I have a pretty good sound system (extremely good when compared to the crappy sound of most other stores and restaurants). Digital is usually Tidal through a decent DAC and vinyl is played on a highly modified Rega deck with the very nice Ortofon 2M Black cart and a pretty good phono stage. Customers, even when not knowing what the source is, comment on the music much more when I'm playing LPs. Yet one more way in which I enjoy this hobby: visiting 6moons. Thank you Srajan and your contributors for further enriching my life as an audiophile.
Regards,
Oran Rankin
Hi Srajan
I don't know if this goes too much against your writing style but a table of summarised results at the end of the review would be quite useful. I have a memory like a sieve when it comes to reading, I often have to read your reviews 3 or 4 times to be sure I understood you completely.
Jeff

Hello Jeff: A summary is a popular format, agreed. To my mind, it simply questions the need for anything preceding it. That's why my website is called "For music lovers and audiophiles who love to read". We don't write mini vignettes. Reading of the whole thing is required. We make the effort to write it, we want you to make the effort to read it. As such, repeating key points kinda implies that people didn't read them the first time, doesn't it? That's not an assumption I'm prepared to make. Also, I dislike formulaic writing. That's why I don't work for Big Corp. but do my own little thing. And, I'm fully aware that it doesn't please everyone. But then, pleasing everyone really isn't my aim…
Srajan

No problem. I understand that view point. I may have some questions for you in upcoming reviews.
Jeff

Sure, I'm always here to (try to) answer questions which the reviews themselves haven't covered already.
Srajan
Hi Srajan,
Thought you may like to see these links (for your amusement) our guys have sent over from the Polish show. Some TV coverage, and National news shots that Adam had arranged. He's a brilliant show organiser and we would quite like to poach him to organise one in the UK, but he's probably a little too busy! The media was all over, and so here we have Live Sat morning TV interviewing a Polish pop groover Smolek & Kev Fox (who outsell Justin Bieber - who?) in Poland. They debuted a new CD (I have a copy), through our system on Friday night to an audience of however many were crammed in. Then there's a radio DJ being interviewed on the OBX-RW Notts Analogue system who plays vinyl records once a week on telly. His own TV show - playing LPs on telly? Then a couple of TV news shots about the show. They had a turn out of 18'000 Adam said, which is up from last year, and they ran out of wrist bands by Sunday.
Best wishes,
Lynn Scott

TVP Panorama 18:00, TVP Pytanie Na Śniadanie 9:00-10:30 1 & 2, Polsat Wydarzenia 18:50

Agreed, Adam is a devilishly resourceful organizer. Turning Warsaw into Europe's #2 event really says something (not so favourable) about the guys in London, Milan, Paris, Oslo, Vienna and Zürich. Did you hear rumours that BMW wish to buy the MOC to tear it down? If so, bye-bye Munich HighEnd as we know it. And, congrats on the fabulous press coverage!
Srajan

Yes, I heard about the MOC. As far as I know, BMW already own the land that the MOC is built on and so it probably makes sense for them to knock it down. The exhibitions aren't running at full capacity and the venue is often under-utilized throughout the year. But it's a unique place, so unlike most other exhibition centres which are cavernous halls. We have one 40 minutes awa, but it's so huge, it wouldn't really work. Fine for Elton John concerts etc. Let's hope the Bavarian Motor Works have a change of heart! And yes, seeing hifi on British television is completely unheard of. The media attention at this show was about the equivalent of UK car shows where Bentleys and Aston Martins are unveiled. So ten out of ten to Adam! Mind you, he did tell us that for the past 3 months he's been going to bed at 3am and setting his alarm for 7am. Now that what's you call driven!
Lynn Scott
As a vinyl lover, I think John's piece is right on. Just like anything else in audio, a broadly sweeping opinion that one approach is better than another, that vinyl sounds better than digital, is simply wrong. First of all, no two listeners have the exact same expectations on what good music reproduction is. So how could one technology meet them all? John's experience, that it typically takes more money to get into high-quality vinyl playback than digital, matches mine. Fremer will disagree but the advancements over the past 5 years, in terms of lower cost USB Dacs, has really made that clear. One can get into some truly amazing lower-cost vinyl front ends. I am compiling one such review right now. But it is far more involving than just plugging a Mac into the latest Schiit DAC and running Audirvana Plus. Even when you have the gear, setup will make or break the end result. I don't even know why I review vinyl. When I finally have the system tuned, after weeks of adjustments, it's time to change it and start all over again. Something's wrong with me!

Or rather, as John points out, the experience, the involvement which vinyl requires, is an integral part of the enjoyment. Connect that right back to your industry feature piece on Soma. If you think vinyl playback comes easy, then jump directly to digital. If you don't want to agonize over all the possible parts permutations and upgrades, then invest countless hours optimizing setup, vinyl will not reveal its charms. If you involve yourself in the experience, it is amazing. One thing that I don't necessarily understand but have observed consistently over the years, is that vinyl front ends seem to integrate more easily into high-efficiency systems with tubes. My guess is that the less demanding bottom and top end put less stress on such systems but I am not even sure that's the real reason. A different distribution of distortion maybe which plays to high-efficiency systems' strengths? It is certainly not an absolute (I have heard amazing digital on high efficiency and amazing vinyl on more conventional speakers) but over the years, I have found high eff and vinyl to meld well more often than not. All this to say, from one vinyl lover to another, that I could not agree more with John. 
Frederic Beudot
Letter to the editor:
When his 'Bobness' wrote the lyrics ‘"Something is happening here but you don't know what it is, do you Mr Jones?",' he clearly did not have John Darko in mind. But John's latest biblical proclamation from the holy mount of Sydney can't pass without comment. John, love him or leave him, and I count myself an ardent fan of his loopy but always entertaining articles, basically doesn't get analogue and by extension - great sound. A mind set that abolishes all but expensive turntables to audio's scrap heap because they don't measure up sonically compared to digital is deluded at best, misleading at worst. Thankfully multitudes of younger aspiring audiophile-leaning music lovers are starting to see the warts in digital. Youngsters including my 26-year old and his friends, have put John's claims to the listening test and in their opinion, my opinion, have found much of digital to be found musically wanting in the company of even a modest turntable, arm and cartridge from a pedigree brand. These are kids familiar with the best digital gear on the market. What sets them apart from most newbies is a grounding in analogue history thanks to their parents.

John is entitled to nurture his opinion but he shouldn't attempt to pass it off as a fact researched by an authority on the subject. The more concerning question is: why did John arrive at this leaky conclusion? My best guess is, John has spent far too long worshipping at the altar of convenience when his time would have been better spent on sound quality. Of course some digital gear can sound very good. The Audio Reference CD7 C player in my room is quite musically pleasing. And PS Audio's current DACs are also very good. It all comes down to opinion but here's mine for what it's worth: take an entry level Project, Rega, Thorens or Music Hall turntable, equip one with a decent tone arm and budget cartridge and compare it to the best digital devices you can muster up. My guess is the digital number crunchers will have you thinking you're hearing an abundance of detail, sensing a cavernous image presented with decent tonal quality and dynamic range. Press ''play' on the budget turntable and within minutes the vinyl spinner exposes digital formats that are hollow at the core.
Cheers,
Peter Familari

Peter, I think the attitude leaking out from your letter and statements like "John basically doesn't get analogue and by extension, great sound" are precisely things his op-ed takes issue with. The man loves vinyl. He owns a turntable. He hunts down records all over the world. In fact, he describes the exact analog rig he listens to every day in detail. Are you finding fault with him preferring his digital setup? If I apply my marginal reading comprehension skills to what he actually wrote, it is that at the very entry level—the realm of the multitudes—modern digital now has a leg up over vinyl; and that it takes just a bit more money and setup skills with vinyl before it begins to dominate. At least that's what I got out of his piece. And it seems, so exactly did Frederic Beudot. Lastly, John Darko is part of our team just as you are. I would like to see more collegial respect then, not ill-disguised mockery of "biblical proclamation from the holy mount of Syndey" type stuff. Differences of opinion make the world go round. Judgmental attitude between colleagues just stinks. Incidentally, since I don't do vinyl at all, I must clearly belong to the species who don't get great sound. No worries, I'll live -:)
Srajan
Srajan,
Did you get a chance to try the microZOTL2.0 headphone amp from Linear Tube Audio? It is amazing! When paired with the HE1000, it simply kills the Schiit Ragnarok. I have never been interested in tube amps before. But after I tried a microZOTL2.0 at the New York Audio Show, I bought one home directly. Amazing amp!
Yu Bai

I have not. I've expressed desire to review the new ZOTL40, with Frederic on staff in standby for the ZOTL10, but the ball is now in their court on availability and interest. Given that the microZOTL2.0 is also supposed to make for an excellent preamp into these amps, it'd be only natural to report on that combo as well. But again, we can only raise our hands. Getting stuff shipped to us is entirely out of our hands.
Srajan
Interesting findings on the Ocellia cables. I actually am not a fan of his previous generation power cords which I find fuzzy. I have not heard the ones you tested and understand they are quite different. The best I have ever heard are actually Gary Koh's. Crazy expensive but I have yet to find an amp that does not benefit. Like you I use a mix of Ocellia cables, never a full loom even on my speakers with tubes. But, I do like his interconnects in a blend of cables. I love his speaker cables on the Ocellias but just could not afford them at the time -:)
Frederic

I'm suspecting that it may be less a question of silver vs. copper and more of a perhaps indiscriminate/excessive use of the crystal filler why the full-bore OCC approach gets a bit too extreme.
Srajan
Hello Srajan,
Hope you are both well and enjoying the Indian autumn in CH? Just saw your OCC update and thought I do a foot note. We recently exhibited at the HiFi-News show in Windsor with Scott and Isabel from CAD who provided the front end of the system with their server and DAC. After I heard the OCC cables at your digs this summer, I contacted Samuel and he made me up a set of 4-core fly leads for the Waves and also sent me the speaker cables, ICs and a few AC leads. We had done some listening tests prior to the show with some expensive Chord and Black Rhodium cables and all agreed that OCC came out on top. I had asked Samuel to do the tweeter legs with a smaller gauge wire as I had done a similar exercise with the various gauge cables that Caelin from Shunyata had sent me earlier. The extended bandwidth and lit-up top end really are out of this world, so much so that I have decided to offer the OCC option as an upgrade to the Waves. I am also looking forward to using the cable on the up'n'coming Liberation model which will have two Enviée drivers and a Raal dipole ribbon per side.
Regards,
Martin

Am pleased to hear our ears agree once again; and that on your speakers, this cable concept really sings!
Srajan
Hey Srajan:
Can't wait for the continuation of your Ether review. I've been trying to learn all there is about these headphones. Thanks for posting a photo of the V-Planar driver. Now it makes perfect sense. I read Tyll's Ether review on Innerfidelity but he didn't show that. He also didn't mention how its trace density contributes to the high efficiency. I've noted this before. I always learn something extra from reviews you guys post. It also was cool to follow the Orpheus link and watch Gizmodo's animated photos of tubes and controls moving out of the marble and that lid opening by itself. That is some crazy shit. Thanks for still making the effort after so many years.
Charles

You're welcome. I do nothing special. I just ask questions; and for photos on stuff I can't get at myself. That comes natural. I'm still an enthusiast. I'm just as curious as the next hifi nutter, about how things work and such. Half the time I simply don't get what I ask for -:)
Srajan
Hi Srajan,
I have been in talks with David Berning. He has very recently built a 300 class A p/p amp with no feedback which gives out 20 watts into 8 ohms. It's in the test stage. He thinks it's probably better than his Siegfried design was since the SE 300 ZOTL used chokes which limit the lower frequencies a bit. He can build this new amp with the 300, 2A3 or 45. 2A3 would give 10 watts, 45 about 5 watts. Since you are familiar with the Saadhana, do you feel the 45 may be the route since technically 5 watts should more than suffice? Also, I don't listen to large-scale orchestral music.
Please advise.
Regards
Premnath Rajagopalan

I know that if it were me, I'd fancy the 45 most out of those DHT and 5 watts with your powered bass system should be plenty.
Srajan

Ditto here. I think I will go for the 45s.
Thanks,
Prem

If that happens, do let me know how it works out for you. As the first user of this amp I know of, you'll have to spill all the beans -:)
Srajan
Hi Srajan,
Many months ago I gobbled up your 48V Maraschino review, and subsequently bought a pair. I chose the 60V versions which I strongly feel are going to impress even further in M&H's forthcoming inspection. I can't tell you how thrilled I have been with the Digital Amplifier Company products driving 101db speakers. Recently I contacted you regarding the use of passive attenuators to provide analog volume control in this context. Since, I have exhausted many well known, and some well reviewed actives and passives in this search. It's only now that I can say I finally found one that exploits all the strengths of the DAC Maraschino bandwidth, clarity, power, and ultra-low self noise. The Audio Zone Pre-T2 is a fully balanced TVC that finally provided me one of those revelatory experiences that we've all read about. You had previously sampled the T1 in single-ended guise. I must say the Pre-T2 balanced sounds better than I dreamed. Of course the source is the source, and it must be up to the task. For that I have been lucky enough to experience something special, in the DAC DAC (DigitalAmplifierCompany DAC). It's in prototype stage yet, see link. Tommy has come up with something amazing here and the DAC DAC paired with the Maraschino is truly great (think realsization). To my ears it's the depth, clarity, bandwidth, speed, and honesty those are the DAC DAC strengths. It was tough to find a pre that didn't round off the edges. However, Audio Zone Pre-T2 is what really brings the whole picture into focus. The TVC architecture is such a fresh air after resistive attenuation. So, instead of asking your advice this time, I would just like to say that this combo should be on everyone's playlist. Highly recommend that M&H try a quality balanced TVC if possible on the 60v Maraschino review. No other pre or passive I could find unleashed the life inside the Digital Amplifier Company gear like the Audio Zone balanced version. See the DAC DAC prototype and the Pre-T2.
Highest Regards,
Steve Miller

Great feedback, Steve, thanks a lot. As it turns out, M&H have a custom TVC from the UK which they own so that might become a likely mate for their review loaner Maraschinos.
Srajan
Hey Srajan:
I see you've got two Ethers on rotation. Could I ask that you please compare them to the HifiMan HE1000 and EngimAcoustics Dharma? I'm sure I'll be getting one of them, just want to narrow it down to one.
Andreas

That's the plan already. At 6moons, we believe in comparisons. Which ones a writer can make simply depend on what he's got access to at that moment. None of us are dealers with dealer-type inventories. But whatever I have on hand which makes sense for a comparison always is fair game...
Srajan
Damn it Srajan! Why'd you have to go and rave about the Questyle one week after I got the Astell & Kern Jr? FWIW, the AK Jr sounds great but has a crap operating system – slow and nowhere near as intuitive as an iPod. Also, it routinely screws up while scanning cards. Even if there is one song which it can't read, the whole library gets negated so you then have to hunt for a song by folder. And it doesn't even tell you which song is the problem. Anyway, keep up the good work.
Cheers from Pakistan!
Feisal Hussain Naqvi
PS: Could I please request you to cover more IEMs. You've always been in the forefront of covering headphones but IEMs are a lot more convenient for many of us.

Evil timing, I concur. Re: IEMs, Ken Ball is set to send me three different models from his new brand Campfire Audio. I'm in general not an IEM guy since I work out of a home office where I get to wear the most ridiculously large cans as long as they sound good. And, sticking something deep into my ears isn't really my idea of a good time. That said, I know that many rely on these things for their sound delivery so I promised myself I'd get with the program -:)
Srajan
Dear Srajan,
I've been reading your reviews for some time. From all the reviewers I follow, you, John Darko and Michael Fremer are clearly the ones with the most interesting writing style, interesting perspective and provide a view on where (literally) you perform the listening for the reviews. I'm writing you because I'm considering buying a Boenicke W5 (or W8) and I would like to ask your opinion. I currently run a  Devialet 120 and a pair of Dali Epicon 6 (~CHF9k). In theory I could be satisfied but I face 2 issues: 1i) my wife thinks the Dalis are too big; 2) I got too many reflection on my living room causing a overall booming/ lack of definition. My room is 9mx 7m with an open kitchen and with a lot of naked walls and a big window. I just sense that the Epicon's are just too big...

Due to my frustration I started to look for options and came across the W5 which I find very interesting. However due to the limited reviews online I have a some doubts that I'd ask you for help on: What is the main difference between the W5 and W8? From your reviews I find the W5 so "complete" that I cannot figure it out. By a price logic I should be considering the W8 to be similar to the Epicon 6 - but maybe they are too much for me (i.e., room, amp, etc). Are the W5 adequate for low/ medium volume level listening? Would the bass issue be reduced with the W's? Would the Vinnie Rossi's Lio be capable to drive the W5 or W8?  I understand the Lio would be a warmer companion that my Devialet.
Thank you in advance.
Regards from Morges (Switzerland)!
Duarte

You're right around the corner, aren't you? The obvious difference of the W8 is its woofer, making it a proper 3-way (well, 3.5 or 4-way depending on where that rear-firing tweeter comes in). You'll get more bass power and extension. Your room is a good size so from that perspective and in general, I'd expect the W8 to show off its advantage to good effect. In smaller rooms, the W5 would be all that's required. Whether the W8's room interaction will be any better than your Dali relative to boom and reflections is the unpredictable matter, however. That's where considering the W5 could be the smart play. You could always augment it with Sven's subwoofer for just a smidgen of LF assist if you felt it didn't deliver enough vis-à-vis what the Dali does for you now. Tell you what: why don't you borrow my W5se? I don't use it right now. Live with it for a week, then bring it back and either order one for yourself; or stick with what you've got. I could also let you hear the W5se with the LIO in our room which is a bit larger than yours. That'd tick off that question of yours.
Srajan
Hello Srajan,
Picked up the Curious USB. Had some stock USB, a Furutech and Purist to compare. With these I preferred the Purist as it gave some improvement in vocal (the downside was a slight suffocation in the highs and lows), but in all honesty I would have a hard time telling them apart unless it was tracks I know really well. So I was not expecting too much from the Curious and was even thinking I would try it out and most likely be sending it back and putting to bed the notion of spending 1000+ $ on a USB cable. With the LIO and Boenicke W5+ there is greater analog sound, decay, but the most shocking is the increase in depth. For me the improvement to cost ratio is through the roof. The only thing that comes close (not even tube rolling) is proper speaker placement, and this only because it is free.
All the best,
Joshua Jacobson

I'm still running mine in without having the speakers live so my day of reckoning is still to come. Sounds like it'll be a nice surprise -:)
Srajan
Srajan:
Your enthusiasm for the Questyle player came across loud and clear. Which has me wonder. Why no award? Did you not find it deserving because of the minor snafus? Curious minds wanna know -:)
Charles

I'm no expert on DAP, hence didn't feel properly positioned to decide on an award. For that I feel that one should know more about the competition than merely being able to rattle off their model names. One ought to know what a few of those units actually sound like. That's not me, hence no award. But I certainly think it deserves one. I actually did quite a bit of upfront research before I went after this particular unit instead of, say an Astell&Kern, Calyx or HifiMan. For me, it ticked off all the right boxes on paper, then followed up in the flesh -:)
Srajan
Hi Srajan,
Firstly let me say I'm a big fan of 6moons and turn to your reviews for trusted evaluations. Informed, experienced, trustworthy opinion is very hard to find here in Tasmania, Australia. I'd really appreciate your advice on power conditioning. I'm convinced of the value of good power supply and currently run a dedicated circuit breaker and cable from the power box to an Isoclean wall outlet. Black Sands Violet Mk11 cables then power everything. A battery UPS (mains charges the internal batteries) then generates a pure sine wave into a Consonance power block (modded with star earth). My Rega CDP and Icon Audio amp have Hifi Tuning Supreme fuses. I keep coming back to the BPT conditioners, mainly because of your review, and am on the verge of ordering one. I need 6 outlets as I'll also run my entire entertainment system from it including LCD TV and DVD player. Is this your preferred manufacturer? Which model would you recommend and which mods and upgrades? Will I still need the UPS in the line? It offers good protection from my rural mains power, but I suspect it flattens the presentation somewhat. Thanks, I'd appreciate your input. Any suggestions and comments would be welcome.
Best regards,
Phil Johnson

First off, I'm lucky in that my location suffers no serious under/overvoltages or other AC issues so my power-line gear focuses on sonic improvements, not protection against catastrophic events or stabilizing the line voltage. In the past I've tried balanced power from BPT, fully passive stuff from Walker Audio, passive with some RFI/EMI filtration from Furutech & Co, active filtration from GigaWatt and regeneration from PS Audio (the original PowerPlant). What I ended up with is DC/AC filtration from Vibex as my absolute favourite of the bunch. But that's for my situation. I'm far from certain that I could make a blanket reco for someone else's. Kevin Scott of Living Voice/Definitive Audio in the UK for example runs his entire demonstration rig off battery power. His shop is in an industrial textile mill with industrial tenants and big equipment. Even he admits that, on Sunday when nobody is there, things still sound better directly off the utility power than via his massive battery stack. But come Monday when the other tenants are back running their huge solenoids, it's back to battery power or the sound turns to shit. This by way of reiterating that much of it has to do with what else hangs off your line at any given moment.

For me, isolation transformers ended up overdamping the sound. The Vibex stuff from Spain came highly recommended by Nagra whose techs use it for more precise readings of their test gear. For me, the dual DC filter they make is the most potent on all my gear, followed by the AC filter which plugs into the DC filter. That combo of Vibex Alhambra/Granada is what I plug everything into for the main system. To your question, I'm not sure whether BTP are still in business. Their old website certainly no longer works. But given your list of stuff you already use, it seems questionable that adding more would be beneficial. I'm sorry but this vague response is the best I can muster. I appreciate that Tasmania won't be the hotbed of audition opportunities but you've already got a dedicated circuit breaker, aftermarket AC outlet, custom power cords, battery-powered regenerator and aftermarket star-earthed power bar. I kinda think you've got that scenario handled front to back already and tied up with a bow.
Srajan
Dear Srajan:
I noticed your well-reasoned reply to John Laurel below and went back to your review of his product to check on the paragraph he objects to. Just my two cents but I thought you handled this just right. I didn't feel the review mention disparaged the company. After all, that model is discontinued by now. But had I seen the reader's original mail to you further down this page; and then the review without any mention made of it... I would have been suspicious of 'favorable treatment' toward the manufacturer. It's probably not easy to balance these two requirements but again, I thought you did it well.
Cheers,
Simon

Thank you, Simon. You're right. It can be a tricky balance to maintain, particularly when it concerns 3rd-party intel as something that didn't happen to the writer, personally. My issue is that once I'm exposed to something, whether I asked for it or not, I can't afterwards pretend that it didn't happen. Then one must use one's best judgment, bugger on and let the chips fall where they may. I neither want to jeopardize a maker's chances at selling product I had good experience with; nor exclude feedback from fellow users which may be contrary to my own.
Srajan
Hi Srajan,
I once more  take the risk of imposing myself upon you. I have been experimenting during the past weeks with a very unlikely amp set up: Copland CTA 395 tube preamp + a pair of relatively old Klimo Kent EL34 tube monos with 30somehing Wrms power which seem to drive nicely my Audio Physic Virgo 25s despite their average 89dB sensitivity, low impedance (4 nominal dipping down to 3) and their sid firing woofers which people tell me need powerful solid-state amps to control. Have you seen (or rather heard) something similar or am I evidently doing incomplete tests?
Grigoris Poulis

Trust your ears!
Srajan
Hello Srajan,
I've noticed that the review on the Magnus MA-260 is done and we would like to thank you for taking the time to review it. The only question that we have on the review is the complaint from Paul B. Fløholm. We don't think it is fair and appropriate to include his comment in the review as it has nothing to do with the MA-260 (he has the MA-300). Beside, there are always two sides to a story and we've already taken all necessary steps to resolve the issue. We'll be shipping him new replacement board sets at our cost as he requested. We would like to kindly ask you to revise this as we believe that it will cause a negative effect on our company. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.
Best regards,
John Laurel

Hello John:
I know that it wasn't about the MA-260. I didn't say it was. But it does show prior issues. That's information I can't pretend not to have heard. I never ask for these things but readers do write in. When they do, I can't overlook their feedback. I have responsibility to the manufacturers and our readers. I also know of two sides to stories. That's why I didn't render his email in full. Which was: "I see you are about to review an amp from Magnus Audio. I bought their MA-300 from them some time ago. It hummed from the very start, with the manufacturer claiming there was something wrong in my house. No other product has ever had that problem. The sound was good in height, fast and transparent but with lesser bass. It broke down a year ago. I then had it completely upgraded with MA-500 parts inside. It came back and was very promising for the first 2 hours. Then it got hot and broke down. Magnus Audio still haven't solved the problem or offered me any compensation. I struggle with respect to their competence. A local repair shop changed the broken parts including the transistors but it still overheats after some hours. Now they blame him. Now my amp is just stored in the back. I wonder whether I have to write it off. To summarize, a promising sound but lack of competence and quality should make people avoid this brand." At the time then, his issues hadn't been solved. It's very good to hear he'll be taken care of now. When customers feel that, they usually don't contact publishers to complain -:)
Srajan
Srajan:
In your latest piece on the Questyle DAP, what's the mouse on your desktop? I'm familiar with your rapoo keyboard but that mouse I've never seen before.
Jeremy

It's a Mad Catz R.A.T. 5. I've tried any number of gaming mice because those tend to be more precise when one does fine post-production work in Photoshop. This all-metal heavy gamer is my favourite. It's closely followed by the Logitech G502. Both are wired versions. Wireless for really fine control just doesn't work. Since I work on a PC for a living, I like to have good tools around, hence also a professional not consumer work station and a giant 30-inch screen. It's a thing my instructor during a wood shop apprenticeship drilled into me: "keep your workplace tidy and all your tools sharp". Indeed. It didn't help though that they mostly used me to sweep the shop and buy them beers so I didn't last long. But I was there long enough to assimilate the old guy's message about one's workplace -:)
Srajan
Hey Srajan,
just saw your note to Holger below. So no chance on the Amare despite them screwing you around a bit on the other thing?
Serge Richter

It comes down to personal pain threshold, Serge. Shit happens. That's part of this realm and being human. Not communicating is simply disrespectful of another professional man's time and schedule. Imagine the shoe on the other foot. Maker sends me gear, then hears nothing for 6 months and sees no review. Let's say my reason is eye surgery. I can't see, I can't work. That explains the delay. But it does not explain or justify not letting the maker know, to either request a loan extension; or to promptly return the product unreviewed with a sincere apology and explanation as to why. A lot of things can be managed if people communicate in a timely fashion. It's when they don't that my tolerance breaks down. There's so much product out there wanting to be reviewed, we never are equal to it. Now why tolerate the rare situation which is so plainly disrespectful? My position is, there's no need to tolerate it. And, I can appreciate your or Holger's disappointment if you both were so keen to learn more about this product from me. But it is what it is. Shit happens -:)
Srajan
Hi Srajan.
Love 6Moons, love your writing, love the underpinning of intelligence that informs your entire ezine. Possibly I'm a few years older than you. I know because I remember a speaker by Yamaha back in 1979 which employed a Beryllium dome midrange. NS1000? Black cabinets with a big silver dome and protective covering. You may have been a youngster at the time as evidenced by your comment in the Fostex speaker review, "Andrew Jones pioneered the use of Beryllium." Keep up the good work!
Ed Houk

PS: I was wrong. Apparently it was 1976! Here is a reprint of the 1976 Stereophile review of the Yamaha NS1000.

Oops. Well, this happens when one flunks history. I stand corrected -:)
Srajan
Just saw your news nugget about Berning's amps licensed to another biz, which is very cool news. My main amp is a Berning Siegfried, by the way. The 811-10 version, not the 300B. He made 8 of the 300B version before switching to the (now discontinued) 811-10. 18 of those were made before he stopped building them. It's the only SET OTL I know of. It's the most effortless 10 watts of triode glory I've ever heard. I've had it for about 10 years, just sent it back to David prior to moving to Japan to make sure it was top notch and would work on local voltage. I bought a supply of 811-10s to keep me in triode nirvana for the reasonable future. I've owned a lot of amps between what I've played with over the years and what I've distributed and only two stand out as keepers (and I've only retained one): the original Vitus SS-010; and this one. In Class-A operation, the Vitus produced 10wpc also but it was the most beautiful sounding solid-state amp I ever heard. The Siegfried edges it out, though - never a sense of strain, always simply a swift messenger. 
Chris Sommovigo

Yes, I'm very excited about this development. When production is fully underway and caught up with initial orders, I'm hoping a review sample of the ZOTL 40 will be available. If so, my friend Dan promised me a short-term loan of his personal Siegfried to compare a legacy single-ended triode Berning to a year 2015 push/pull pentode version. Fingers crossed -:)
Srajan

Well, the price is right for what you (presumably) get. David Berning is an otherworldly intelligence. He's never owned a car to my knowledge, preferring to ride a bicycle everywhere. He once visited Rick Becker up in Canada by riding his bicycle up from Potomac, Maryland with a massive video camera mounted to the handlebars. I visited his house once. Neatly littered with symphonion-style music boxes and an electric train set mounted along the top of the walls—like crown moulding—running off a tube power supply. For being in his mid to late 60s, he remains really energetic and engaged. I love getting him to launch on a subject he has some passion about. Much like Tim, he is a fount of knowledge. But a businessman he is not. Like other geniuses I know, his gift is particularly compartmentalized to his specializations. And his Siegfried is a seminal design. Of all the Berning amps I've heard, it remains a singular achievement. I will only consider selling it if something better comes along. So far that hasn't happened, despite the abundance of applicants for the job.
Chris Sommovigo

That sounds exactly like my friend Dan. He'll never sell his either, for the same reason. And, Dan recently learnt of another Swiss Siegfried owner who has gone through oodles of costly exotic amps like himself only to favour the Siegfried over all comers. In short, it seems high time that more people got to enjoy this type of sound. With Linear Tube Audio, we seem at the cusp of that. I hope they have the success they deserve.
Srajan
Hello Srajan:
Just saw something on the Internets about Amare Musica's new chipless DSD DAC. Will you be covering it by any chance? It sounded interesting.
Holger Scharmacher

No chance, sorry to say. Amare Musica never delivered the DHT preamp loaner for which I'd penned and published a multi-page preview. That sat in limbo until, more than six months after the fact, I wised up and pulled it down. I never received an explanation either. That said, we've got an in-depth review of the chipless LampizatOr Golden Gate DAC. That too is from Poland and got there first so perhaps it will do you? Otherwise you'll have to check elsewhere. I understand that this machine will be launched at the Warsaw show next month so I expect that it'll appear in any number of show reports shortly thereafter.
Srajan
Hi Srajan,
interesting news about the new ZOTLs offered by Linear Tube Audio. I have followed David Berning's amps from a distance because I always have been fascinated by his technology. And they always seem to sound very good. BTW, David informed me that he still builds 300B amps on a custom basis, supposedly better than the Siegfried. Did you have a chance to hear the Siegfried on your friend Dan's Saadhana speaker? I also have the Saadhanas and think a ZOTL may be a very good match.
Thanks,
Christian Schlögell

I have and yes, it's a brilliant match. The new ZOTL 10 should be plenty for you, especially since another reader the other day told me that the latest version Saadhana is 102dB. I've put in word about reviewing the EL34 40-watter whilst Frederic Beudot would be all set to do the EL84 10-watter on his Ocellia widebanders. Now we have to see whether Linear Tube Audio can make two ZOTL loaners available. Apparently they're quite inundated by orders.
Srajan
Hey Srajan:
"And sorry, we don't have the power rating for 2 ohms." As in, we don't know? Or, we can't measure it? Or, we can't be bothered to? Or, we designed the amp without ever considering its stability into low impedance? I gotta say, any company which evades such a basic question in such a completely lame fashion will never win my business. I also looked on their website about that 40dB gain spec. Sure enough, just as you said, it shows up for all their models. How could they not catch such an obvious error? Does the right hand not know what the left is doing? Consider me not terribly impressed with Magnus Audio!
Ralph Springman

As they say, don't shoot the messenger. That said, I concur. It's one thing to overlook publishing a spec. That can happen to the best. It's quite another to be asked and then prove lazy enough to not provide it. It's not as though it were a frivolous question either. Anyone who spends money on a serious amp should want to know whether he can rely on it for challenging loads. Plus, the power increase into 2 ohms, over 4 versus 8, is telling about the power supply. As for the misstated gain spec, it even shows up in the printed owner's manual of the MA-260. At least now we know it's in error (thankfully, as otherwise we'd suffer what I like to call 'gain poisoning' -:)
Srajan
Hi Srajan,
Thank you so much for being curious about how the Crayon CFA-1.2 compared to the SIT1/LIO on the Voxativ 9.87 system. Having owned the CFA-1.2 for a year and a half, I was always curious if the SIT's were in fact a better amp for my speakers. Speakers are Horning Alkibiades, a Lowther-based quarter wave with two 12" Beyma woofers and a modified tweeter which I am sure is not very different from the Voxativ system and I expect them to have the same gestalt, the main difference being the more directional bass response from the Voxativ where the Hornings are omnidirectional in the low department. The Alkibiades have no active amp on the woofers which speaks even better for the more powerful Crayon. Now I trust your experience and understand the two amps on a speaker of this type are quality-wise a near equal match even if the CFA and SITs have slightly different personalities. Btw, you nailed the personality of such a speaker type pretty well in your review.
Keep on rollin' those amps :-)
Frank Kornum

That's exactly why I'm invested in keeping an inventory of hardware on hand - to mix'n'match and chance upon unexpected surprises. Particularly with your wholly passive situation, I'd agree that the Crayon should have the edge. I was really tickled by how well it performed on the Voxativ. I also tried the 1.2 with my Nagra Jazz preamp and could live either way which really speaks to the amp, as is, being a fine match for the German speaker system; and from your experience, also with yours. Using a superior autoformer passive on the SITs vs. the Crayon was a surprisingly close call so Roland's creation has applications beyond the more obvious mainstream speaker choices. Happy listening.
Srajan
Hi Srajan,
hope you are doing fine. I have been having a connection issue with the website. With my Ipad I cannot connect to any of your archived reviews and some other items. The browser goes blank and says: A problem occurred with this website so it was reloaded and goes blank. I have looked into this in the internet and tried all the suggested solutions to no avail. So if you could check on your end it would be appreciated.
Thanks,
Manuel Vidal

It suggests some incompatibility with whatever version OS your iPad is running on and/or your browser version. I use Safari, Opera, Internet Explorer and FireFox and can't replicate those issues.
Srajan

Thanks Srajan, it looks like an issue with Safari. Downloaded Chrome and it works fine.
Regards,
Manuel
Hello Srajan:
Disappointing to hear the Kii 3 is so back-ordered that you won't be able to review it. I was really looking forward to that. And given the brevity of your Swiss show report, I assume you saw little of interest beyond what you covered?
Holger Scharmacher

Indeed. Being October 16th when I learnt of Kii Audio's status, Q2 2016 for the next production could mean April 1 which would be 5.5 months; or June 30 which would be 8.5 months. Either way, it'd be old news by the time it happens. Germany's Audio magazine did get an early pair so there's a formal review with measurements on the books by now. We clearly weren't on the list so that page is already turned. About the Regensdorf show, yes, it had little of novelty that we didn't already cover last year or in the interim. What I did find I wrote up.
Srajan
Hi Srajan,
Thanks for all the wonderful reviews. I am a big fan of your reports. One quick question: what is your view on the Schiit Yggdrasil? Some audiophiles believe it is even better than the MSB Analog or Bricasti M1. I am really interested in your opinion.
Thanks,
Yu Bai

I've heard it briefly on loan from a friend and would rate it equivalent to the Metrum Pavane (which costs twice as much) but not as good as my Fore Audio DAISy 1 or Aqua Hifi LaScala II.
Srajan

Copy that. It seems LaScala II is a must buy. My Boenicke W5 is on the way. I am using Audionet ART G3 with EPS external power supply as digital source now. My budget for an amp for the W5 is around $5'000. Would you please recommend an amp for the W5? I guess you would recommend Lio? Currently my setup is Audionet Art --> Schiit Ragnarok --> HE1000. 
Thanks, 
Yu

Does your ART G3 have volume control? In that case, I'd recommend the $3'500 SST Audio Son of Ampzilla II.
Srajan

Unfortunately, no. ART G3 is a pure CD player. Audionet have preamps but they are not cheap at all - from $5'000 to over $20'000. I believe they are good but an Audionet preamp + SST power amp would be around $10'000. I guess this is too much for W5? Actually Schiit Ragnarok does have preamp outputs. Do you think this is a good option? I do like the headphone amp portion of Rag. 
Yu

Hell yes. I just looked on the Schiit product page. Balanced outputs no less which are true balanced since this is a Circlotron. Connect that to the $3'500 Ampzilla II, also a fully balanced amp, and you'll be styling it with the best. No separate preamp needed!
Srajan

Thanks for being super helpful! I will go with this plan. 
Yu

With that amp, you're all set even if you eventually upgrade to a W8 or something else in Sven's stable. It's super potent, stable into 1 ohm so even big planars would apply. Good choice, Yu! Let me know your response once you have it and have some time on the setup.
Srajan
Hey SE,
Just saw your comment about RMAF attendees being less than impressed with the Kii. I found them utterly superb, even though my drop in to the room was over and done in 5 mins. Plans to return later that day were nixed by panel attendance. I'd rate them as one of my faves of the show which hopefully I'll get to writing about at some point this week. Hopefully...
John Darko

That's good confirmation to have. I'm headed out to Zürich tomorrow for a Take 2 on the Kii at the HighEnd Suisse show.
Srajan
Hi Srajan,
Well, I bought the FirstWatt F5. For 1'500 Canadian pesos. That's about $1'175 USD these days. I think it's an amazing amp. It has transformed my Tekton M-Lore speaker (95dB). I'm a believer! Quiet like the still of the night. No warts. And as I work, with Bill Evans' "You Must Believe in Spring" in the background, at very low volume, Eddie Gomez's bass is as rich, ripe and ripped as it would be on other amps at much higher volumes. Later in the day, when the work is done, I crank it and it can sometimes bloom like a tube amp. Sure it's not a tube amp but it does what I want it to do. A little cymbal strike at low volume is as resolved as I've ever heard it. Fabulous! Who needs tubes? Wait, no, I can't say that. Not yet...
Best wishes,
Tim Smith

Good man. Now you know what Frederic Beudot and Michele Surdi and I have been on about for years.
Srajan
Hello Srajan,
I've had my first encounter with the Devialet Phantom speakers at a real high-end dealership with setup people and equipment I trust. The speakers were still being broken in when I went to listen, so grain of salt, of course. Technologically a marvel. 20-20 +/- 0.5dB (I believe). Quite the feisty little puppy. Plays full range, including deep bass, at levels that would destroy many high-end speakers. The upper tonal balance was a little cool and raw for my taste, but again, they weren't broken in. Also, since this is all software/firmware DSP'd, it's only a matter of time until someone clues into the fact that you should be able to plug in the tonal response of any speaker you would like to emulate. It's definitely aimed at the fresher crowd who want plug and play capability. I think the days of the current high-end configuration dinosaur may be extinct in that regard. The complex ritual of digital setup that has evolved around the fragmented digital world is a loser proposition, always was. People want to simply listen to music, not endure setup bullshit.

The other direction that has recently become evident is the extinction of multi channel, stereo included. The Phantom is one of a tsunami of sophisticated speaker offerings that can go single box. People have grown up listening to iPads and iPhones. They just want to hear that better and louder. They could care less about stereo. Make it wireless, make it multi room capable, make it simple. The Phantom also makes it stylish. From a popular standpoint, they've won. They've also come at the right time to pull in those who are on the fence and at a Trojan offering price. Does it work well in stereo configuration? Possibly, at least at some frequencies. I suspect that my misgivings about the high crossover point are justified. A mid/ woofer slash subwoofer throwing a wave launch 90° mechanically out of phase is going to have consequences that you can't solve electronically. But in a mono world, is anyone going to care?
Best wishes,
Glen

Interestingly enough, I haven't seen a single review of the Phantom in a credible audio journal yet. Given the time it's been out, that seems like a much delayed reaction. Unless of course, that's not at all the market they're interested in. Which you and I have discussed before to think it not only likely but essential to recoup the serious investment Devialet made into this product. It has to sell at Bang & Olufsen volumes, not boutique firm business. Upscale Bose. If so, why bother with audiophiles and their rags? As you said, we're the dinosaurs. From a basic engineering perspective, it and the Kii 3 and others like it are simply smart. They leverage and bundle all of today's technology in a fully integrated platform.
Srajan
Dear Srajan,
Thank you very much for this excellent review on the Aria music server. Especially for me as an streaming novice, I have to learn much about it. I have only one question. As I am kind of old-fashioned, I like HDCDs very much playing on my Krell 300 CD and find them in most cases superior to usual CDs. Do you have any idea what the Aria is doing with the information on an HDCD? As I have learned, it is using dbpoweramp for ripping and there is a possibility to create 24-bit files (in fact it is a 20-bit file) out of an HDCD. Does the Aria do this automatically? If not, how to go about it? Would be very nice to hear from you.
Thanks a lot in advance.
Sincerely yours
Herbert

That is a fair question to which I don't have a proper answer. You should contact them directly at info @ ariamusicserver.com.
Srajan
CanJam Athens today = EnigmAcoustics Athena = Wow!
Giannis Bouc

Yes, they make fantastic stuff no matter what new category they breach.
Srajan
Well-measured review of the Gryphon, Srajan. I particularly enjoyed your fair attempt at describing how the law of diminishing returns is accompanied by whatever in a system might be its weakest link. That delta of difference would get narrow particular in digital seems obvious once one leaves the best of the middle. That whatever is "left over" as you so aptly put it will only manifest completely when a system has all the right stuff is just as obvious. But all of it is all too rarely said. So if one has a very good mid-level system, it becomes questionable to allocate big money on just one component and expect to hear all it can do. Would you agree with that?
Jason Braxton

I would but perhaps exempt speakers. They're by far the biggest distortion generators and hold back the lot in front of them. So a 'mid-level' rig capped off by a posh speaker could well make that mid-level stuff sound a lot better than expected. One can make rational arguments for all sorts of ways of skinning this subject. To my mind, keeping all the hardware 'on the level' but perhaps 'splurging' on the speakers strikes me as the sanest solution; if one has some splurge funds and wonders where best to allocate them. For example, if I had the funds, I'd not think twice about going after the Vivid G4 without changing anything else in my system.
Srajan
Srajan,
When using my iPad to view the site, if I try and expand the size it crashes. I don't experience this with any other sites. On a separate note, I trust you are doing everything in your power to get the Kii 3 in for review? Although I suspect that might be a bit like turkeys voting for Christmas if you see what I mean :-)
Ian Reid

That's the first I hear about my site's behaviour. It probably goes above my pay grade (I'm no IT guy, just handy enough to do what I do). I can easily hit ctrl/+ on my 30-inch desktop monitor (Win 7/64 PC in front of it) and widen the site to fill out my entire screen (eventually the resolution of the graphics and images suffers). Why it would misbehave on an iPad I have no clue but I might have someone I can ask about that. About the Kii 3, I'll attend the Zürich HighEnd show in two weeks only because that speaker will be there. I'll make the necessary overtures then. The rest will be up to the powers that be, not my own. It's interesting that early RMAF commentary on their room would be disappointing. That doesn't at all track with what I heard in Munich earlier this year.
Srajan
Hi Srajan,
I'm having the same iPad issue but it's also happening on other sites so I guess it's a 'new iOS/Safari/older iPad' problem rather than a 6Moons tech blip.
All the best,
Richard James
Nice review and very similar to what I experienced when reviewing the Diablo. I have heard full Gryphon systems before and it takes a very skilled retailer to keep them balanced. The wrong cables, the wrong power conditioner, the wrong room even and they get so in your face, it becomes obnoxious. But well tuned, it is amazing. But I can easily see how one Gryphon component in a system will bring a new life! I wish I could afford this DAC :-)
And btw, I read the site on my iPad and it never crashes even if I resize the display. FWIW.
Frederic
Hey Srajan:
Quick question. I know that you've used Pure Music for a few years. Have you upgraded to v3 and if so, any thoughts on sonic gains or OS incompatibilities? Appreciate any feedback you might have.
Josh

I installed it the other day and thought it was a noticeable sonic uptick. But the Streamthrough feature didn't work on Tidal and Qobuz and I had subsequent issues which led me to think that some update patches will be forthcoming to make this version more stable. For now I've uninstalled it again and gone back to the latest v2 version which I made sure to keep just in case.
Srajan
Srajan,
I'm most happy to see you gave Mark Schifter a pass. Considering his past shenanigans, I'd never buy anything from him or any company he is involved in!
Michael Burritz

Every hifi publication will shortly have to approach Mr. Schifter's comeback on their own terms since RMAF 2015 will see the official launch of Core Power Tech. Obviously gainful employ in the wake of AV123.com was necessary for restitution to be made and he has worked as an Emerald Physics employee since. That the courts have now released him into owning his own company might indicate that his legal obligations were met. That it would be another audio company is not surprising. But given a chance meeting I had with the owner of Sound Art in Guangzhou many years ago, I'm not comfortable promoting Mark Schifter in these pages with a formal review again. Hence my below response. I will however publish a news announcement on his product once his website bows. Those who need more can easily Google the subject. Just where people come down on redemption, second and third chances and all that will be entirely individual calls. Volkswagen presently find themselves in a related predicament. Work must go on but certain adjustments must be made. How it will affect VW going forward is anyone's guess. How Mark Schifter's return to the industry under his own flag will go remains to be seen.
Srajan
My respect for you just went up a couple notches further if that was possible. It is nice to be working with somebody whose ethical standards are unwavering.
Frederic
Hello Srajan,
I hope this note finds you well. Both scared and excited to share with you information about being released to own my own company again. I've been working on several products for the last few years while still full-time with Walter at Emerald. I'm still doing all of his design and building (4+ years now), but I feel the time is right to attempt a comeback. The kindness and grace people have shown me has been amazing. Nothing about the last 5 years has been easy but I'm working very hard on a redemptive path. I'm hopeful that you might be interested in my new products as I would love to share them with you and 6moons.
Humbly for sure…
Mark Schifter

Hello Mark:
Thanks for your note. All things considered, I'll take a pass.
Srajan
Srajan:
Comparing early reports on the Dharma cabling on Headfi to your review, there seems to a big discrepancy. Care to explain?
Roger K.

Without knowing details, I couldn't begin to comment on what discrepancy you might be referring to. I'm not a mind reader. The one replacement cable I wanted to try just because I had it didn't work because its Furutech plugs seemed just a hair too thick to insert into the deep bores of the Dharma. It might have worked but I didn't want to exert undue force and risk damage or not getting the cable back out. Because of this, I couldn't compare the stock cable to another to make any educated comments about the stock cable. That said, I didn't feel compelled to think the cable inferior at all since unlike my Audeze, Mrspeakers and Sennheisers which all mandated upgraded aftermarket cables to compensate for their various imbalances, the Dharma with the stock cable didn't seem imbalanced to me. In that it mirrored the HifiMan HE1000 for which I did have a replacement cable which wasn't better, just different. All that by way of saying that I heard nothing wrong with the stock cable whatsoever. This doesn't invalidate the prospect that someone could prefer an aftermarket cable which changes the D1000's innate voicing or pushes one or the other quality into the foreground. That's always possible and part of the fun of having headphones with detachable leashes.
Srajan
Srajan:
I always enjoy your writing and although most (if not all) of the technical data is way beyond my pay grade, I have used your insight and prose to choose my present system of Crayon CFA 1.2, Boenicke W5 and Zu Undertone. As I read your Dharma review, I saw my much admired and daily enjoyed components relegated to your 'workout and storage room'. Are those tears I hear faintly falling from Roland and Sven?
Rich Lavoie

Things are always on rotation 'round here so I make sure it all gets to play somewhere. And whilst workout room may not sound hifalutin, it's upstairs and the only place I can listen to late at night - so good sound at low levels becomes very important. With the open floor plan downstairs and the open loft area of our video system, after-hours listening there is strictly verboten. So the workout system gets good and much appreciated use -:)
Srajan
Hey Srajan,
absolutely fantastic review on the Dharmas. You must feel vindicated for holding out on the HE1000 award? I remember how you loved it for performance but wanted to first hear the Enigma at its lower price before deciding on the HifiMan's award worthiness. Seems that tactic was well considered -:)
Charles Anderes

Quite. As I tried to explain in this review, the glass ceiling of what high-end headphones can/should be priced at has been shattered and reset a few times. Once the Sennheiser HD800 was considered expensive. Then Abyss Sound went way off the reservation and north of $5'000. Today Final Audio has an $8'000 contender to eclipse the Abyss marker. Sennheiser's Orpheus is no more but a 'replacement' seems just around the corner, inclusive of valve amp. That could make the Final small fries. And so it goes. Against this relentless trending, I wanted to applaud Enigma for sticking to yesteryear's expensive, not tomorrow's. The HE1000 is a terrific success on wear comfort and sound. So is the D1000. And, the latter remains somewhat of a value to boot. Since I have a soft wallet for value, this award really wrote itself.
Srajan
Enigma Acoustic Dharma D1000. I hope they aren't hyping their wares by getting you a good review set. There's already a big string on HeadFi on these, mentioning quality control, slack fitting etc. I like the sound (and hope I do like the sound!) of these though am still happy with my 40-year old Wharfedale Isos. With a friend currently soon returning to the UK from NY, I was tempted to get them brought back.
Chris Skelton

I don't know how many people as yet have heard actual production, not prototype units. That said, I can only report on what I'm sent, not be swayed by what others may have gotten or run across. And as my review states, there was absolutely nothing wrong with this pair on fit, finish or QC. Incidentally, neither was there on my review pair of Sopranino and Mythology 1; nor on the later pairs we eventually acquired; nor the separate Sopranino stands we also bought. From my perspective, it's been A+ thus far. -:)
Srajan
Dear Srajan,
In answer to the quality control issues mentioned [see above - Ed.], though it's true that hearing the prototypes of the Dharma 1000 has been easy this past year, the actual production units will just ship this week according to my last report from Enigma.
All the best,
Fred Crane
PS: One other tidbit. From August 10th to a few days ago, I spent most of my time visiting dealers, manufacturers and clients working on my vision of cooperative high end audio. I clocked 10'000 road miles on this fiesta and about 17'000 this summer in total. The fact that I have to drive to Denver on Monday is less appealing.  Actually between installs and the like, I'll clock another 10000 easily this year.  Enough of 'woe is me'. I love what I do and I'm damned lucky to do it. Anyway, one of the highlights was visiting Leeds Look Listen, Gary Leeds' new retail space in Sun Valley. Gary had a pair of the ALO IEMs (the Lyra I believe). I guess ALO is doing them in limited numbers. Anyway, they were exceptional and I believe the ones I heard were the  more affordable of the two. Generally, you expect a smaller company to come out with something like an IEM and have it be rough around the edges or a bit off from what  some larger corporate entities might put forth. If anything, the opposite felt true here. We hope to carry them, but even if we don't, I'll own a pair personally. They just fell right, in the same way the Enigma Dharma sounds right. Effortless but everything is there. Usually Gary takes my cues on headfi but he was way out in front of me on that day. Ken Ball knocked this one out of the park.

That tracks with my assumption that the thread Chris Skelton referred to probably dealt with pre-production or prototype units. Relative to ALO, it's actually a new brand called Campfire Audio and they will have three not two universal-fit IEM models. I'm slated to review all three of 'em by way of comparing what you get when crawling up their ladder. With Ken being a retailer of many years not just manufacturer; and even having had a brick & mortar in downtown Portland for a while - he's sampled the commercial spectrum and kept tabs on the hardware evolution in this sector. As your experience suggests, I wouldn't expect anything but a very mature fully dialled product from him, never mind that the branding itself is brand new.
Srajan
Hi Srajan
I enjoy reading your reviews, especially your careful analysis with comparisons. Based on your recommendations, I purchased the Boenicke w5se speakers and the Goldmund/Job 225 amplifier and I found them to be all that you said. Thank you. A few months ago I traded my w5se's in for w8se+'s, which I've been driving with the Job or a Trafomatic Eos amp (100wpc with 4 x KT-120). During the summer here in Phoenix, it is more sensible to use a ss amp, and I'd like to find one that is a bit juicier than the Job is, but still detailed, especially at low volume. (I enjoy mostly solo piano, Baroque polyphony, chamber and acoustic jazz.) Two amps that you have reviewed might be excellent choices, the Gato DIA-250 and the SST Son of Ampzilla II; both are more powerful, fully balanced, quite sensitive and stable into low impedance. Importantly, you wrote that the Gato sound fell in between the Job 225 and the Pass X30.8, and the SoA-2 fell in between the Auralic Merak and the Pass X30.8. Understandably, you did not compare the SoA-2 to the Gato DIA-250 in your recent review.  Could you please tell me how you think these two amps might compare? And please include how warm each one gets.
Thank you very much.
all the best
Arthur ("Bud") Craig

Having lived in New Mexico, I appreciate the heat angle. The Gato runs cool as a cucumber. The SST does its first 10 watts in class A and can run warmer depending on load but nothing approaching 4 x exposed KT120. Sonically the two are very different. The Gato is the warmest cuddliest class D in my collection and from what I've reviewed. If you're used to the Job and how that details things out already at low volumes, you won't like the DIA-250 one bit. It's a lot fatter and more opaque. I'd go after the SST instead. If you do end up with it, let me know how it works with the W8SE+. I see you sprung for the all-out version. Good man, that's a speaker to get old with and hand down to your offspring -:)
Cheers.
Srajan
Hi Srajan:
Reading a number of your online competitors, I've come to think that many augment their reviews with blog-type commentary. I'm really hoping you won't follow this trend and stick to the existing format.
Holger Scharmacher

No worries, Holger. I dislike fluff postings whose only justification appears to be as a stand-in for a shortage of hard copy and to stimulate argumentative traffic. What is gained with endless bickering about the pros and cons of double-blind listening, measurements, the audibility of Ethernet tweaks, The Amazing Randy's latest challenge and other such crap? I see us as content providers. That's our job. And I don't view fluff or press releases disguised as reviews as real content so you won't see that from us. Forums are so people can have endless discussions. Publications must create original content that educates and entertains. If that's the format you were talking about, I have no plans to change it. Writers are like bakers. We must have loafs of bread to sell every day. Discourses on bread, arguments about what bread tastes best... those things don't feed bellies. They're vapour ware, not real product. Reviews which require that one listens, compares and evaluates are the product we're committed to making. That's work. Fluff is for those who don't want to put in the hard work!
Srajan
Srajan,
I see you are about to review an amp from Magnus Audio. I bought their MA-300 from them some time ago. It hummed from the very start, with the manufacturer claiming there was something wrong in my house. No other product has ever had that problem. The sound was good in height, fast and transparent but with lesser bass. It broke down a year ago. I then had it completely upgraded with MA-500 parts inside. It came back and was very promising for the first 2 hours. Then it got hot and broke down. Magnus Audio still haven't solved the problem or offered me any compensation. I struggle with respect to their competence. A local repair shop changed the broken parts including the transistors but it still overheats after some hours. Now they blame him. Now my amp is just stored in the back. I wonder whether I have to write it off. To summarize, a promising sound but lack of competence and quality should make people avoid this brand.
Regards,
Paul B. Fløholm

Thank you for your feedback which, sadly, doesn't sound promising. I note that the 300wpc MA-300 has been discontinued. The MA-500 replacement's power spec scaled up to 450 watts into 8 ohms and 900 into 4. Perhaps the MA-300 casing, heat sinks and layout can't accommodate that significant power increase? Still, you deserve a working amplifier or your money back. Sorry to hear about your troubles.
Srajan
Hello Srajan,
I follow you for a long time and your reviews made me take the path of an aging audiophile. Remarkable. For this reason I cannot understand how you have so far overlooked a DAC as outstanding (among other things at a price equally crazy) as the Schiit Audio Yggdrasil. This DAC has literally beaten on the Hi-End showing off a wonderfully analog sound that respects the original samples, with Adapticlock and fully discreet Jfet analog outputs. I hope that soon I can read a review about it.
With large and unchanged esteem,
Achille Maggio from Sicily

I had the Yggdrasil on loan from a friend. It's a fine DAC, on par with the Metrum Audio Pavane at twice its costs so great value to boot. I simply prefer my Aqua Hifi LaScala MkII and Fore Audio DAISy 1. I'm not booked for a review of the Yggdrasil so you'll have to look out for writeups elsewhere.
Srajan
Srajan,
another heads up for Dawid's latest LampizatOr review. Your man went the extra mile with the factory tour which really gave me a good impression of the operation. Can't wait to read the interview.
Holger Scharmacher

He did a great job, agreed. It was a stroke of good luck that reviewer and manufacturer lived in the same city to enable such a thing!
Srajan
Srajan, you have done the impossible, a credible cable review.
Michele

Which one are you talking about? The one that's currently up is from Joël and on the Esprit Audio Lumina loom.
Srajan

No, the Ocellia. Not to mince words, it's the smartest, most honest cable review ever. Also the only useful one. To think that I should write such words.-:)
Michele

Quite. It's just a preview at present. Pleased to hear you found it useful already.
Srajan
Dear Srajan,
congratulations on writing Dead in the water. I will print it on A3 paper and bolt it to the doors of Cologne Cathedral if you know what I mean. You are so spot on that it isn't even funny. And the restaurant analogy is brilliant. These guys should have your article tattooed to their foreheads.
With best regards,
Łukasz Fikus
Hello Srajan,
I wanted to comment on your recent Auris Audio review and how you took the time to distinguish between pleasing versus realistic versus high-resolution sound. At first it sounds impossible that lower resolution could be pleasing or, perhaps, even more realistic. But as you laid out, it's very much the case. Live concerts in the average seats do not show the kind of resolution modern studio productions have coming out of a modern high-resolution hifi. That really made me think about what so many of us pursue; and how we might be looking in the wrong direction. So, thanks for making me think -:)
Dietmar

Bravo! If it made you think, that was the whole point. If you come to different conclusions than I, that's not the point. Wanting different things from one's hifi is perfectly normal. But considering what we want and why we want it; and what the chances of long-term success=satisfaction are before we spend big and lock ourselves in... that's something everyone should do to save coin, effort, time and disappointment. Today "lower resolution" has become nearly a dirty word; a sales-prevention ticket. But it needn't be. In fact, it could be the antidote to a number of things...
Srajan