f ff

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


Marja and Henk, your latest review—of the Bespoke preamp—finally prompted me to send off a long-delayed note to you two. I first just want to say that I thoroughly enjoy your writing and enjoy your reviews. And my own IT background favours the technical and theoretical underpinnings that you inevitably bring to the reviews. But what intrigues me, and has prompted me to write, is the notable correlation between our taste for equipment. So I wanted to compare notes and make a few observations, if you'll permit me. My core 2-channel system (about which a multi-channel AV system subsists) includes an SGM/Roon/HQPlayer front end (library on a NAS), Aqua Formula xHD DAC and Bespoke preamp. From there it gets a little wonky. Without boring you with too much detail, the preamp basically sends on 2 full signals. One goes straight to a pair of Pass XA60.8 monoblocks, which feed the 'tower' of my Zu Dominance (roughly everything over 100Hz). The second signal goes through a Rane rpm26z parametric equalizer that is split and manipulated to feed the downfiring 15" drivers on the Dominance and a pair of Zu Submissions via 2 pairs of Merrill Veritas Hypex Ncore NC1200-based monos.

So a couple of comments. While I have relatively little experience with your big horn speakers, I note that I also favour a super-efficient (101dB) albeit widebander-based speaker driven with lots of power. There's an ease there along with dynamics that I find I favour. I'm also completely enamoured with the SGM/Roon/HQPlayer combo, so much so that I've perhaps gone 'over the edge' with some of Emile Bok's (Taiko Audio) and Ed Hsu's (SGM) recommendations. Working with Emile and Ed, I've recently added their new premium isolation platform. It's a modified TableStable TS-150 with a separate linear PS, with Panzerholz platform, plinths and casework (on the LPS). And the *DAC* sits on this! It's crazy, I know but what can I say; I love the naturalness and clarity and ease that this level of isolation seems to add. It's not a subtle difference and I'm no 'golden ears' for sure. Their working hypothesis (they fully admit to no hard theories much less proof) centers around the possibility that suppressing extremely low frequencies (<10Hz) at the small signal level of the dac has a much bigger impact than we've perhaps previously appreciated. Who knows. I just know, to pull out that cliché, that everything seems to matter.

One more note on the Bespoke that you just reviewed: I tried an MFA preamp on extended loan and like you found the 24 steps simply too gross to be usable in my system. I eagerly went with Harry and Lucy's new company when it became clear that their product would give me MFA-quality transformers (no surprise there) and build quality while addressing my concerns. Apart from its sound of course, I found the 46 steps are a perfect fit for my system (I'm mostly in the 9-1 o'clock region on the volume knob) plus they were willing to customize the unit to my exact requirements (e.g. add a discrete LED to the volume knob so I can see where it sits even in the dark and from across the room). Plus it provides a kind of ground-loop 'brick wall' in the middle of a rather complex MC system which is a god-send. I do not find that the passive leaves anything on the table vs. the many active preamps that I've had in my system (granted everything is system dependent). Finally, I know you don't get over to shows on this side of the pond very often but if you're ever in the vicinity of Delaware (mid-Atlantic region), I'd love to have you visit and listen to a 'sister' system of yours (and I'm a member of the Philadelphia and New Jersey audio societies, which I host occasionally [and they love guest 'celebrities'--just saying...]). I've rambled on enough but just wanted to say keep up the great work.
Regards,
Jerry Powell

Hi Jerry,
thank you for your reaction. Indeed, our mutual taste for gear is very alike - very much alike except in the speaker area where we are full-blown horn adepts. We would point you at a little thingy that we think makes more difference than reason should warrant. It is the Pink Faun LAN Isolator. We use one with the SGM and it does wonders. It appears there is plenty of junk riding on at least our LAN that when removed enhances the sound quality. On the part of crossing the pond, we’ll probably wait some time to let’s say have the political dust settle which we hope will be soon…
/M&H

M&H, on your last point, I fully understand! One reason that my wife and I try to spend as much time as possible either in Canada these days (where one daughter lives) or on trips to Europe. Sigh. Thanks for the tip on the Lan isolator. Will definitely give that a try. Your latest review also reminded me that I had meant to look further at the Blue Horizon mains analyzer, which you’ve previously mentioned and which sounds very useful. (Another point of shared interest/prioritization: I’ve used an Equitech 5WQ balanced transformer for my audio room for years, but ended up bypassing all of the inexpensive “digital filters” and such that were added to the circuitry—the basic unit is designed essentially like the Elite unit you describe).

One final note: just attended an audio society meeting the other day featuring Pierre Sprey from Mapleshade (actually his operation is fairly close to where I live). It’s encouraged me to further explore a direction in which I’ve been moving anyway over the last couple of years, namely away from pure carbon fiber and “degrees of isolation” based support systems (a la my Grand Prix stands) to more molecular-level absorption-based natural supports (Pierre strongly advocates naturally-aired solid maple, for example, coupled via vibration-funneling feet of specific design and material). Anyway, another frontier to explore in more depth….Regards,
Jerry
Hello Srajan,
I trust all is going well. Your recent preview of the Kinki Studios EX-M1 piqued my interest, like you always do. Add in Terry London's quotes and the screen shots of the performance of the amp finds me reaching around for my wallet, and just when I've become accustomed to my present set up. Thanks. I listen in the nearfield due to room constraints (I'm eight feet from the front plane of the speakers) and like what I hear, getting an almost headphone-like retrieval of detail, but I wish it had a touch more density, which Liu says is necessary for texture and I would assume, tone, which I live for. My speakers are a pair of old school JBL 4319 monitors and are 92dB efficient so the Kinki would just be idling in my room. Having that “Swiss” sound of clarity, effortless power and presence is desirable but I fear it might be too stark from what I've gleaned from reviews of Goldmund and Gato efforts. My present integrated is a Marantz PM-15S2b Reference which is doing yeoman's duty and after three years, I'm wondering if the Kinki would give me a cleaner denser, sound with better tone. To make matters worse, Alvin is doing his level best to get me one. I wrote to ask if he's heard anything about any pending tariffs raising prices and so far all is well on that front. But with a foot in the door that I opened, he's made me a very tempting offer that I'm having a difficulty handling. He's a wonderful person to deal with which adds to my dilemma. I appreciate the way Liu goes about building his gear and the philosophy that drives him. If this Kinki had a Swiss nameplate, I could see it going for 4-5 times the asking price, if it's as good as I think it is. Long-distance diagnosis is not an exact science and I don't want to preempt your review but any input you have would be greatly appreciated.
All the best,
Tim

There's a kink in my Kinki. It's shipped but hasn't arrived yet. Until it does, possibly later this week or at the latest next, I won't have a clue other than Terry London's take. So patience and all that virtuous stuff -:)
Srajan

Brilliant, indeed. Best money I’ve ever spent. This Kinki is destined to be a classic. It’s reeducated the way I listen to music as I no longer analyze but simply luxuriate in the music. To have a taste of what the big dogs experience has opened my eyes and ears. I cannot thank you enough for bringing this to light.
All the best,
Tim
Srajan:
I wanted to get back with you and fill in my story from around the March/April time frame. You were then in the midst of reviewing the LinnenberG Liszt amplifiers, and doing some comparison to the Allegro mono amps as well. I was preparing myself for a pretty much wholesale change of system, the LinnenberG amps seemed like a very good place to go, along with my potential speaker mates, the Audio Physic Tempo Plus. My journey ended up with purchasing several components from Mark Sosa, Well Pleased A/V. These consist of the Allegro mono amplifiers, with source coming from an Innuos Zen MK2 ripper/streamer, and the LinnenberG Telemann DAC-preamplifier. As in the name of Mark’s distribution, I am well pleased, and must note, Mark is an absolute pleasure to work with! My speaker quest however, took a bit of a turn. In rethinking what has worked in my current room, which also happens to be my living room, I was worried over having to use up valuable floor space in which to give the Tempos adequate room to do their thing. I felt as if maybe this might be somewhat of a deal breaker and began in earnest to listen to, and look for other options.

I have been somewhat of an unapologetic Omni speaker lover, yet many do require them also to be pulled out into the room to work some of their magic. I recalled years ago, the wonderful music that a pair of German Duevel Venus made in an associates house, and I recalled how the room layout was similar to my current space. Also, I remembered how well these sounded without having to be out into the room, only about 2.5 feet off the wall behind them. The wheels turned....

I spoke to Pascal Ravach of Mutine, the Canadian North American distributor of Duevel, and shortly a pair of Venus in maple/natural plywood horns were ordered. Pascal made sure they arrived here in the US, and to my door. Well done, Pascal. The system has been duly set up for a week now and while some minor adjustments are taking place, I have to say that I am thrilled! The system as a whole will bring much joy to my home and hopefully, what comes next are those minor adjustments, fine tuning along the way. My choices have been made by the assistance of your reviews and words and also of the distributors mentioned above. All a joy to work with and I feel that they will be there to assist and support if anything comes up along the way for a very long time. Many thanks for your time and energy that goes into your reviews! And thank you for allowing me to close this chapter of my search, and on to enjoying my music! Be well!
Sincerely,
Tim Frazeur
Dear Srajan,
I read your excellent magazine to know about the audiophile news you publish and find some information about some products I may be interested to purchase. I write to you because almost two weeks ago I sent an important amount of money (at least for me) to Marcin Solowiow from Amare Musica to purchase the server and DAC. He answered all my emails almost daily since the moment I contacted him through his page on his website but since I sent the money, I had no answers. Also I tried to telephone him using the phone number on his website but it was impossible to contact him. At this time I am becoming nervous. Do you know anything?
Thank you very much.
Luis Dobarro, Montevideo, Uruguay

You might contact Dawid Grzyb at dawid @ hifiknights.com. He is one of my contributors, Polish and lives in Warsaw. He might be able to furnish you with a working phone # for Amare Musica. I've not dealt with them in a very long time to have any helpful insights, sorry. Of course it's the summer season and many people go on vacation. Perhaps he's temporarily unavailable to respond to emails though I can fully appreciate how vexing this would be for you right now. Let me know if the telephone avenue works out. Best of luck.
Srajan

Hi Luis,
I'm sorry to hear that. Minutes ago I tried to reach Marcin with no success and I'll try tomorrow again on your behalf. I've also asked one of my colleagues about him but learnt nothing important. I can and will try to contact Marcin in the following days and once he picks up his phone, I'll know more and let you know. Still, he has to do it first...
Dawid

Hi Dawid,
Just a couple of minutes ago, Marcin sent me an email saying that he is on vacation and is waiting for the flight cases to arrive. As soon as they do, he will arrange shipment. I really appreciate your cooperation very much. Best regards,
Luis
Dear Srajan,
Thanks for the enlightening reviews of the Zu Druid V and Rethm Bhaava speakers, now a few years old I believe. I'm considering both as an upgrade from my single-driver Omega floorstanders. I'm looking for a more full-bodied presentation with deeper bass while retaining the Omegas' quickness and transparency. I may be asking too much at this price point but I'm wondering if you can say anything by way of comparison having reviewed both? I see your note in the Bhaava review that the Druid has better bass snap, but I'd appreciate your overall impressions. The Bhaava appears to have crept up significantly in price—now $4000—and undergone a driver change. Many thanks,
Oliver

For a more full-bodied presentation with deeper bass than you have now, my nod would go to the Rethm. Its active isobaric bass with user adjustments will do exactly what you want and it'll have the speed you're used to. Granted, I've not heard the latest driver of the Bhaava but knowing Jacob, it will be an improvement over what I heard, not a sideways or backward step. And even at $4'000, the Rethm should still come in for less than a Druid V I think.
Srajan
Hi Srajan, 
Well, I have lived with my Wavetouch Antero speakers for quite a few weeks now and at this point they have well over 500 hours on them. I don't know exactly because after 500 I stopped counting. These speakers are giving me the sound that I have been dreaming of for quite a while now. They are truly surprising. They sound like full-range floorstanding speakers. They make a big sound but not that overly big sound that some speakers make which does not allow you get past the idea that you are listening to amplified sound. Instruments as reproduced by the Anteros seem to be their natural size. They defy logic especially in their ability to produce deep satisfying bass. Monitors with small woofers should not be able to do that. Here is what I am hearing:

1. Outstanding resolution and clarity yet not at all thin-sounding because the tonal density and color saturation are equally outstanding.
2. Timbral accuracy throughout the entire frequency range as I have not heard before, certainly not in my listening room, perhaps nowhere else.
3. Very smooth sound especially in the highs with no harshness or edginess whatsoever.
4. A wide deep soundstage that goes way beyond not only the speakers, but the walls of my listening room. Great three-dimensional imaging. Prior to these I was running the Spatial Audio M4 Triode Masters which, being open baffle dipoles, create a very wide and deep soundstage. The Anteros beat the M4s by a significant margin. This is easily discernible when listening to large orchestral symphonic works.

5. Tight and tonally accurate bass which is very musical. Actually, I cannot understand how small 5.25" woofers can produce such incredible bass. The website rates the low end at 44Hz but when talking to Alex Yoon on the phone, he told me that is conservative and that depending on the environment and how they are set up, they can actually go down to 38Hz. And I can easily believe it. I have some Bach organ music which I am listening to as I write this and the Anteros handle the deep bass with aplomb, not by reaching down to the deepest level of course but still very very satisfying.
6. Very refined tonal balance from top to bottom.

All of the above makes it easy to believe that I am listening to real instruments in a real acoustic space. The Spatial Audio M4 TMs are pretty nice overall but there are two things which bother me about them.
1. the bass is, to my ear, overpowering. I was able to control this by making corrections in FabFilter Pro Q which I have from that time long ago when I had Clayton do the room correction on my Gallo 3.5 and thus I was able to live with the bass.
2. an edginess or hardness in the midrange most noticeable in the vocals which did not sound natural. Although certain changes I made in my setup corrected it to some extent, nothing I did totally eliminated it so I was stuck with it.

Otherwise, I liked the M4 TS for everything else they did right: an open sound with immense soundstage enhanced by the M35 dipole tweeter; very good timbral reproduction; holographic imaging etc. But after a while, that edginess really began to grate on me and in the end it prompted me to begin thinking about another speaker.Then a friend of mine whose ears I trust who has the Spatial M3 Triode Masters told me about having heard the Anteros at the house of a friend and that he was so impressed that he was going to buy them. He said that they handily beat his M3s and the best statement that he made was that they simply made music. And that is how I came to know about the Anteros and now that I have them I can affirm everything my friend said. They totally eliminated every issue I had with the M4 TMs and I no longer need any ProQ correction.

And they beat the TMs in every other parameter as well. So after living with them for all these weeks, I heartily second that which my friend told me... the Wavetouch Anteros simply make music. I have to confess that I would have been prejudiced against the Anteros. After having experienced the open-baffle Spatials, I would have thought that the Anteros could never give me a satisfying soundstage. And from what I had read about small bookshelf/monitor speakers, I would have dismissed them out of hand thinking that the bass would have been lacking. If it hadn't been for my friend who has the Spatial Audio M3 Triode Masters whose bass goes down to 35Hz and whose soundstage is the same as my M4 Triode Masters, Ii would have never considered the Anteros.
PB
Srajan.
I wrote you a few months back asking if the Pass XA30.8 would have enough power to drive my dynaudio Special 40 86dB 6ohms by replacing my Bryston 4B SST2 and its 300wpc which due to reading certain h-if mags I thought was necessary for the 86dB speakers to perform. Buying the Bryston without hearing it I decided it was not for me. It was just too clinical or sterile and produced too harsh a treble. After reading your and other excellent reviews of the Pass XA30.8, I decided that it may be the amp for me in terms of sound but I cannot express the nervousness concerning its power rating that has been instilled in me. An email to you alleviated my fears to a degree and I started saving for a used one that being more than my $4'000 VPI Prime would constitute the most expensive component I own. For me this is huge money.

I found an Internet dealer with a good return and great upgrade policy who will bypass local dealers for used or demo pass components. Since then though the XA-25 was released and your review was very intriguing. An email to Pass concerning which of their two lowest cost models determined  that the less expensive XA25 would likely be a better match for driving my Dynaudios. I believe low-impedance stability and higher damping factor may have been the qualifiers. I have been listening to the XA-25 for the past few days and I am delighted. It is an amazing difference from the Bryston with more color saturation, much better timbral quality, more differentiation in bass tones and less strident treble - all that and it is still clearer or more transparent than the Bryston. Most of all it is simple significantly more musical. And now I know it is a very stout 25wpc and I had nothing to worry about. It sounds just as powerful as the Bryston and has plenty of gain for my small room. I thank you for not only helping greatly to alleviate my fears of enough power but for the superb review that led to what may be my most satisfying hifi purchase. The music from my system is for lack of a better word much more musical. The change brought by this amplifier is uncanny. I had no idea such differences could be wrought from amplification. Thanks again as your well-written very in-depth reviews have influenced my buying decisions that have led to me being a seriously satisfied individual.     

I do have one question for you. I've been into hifi less than 10 years and have never experimented with cables. I have Belden 10ga. speaker cable and Canare professional interconnects. I do have a Wireworld Supernova 6 Toslink and a modest signal cable silver phono cable but haven't ever made comparisons to others. I did have a cheap no-name Toslink before but didn't make a great deal over swapping it out. I just assumed the Wireworld would sound better but with out actively looking for a difference I can't say I heard any and at that time my system may not have been resolving enough. But today's question: do you think an after-market power cable on the XA25 would make a audible difference and if so is there a specific model you would recommend?  The caveat being it would by necessity need to be less than $500 but preferably in the $300 range. As I find your review of this amp spot on, I'd greatly appreciate your opinion on this. My goal is a nicely saturated color spectrum, great dynamics, strong bass, good rhythm and timing and if any effect on the treble I would like it airy but not strident or etched and would rather it be slightly rolled off than exacerbated. Thanks in advance Srajan and I really dig your reviews. Most of all—although I'm far from an engineer and truthfully sometimes do not fully understand—the in-depth details of technical and ideological philosophy's integrated into the components. This information is mostly unavailable elsewhere and of great import in not only component matching but also helps me to buy things that conform to the technical and mechanical qualities I have come to have biases for or against. And it helps me to weed out things i would or would not be interested in based upon these biases before deciding to do further research on a product. Being of not at all significant means and that money being worked very hard for, I prefer to know as much as possible before parting with it. Thanks and thanks in advance for any help and opinions you may provide.
James Donahue

I find that of all cables, power cords can make the most unexpectedly big difference. Let's stay away from the why and just go by what our ears will tell us. I would also say that beyond a certain level, the differences become marginal if not imaginary. The question then becomes, are you already beyond that level or not? I've found a company in Ireland called Titan Audio and use their 3rd-down-from-the-top model for my high-current applications, meaning wall to conditioner and conditioner to amps. The hi-current model below it would come in at £175 so within your budget. From all the cables I've come across (and I haven't looked that much), theirs struck me as being very fairly price for high value. But I can't guarantee that it'll be a massive improvement over what you have. That's because I tend to review whole cable looms, not one-up swaps. With full looms, things add up and are of one approach. That's when the differences become most telling. In your case, it'll be just one cable. I'd expect rather smaller returns.
Srajan
Hi Srajan,
Great review (and wonderful writing, as always)! I haven't had a chance to hear the Davone Twist yet but I love the other models so I'm sure they are equally impressive. Your new room(s) are absolutely gorgeous! Jealous.
All the Best,
Galen Carol

I'm sure your own rooms are nothing to sneeze at, Galen. But yes, these came out nice. Dumb luck, really. That's how the London landlords designed their house. We were incredibly fortunate that it came on the rental market over Xmas when nobody in their right mind was looking. We were the first and only folks to see it. The rest was a lot of work as any big move always is but it did pay off. Doing reviewing for a living, I need good-sounding rooms. Despite plenty of experience from lots of moving, there's always uncertainty when the systems are first fired up. Thankfully, intuition and practice agreed to meet once more so sonically too, things are in decent shape. Stay of execution and all that...
Srajan
Hi Srajan,
It was good to meet you at the Marriott on Friday with Martin Gateley at the Ppfff room. I try to support Soundkaos in the UK as much as I can, and I am an admirer of Martin and Ursula both as lovely people but also for the emotional draw of the Soundkaos style. Thanks also for taking time to ask about 8th Dimension Audio. As I mentioned, I have been an avid 6moons reader probably since Yamamoto in your reviewing timeline and, along with John Darko's site, you are both my reading of choice for your uninhibited reviewing style and valued opinion. Even today on KIH #56 I can learn about the 'elevator pitch' - plenty of room to improve in my case, and as my Shotokan Karate instructor kept saying, "always practice the most basic moves and never think you have perfected anything".

For me 8DA is an experiment and a learning experience too. I am attempting within the generic bounds of 'lifestyle' to transition people beyond Sonos and into our world albeit in a selective way. Eventually I hope to add music therapy to the business model to assist with our growing mental health challenges, hence the attachment to Martin's sound. That journey started with Voxativ and has evolved to Soundkaos, although Cube at the Marriott also stirred something 'inside'. Its more of a 'consultancy with sales' concept rather than just transactional and with the Samphire Web App I hope to replicate the Interiors' approach of room and decor consideration along with a musical vibe to create a look book to start the conversation. It's a new approach and probably a long journey which is fine by me as I'm enjoying every minute.

This was one of the reasons I chose Davone. Glad everything arrived ok and I caught up on the review progress today. I did raise a smile when you wrote that Paul had already been in touch mid-review. I mentioned to you his nervousness from a previous review but when Debby asked who could they contact, I instantly recommended you. I am their only UK retailer. I love his product and also his efforts to create speakers to play all sorts of recordings - I seem to remember you saying something similar about Simon Lee some while back. I'm sure everyone finds it difficult to find the perfect spot to place their products on price and performance so I doff my hat to those bold enough to try. With that in mind I'll contact Sally re the Nativ Vita and see what she wants to do. If it all works out for everyone, I can send you my demo unit. I'm not sure when that would be and Martin is toying with running it at the North West Show at he end of June - if we can test it in time with the Bakoon and Waves/Liberation. I have been using the Vita with the Resolution Audio Cantata. I'm not sure if you managed to catch up with Jeff at the show, but the Cantata 3.0 with the ladder Dac is a significant upgrade on the version 2.0.
Thanks again, and all the best
Richard
Srajan:
Any idea when Nagra's Classic PSU will arrive for review? And will you also test it on your Jazz preamp?
Holger Scharmacher

No idea, sorry. I forgot to ask. But affirmative on the Jazz. I will test the ultra-cap power supply with both it and the Classic Preamp
Srajan
Hello Srajan:
Adding to Casey's question, were you able to visit the Fyne Audio exhibit you teased in your report's preview section?
André

I was. They had three adjoining rooms in the Marriott and had already seen 17 prospective new distributors by the time I got there to seemingly hit the ground running. It was late in the day and my willingness to listen was at zero so I can't report on that aspect. I did think that their current flagship was cosmetically... well, a bit challenged. Fanciers of Tannoy's big legacy speakers certainly won't be attracted based on just looks. But I did take note of how their downfire ports were executed - with a 'negative horn' element mounted to the plinth. That was simple but clever and effective.
Srajan
Srajan,
remarkable job on your Munich show report. There are lots of nuggets of information tucked into a very entertaining delivery. I sense many most interesting reviews in the wings. One question if I may. Did you manage to hit up Goldmund on any new Job models?
Casey Harwater

I did hit them up and no new jobs I'm afraid. I did learn that the Telos headphone amp I reviewed is undergoing revisions to come back made over and refreshed. What exactly its day-spa treatment will consist of I didn't find out but a review unit was offered and accepted so the full reveal should just be a matter of time.
Srajan
Dear Srajan,
I really enjoyed your tale of this last visit to Munich. I already read the coverage on SoundStage and the unfolding pages on Stereophile and DAR. Just as you predicted, it's all starting to come together into a very big picture and it's interesting to see how each writer has such a different take on things, style of narrative and what they pursue and focus on. Still, it's about more than just ticking off the novelty boxes and I commend you for including the human element in such tangible fashion. And despite your blown flash, I saw nothing wrong with your photos. Well done!
Francis
Srajan: I have, as usual, enjoyed reading your recent reviews on the 6moons site very much. However, I have a question concerning the Allnic ZL (zero loss) cable loom. Your review was excellent - by which I mean you excited me about a group of products I might not otherwise have found alluring. Nevertheless, despite re-reading the review more than once, and even visiting the Allnic website, I cannot discern the reason for the substantial difference in price (as identified in the header notes to the review) between the ZL-3000 and the ZL-5000 products. Since this point was not mentioned in your review, I would appreciate an explanation. Please know that I have come to rely on the 6moons site for exposure to provocative new audio products from around the world. This was certainly the case with the Allnic cables. Thank you for all you do in this regard!
Godfrey Herndon

I had the same question but got no useful answer from my Canadian contact, hence left that point untouched. What I reviewed was purely 3000 Series product.
Srajan
Met you a few years back in Munich. You're certainly my favorite audio writer. Been using an nCore 500 on my Analysis Audio Amphitryons (the big ones). I actually use two stereo Nords, one for each speaker. I power each speaker actively with the digital crossover built into my TotalDac. I was loving this system until I went to someone's house over the weekend who run VTLs into their Magnepans. To your words clearly, I'm too far on the lean side. I need something wetter, perhaps from lower damping. Thinking about the Pass XA-25 or the new SIT-3!  Since I get to double up the power with one stereo amp per speaker, both of these could work. Can't wait to hear more about the SIT-3 and how it fits into the world of amps!
David Hyman

Panel speakers like yours tend to be wicked loads. It's why your friend has high-power amps on his Maggies. I'd not even consider the SIT-3 for such a job. The XA-25 might be up to the task but to be certain, I'd contact Pass Labs with the impedance and phase plots of your 2-meter panels. Unless they're much friendlier than typical Magneplanars, you may need to keep your eyes peeled on higher power as you have it now, just change the flavour of it.
Srajan
Three-cornered hat. Thanks for reminding me of the De Falla. (I've got the Dutoit version.) Paco de Lucia did a few (Molinero' of course) on his 'De Falla' album. Takes me back to living in Andalusia for 6 months, plus many visits. I was only looking at a photo of the two of us (Carole + I) in the Alhambra, this morning (Nights in the gardens of Spain; De Larrocha version). Have you tried the 'Carmen, orchestrated by Shchedrin '- with 57 percussion instruments?
Perfect for todays 24 degree weather.
Chris Skelton

I've actuall played it once with an orchestra. That's how I suddenly remembered the title whilst staring at Crayon's unusually shaped volume knob. But I actually don't own a copy of it. And 24° degrees - our thermometer tops out at 17°. Maybe I need to buy a UK model?
Srajan
Hiya Srajan:
Just saw your news announcement of the new Vinnie Rossi amps. So is he going away from the ultra-cap power supplies now? I couldn't make out for sure with your press release.
Tim

These will be traditional linear power supplies I believe. That doesn't negate the ultra-cap models, just adds a different approach. I'm sure we'll learn a lot more in due time from the man himself.
Srajan
Hi Srajan,
Nice write up of the CIA 1T. Sounds like a really great amplifier. Are you going to replace you CFA 1.2 with it? 
Peter

No. In the LinnenberG Liszt I've already got 200-watt monos with very similar sound and there's absolutely nothing wrong with the 1.2 and its lower power as is. It'll stick around. Plus, Roland wants me to review the 1.3 when that bows so it'll be mandatory to have a 1.2 on hand to do a proper comparison.
Srajan
Dear Sir,
I really like to read your website. I really like the Rubanoides but I feel that you forgot to talk about the inventor of this king of speaker. The inventor is Mr. Deminière. He did really great work for the pure pleasure of our ears. It could be great the next time to present his work of the Janus 50. The Rubanoides are a copy of the Janus 50 and both are really really good. Little things are different but the concept is similar. If I remember correctly, after the creation of the Janus 50, Serge Schmidlin of Audio Consulting asked Mr. Deminière to collaborate and make it a commercial product. Serge did a great job to make them famous all over the world. But I don't understand why no one talks about the real inventor.
Best
Julien Allieux

Either Serge forgot to mention it; or I failed to pay attention to then not mention it in my report. I only knew of the obvious connection to Linaeum. You're correct of course, the real inventor should have been named but as a self-styled reporter not trained investigative journalist, sometimes I don't know what questions to ask so certain things get unintentionally overlooked as apparently was the case here. My sincere apologies to Mr. Deminière.
Srajan
Hey Srajan:
Saw the news that the new Stereophile owners laid off Michael Lavorgna at AudioStream. I know he wrote for you before he started there so can we expect to see him on your site again soon? I am curious because I always liked his writings and would enjoy more of it in the future.
Simon Diaz

I don't know what Michael's plans or options are but if he appears on staff somewhere rather than starts his own gig, I'd expect that Darko.audio would be a much better fit for his current focus than us. Of course he might want to take a break from reviewing altogether; or find himself bound by certain non-compete or similar agreements. I certainly wish him well whatever he decides to do.
Srajan
Srajan,
I second Simon's feelings about Michael Lavorgna. If he's available, he would make a great addition to your team again...
Matthieu

After having served in an editor's role for many years to develop his own approach and style, I don't think Michael would enjoy having to conform to our format again. So once more, I think he'd be a more natural fit for John Darko's site - or launching his own site altogether. Being one's own boss only to work under someone else again is often not that compelling.
Srajan
Hello Srajan:
Interesting review on the new LessLoss DAC. I enjoyed your discussion on 'echoic fill'. I too have noticed it with various tube gear I've auditioned in stores during my travels even though I didn't exactly call it that. It does describe the effect rather well I think. Do you have any theories on what exactly is causing it? Given how precisely you've described the "action" as you call it, you might have some ideas? I'd be very curious to hear them.
Anton

It's one thing to come up with a decent description for an observation, quite another to determine cause. While it behaves like increasing a room's reverberation time, the gear obviously can't affect that. Hearing lengthier rather than shorter recorded decays requires a superior S/NR so that the faintest trails don't fall below the noise floor. But what this behaviour does is let you hear less of the recorded decays because it somehow 'fills in' silent space around the notes with what I called 'connective tissue'. I'm afraid that while I can hear it and described in in those terms to illustrate this texturizing action, I don't have a clear grasp on the mechanics behind it. Excessive 2nd-order harmonics do a similar thing but I very much doubt that was the case here. In short, your question rather exceeds my pay grade. I simply don't know. You'll have to talk to my boss. If I just knew who that was -:)
Srajan
Hi Srajan:
Joël's latest review really was something. With my broken French, I had sampled it on his site but it was great to now get all of the nuances in your English version. It's amazing to hear that class D can be implemented and voiced to mimic a good SET and still do the typical transistor things of better bass control and lower noise. Who would have thought? I would usually take such claims with a bucket of salt but Joël's ongoing ownership of Israel Blume's 101D preamp tells me that he knows direct-heated triodes. So that's really something. Thanks for letting us Anglophiles in on the action. Much appreciated!
Corey Friars

Having syndication partners in France, Germany and Poland does broaden our coverage and it even works the other way around. Our fairaudio.de colleagues in Berlin just notified me that they translated our Lab 12 Suono review and that a Gold Note review will shortly follow. I checked it out. I had no idea that my German was still that fluent. I rather thought I was rustier. Doing a proper translation is far from easy but these guys did a brilliant job. It's a far more involved task than just a cut'n'paste job from one site to another. So kudos also to Joël's enviable bilingual skills!
Srajan
Hello David (and Srajan),
Well, I don't know if it's serendipity or coincidence, but your review of the m8audio Sweet Maxwells was such a breath of fresh air and touched me in a way that's hard to describe except for the obvious. Both my parents happen to have been Physics majors in Britain and named me after James Clerk Maxwell, the latter being my given name. Keeping in my mind that my parents were from the West Country in England and that I'm fairly certain our family history does not allow for any Scottish blood, I do feel that if it's not Scottish, it's crap! Nevertheless, in this case, a Dane's efforts Down Under are very intriguing indeed, given how much I like my current resident speakers (Dali Fazon floorstanders with cellulose mid/bass drivers and silk dome tweeter). Kudos to Dawid for a thoroughly engaging piece and to Srajan for making it possible.
Max(well) Hollins
Srajan,
I just read your Stacore platform review. One question I was left with was the issue of cost in your comparison to your own amp platform. You told us what the Stacore cost which you found even superior. How much was the Artesania? That would add more context to your findings.
Craig Winston

Ah... the oversight committee in action. I just looked it up. €2'470 for the upgraded Krion platform over the triple-laminated glass, €890 for the steel support = €3'360 for our stand as used. Because it's a very valid point, I just added that price into the relevant section of the review, thank you. So the Stacore was nearly double... and indeed better to work to the math of 'you get what you pay for'.
Srajan
Hi,
I am not able to get a clear picture of the following audio terminology:
• Dynamic contrast
• Saturated sound
• Dark sounding
Can you kindly guide.
Biju

Dynamic contrast = how much difference there is between not just the loudest and quietest parts but between far closer parts which might be quiet and just slightly less quiet. The more dynamic contrast there is, there more gradations of loudness there are - not black & white but 50 shades of grey.
Saturated sound = rich tone colours with high black levels.
Dark sounding = lack of treble air, possibly bassy tonal balance, with a common side effect of reduced separation and greater density.
Srajan
Hello Srajan,
I have been reading, pondering and watching your reviews on both Linnenberg as well as Audio Physic speakers. I wait especially to see your final comments on the Linnenberg Liszt amplifier, mainly in comparison to the Allegro mono amp pair you currently have as one of your references. I am looking at moving to a new system soon comprising of the smaller Audio Physic Tempo Plus, and possibly the Allegros for amplification. One question that I have for you, seeing how the Job 225 amplifier or even the Job integrated seem to be cut from a similar cloth to the Linnenberg Allegro, other than power, cost and a bit more on the looks, what sonic differences or otherwise might be a reason to sway from the Linnenberg to the Job amps? Congrats too on the new home, it looks absolutely fabulous! Be well!
Sincerely,
Tim Frazeur

I consider the LinnenberG 'the next level up' in refinement and beyond that, the Bakoon. Admittedly, those difference are getting smaller. As to an actual A/B, during our last move the Job, in its original box, vanished. We're entirely out of all boxes by now and it's still not surfaced. I don't know what happened but it seems to have - well, disapparated quite by magick.
Srajan

I appreciate your reply to me about the LinnenberG amplifiers. I read the rest of your review this evening. It all comes together and makes good sense. I appreciate being able to read and follow your reviews of interesting and very unique equipment from around the globe. Sometimes small companies' products manage to slip under the radar and are missed, even in this easy to get information/technology world in which we live. Thanks again for your reviews and comments, as well as those colleagues of 6moons who also bring their time and experience to us all. Also the distributors and dealers who are able to bring them in for us to hear. Well done! Apologies also for the missing Job 225 amplifier of yours, hopefully some how or way, it will show back up, preferably in one working piece still, and if not, hopefully someone is enjoying it! Be well!
Sincerely,
Tim
Hi Srajan,
I have been an avid reader for many years.  I am currently DACless and have been contemplating a number of options that you have reviewed and would like your take on. You have given both the Metrum Adagio and the Denafrips Terminator a Blue Moon award. In terms of just the quality of the DAC section and ignoring price, which one would you recommend? From your descriptions it sound like they have similar sound signatures.
Thanks
Peter

Two discrete R2R decks, both very good on PRaT, but the Denafrips would be chunkier and denser on tone and imaging. The other aspect is country of origin and infrastructure. It'll be very easy to get service with Metrum. With Denafrips a repair may necessitate shipment to China unless they already have importer repair centres in the EU and US. That I don't know.
Srajan  
Hi Srajan,
loyal reader, I am missing 6moons' Realsization recommendations (last one in Sept 2016). The topic of extreme value in audio is an important one, critical to motivate many would-be audiophile to enter this beautiful (yet expensive) hobby. This category could include $1'000 items but also products that deliver exceptional value (like the $5000 Rethm you reviewed). Few candidates spring to mind:
• KEF LS-50 speakers
• Auralic Mini streamer / dac
• Naim Uniti Nova and Devialet 130 integrated
• Micro Zotl valve headphone amp / pre amplifier
• Crayon CIA 1 amplifier
Thanks
Vincenzo

Good point. Re: your recos, John Darko has already said everything there is to say about the KEF LS50. The T version of the Crayon is in the preview gallery already. I'd contacted the Zotl folks back when but nothing came of it. We've done a number of Devialet reviews. Which leaves the Naim and Auralic. Certainly very viable candidates. We'll see what we can do on the Realsization front.
Srajan
Hi Srajan,
Just read your updated Nagra Classic Preamp review. Sounds like you preferred 12dB gain with headphones. Do you also prefer it for speakers? Also, in your review on the Classic Amp, which input sensitivity did you prefer? 1V or 2V?
Thanks
Tommy

As the review explained, 12dB applies a bit less negative feedback. Depending on the speakers or headphones, one or the other could be preferable. It's immaterial what I prefer. Everyone has to try for themselves and decide. Those mentions were made just to alert people not to think about this switch in pure gain terms. As to the Classic Amp, I'm afraid I don't remember. But again, just try it and trust your own ears. A bit of self initiative, please!
Srajan
Hi Srajan, 
I am now looking at upgrading the Gallo Classic 3. I'm kind of all over the map so far. Looking up to $5'000 new or used. Mark Sossa suggested the QLN Signature. He thinks they would be an upgrade in every way. Other speakers on my list to try and hear are:
Ryan 620 or 630
Monitor Pl100II (would love 200 if used)
Spendor D7
Proac D30r
Opera (a couple of models)
Just wondering if you have any input on these or where else I should look to upgrade in most or all parameters on the cl3. 
Thanks,
Todd

I might look at one of the later-gen Audio Physic Virgo on the used market.
Srajan

Thanks much. I hadn't considered Audio Physic but I've always liked the easy look. I'll try to get a listen. Do you think their current lineup is very good? Looks like they don't make the Virgo anymore. 
Todd

They still make the Virgo. I reviewed it last year. It's very good. I bought the next model up, the Codex. That's become my reference speaker.
Srajan

Wow that's high praise indeed, knowing how many great speakers come through your place. I'll look at the Codex also.
Todd

Audio Physic would give you the spectacular soundstaging you're used to with the Gallos. And already the Virgo would have more bass extension. The Codex is still newer so getting one used could be tough and at retail, it'd eclipse your budget by 100%.
Srajan
Hi Srajan,
just saw your updated Audio Zen Lysios review. I had to chuckle at your critique of the mismatched face plates. As you point out, the maker's lettering revision still goes with two different schemes in how they use caps and lower case. It stared me right in the face but I guess some people just don't get it. Not that it has anything to do with sound. I look forward to what you'll say about that next. Still, shouldn't attention to detail catch such obvious things before they go into production?
Corey Smythe

I tend to agree. But then I'm guilty of typos and all manner of other mistakes which (they ought to, dammit!) stare me right in the face but which I routinely don't catch until they're live. Luckily I can fix them easily after the fact. Getting a batch of silk-screened face plates redone is far more of a pain and not free. And, big outfits can hire specialists for various tasks. Boutique operations usually have one guy play mad hatter and wear all the caps at once. It's rare that one individual then is 100% brilliant at all they must do. That's simple arithmetic.
Srajan

In our team we have a design & media marketing specialist, my friend Alessandro Coletta, who is the one that made external changes on our products. The differences between the writings on the two units of Lysios is intentional, not a mistake: zen dual mono power amplifier is the 'subtitle' of Lysios, Power Supply Unit is not the same, it is the name of that unit that is a part of Lysios, that's why it is written with caps like all Zen Range products: only Lysios is written all in capital letters because it is the power amplifier of Zen Range. Alchemy, Aedo, Insight, Euphono, Positrone are written with the initial letter in caps like Power Supply Unit. Audiozen is correct, not Audio Zen or AudioZen. Ps: I don't wear hats...
Cheers,
Nino
Dear sir,
i am Paolo Verzegnassi from Trieste, Italy. I am writing you because, like you had advised me, I have read all your reviews on Metrum and Aqua products to understand the difference. I own a Metrum Hex and find it explicit and dynamic but lacking in refinement, balance (too much bass) and sweetness. I would like to change after some years of honoured service. I really feel the necessity to upgrade to another level but without loosing the pace, rhythm and timing factor. I have built my system with great effort and am terrorized to make a mistake. If I should change the actual preamplifier too (Esoteric C03 xs, upgraded version of your previous one), please feel free to tell me without any reserve.
Kind regards
Paolo Verzegnassi

Your "too much bass" comment suggests to me that you might first look into your speaker/room interaction because that's not how the Hex ever behaved for me. Rather than focusing on the DAC as the culprit, it's more likely that your speaker (per se or how, due to setup, it behaves in the room) is responsible for any overly rich bass. Of course if you have the Esoteric preamp and if it retains the adaptable gain (0,12, 24dB) of my earlier model, you can easily change the tonal balance by using zero gain. The more gain I used on mine, the heavier and thicker the sound became.
Srajan
Hi,
Since you have reviewed Voxativ speakers, can you suggest few suitable amplifiers for it? I bought a Pi to partner with my Airtight ATM300B amplifier. Unfortunately, the high frequencies are too sharp. Tried changing the cables but no luck.
Regards.
Bijou

Have you tried speaker positioning so that the drivers don't aim directly at your ears but fire past them on the outside? That would tend to roll off the HF. Also, these drivers require many hours to break in. How much time do you have on yours?
Srajan

I would have used them for about 60 hours.
Bijou

That explains it. High-efficiency widebanders like those from Lowther, Rethm, AER and Voxativ are notorious for their lengthy break-in. Don't judge anything until you've clocked 500 hours. To hasten that process, put the speakers face to face as close as they will go, then cover them in a few heavy blankets. Wire one out of phase, then play music on endless repeat at somewhat higher SPL than you normally would. Much of the output with cancel out due to the inverted wiring on one of the speakers to become less objectionable while you're out of the house. If after that, the HF still strike you as forward, then it would be time to explore other avenues. For now however, it's almost certainly lack of break-in which is the issue so stay put and don't even think of changing amps.
Srajan
Dear Srajan,
Thank you for your ongoing review on the Nagra Classic Preamp. I look forward to reading its continuation. Do you have any more info regarding the upcoming MPS based on the ultra cap technology? I currently have the MPS with battery powering the preamp. Will the new MPS come in the same size as the current Classic line? Or will it be bigger like the HD Preamp? Any ETA on the product?
Thanks
Tommy

I don't know any more than I wrote or I would have written it. You might contact Nagra directly. It was indicated to me that I might be allowed to hang onto the preamp until the new MPS bows to add some comments to my review. If so, I doubt that ETA is too far off since I'm not earmarked for an endless loaner of the Classic Pre -:)
Srajan
Good day,
I am attempting to become educated on tweeters and super tweeters. Please forgive my limited knowledge and thus somewhat dated inquiry. In your opinion what is the best tweeter / super tweeter you have come across and why?I have been told and read articles proclaiming that plasma tweeters are the best, rated up to 150kHz. Example - Lansche. I have also read and been told that ribbon tweeters can reach up to 100kHz and are the most detailed, second only to plasma tweeters. They are much more cost effective than the plasma tweeters. Example RAAL 70/20. I have also read and been told that the two scenarios above do not matter as the human condition cannot process sound above 20kHz. The problem becomes more of how to maximize the sound within those existing measurements rather than attempting to extend them. Example Audiosmile.
I would greatly appreciate your opinions on the subject if you find the time.
Regards,
Gavin Citron

Tweeter bandwidth isn't really about hearing beyond 20kHz but hearing to 20kHz without phase shift. The broader the bandwidth beyond 20kHz, the less phase shift there will be in the audible range. Another factor is dispersion and power response. As sounds descend in frequency, their radiation becomes more omnidirectional. As they ascend, they get more and more focused or beamy. Put plainly, the balance of low and high frequencies within a room tends not to be linear. You will hear the bass at least twice if not more times (direct, first reflection, late reflection). And you'll hear more bass and less treble also as a function of the power response. A way to minimize that is listening in the extreme nearfield (speakers toed in directly at the ears, sitting very close). Once you transition from direct-radiating 1" tweeters to tall ribbons or even folded 'ribbons' like air-motion transformers, you disperse more treble energies at the ear. You literally move more air. Once such tweeters become open-backed dipoles to radiate sound front and back, the power response or in-room balance of hi/lo frequencies becomes more linear. Once you get a true omni tweeter like Elac's omni ribbon; like mbl's 'pulsating' tweeter; or 360° reflected like Duevel & Co, you're closest to how sound behaves live. Compare that now to a 1" dome tweeter firing just forward and there's a big difference in how you perceive the high frequencies. In my experience, the primary advantage of super tweeters is that they can fill in the power response if they're dipole or omni. It's not about going higher per se. It's about matching the radiation pattern of the lower frequencies. A smaller secondary advantage might be that their colossal extension suffers less phase error but of course that super tweeter output overlays (doubles up) on what a traditional tweeter does so isn't pure. Following that line of reasoning, you'd want to start out with a 100kHz ribbon and forget about the add-on fix. As to add-on super tweeters, my favourite was Elac's omni ribbon but successful use depends on the sensitivity of your main speaker and whether that's within the range to which the Elac (or any other super tweeter) can be matched. If you instead go with a true omni speaker like our German Physiks HRS-120, the Elac becomes superfluous. In the end of course, nothing replaces personal experience which in this hobby means listening. The rest is just theory, abstract debate, wishful thinking and endless reading -:)
Srajan
Srajan:
Congrats on nabbing the LampizatOr Pacific review before any of the Polish magazines got around to it. That's quite the scoop and very informative at that. Keep up the good work!
Holger Scharmacher

Er... you did notice that this was syndicated from a Polish magazine? HifiKnights got there first, in January in fact whilst we republished it in March. As to other Polish publications, I frankly haven't paid attention to whether they covered this product already or not. Given the massive onslaught of gear on every established magazine, it's impossible to accommodate all review requests in a timely manner so "being first" tends to be a game of musical chairs. With some products, it might be us. With other products, it's a colleague over at another outfit. That's how it goes. Back to the Pacific, I do know that Dawid's timing tied directly to getting a traveling show demonstrator whose brass polish wasn't entirely final production yet. You might say that he skipped ahead of the line by going that route. And yes, good for him. And yes, being syndication partners, we benefitted as well. But mention a different brand and model and we'll be late to the party if we even attend at all...
Srajan
Hi Srajan,
Boy did I look forward to your review of the XA25! Well worth it anyway, looks like you agree more or less with your writer colleagues from Stereophile, Cnet etc. I have two questions: do you think it would do well with a pair of Quad ESLl63, I am not playing that loud; and do you think it will do even better than the Quad 303 QR from Quad Revisie in Holland which I bought last year for €575? If you have not tried this amp, I think you should, you might be surprised! Thanks for you site which I like a lot.
Best regards,
Jørgen

I'm afraid I wouldn't know, having never yet hosted a Quad 'stat to know how amps I'm familiar with behave into their load. Without that reference point, I'm completely in the dark on the subject. So if I were you, I'd contact Pass Labs directly. This is precisely why they have so many different amplifier models which accommodate very specific speakers. If they know that the XA25 won't do well into your Quads; or that another model would do significantly better... they'd tell you straight. With their global dealer network, they have access to far more feedback on golden matches than any reviewer would ever have.
Srajan
Dear Srajan,
I, along with many, many audiophiles are patiently waiting on your Crayon CIA-1T review. If it is not too late, can you test your COS H1 Pre/DAC/Headphone with the Crayon CIA-1T? This would seem a very satisfying combo as the Crayon integrated does not have a headphone out but can perform as a power amp for the DAC/Pre section of the COS H1. At least in principle this seems like a combo that would work but as know in hifi, not every combination works like it should.
Cheers,
Zwingli

As of March 1, the loaner hasn't arrived yet so for now, the preview is it. When it does drop, we'll see what's on hand to mix it up.
Srajan
You wrote, "clearly, transistors exist in as many aromas and permutations as acuum tubes do. Yet anecdotal data about various transistor sound signatures are most sparse except for ex Stereophile writer Sam Tellig's laconic Mosfet mist." And then there's Nelson Pass. I remember reading, perhaps here at 6moons, Pass talking about listening to many of the myriad of transistors available in the thick industry catalog. In particular, his FirstWatt products focus on utilizing the attributes of different transistors. I'm a big fan of the J2 with its "high power" JFETs for the final stage.
Robert Pollock

Quite. If Marvel had a hifi super hero, Nelson would be Amp Man. I've listened to a number of his FirstWatt amps including the SIT with his proprietary 'static induction' transistors. Nelson is someone whose endless curiosity samples as many solid-state output devices (and even the Korg NuTube) as he can get his hands on. And, outside of him and a few other designers with extensive transistor rolling experience, I'd still say that, amongst potential buyers and audiophiles in general, a base-level understanding of various transistor signatures is far lower than it is with tubes. Not being able to easily swap output transistors like you can with tubes must be the core reason why it is much harder to generate educated impressions..
Srajan
Hello Srajan,
in the HiFiKnights interview, when asked what system you would have if you could have only one, your choice of amplification and conversion is the Vinnie Rossi LIO with DAC. My question is this: I can understand the LIO as amplifier but what would motivate you to choose Vinnie's DAC option over other DACs that you own and appreciate...let's say, for example,your Aqua Formula Can you tell me what the date of the interview is? I can't find a date on it anywhere. This, by the way, is one of my pet peeves. I think that articles published on the internet should all be dated. The lack of a date, I feel, is a real disservice to everyone.
Peter Borelli

We've had month/year identifiers on all of our articles and reviews since the very beginning. This however was an article I contributed to another magazine just as I do with my KIH features for Darko.audio. How other publishers decide to present, edit and format my submissions is entirely up to them so they fit into the conventions of their sites. I believe we did that interview in early 2016 but I don't remember now. As to the other question, my answer reflects imagining myself beyond a reviewer career as someone who settles down with just one system. I'd then want the utmost simplicity aka integration. Asking about other DACs is the audiophile neurosis speaking again. There is a lot to be said for integration which in this case eliminates a digital cable, another box, another power cord, another component generating RF, EMI and powerline noise. Good integration can make a €3'000 modular DAC perform like a twice-or-higher priced external DAC. Eventually of course you can max out anything. The question is, at what cost and complexity. Just the price of the Formula eclipses a fully loaded Lio! My interview answer bypasses such worries to champion simplicity from expert integration. And the Lio with the original DAC is something I'd live with in a heartbeat if I had the right speakers for its 25wpc amp section and retired from reviewing and keeping multiples of every product category on hand to do my job. By now there's even an upgraded Lio DAC option but I've not heard it. And even mentioning that feeds that audiophile paranoia again as something my interview was not meant to do.
Srajan
Hi Srajan,
I know you get plenty of unsolicited e-mails but I've been grooving on your latest discoveries and audiophile journey. So, many kudos for recommending the Eversound Essence speakers some time back. I bought a pair under the new Feniks name during a Kickstarter campaign. I know you enjoyed the internal dac implementation but I've found they definitely scale up with a better dac. Having said that, the internal dac is very, very good.

If you ever get a chance, demo them with the Chord Hugo 2 fed by an Ultra-Rendu, Uptone Audio LPS-1 combo. The ultra-resolving and fast Hugo 2 meets the meaty and equally fast Feniks. The Ultra-Rendu/LPS-1 completely fleshes out the bass. I don't think you'd normally consider the Chord DACs in your sonic wheelhouse but this is one of those crazy weird synergistic combos. I think you'll be really enjoying it. I find it to be transformatively good! I'm still sorta shaking my head. Moments like this feed the addiction. I find it to be a new personal benchmark in desktop audio by no small margin. The entire room, not just your desktop, is fully energized.
Best,
Joseph Eagleeye
Principal, Premia Research LLC
Your recent Gryphon review turned me to your archives and the 2015 Kalliope review. For some reason I then went to Googlemap to have a look at the aerial view of the Gryphon factory. I've been believing that it was part of the Gryphon world to have a giant mythical creature on one of their buildings as your Kalliope conclusion shows - maybe a living gryphon with its claws ready to restore sight to the blind, or just maybe a model. But the Googlemap shows no such creature on the factory roof. Or maybe it's just flown. I've noticed that occassionally some of the cats in good listening position have been digitally dropped into the review pictures - presumably they are as difficult to herd as the gryphon. Thanks very much for your site - and thanks also to the other contributors. They are valuable insights that you all bring: and not without their entertainment.
Ian Lobb

Actually, whenever you see one of our cats, she or he was actually there. No Photoshop tricks with our spotifieds. That's reserved for the gryphon -:)
Srajan
Srajan,
what happened to the ZMF headphone review? I saw it announced in the preview section but it seems to have disappeared.
Matthias Baston

It has. Since the loaners hadn't shipped yet, I opted out. Zach was 40 days behind but got decidedly turned off when asked why he hadn't kept me in the loop about his delays. Apparently a non-paying reviewer deserves no such correspondence from ZMF. Of course that made me wonder how readers might be treated. I understand all about small businesses encountering delays. My issue were the excuses for not communicating them. With direct sellers, open communications about order status are vital. So it seemed best to step away.
Srajan
Hello Srajan,
I will receive my Gryphon Diablo 250 amp next week and I'm skeptical about the DAC to choose for listening on my PC. I currently have high-performance horns from exclusive GKF. I thought I might add an Audiog-d R2R DAC to compensate for the brightness of my HP compression. I do not have too much financial means to devote to this so could you give me some tracks to get an expressive but warm sound!
Patrick Dufour

I'm not sure why you didn't order the Diablo 250 with its own DAC module? If you trust the Danes with their amplification tech, why not their digital?
I've not heard the Audiog-d but M&H obviously reviewed it. My favourite DAC at that price would be the Denafrips Terminator.
Srajan
Srajan,
have followed your advice for over a decade. Do you think the jump from the Hex to the Terminator is a worthwhile upgrade?
All the best,
Paul

I do. With closely price-matched digital, I'd usually say no but the Terminator is a different matter. If the price still is what it was when I reviewed it, then yes, it'll be a very worthwhile step up. I'm still contemplating one myself but this last move has applied many resources elsewhere so it won't be happening any time soon.
Srajan

Thank you. I was going to anyway :) Its nice to have you as a backboard and knowing your taste over the years. What will be fun is that I run an inexpensive but well-built Audio-GD USB converter in both my systems that outputs I2S and I could not believe how much the Audio-GD dac loved that input via Cat5. interesting to see if the Denafrips is the same.
All the best,
Paul

Do let me know how you get one once the terminatering starts -:)
Srajan
The pictures of your new listening room raise the question yet again. What about the cleaning lady? And guests blindly tripping over everything to get at the picture window? This is The Problem I Couldn't Solve. Have a nice Sunday.
Michele from Rome

With so many more windows in da crib, blocking one set really didn't factor. And what cleaning lady? That'll be me with the vacuum, sir -:)
Srajan

So it isn't Ivette. Good for you both, I say.

My work space, my job to keep it tidy.
Dear Srajan,
I hope the efforts of the move have ebbed down a bit. Thank you for sharing your new space, not so much to satisfy the voyeuristic tendencies but as you rightly put it, to better understand what and how your are hearing. The general context of how and why is unfortunately still missing in many reviews/reviewers which makes the findings (if there are any at all to be had) and judgement less tangible for oneself. I use the opportunity of my recent move to reassess the various pieces of equipment (but also some fundamental assumptions and basics) that came together over the years to form the stereo as it stands today. A question on your new room. As only 2 ASI resonators can be (easily?) seen, did you reduce the usage of those?
Best
Gregor

As a kind of correction, I have seen now the 3rd resonator.
Gregor

Actually, I currently use six. There's one high above the subwoofer on the ceiling ridge; one on the sub; two on the side window boxes; and two in the lower front corners. The latter are hidden inside tea-light fragrance dispensers since our lounge leopards Nori and Chai Baba love to otherwise bump the shiny resonators off their perches and play football with them all through the house. This way they can't see them and so far, so good -:)

And yes, having a clear sense for a reviewer's space is mandatory to relate to their findings. It was great to recently see Stereophile start doing video visits to their writers. But too many publications still fail to provide this most basic information. Hopefully that will change and readers can certainly do their part by asking for it. If a reviewer can't show us his space, it's either an unpresentable mess; or far too small to do justice to the kind of speakers he/she is known to review. Now showing the reality would end the illusion and undermine credibility. It's why we have had room photos since day one. They're essential data.
Srajan
Hello Srajan,
That's a stunningly new gorgeous place. Enjoy! We moved in July and have two nice bright listening rooms now but they ain't like yours!I envy that long open space. And that fireplace! I have a friend with a setup almost exactly like yours, in a long limestone-walled townhouse dating from the 1850s with a kitchen at one end. He likes to play it loud and work in the kitchen. He gets the air pressurized but spares his eardrums. And when he wants nearer-field at sane volumes, he does that. 2 for 1.
Happy New Year,
Tim

A long space indeed allows for that. It's now the third place of this type we've been in and there's really something to be said for not having the usual rear wall close by. I don't think high gabled ceilings per se are necessarily that beneficial as they will create longer reflection paths but the geometry of this particular one plus the added exposed beams really do work very well. Dumb luck, that.
Srajan
Dear Mr. Ebean,
I am Paolo Verzegnassi from Italy again. I am sorry to disturb but I only should ask a question. I would like to build an audio system that has as main feature dynamics (P.R.a T.). I often have read that you divide dacs into two categories. One of them is P.R.a T. Well, my question is this: In your experience, which is the best dac in this category without forgetting that the component has not just this quality?" Then it is my intention to add an integrated amplifier and mid-high sensitivity speakers that can keep the P.R.a T. factor high. Thank you.
Kind regards
Paolo Verzegnassi

The Gryphon Kalliope would top my list on that score. At lower prices, I very much fancy the Aqua Hifi and Metrum R2R machines.
Srajan
Hi Srajan,
I read your review of the Denafrips Terminator and found it very interesting indeed. For a DAC to equal, or almost equal, Aqua's Formula DAC for 1/4th of the cost is some achievement. Unfortunately, I can't audition it because I live in Scotland but I'm seriously contemplating purchasing one based on your review. Can I ask, what one quality apart from its outstanding value, impressed you most about it? My system comprises: high end Marantz SACDP, Rega DAC, high end Marantz preamp, Meridian 557 power amp and a pair of PMC OB1i speakers. The system can best be described as being on the warm side of neutral with good resolution, separation and staging. Based on this info, could you please give me your thoughts on whether the Terminator would be a worthwhile addition?
Best regards,
John Fraser

If all my review talked about was the Terminator's good value, it would have been a rather short review. Anything else I had to say about it sonically is in there already so just gauge what you're trying to achieve against what I wrote and voilà.
Srajan
Hello Srajan!
I've been reading a lot of your reviews and while I was on the one about the Matrix X Sabre Pro, I've found some statements that make the point about something I've never known how to explain! I have always been looking for what I've found to be defined as attack, transient attack and as you've defined, "crispy edge midrange". So here is my question: how do you think this characteristic interfaces and interacts with the definitions of a warm sound vs cold sound....and also what about the correlation with these same definitions with a sound which has less or more harmonics and detail?

I mean a sound with good transient attack like 'grainy' textured midrange (in a good sense) and that 'pops' almost scratchy but that I prefer....it's like having drier mids....but I perceive more presence at the same time.....what I do not get is that what is usually defined as a warmer sound had all of these things rounded off a bit like some saturation effect with softer edges (like the Sabre I've had on demo which wasn't the sound I was looking for). So does what I mean go in a 'colder' sound direction? I really need to make this clear because no one seems to get what I am looking for when I buy new stuff. Especially on the net I've made a lot of mistakes getting the wrong equipment!

The same goes for detail and harmonics. Can they coexist with all of this or is it something where one excludes the other? Is there a price to pay so that to get a sound with edge and attack you have to go toward a cold setting or is there something I'm missing? What drew me away from the path is that I was choosing between two different amps and the softer/rounder one defined by the other as warmer to me it was more distant while the one with good midrange edge was felt more present to me and even more analog if this definition is right. So is that edge in the end considered as more midrange detail? You are so right I wish I'd have read this review earlier. The balance of a system is so sensitive that even a small change can bring it in a totally different direction. Thanks in advance and I hope your experience can help me with this matter where 99% don't even get my question!
Sorry for my English!
Luigi

First off and most importantly, trust your own ears and don't worry over what to call your preference. Warm, cold, quick, slow... those are just labels needed to communicate with others. When you listen to your hifi, there are no others, just you and the music. And... to communicate, words are needed and then it's important to know how to explain what you're looking for in a way others comprehend. So I can appreciate your difficulty.

To me, your 'quest' hits on a key point of system voicing. It's deciding where on the axis of fast/slow and dry/warm to set the needle. To me warmth implies a small amount of fuzziness and softness like the famous 'soft focus' which movie directors apply to close-ups of their leading lady. In sonic terms, it means feeling further away from the musicians so that the acoustics of the venue begin to dominate. An extreme example would be a church or cathedral with an echo that lasts for seconds. Every acoustic has an echo but it's much much shorter so we don't call it echo. But it's the same thing. Sounds overhang a bit and it's always a natural effect of moving away from the sound sources. The sound becomes warmer, softer, more mixed and reverberant. Standing close to the stage where the music happens means predominantly direct sound. That is fast and can bite by being sharper. It has very little or no 'echo' mixed in.

Many recordings stick microphones very close to the players - within inches of a guitar's fret board, practically down the throat of a singer. That proximity far exceeds where our ears would ever be in a live concert even if we stood as close to the stage as security allowed. So the recording itself will be extremely direct, possibly even 'in your face'. To tone that down, many audiophiles dial their system towards something warmer, softer and slightly blurrier to arrive at, by compensation, to where they perceive 'real' or 'more natural' to be. By the same token, some concert goers always buy first row centre seats, others prefer third row balcony. You're clearly a 'first row' listener so you're looking for more speed, immediacy, presence, directness and possible bite/edge when that's on the recording. To really come off requires not just the proper amp (in my book, ideally one that's wide bandwidth and direct-coupled to avoid signal-path capacitors) but a speaker that doesn't confuse the time domain; and whose cabinet isn't so active that it injects its own soft focus from box talk.

As to harmonics, I tend to prefer amps with less feedback and fewer gain stages. It seems that as the number of gain stages increase and global feedback grows, the sound gets drier and more damped. So if I were you, I'd tell people that you're looking for a fast yet simple transistor amp with low feedback and bandwidth to 200kHz. And obviously, none of this is about right or wrong. It's simply about a personal preference and understanding that you're dealing with opposites where, ultimately, one precludes the other. An ultimately fast dry damped sound will be very crisp, clear, possibly bright and very detailed. An ultimately warm sound will be thick, rich, heavy, slow and also muddy, foggy and confused. So now it's simply a matter of figuring out where between those two polarities you like your sound the best. Then words stop to matter and the sound is just what it is and who the hell cares what someone else calls it.
Srajan

...."and who the hell cares what someone else calls it" hahahaha that was great! Thank you soo much for your reply. It really was professional without going into the hyper technical. It made everything more clear to me but there's just one final thing: in short,.if a specific amp behaves like you've described because of its circuitry design, it usually does it across the whole freq range?Because I have three different experiences:
1 an h/kardon with that dry front-row sound but slow and muddy bass
2 a weird Musical Fidelity which has powerful but muffled bass, a rounded midrange but a too open harsh treble (and this was the amp which got me confused about the whole subject. How would you define this sound? I mean does it get marked as warm on the midbass and mids and cold on the tweeters? How can this weird overall balance happen?
3 some Nordost Red Dawn speaker cables which brings you to the front row as you've described because they project music more in your face, talking about space much more present... but the sound is again more rounded and less dry like if you were listening from "third row balcony" as you've described! Again it's a weird mix which brings me off the path! In this case I was demoing with a Naim Supernait2 which sounded right to me but just swapping the power cable with Red Dawn had this effect).
4 last but not least how would you describe an analog sound?

Anyways thank you again for your patience and your feedback. Sorry to bother you again but you're saving my life just in time before I get neurotic so I can save money for hifi rather than doctors and medicines !
Luigi

You're forgetting that the amp and speakers make an interactive pairing. The speakers are 'reactive' in that their behaviour tends to influence the amp so a proper match is important. Loose woolly bass can be the result of insufficient power and/or damping or a room interaction, particularly with ported speakers. A 'fast' amp will put more demands on the tweeters. Unless of proper quality, those can get a bit shrill and strident. And as you've noted, certain cables can change the sound a lot too and Nordost in general tends to fall into the fast lean camp. It's impossible to predict with certainty how things will combine but in sequence of dominance on the sound, it's the room first, then how the speakers play the room (also depends on good setup) and how the amp controls the speakers. Preamp and source are further down the list. Cables can make big changes, sometimes more than the preamp and source. Most of us can't do anything about the room. So it becomes vitally important to select a speaker that's not too much for the room (overloads it with bass); and which can be located to perform optimally (hardly ever close to the wall or in the corners). If you go with an active speaker, you tend to start out far closer to your ideal sound and then certain adjustments on the speakers can fine-tine things further. That route eliminates the amp/speaker uncertainty and cable dependence (you'll still need to feed those speakers a source but that cable, unless you go Wifi, will be quite marginal in impact). Active speakers to check out would be by Audio Engine and KEF. As far as analog sound, I wouldn't worry about it. Even the 'experts' can't agree on what it is. It's just another label. Sound is sound. You either like the flavour or you don't. Cross 'analog' off your list of things to worry about and just consider the sound in terms of a pleasing tonal balance where nothing jumps out or is texturally different; and where the perspective (close-up or distant, fast/direct or warm/distant) is to your liking.
Srajan
Sraja​n,​
I own an Auraliti PK90 USB file player that I purchased new when it first came out. I have read your reviews on both the Auraliti (October 2015) and your recent review of the SOtM SMS 200 Ultra (November 2017). I am considering replacing the Auraliti with the SOtM but I was wondering, since you have heard both, what your thoughts were. The interfaces don't matter to me. It's just the sound improvement, if any. I'm trying to avoid a sideways move here that only costs me money. Is the PK90 close enough to the SOtM that I should keep it and wait a while longer? I use LPS on the Auraliti and would also use it on the SOtM.
Thank you,
John Koestner

The writer who heard both is Frederic Beudot on staff. I never heard or reviewed an Auraliti so couldn't help. You can reach Frederic at frederic at 6moons.com. I own the site but far from every review we publish is written by me -:)
Srajan

Does the fact that I did not buy the SOtM and still run the Auraliti answer your question? I actually find the Auraliti to have a slightly more organic sound, more fluid and broader, deeper imaging. The SOtM is more precise but also a bit colder. All in all they are very close and I slightly preferred the Auraliti so no reason for me to invest. If you do not own the linear power supply for the PK90, that's a much bigger improvement than changing file player. Of course if interface matters, then it is checkmate in favor of the SOtM but since you say it is not a decision factor for you (in which case you are like me), then save your $.
Hope that helps
Frederic

Frederic,
Thank you so much for answering. It makes me very happy to know that every once in a while I may have a question and you guys are willing to respond individually to fellow hobbyists. Now I can relax about the digital for a while as I am also considering a PS Audio P10 Regenerator.
Thanks again,
John Koestner