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By repeat inquiry, here is the owner's manual of the Garrard 301 vintage turntable [856KB PDF] whose rebuild Jeff Day described in his series of articles.
Hello Mr. Kan,

I have been reading the 6moons site for a couple of months.I am at the point of just turning 50 and my wife wanted to buy me something to celebrate. I was not into a Rolex but have wanted for years to buy/upgrade my 25+ year old system. I have had other priorities for a number of years but recently feel able to invest 5-10K in new equipment. I live in Hawaii so there arent many choices for High end shops...just one. I currently have Ohm c2 and Walsh speakers, SAE pre and power amps, a Mcintosh 5100 and a simple Teac changer. This was decent stuff 25+ years ago but not today. I have heard Gallo Ref 3s and really liked them. I spent a couple hours in the one shop last week and heard some new equipment...Avalon speakers...monitors that were great but at 7k maybe a bit too much. There was a Rega Planet cd player I liked a lot. I also listened to a Audio Source tube integrated from China. SOunded good but I am not real familiar with tubes, what they need to be functional in HI etc.

Anyway, I was curious if you had any recommendations for assembling a system. I have been going thru the site and been somewhat overwhelmed. I want stuff that is pretty reliable. If I can stay in the 5-7k range that would be good. I was thinking in terms of an integrated amp, tower speakers and a good single player. I still have vinyl too so if the unit can address that I would call that an advantage. I will keep the cd changer for when my wife listens as she is partial to that mode. I listen to lots of traditional and contemporary jazz, mostly guitar, piano, trumpet, and sax (non-smooth, more Miles, Wynton, Joe Pass, Bill Evans, Coltrane,), electric and acoustic blues, acoustic music (like Laurence Juber, hawaiian slack key guitar), vocal jazz, singer songwriters from the 70s and classical piano, violin, baroque and impressionist era...kind of eclectic. I have been thinking about some of the British stuff but understand that much of it is somewhat dry.

I figure I will do 50/50 focused listening and casual, i.e while doing other stuff. I may be able to buy a broader range of stuff when I go to Las Vegas for a nephews wedding in August. So even if I have a list of stuff to listen to then it can help in working out a buy list. Otherwise I may have to go without hearing stuff...not the best approach unless it is stocked by the one local shop. I have read about some of the interesting lower cost equipment listed on the site and above all I care about the sound. So if something seems like a good listen and a good deal that is fine. Any suggestions are appreciated.

Best,
Wade Souza

Hi Mr. Souza,

Happy 50! You are a lucky man. When I turned 50 my wife didn't buy me a new hi-fi system. I feel flattered that you are asking me for recommendation for such an important occasion, even though there are more qualified writers on 6moons that you could have contacted. You see, I'm probably the one with the least exposure to different gear and I focus more on music than equipment, making me a less demanding listener. The next shortcoming in me is that I like cheap stuff (but high quality though) and might not be able to help your wife to spend the full 5K.

Bearing in mind you don't want tube amps, my recommendation would be KingRex Preamp and two T20s, to bi-amp Klipsch Synergy F2 or RF35, and Marantz DV7001 as source. If you prefer the sound to be musical, go with F2 for room size of about 200 s.f. (or F3 for larger than 300 s.f.) Looking at your music repertoire, I think you might prefer more kicks and punches, so you might go for the RF35 (200 s.f.) or RF45 (300 s.f.+). The reason I'm suggesting the Marantz universal player is because I am a multi-channel SACD advocate and that's the best value machine. In case you want to pursue that route, you can extend the F2/F3 or the RF35/RF45 to multi-channel. The KingRex would add up to slightly under 1K, the Klipsch 1K (or less during sale) and the Marantz another 1K, totaling 3K.

If you want to spend the full 10K budget, my recommendation would be Mark & Daniel Sapphire and NuForce P-9/Ref 9 V2. The Sapphire is not floor standing but it sounds more impressive than most floorstanders. The factory compound marble stands cost about USD700 a pair.

If this is not good enough help, please feel free to approach other more knowledgeable writers on 6moons.

Regards,
David

Dear Jeff

I am writing to thank you for his insightful article on the Leben CS-600. The article came at a fortuitious time when I was in a quandary, looking for a replacement amplifier. I had narrowed the choice down to three - YBA Passion 100, LFD MI100 monos or the Leben CS-600. Having experienced tubes for 10 years with my Audionote Meishu 300B integrated (and the problems I had with servicing the unit), I was a little hesitant to go down the "tube path" again, preferring instead the fuss-free advantage of SS ampliifers.

Then, I read your article and decided to audition the Leben CS-600. The magical sound of tubes, the holographic, life-like qualities of tubes simply enthralled me and inclined me towards the Leben. What's more, the CS-600 is beautifully crafted and looked more solid than my AudioNote. After a short romance, I bought the Leben and must say that I have never been so immersed in the music as I have been with the Leben! You were right, the CS-600 simply draws you to the music!

Could you share your experiences with tube rolling in regard the CS-600? I heard that you like the HARMA STR 6L6 tubes and wonder if you have tried the Jan-Philips military grade 6L6, the winged Sylvanias or the Svetlanas? I will soon be taking delivery of the Harbeth HL5 and already have the Auditorium 23 cables in place.

I cannot thank you enough for your wonderful article and your superb recommendations! Looks like you have totally gone the Leben way!

Best Regards
Dennis

Hi Dennis,

Thank you for your kind words - appreciated amigo. I think you will be very pleased with the system you are putting together. The CS600, Harbeth, A23 combo performs at a level musically that is absolutely remarkable, and will likely be the last system you'll ever desire to own after living with it for a while. It's that good.

The cryo'd Harma 6L6GC valves are what I'm using right now. I have been told that the hot setup is the new Tung Sol 6L6GC reissue by New Sensor, but I haven't tried them yet myself. I've found the NOS Tung Sol input/drivers to be a very nice alternative to the stock NOS Sylvanias as well. Not that they're 'superior' as both are very good, but it allows a little flexibility in voicing the amp to suit your tastes.

I have been experimenting with quite a lot of tubes lately: I have tried the Shuguang KT66, the JJ KT77, the New Sensor Russian reissue of the 1957 Genalex Gold Lion KT88, the Svetlana Winged C EL34, the National Electric 5881 and the Valve Art 350B - which is only a small sampling of the many possible options that you can use in the CS600. The 45 SET-like Valve Art 350B, the suave and richly musical Gold Lion KT88 to the articulate and musical Shuguang KT66 and warm and caramel Winged C EL34, all sounded superb. There are lots of flavors to choose from and I found that I pretty much liked best whatever I happened to be listening to at the time. They're all really pretty amazing once plugged into the Leben's magic circuit. The only down side of the taller tubes is that the CS600's top cover can't be used with them in place. I've been pestering the Leben folks to produce an optional top cover with openings that will allow taller tubes to be used. They told me that they haven't had enough demand for a different top cover to consider offering one, so it would help if you too were to pester them a little.

Congrats on the new system, you're going to have a blast!

Best,
Jeff

Hi Jeff,
I've never written to a reviewer before, so bear with me and here goes... I've been a great admirer of your reviews, both with the gear you review and your approach to how they make music. So I've been extremely interested in your reviews of Leben and Shindo products. I've had friends who tell me that Shindo might be the last gear I buy. I haven't heard either line yet but am very curious to do so soon. I know it's not always about looks, but I love the look of the Leben preamp so I tease my friends about Leben. Some of my goofy "insider" friends say that the Leben is great, Shindo better still. So i was intrigued when you reviewed the Leben amp and stated that you might have preferred it to the shindo, or in some cases. Is it that the Leben works better with a variety of speakers, whereas the Shindo does not? That was quite a tease by saving the listening report for another review. I eagerly await that. I know I have to wait to listen before I can make any decisions, but it's fun to start planning. I have a great modest system now, I'm just looking for something with a little more emotional connection. I guess we all are.

Take care and thanks for the great reviewing!
Charlie Schnyder

Hi Charlie,
Thanks for the kind words - appreciated.

It's always a tough call to say what is 'best' and usually 'best' is highly subjective and depends upon your system context, room, and most of all - personal tastes. As for Leben vs. Shindo you're really talking apples and oranges. Leben makes a hell of a good apple and Shindo a hell of a good orange. Shindo is designed to appeal more to the SET crowd who have highly sensitive speakers that can accommodate their low power output. The Leben is designed to compatible with a very wide palette of speaker types and are more tolerant of less sensitive speakers like my Harbeths, for which the Shindo is somewhat of a poor match both sonically and musically.

When I think about electronics I think about their performance in two categories: how well they perform sonically on the non-musical elements of recordings like soundstaging, imaging, sound-space reproduction, resolution of low level detail, and the like. More importantly (to me) I consider how well they perform on the musical content of recordings like timbre, tone color, rhythmic attributes, musical expressiveness, beat, melodic realism, realistic interplay between the musicians, and the like. These musical elements are not as obvious to hifi buffs who are not musicians, and tend not to get much coverage, but they are very important to overall performance. The balance of performance of a component on these sonic and musical elements of a recording are what produces its overall character.

Over a variety of different speakers this is the conclusion I have come to about the Shindo vs. Leben question: the Shindo generally produces a bigger soundstage, more distinct imaging, a larger sound space, and somewhat more resolution of detail through the mid-range. Also, the Shindo has what appears to be some sort of a loudness contour built into it where as you crank up the volume the midrange level goes up more than the highs and lows, which can make for an easy on the ears experience. It's probably not totally realistic in that way, but it is a nice way to voice things to be pleasant to listen to. When reproducing the musical elements of recordings I find the Shindo gear not to be as good as the Leben at producing realistic timbre, tone color, rhythmic attributes, melodic realism, and beat. The Leben and Shindo are roughly equivalent at portraying the interplay between musicians.

The way that the performance of the Shindo and Leben shakes out when combining their sonic and musical attributes is this: the Shindo makes for a very pleasant picture of the music, but it is a more stylized, more impressionistic, a presentation that diverges somewhat from musical reality but is highly captivating. It's the sort of presentation that says "this is what music should sound like, even though it doesn't".

Sonically and musically the Leben sounds more like real music to me. The way the musical attributes of recordings are reproduced is really unparalleled in my experience. The timbre, tone color, musical expressiveness and the like are more like real music. I have noticed as a trend that visitors to my listening room who are non-musicians - but sophisticated hifi buffs - tend to prefer the Shindo. Those who are musicians tend to hands down prefer the Leben. Other factors to consider are that the build quality of the Leben is superior, although the Shindo too is very good.

I am in a fortunate position because I can live with the gear for quite a long period and use it in a wide variety of contexts, and then buy what I like the best. Personally I liked the Leben better than the Shindo after extended listening, so I bought the Leben instead of the Shindo. But it's not about me, it's about you, and I could see you coming to the opposite conclusion on which presentation you like best. The most important thing is for you to pick the one that you like best. Whether that is Shindo or Leben that is the best for you.

I hope that helps.
Kind regards,
Jeff

Greatest show report. Ever. And I mean it. I loved the way your language was spare and to the point. Maybe our previous e-mail exchange had some subliminal effect? At first, I didn't know it was you....but then your personality came though. Your enjoyment and much more relaxed attitude shoon through in this report.

I liked that you presented the products alphabetically. Totally sensible, and so easy to read and read again. Anyway, great pics, and I liked that you combined "photo phorces" with M & H....very cool. They are the nicest people. And I very much enjoyed the personalities mixed in with the gear, which of course is the why and how the products are produced in the first place.

Geez, I wish I woulda gone. At RMAF, Marja and Henk really convinced me to go (they suggested coming to the Netherlands first), and I was almost ready to pop for the airline ticket back in February, but biz has kept me very bizzy (thank the audio gods). I've also been working steadily (for several months) on my front-yard landscaping, which I've vowed to finish before we get to 100+ degrees. I just might make it. :-)

Alan Kafton
Srajan,

Kudos to you, Marja and Henk - great coverage of the Munich show! I sincerely hope there will be more information forthcoming on Monsieur Hiraga's new speakers. The pictures (terrific pictures, how do you do that?) are great, but raise more questions than they answer (not necessarily a bad thing). For instance, the pictures seem to imply a sealed box (acoustic suspension), but given the stated specifications (100dB sensitivity and 40-17kHz frequency range), I just don't see how they could be sealed. Also, do you have any idea what Monsieur Hiraga is going to charge for these beauties? Thanks again for the great show coverage. Your website rocks!

Steve Harmon


I deliberately decided to embed manufacturer's links in the report so those interested in particular new products can educate them themselves directly and the report wouldn't be weighed down with redundant specs and details. Srajan

Guys, just a quick note to say thanks for all your hard work in producing the article on the Munich show. Although I couldn't make it, the huge number of brilliant photos and notes made me see just how much I missed. Looks like a great show! Thanks again, Mark Coles.

Btw, I also use the Sophia carbon Princess 300B tubes in my highly modified Border Patrol P20 amp and preferred them to the WE300B. feel free to pop by for a listen / glass of wine when you're in London!
Hi Srajan,

Given that you seem to be the only one of all web and print-based writers to have actually listened to many of the contenders vying for the above-mentioned title, I'm wondering whether you'd be interested in writing a little Industry Features featurette on how the Esoteric, Zanden, Abbingdon Music Research, Reimyo, Weiss, Accustic Arts, Ensemble and finally, the APL, stack up in relation to your own preferences and proclivities.

It seems that the Zanden, Esoteric P03/D03, AMR and the APL float your boat the most, and I realize you've written extensive and comprehensive reviews on them all already, but for those of us still trying to decide how best to make the most of the wonderful silver disc, it would at least be good to know that if push ever came to shove, which mast you'd nail you flag to and how the cards would fall.

By the way, after three and a half years of reading 6moons, there really is nothing that comes close to what the site provides. Thank you for a stunning site. Keep up the fantastic work.

Kind regards,
Brendon Davies-Patrick

Reasonable concept, impossible realization as it would require having all of those machines side by side to compare. Of those you mention, I only have the APL at present.

Srajan

Hi Srajan,

I'm finally writing to give my feedback on your impressive site and the great kindness of David Kan. So here's my story. I first came across 6moons when I was looking for information on the Trends Audio TA10.1 amp. Google pointed me to David Kan's review on 6moons. There, I read with great interest the review and ordered my TA 10.1 straight away. But in the meantime, being not very informed as to HiFi, I enjoyed a long email correspondence with David Kan, who patiently answered all my many many questions! Thanks to his patient advice, I was able to assemble a full system for my kitchen based on the tiny TA10.1. It sounds great and is just what I wanted, good sound quality, not too expensive and not too bulky!

As I said to him early today, the TA 10.1 is: "One small amplifier for man, one big sound for kitchen!"

I've since looked at quite a few of the 6moons reviews and am really impressed! You guys are doing a great job - thanks!

Robert Wigetman

Srajan,

I went with 30.2. It had less than 100 hrs on it. After 40 hrs with Isotek CD then listening to music, it was Wow! Significant improvement over Sig 30. I’m really enjoying the ethereal highs of the Gallos but I’m seriously considering getting used Zu Druids and having the upgrades done. I contacted Zu and for $600 net cost I would get new pair of current model wide banders plus pair of new tweeters.“Some specs for the new include, the tolerances for the drivers are now matched within .05% or better (compared to old .5%), for the tweeters it is a completely new driving unit 100% solder less w/Kimber Kaps (matched within .01%) which adds more sparkle on the top end. More resolution.”

Turns out I live 10 miles from Mike Smith so have exchanged some emails over last 2 weeks on his experiences with Zu speakers.

Thanks for again for offering suggestions.

Ken
Hello, Srajan,

Thanks for your review of the Glow Amp One, I now am the proud owner of a truly great piece of high end equipment that I can actually afford ($488). Being on SS doesn't give me much extra cash like some of your readers so my access into the high end is limited. I purchased AKG 701s to go with the Amp One and I love the music. All from AIFF files from my original CDs on an iPod 60G. Not much of a source, but for me truly wonderful at less than $1200 for all. Thanks again for spewing your High-End poison (that's a joke, buddy...)

Charlie Wilson
Holland, Michigan

Dear Srajan,

I was very curious about your Xavian XN 360 impressions and of course very disappointed to learn of your problems with the speakers. I learned about them 2 months ago and I have bought them because Daniel told me much good about them when he visited last year. So I decided to try them and perhaps include them in my program as more affordable speakers.

My first impression was that they look very small compared to my Tidal Contriva - can they play well? Second impression - how can they produce so much bass? In the beginning I tried them without spikes and immediately understood that the spikes were really a must. I have put them on Harmonix RF900 and the bass became much better, still it was quite far from what I am getting used to with my Contriva. I have measured the speaker response in my room and found that the sound level of XN 360 in the 75Hz area was 10dB higher than with the Tidal. I have played with different positions but could not find a better one. I use very effective Jocavi bass absorbers so normally I don't have any problems with the bass. I suspect that if the standard speaker base gets substitued for a more stable one, then the bass response should be better. I have sent my considerations to Mr. Barletta but he seems too busy to answer.

I have tried the speakers with different setups - EMM Labs + Acoustic Plan Preamp + Tidal amps, Ancient Audio Lector Prime + Tidal amp, then a complete Acoustic Plan chain. The last one was the better choice since the Acoustic Plan is on the light side so there is less bass. Meanwhile after burn-in, I got used to the sound of the speakers and I think that one can be really happy with them. They are not big, quite nice looking, fatigue free but quite transparent. They are better with chamber music, on jazz or pop they can be too boomy. The amp should not be very powerfull in the bass. Overall I think that they are good speakers. Of course there is a huge margin to my Tidal but those are another price and size range. I will get new power amps from Ancient Audio soon and will try this setup. I am curious how they will work together.

Have a lot of success with your 6moons. I enjoy it very much.

Best regards from Germany,
Dmitry Valdin
Hi, Jeff.

I took the plunge and bought a Leben CS300 from Pitch Perfect Audio. I love it. Thank you for the recommendation. The sound is so much more natural and easy to listen to than the Naim amplifier I had previously. I wondered if the 12 watts would give me the fuller, richer sound I craved, but it does so in spades. And it sounds terrific at low volumes, which is important to me because most of my listening is done with the volume knob at or below the 9 o'clock position. I just can't get over how good it sounds. Wonderful.

So you're two for two on the recommendations. I tried the Playstation 1, and I love it. I added the Leben, and l love it too. We must have similar tastes and preferences in how we like our musical playback. In fact, your reviews are some of the only ones I continue to read.

As a next step I'd like to try the Super HL5's and the Audio Tekne cables, etc., but I can't do it all at once and I have no idea what partial step would bring the most musical results. Could you share a pointer or two on the next step in my little Music Lovers system? Here's my current set up:

Leben CS 300 integrated amp
PlayStation 1 as source
Spendor S5e speakers
Paul Speltz anti-cables speaker wire
Silver Sonic interconnect
Stock power cords on everything

Many thanks for your great reviews. Two for two aint bad. And, man, I love that little Leben amp.

Kort

Hi Kort,

Thanks for the kind words - appreciated. I actually haven't heard the standard version of the CS300 so I can't be much help there I'm afraid. The Limited version is a honey though, and I bought one to keep in my amp stable along with my CS600. Ditto the Leben preamp. Great stuff.

Matt's a great guy so you did well there, and he's a good bet for being able to tell you about the differences between the two Lebens as I believe he's had both. Leben now makes a version of the CS300 that is that same as the Limited but uses Sovtec instead of Mullard tubes. That might be pretty nice. And one thing about it there's lots of EL84s you can try to voice the amp to your tastes through Watford Valves - and they're relatively cheap.

With what you're looking for in a system I'd go with the Harbeths, as that's the way they are voiced. The other speakers you mention are a little leaner and more HiFi'ish, albeit they are good speakers for sure. My CS300X Limited easily drives my Super HL5s even in my large listening room so you should be ok there. I've found the Audio Tekne cables to be a great match between the two. Analysis Plus is also making me up a special set of intereconnects that might be pretty cool too. Check back with me on that after some weeks go by.

You can't go wrong with a PS1 SCPH-1001 - it's the most musical digital I've yet come across at any price. The computer setup is nice for ease of use, and when using it I found that I list to a lot more music.

I hope that helps.
Best,
Jeff
Hi Jeff,

Enjoyed your article so much that I've embarked on my own Garrard journey. As a start, I was wondering if you could send me a copy of the manual, or direct me to a website where I can obtain a copy.

Keep up the great articles. I especially enjoyed your Music Lovers series. Hope to see many more articles.

Regards,
Stacy Sur
Hello David Kan,

With much interest I've read your review of the Trends TA-10.My option is to buy the Klipsch Synergy FS2 with two Trends TA-10 and biwire them for each channel. How do connect the trends? Another option you were talking about is the Xantra powerpack, can I use that in the Netherlands?

Greetings,
Hubrey Ireeuw

Hi Hubrey,

Please see the below for vertical bi-amp connection.My Xantrex Powerpack charges from 120V 60Hz AC. I think the voltage in the Netherlands is 230V 50Hz(?) and Xantrex has a 230V 50Hz model. Audiomagus has a SLA battery PSU that operates on 120V. Alternatively, there should be similar products in your country.

David
I wanted to let you know that after I read your article about PHY, I researched and purchased a pair of Musical Affairs Grand Crescendo SAG speakers. They are being made now and I should have them by the end of the month. Thanks again for the article on PHY. I would have never known about these had it not been for your information. I am really looking forward to ending my lifelong speaker hunt with these.

I will keep you apprised as the situation develops.

Regards,
Louis D Berkman
Hello Sir.

I have been an avid reader of 6moons for a few years, and other sites/magazines for even longer. I just wanted to take a moment to tell you how refreshing your review was. The inclusion of your daughter's comments was genius. She should review more speakers as well. I find myself unable to finish most reviews as they are all the same, boring dribble. Your review of the JB Audio Art JB3 was the best article I've read in a long, long time.

Keep up the good work.
Greg Morris
Cad Detailer

Hello Greg,

Wow, thank you for your kind words! I'll take them home as my first Oscar Award to share with my daughter. With such encouragement I'm sure she'll be motivated to write more in the future.

David
Dear Mr. Ebaen,

I am a huge fan of your website and especially the world music pages, through which I first learnt of Dulce Pontes. There has been no update to the music pages for almost three months now - which is a long time for music lovers. Please do review some more albums soon.

Regards,
Feisal Naqvi

It's true, I have been remiss and buried under an avalanche of hardware. Something to rectify for sure.

Srajan

Hi Srajan,

The reviews in 6Moons are consistently the best (and often the most complicated to understand) reviews I read in the US, UK, DK, N and SE press. (Sorry, I can't do German). But I do have one beef: you have never ever reviewed a product made by Quicksilver Audio. I hope you will do that soon. I have never seen a review of the horn amps or the new preamp (the one they had at RMAF 2008) or the Silver 70. The SET Mono amp was written up in Stereophile but more as a nostalgia piece than what I consider to be a serious review.

I am sure there are others (like Audio Note, UK) but since I started listening to Quicksilver gear since they moved to Colorado (where one of my children lives), I have been very impressed by everything about these amps and preamps. Yet, they get so little attention (and whenever they do, it seems always to be very good).

Regards,
John M Callaway

My memory could be fuzzy but I seem to recall that I did solicit Quicksilver in the past (as I did Vandersteen) for review samples to be told they didn't provide those. Not all manufacturers see the need to play the review game and with us presently experiencing no shortage of makers who want to be reviewed and wait in line, I've stopped to pursue those who play hard to get. Perhaps they prefer to deal with other publications and are merely too polite to say they don't like us? Whatever, it's certainly their perogative.

Srajan

Srajan,

Just read the review - very interesting and hats off for having the guts to not dodge the comparison between the Modwright and the NWO 3.0 and the gobsmacking (English slang, hope you get the drift if you've not heard it before!) outcome.The digital source issue is getting really interesting and I predict the next big news will be the sub $2000 PS Audio Perfect Wave Transport. If that fulfills its promise, it will redefine the SOTA for digital sources and offer all the flexibility of the Transporter to boot - you just need to add the DAC of your choice. One of your reviewers has already given notice of his desire to review it asap (was it John Potis?) but it would be really great if you got a chance to hear it and assess it given yourexperience with the Modwright, not to mention the NWO 3.0. Any chance?

Finally you may recall I suggested a review of the new John Westlake Da Capo 2 forthcoming DAC and you seemed to think it was a good idea. Any joy in arranging that?

Keep up the great work
Regards,
Ian

This topic indeed is loaded. On my pleasure-listening 300B machine, the Transporter/NWO comparison was not identical but very close. It took those 17,500 EU German/Swiss breakthrough amplifiers to widen the gap - but it still wasn't anywhere near to what the price differential might have promised. The other surprising bit was that a 52 x speed CD/ROM drive with Grip and Paranoia managed to do such a solid job of data extraction to hard-drive as to render the presumed superiority of the massive VRDS-NEO apparently mute (not that a real apples to apples comparison was possible). Still, I'm suspicious that the days of CD as we knew it are over and that EAC-based extraction and then magnetic rather than laser-based streaming can achieve the same results far cheaper. Re: the PS deck, both Paul and Marja & Henk have their eyes on it so we'll see how they'll work it out between each other - PS willing in the first place.

Srajan
Because of the documented psychophysical connection of the Schumann resonance with human wellbeing, it's not unthinkable at all that at least some of the RR-77's effects pertain to the listener, not just acoustic or electrical phenomena. This doesn't take away an iota of its efficacy as described by Jeff. It merely opens the door to thinking about the connection between equipment, the human listener, perception and devices which might influence perception in positive ways. Stephæn in fact has already taken receipt of a Schumann Resonator marketed for human wellbeing, to compare its perceived influence on sonics to that of the RR-77.- Ed.

This is just what I suggested to Jeff after the resonator piece. Same concept as Ionizers? Are you guys too young to recall the Peter Belt stuff of 20 years ago? Similar effects claimed.

Chris

Greetings Srajan:

I just read your very comprehensive and excellent review of Dan Wright's modified Transporter. I'm fairly certain that no other reviewer would invest the time and effort necessary to do the job right the way you did it. Critical listening and component swapping is hard work and requires discipline and real expertise. One must believe in one's self and in one's objectivity.

It's safe to say that by this evening, a Tsunami of excited chatter will have swept across the audiophile web-ways once the news gets out. The Transporter will be transported! I met Dan at the most recent NYC Stereophile Show and he appears to be one of the nicest and most humble guys in the business – and apparently one of the most talented. I'm sure he's beyond delighted with your findings!

I have not read a single review of a CDP in the last two years because I am only interested in computer transports. I may even build one for myself.

Yours Truly,
Joe Ciulla


While I appreciate the vote of confidence, Joe, I far from exhausted the subject. There are the low-rez subsciption feeds the Transporter can stream. There's XLR vs. RCA outputs. There's tube rolling (for a quite endless playing field). There's FLAC vs. WAV vs. AIFF vs. RAW. And I'm sure even that overlooks things. But I had to get started somewhere and I'm confident subsequent reviewers will fill some of the holes. At least that's how a lazy man claims he nicely left something for his colleagues to say -:)
Srajan
Marja & Henk

Thank you for reviewing Fleecepack (Jewelsleeve here in the US). As a storage-challenged audio omnivore, I am always interested in space conscious products. I have compared this product to other similar storage systems, and this is clearly the best.

I have two concerns. The first is the environmental impact of discarding 100s of jewelcases. The second is the issue of multiple discs. Whenever possible, I purchase Japanese mini LP CDs. Granted, the mini LP CDs are more expensive and less available than the jewel-case versions; but they seem a good, space-consicous, environment-friendly alternative that music producers should embrace.

Gary
Hello Srajan,

Now I mostly read your site for Day's and Barker's reviews (I mostly listen to vinyl). I also really enjoy your reviews and Kan's T amp series as you both paint a picture of how the piece of equipment performs.Your other writers I'll skim through, give an extra check if it receives a blue moon or if it interests me in particular. So I realize all your writers have certain niches and I think it is great as it provides a clearer context. So in this scheme of things Marja and Henk get the way out there stuff.

Now I also know that some weird devices can have profound affects that go beyond reason or just plain common sense. If it helps you enjoy the music (even if its only placebo) I don't need the science. Now I have hung in with Marja and Henk (from the Pluto it's so great we can't write about it to the disc zapper) but their most recent review stating that 10 euros for a tiny wood cube is a very friendly price just pushes me over the edge to question their integrity on this review. Maybe it's nit-picking because I could have understood the it's a very reasonable price for what it does kind of statement but to extoll the craftsmanship of this tiny block when I can clearly see in the picture what it is (a small block of wood with some haphazardly drilled holes with an unfinished surface)...

It's kind of like that Sesame Street scene with which one of these don't belong. So maybe this product is everything they say it is but with the culmination of their recent reviews I just feel this review needs to be checked. Reminds me of the whole Glass reporting scandal. I'd hate to see a scandal bring down the integrity of your amazing site.

When are you going to finally review a full vinyl system yourself? I would love to hear your take on a decent vinyl setup as I have never had the chance to listen to a great digital playback system so a comparison would help me understand the other side.

All the best,
Josh

In the Edward Burns comedy flick She's the One, his brother in the movie utters the memorable line "I'm a man - I know what I know". If you know the context in which it appears, it's hilarious. Anyway, no vinyl for me for a number of reasons. I don't own a single record. I'm not turned on by the maintenance, the disc flipping, the wear and tear. There's plenty of bona fide vinyl experts writing on the subject. For me to catch up would take aeons and the upside is dubious.

On the Sugar Cubes, I've got a whole array installed myself and know what they do. Even if I didn't, I trust my writers or they wouldn't be on the team in the first place. They hear what they hear, I don't censor it unless I spot glaring factual errors. Ever since Marja & Henk wrote up the Acoustic Resonators, the Nespa, EAC and more, these devices have gotten plenty of mainstream confirmation for their efficacy. Having the courage to comment on apparent voodoo whose workings you can't explain can paint you in a corner, naturally. So you either have to be brazen, ignorant of the fallout, don't care, feel steered by passion or be plain gullible. I trust the intelligence of our readership enough to let everyone come to their own conclusions. In this instance, it'd be cheap to follow their footsteps, cheaper even to get a free throwaway strip of Indian rosewood from a local woodshop and saw up 17 tiny cubes, drill the necessary holes and put their comments to the test. As I indicated, I already have -:)

Srajan

Hi Srajan,

I haven't heard the Glow but I believe you. The high-end veil is being criss-cross shredded by these wonderful 'office machines'. I just received the Japanese TU-879S. a/ It's absolutely quiet, more so than some SS amps. b/ It sounds ridiculously good for the price - actually world-class by any standard. c/ The most amazing part is, it uses only one 12AX7 and two beam tetrodes - 6L6GC or EL34 or KT88 or 6550 - and no need to adjust anything!

David

Hi David,

Thank you for your Trends Audio T-amp's wonderful review. After reading it, I bought one but my speakers, Mulidine Accord (2-ways Focal floorstanders), weren't efficient enough for the amp. The sound was like stuck to speaker. So I bought a Tekton Design full-range speaker ( with one Fostex FE127 driver). For vocal and jazz music, they really shine with the Trends. But they become too bright with other music or at higher levels.

So I am looking for your Klipsch Synergy F-2 recommandation with Trends and Kingrex T-amps. According to you, they seem to have a really good sound with T-amps for their price. I'd like to know if they are smoother than Fostex but as good as those one on vocal and Jazz music? If you'd have to write a Klipsch Synergy review, would you give the Klipsch a 6moons recommandation ?

Thank you for answer.

All the best.
Philippe from St Etienne, France

Hi Philippe,

Thank you for your kind words. I had similar experience with Fostex drivers (FE127E, FE167E) but managed to get the HF brightness and occasional ringing under control. Please read my reviews on Unity Audio speakers and ring control:
http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/unityaudio/unity.html
http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/ring/ring.html

The Klipsch Synergy F2 has wider frequency spectrum, wonderful coherence and definitely sounds smoother than the limited Fostex applications I've encountered. I have seriously compared the F2 with the F3 and the RF-52, both being more expensive models with higher specs in the Klipsch family, at my place and my friend's and we both preferred the F2 in every sonic aspects. On that note, the F2 is the best high-efficiency floorstander for $500 (it's on sale at Best Buy at least twice a year) and deserves my wholehearted recommendation.

David

Hi Srajan

From your piece on the NWO 3.0-GO: "I now believe that crimes pinned on resolution are really sins committed in the high frequencies. Take an adjustable time-aligned speaker like a Green Mountain Audio. Set it up deliberately wrong such that the tweeter precedes the output of the midrange. Sibilants will be emphasized, transients crispified - hello digital etch and annoyance. Even apparently insignificant timing errors in the treble cause undue sharpness and etchiness. This is easily demonstrated by moving a tweeter module forward or back by a quarter inch when the filter network is of the minimum phase kind. What do we call timing errors in audio? Phase shift. Could the bad we conventionally accuse the hyper in resolution of simply be due to treble phase errors?"

This is PERFECT! Exactly what I've been thinking! Exactly the reasons I can't stand dCS. As for Harry Pearson's comments regarding Zanden.... there are words for this guy... so so so many words. ;-)

Hope you are well!

Regards
Martin Grennall
Hi Jeff!

Hope this finds you doing well. As always, I continue to enjoy your reviews on 6moons. While somewhat skeptical, I did read your comments about the Acoustic Revive 77 room conditioner with some interest. Like you, my room is a bit hard to tame and slap echo, particularly on opera, can be difficult at times.

So this little, little box arrives yesterday and I plug it in (now that's an easy install). I brought out some of my old chestnuts and war horses and some CDs tough to listen to. I even had my wife listen who is only a moderately interested music person - and then it's only opera. And she was impressed as was I. We listened to Greta Matasa, Joan Armatrading, Norah Jones, the same Joe Pass album you listened to, Pavarotti, Joan Sutherland, Bach, etc. There was something different about all of them, including:
  • a deeper soundstage, with instruments and voices better placed in the venue
  • less sharpness (or brittleness) from piano and violin, more fulness and emotion from voice
  • more there (it just seemed to dig out more information)
  • more in the room presence (as you said in your article)

Etc. Now I don't know if it's psychological on my part; I buy something and I want it to work, or actually real change. The best test will be if I turn into a less moody, happier guy; my wife will report in a week or so. -:)

Will I keep it? $425 is some serious bucks for such a small audio box but if I had to say so today, you bet!

Thanks for bringing these products to our attention.

James May

Jeff,

I just read your 6moons article on these Sony Play Stations. I was a bit skeptical but I pulled this piece out of my basement (I bought it when I was 12 I think) and plugged it into my system. Beats the pants off my other CD player, which was a not-to-shabby Adcom.

What is it about these things that make them sound so good? Is it the DAC? The assembly? The transport? The analog outs? I really want to rehouse this in a new casing that makes it easier to use in my system. If it's a DAC, I wonder if I could just rebuild it and use it with a transport?

Adam LoPiano

Hi Adam,

I'm not really sure what makes the PS1 so good. If I were to hazard a guess though, I would say it was the DAC chip set. If you decide to rebuild it as a DAC, let me know how it turns out, I'd be interested in your results.

Kind regards,
Jeff

Hello Mr. Kan,

I enjoyed your writeups on the T amps. If I may, I wanted to know if you have heard the TRex amp with several modifications while also on battery ? How close do you get to the RedWine 30.2? Have you had the opportunity to compare? They tell me they are working on a pure battery model as we speak that will be out in a few months, with several cap and resistor mods as well as in the output section. It may be hard to justify springing for a RedWine from the modded TRex 20 I heard. I can understand why you gave it a Blue Moon and I see they have a 45-watter out starting tommorow. I would appreciate any light you can shed. Keep up the good writings.

Joe

Hi Joe,

Thank you for your kind words. Sounds like you have more inside information than me. The only thing I know is that KingRex is launching a SLA battery PSU and I have already received two for bi-amping. I was told by KingRex that the official launch date would be February 22. The review should be ready in about three months. Regrettably, I have never tried Red Wine or modified KingRex by Audiomagus.

David

Hello Jeff,

I appreciate your advice on the PS1. Let me give you my opinion of the sound of the PS1. Compared to my Sony sacd 595 (comparing red book only), the PS1 sounded not as spacious and was more homogenized with less upper bass punch. Otherwise the PS1 had deeper & tighter bass, more realistic treble and more detail over all. Now this gentleman suggested that instead of using the RCA jacks on the back, use the video cable. Just connect the red & white to your pre-amp. This eliminates a second OP-amp in the signal path.

I went to the store that sold me the PS1 and asked to try another one ... a newer PS1 that only had the video to RCA jacks, (no RCA to RCA). Since this video jack is what I wanted to try I took it. The e-mailer was right, the spaciousness and separation was now the equal of my Sony 595 and even some of the upper bass punch returned.

P.S. I like your philosophy on reproducing music.The emotions and rhythm of music come before the technical aspects.

Thanks
Mike

Dear Jeff,

My question regards the Harbeth Super HL5 speaker that you have been recommending. Based on your review, I looked up the speaker and the brand on their website. Curiously, their website lists the sensitivity as 86db, but the British audio magazine HiFi Choice, measure it at 91db? I am curious since I use 25 watt tube amps. It is also interesting to me that you have had much experience with Avantegarde horns, and yet seem to derive great musical satisfaction from the Harbeths; are they really that good?

In your latest review of the Pass amp, you mention the importance of timbre, as you had in the review of the music lover's system (featuring the Harbeth) - I find this refreshing as a reader. To me, this is not a quality of music reproduction that many writers, magazines, or audiophiles in general that I meet seem to care much about. Their seems to be a large focus on 3D imaging, and the stereo illusion of space (width, depth, etc.). Personally, these qualities don't make me fall in or out of love with music. If the music is there, then the illusion that the performance is happening around me in "virtual reality" type experience becomes a bonus, but it doesn't do much for me when the "virtual reality" experience is there, but the timbre is not. The ability for a replay system to sound like an actual instrument, and even to separate out the signature sound and harmonics between a Fender and a Strat, a Stradivarius violin and Guarneri, a Martin and an Olson guitar... and to do all this in proper time and rhythm.... now that begins to move me.

David

Hi David,

I didn't know that about HiFi Choice but it makes sense, as I recently demonstrated how well the Leben 15 watt integrated amplifier drove the HL5s to a group of visiting HiFi buffs. 91 dB sounds more realistic than 86 dB for sure. The Harbeths are very good and have replaced the Avantgarde Duos that I have been using as a primary reference.

Thanks for the kind words about my references to musicality - appreciated. Certainly to me the most important thing is how well HiFi gear gets the musical aspects of recordings correct. If it does that then it rates high in my book of values - and the Harbeths have that in spades.

Kind regards,

Jeff

Re: Yamamoto C3G driver stage, this is not a new idea but a good one. Check out this site. Thorsten Loesch used one in this design many years ago. I have built this (minus the tube-filtered power supply), using the C3g ( a more standard filament voltage) and can attest to great performance. Have fun with the review.

Regards,
Mark Magee

Hi Srajan

If I haven't wished you all a Happy, Prosperous, Healthy and Peaceful 2008, I do so now. I'm still visiting 6moons.com (as usual in the small hours) and marvel at those incredible images you are so modest about.

And for anyone still using analogue and aspiring to a Garrard 301, well...Lady Luck still seems to be around. There are several fleamarkets around Cape Town and I don't visit them as often as I used to. On the 29th December last year, I thought I'll treat myself and sneaked out without my wife and dogs. It was an incredibly hot day here with temperatures touching 40degrees C and when I arrived at the market, I noticed there were lots of foreign tourists around. Anyway, shortly after starting my stroll among the stalls, I came across a really ragged-looking Garrard 301, mounted on a gold-painted plank, still with a Linn Basik LV V arm attached.

With the yawning seller's permission, I turned it over, noticed it was a greasebearing version and asked "How much?" The vendor sized up this sucker punter and said "If you give me R30.-, I'll also give you 2 LPs". Now thirty bucks South African is about four dollars US. I fumbled so much I nearly couldn't extract the notes from my wallet, and the 301 was mine.

Much to my wife's disgust, I spent the rest of that Saturday and two more days afterwards, cleaning and servicing my find and here you can see the result. Incredibly, despite the 301's appearance, not a single part was missing or broken, including those fragile bakelite switches. Other news? I've been wanting a wooden headshell for a long time and made this one a few days ago. The wood is pink ivory, milled in one piece of course and it's adjustable for azimuth if required.

Best Wishes to all at 6moons.com

Andre Hanekom
Blue Angel Audio SA
Cape Town


Hello Jeff,

I have been very anxiously awaiting your review of the Leben RS 28CX Preamplifier and enjoyed reading it , nonetheless I was really hoping that you would make some comments on how it did/does compare to the Shindo Monbrision since you were writing about the Shindo gear lately.Especially, I would be very interested in hearing something about the phonostages (MM) of the two preamps. Can you tell me a little bit about their sound in relation/comparison to each other? I am sure a lot of people would love to read something concerning this issue!

I was readind/dreaming of a Shindo Preamplifier for years. Here in Germany we have the very sad situation that Shindo gear can no longer be imported because of government regulations (RoHS). As far as I know, Leben stuff ist still availble in Germany.

Last week I had the opportunity to buy a very interesting Italian valve preamplifier: New Audio Frontiers' Absolute. Maybe this would be interesting for one of you guys at 6moons, too. As far as my short experience goes, it is absolutely amazing. Single-ended pure class A, tube rectification (5Y3), it uses output transformers (as do some of the Shindos), the linestage uses two 6J5 vacuum tubes, it also has an MM phonostage (2 x 12AX7 followed by a passive RIAA equalization). Beside the preamplifier, New Audio Frontiers also builds single-ended triode (845, 300b , 2A3) poweramps and integrateds.

Whatever, I really would love to hear something reagrding the comparison between Shindo & Leben..

Thanks!
Marc Rogoll

Hi Srajan,

It's been a while, I hope you've been well. 6 Moons is looking great (as always) and the reviews are first rate. Each time I visit I'm particularly impressed by the quality of the photography - best on the web! Are you still doing it yourself, or do you have someone in house specializing in the art? I've struggled for years to put up a decent product on my site, but I just can't get consistent results on the photography. Do you guys have a dedicated studio space with controlled lighting to get those shots? Somebody is really good with Photoshop to add the effects.

Thanks again for a great webzine.

All the best,
Galen Carol

Thanks for the compliment. Everyone on the team takes their own photographs, I do all the post processing in Photoshop and of course take my own photos. John Potis submits his photos already 'shopped' and the two of us compete for Photochops and tricks to keep on our toes. I shoot in broad daylight, with artificial light, at night, with no filters, special lenses or anything pro - except I never ever use a flash. I simply compensate with camera settings and the rest is software touchups. From my experience, it takes no special tools (a decent camera is key of course), just keeping at it and getting better as times goes by. I use the top Lumix with the 24mm wide-angle add-on for room pix. I wouldn't subcontract this stuff out because I'm having too much fun. Writing javascript code... now that's a different kettle of fish altogether. There I have a lady in Holland who helps me out or I'd shoot myself -:)

Srajan

Hi Jeff,

I just read your "meditation" on musicality. I remain a bit skeptical about your overall thesis, but your ideas are certainly compelling and they brought to mind two different experiences I've had that substantiate some of your points:

1) The Doors' eponymous first album totally blew my mind when I first heard it at age 14. By any standards I think, it is a musical tour de force. I remember experiencing the sheer joy of the music when I used to listen to my LP of it over and over on a portable record player. Recently I picked up the red book CD of it and played it through my system which is fairly revealing (VMPS speakers, Krell amplification). Ugh - the sound quality is so poor, it's barely listenable. Gone was the raw energy and joy that was so abundant when I listened to this as a teen, lost in compressed dynamics, distortion and other nasty artifacts.

2) I am studying Irish music and have just started to really get a bead on some of the standard ornamentation used routinely in Irish music. I've been listening to this stuff since I was about 6 years old and the ornamentation has always, in my auditory perception, been nothing more than an impression of something very fast happening with a bunch of notes. Now that I have learned to play some of these complex ornaments, when I listen to the same music (live or recorded) my mind resolves the ornaments into their component notes. This is overall a positive experience but nonetheless the impressionistic perception of the ornaments, which was very pleasant in and of itself, is lost, probably never to return. Although this has nothing to do with audio gear, I think the line between musical and non-musical sonic detail is a fine one, and the more one's perception reflects what's actually coming out of the instrument, the more "real" the experience is (but is it more musical? I don't know).

Anyway, thanks for a thought-provoking essay. I'll look forward to more of them.

Eric Rose

Hi Eric,

I know just what you mean with your first example. As equipment gets high-performance in the audiophile sonic sense, it tends to sacrifice the enjoyability of the music.

Almost all descriptors used to describe performance in HiFi gear is related to sonics: character (warm or bright), perspective (how distant the recording seems to be), soundstage, soundspace, continuousness, immediacy, transparency, dynamics, imaging, texture (grain size of noise) and decay. Almost all of those terms refer how well a piece of equipment reproduces the non-musical artifacts or attributes of the recording process, with dynamics and decay being somewhat of an exception. Rarely does audio terminology reflect how well a piece of equipment actually plays music, and those parameters are lumped into a general term called musicality.

While musicality is defined in some musical circles, it really isn't in audio. Most audio enthusiasts think of musicality in terms of equipment that has a pleasant and forgiving sound so you can enjoy a wider quality of recordings, and surely that is part of it, but not all. So what I'm trying to encourage is talking about how a component performs in conveying the music elements of a recording as opposed to the non-musical elements of a recording. I think of musicality in hifi akin to something like the ratio of music elements to recording artifacts in a recording. If performance on recording artifacts become so noticeable as to start to compete for listeners attention beyond a certain level, then it distracts from the music content itself. Like you found with your album.

So the challenge becomes articulating how well equipment conveys the elements of the music as opposed to the recording process. I'm not quite there yet. But I think of it like a music competition: the technical music skills of a performer can be impressive but if their music has no ability to convey the emotion or feel of a piece, it's a failure. Same for audio. f the voicing of audio gear is such that it interferes with or competes overtly with the musical message, then it diminishes the listening experience.

Anyways, thanks for the thoughtful message and good comments - appreciated amigo.

Best,
Jeff

Jeff,

First, you lead me to the pleasures of the Playstation 1. Next, you lead me to go to Wal-Mart and purchase the Woods Yard Master Patio Cord to roll a pair of excellent speaker cables. Now you have me chasing some box that regenerates cosmic aura. I know I'm not losing my sanity because the Playstation 1 and White Lightning Moonshine speaker cables have taking my sound system to new musical heights. But a frequency pulse generator that operates below the lower limits of human hearing? You've made me a believer and now I'm going to have to take another leap of faith.

Your review of the Acoustic Revive RR-77 was very insightful. This is very interesting and I'll research Schumann frequency resonance when I have more time. If anything, it was a great read. In a minute, you might become known as the audio shaman.

Thanks,
Richard Hing
Berkeley, CA
Srajan

I look forward to your reviews of the APL kit even though I will never spend $20k on CDP (unless I won last Friday's Euro lottery - haven't checked yet!). I might well though spend £500 on John Westlake's forthcoming DAC, which will have 64 DACs per channel! As you may know, JW was the designer of the famous and still revered Pink Triangle Da Capo DAC. He says his new DAC is in another league and indeed better than anything he has heard. Well I know he would say that but the point is, wouldn't it be great to compare 2 DACs that claim to be the pinnacle of digital audio, especially when one costs £500 and the other costs 20 times as much?

JW posts on diyaudio.com as JohnW. Why don't you pm him and see if you can get a pre-production model for review/comparison with the APL?

Regards
Ian
Dear Srajan,

I'm really looking forward to your review of the Ocellia loudspeakers. I myself am a proud owner of a pair of Ocellia 21 Silvers. What wonderful transparent, dynamic and organic sounding loudspeakers. Give them a good clean recording and they will sing. To anyone wondering, no they are not genre specific, they are fed a steady diet of The Pixies, Violent Femmes, Talking heads etc - hell, even drum 'n' bass and progressive death metal are belted out with millimeter precision without ever sounding cold or hard!

Yes, these speakers are like munching on sun-ripened veggies!

Regards
Bruce Toerien
Sweden

Hi Srajan

Let me first wish you and your wife a Happy New Year! After much deliberation and taking on board much information from our previous exchanges I went and replaced the rather noisy 845 SET amplifier I'd been using to drive my Zu Def 2s. I ended up going for the rather excellent Melody Astro Black 22, otherwise known as the I2A3.

As I laid down the hard earned cash for this my wife said "Hey, I know you always hankered after the RWA 30.2 as a summer time amp and as you came in under budget, why not treat yourself ?". The words gift and horse came to mind and never one to let a chance go, I ordered a 30.2 as well.

I only intended that the 30.2 would be a back up for the Melody in those (hopefully) warm summer months but as the RWA box arrived first, I thought I might as well hook it up for a little try. Since I did that the Melody has arrived in its rather large and weighty box and so far that is where it has remained! The little anonymous looking 30.2 has really surprised me not for its sound quality, I just knew that it would sound good, but for the way it has deflated my interest in plugging anything else in for the moment. It plays music and it's fun to listen to, end of story.

If I have one slight reservation, it is the performance on large scale orchestral works where it just seems to lose a little composure at times. This could of course be due to the rather limited number of hours I've managed to clock up on it, so I will defer final judgement on this area until a few hundred hours have elapsed.

I think you are probably correct in that my 30.2 has a way to go
before it finally settles. I'm not a particularly loud listener (usually around the 80dB average mark) eitheand I just know I'm not hitting the limits of power in the Zus Incidentally I was playing Stravinsky's Firebird suite last evening, a CD from the Leinsdorf sessions on Sheffield Labs, some of the dynamic crescendos nearly lifted mout of the chair. The 30.2 was certainly having no problems handling these instantaneous 20dB swings, truly impressive!

I agree with you regarding people's perception of the little marvel. Maybe if Vinny coated the internals in a sealed shell, added some lead weights and put the whole loin a machined from billet case the naysayers would be more open :-)

Thanks again for hipping me to not one but two great amps. It does give one a nice glowing feeling thinking of all the money saved too.

Best wishes
Nick

PS. Advert banners! What advert banners? -:)

Hi David,

I read your interesting review on the Winsome Mouse recently, I think I ~may get one. However, I do have an Amp4 TA2050 which sounds very good with a triode pre amp, far better than I expected. I wired it up for batteries but the little 1.3aH units are too small. I was wondering which SMPS you have so I can order it, and any other information that may be of value in this regard...

Thank you,
Dan Mason

Hi Dan,

Thanks for your email. According to Tripath data sheet, the 2050 chip operates on 10V to 36V power supply voltage. The Winsome Labs Mouse comes with an SMPS rated at 30V/3.3A. As you know, the Mouse features the same T class chip as the Amp4, except the Mouse uses two chips, one for each channel to achieve better bass control and higher current capability for lower impedance loads. If the SMPS is good for the Mouse, it's good for the Amp4.

Regarding battery power, I''ve done some preliminary research last year trying to find a rechargeable SLA battery that can meet the Mouse requirement. The closest is a 36V/8AH battery for LEVs (light electrical vehicles). This webpage makes some interesting reading.

There might be some newer info by now. You can do further research by visiting some LEV stores.

Hope this helps.
David

Srajan:

I like your new improvements. Thanks for continuing to make your site the best on the net. Of all the on-line sites, yours look professional, attractive, thoughtfully put together, with real content, great pics and excellent writers. Frankly, some of the other sites look like tabloids by comparison. Keep doing what you are doing and ignore the nay-sayers who will complain and whine without adding value.

They are not worth your time anyway.

Vince

Hi Srajan,

I've just read your article on "Minor site adjustments...", and just have to wonder why people are complaining. I'm enjoying the new format - frequently I find adverts can help lead me in directions I otherwise may not have thought to look in. So, in my book, well done!

I first came across 6moons, oh, some two or three years ago, and for me it has been a revelation, having become very jaded (sorry) with mags such as Stereophile. At last, someone is bringing back the essential point of listening to music, enjoying it! I'd found that so many supposed "audiophile" rigs (I've been guilty of this) might play music, but they sure as heck didn't speak to my soul. You are helping me in getting back to this supremely important point.

So, thank you for your endeavors, and I hope to keep appreciating 6moons for many years to come.

Regards,

Chris
Hello Srajan,

I personaly think that the "minor" changes to the format are for the better. Presenting designer goals behind the product reviewed is excellent, and even more excellent is the way we, readers, can take a look at the personal systems (and lifestyle) of said designers by expanding the various sidebars.

I think this feature tells a lot more about the product than a review alone, and only a web publication - or TV reality show - could develop around this. Great idea!

Robert Gaboury
Montreal, Canada

PS

Normand Laprise is Montreal most renowned Chef for his "Le Toqué" restaurant (don't even think booking a table for 2008 or early 2009). He once gave an interview to a TV show and was shown, at home, preparing meal for the kids. It was quite a revelation to see such a talented chef work in his own tiny bungalow-style kitchen with no stainless high-end appliances nor "gourmet-style" gizmos anywhere...

It was fun to see dogs and cats running around Ozzy Osbourne home with their heads still attached to their bodies...

Does Dr Bose listens to Bose speakers at home?...

Hi David, first I want to thank you for writing on 6 moons and in the manner you do it. From the brain and then to the heart, many reviewers use only the brain wich results in a flawed review. You have written some very interesting reviews on T-amps, I have an SAT-amplifix amp wich is a MosFet amp. Its a very capable amp in some respects but lacks that quality that I always looked for and can hear in some tube amps, music first, resolution after. I have recently listened to a great deal of amps, but came up with only 3 amps that I could live with, the price range in Sweden is apxm 3 to 4 thousand US for these amps. (I have not been able to listen to the famous amp Red Wine 30.2.)

Leben 300 CS
Copland csa 405
Manley Labs Stingray

They differ of course in some ways but at the end of the day they just simple play music in a very fine and convincing manner, but , but the price tag is out of my reach just now. We are building a house so I have to go with something that is more affordable, so David , my question is, do you have any plans to review any of the Mods available from Audiomagus? Both the King Rex and the Trend can be bought upgraded. How good are they compared to the stock units? The Trends V3.0 Mardis mod is 415.00 US. The King Rex T20U is 465.00 US. (635.00 with King Rex power supply) Audiomagus has also built their own battery power supply, if you add that to the Trends V3.0 you will have a cost of apxm 600.00 US, how far will these amps go compared to a good tube amp and why not test it against a Red Wine 30.2 ? I would love to find out how much apxm 600.00 US can give you in form of a musical and emotional involving amp and still give you enough resolution to satisfy the portion of the brain that seems to crave for that kind of insight.

I have also read that Nuforce has a new amp coming out , they want some 200-250 US for that amp if I remember correctly, maybe something to try also? I have one last question, do you know of any worthwhile upgrade on a Winsome Labs amp?

Well David, I could write you a loooong letter but im not going to, maybe some other time, I have 30 years in this hobby and have gone through all the different stages that most of us do trying to assemble a musical system. Recently I have discovered some VERY interesting aspects when it comes to dampening a system , especially the CD player. But maybe another time.

My system is as follows:
Copland 289 CD ( modified Harmony Design , Sweden)
SAT- Amplifix Int. Amp
ESS AMT- C1 Speakers (Oscar Heil, sligtly modified)
Zu Varial Interconnect
Origin Laminar Flow spk.cable

Thanks again David for your insight and I hope to see some of the above amps on 6moons in a future review from you, please take care of yourself.

Best Regards,
George Erikkson

Dear George,

Thank you so much for your kind words. I feel flattered as much as motivated.

Since the T-amp reviews were published, I received a lot of emails from readers and two particular questions seemed to interest them most: How do these T-amps compare to (A) their mod versions? (B) Red Wine Audio? Regarding (A), during the process of evaluating Trends TA-10, I did request Mr. Mardis to send me his mod version for comparison but he politely declined. Since then I have not contacted Audiomagus though. Somehow I have the feeling that modifiers prefer reviewers to leave them alone – of course I’m happy to be proven wrong. Regarding (B), I am still hoping that either I could get a RWA for review or Srajan could get a Winsome Labs Mouse for evaluation since he’s very familiar with RWA. So, all parties involved, please consider this an open invitation.

Regarding upgrade, I have been communicating with Trends, KingRex and Winsome Labs from time to time and I have to tell you it’s going to be very exciting this summer. I wouldn’t be surprised if your wish list is going to be handsomely fulfilled in more than one way. At the moment, I am sorry that I have to keep the information confidential and this is all I could share with you for the time being. But don’t get me wrong, I am not saying don’t buy anything now. These upgrades won’t make the current models obsolete. In fact I should have called them product extension rather than upgrade.

Anything else in the low-budget T-amp market? Perhaps it’s time for me to call in the Little Dot T-100 for an assessment. The $250 NuForce you mentioned could be the Icon-1, a desktop mini amp with matching speakers. Check out: http://www.nuforce.com/Product-desktop.htm

To your one last question: Sorry, I don’t know any third party upgrade for Winsome Labs Mouse. From what I know about Jay, he’s a very meticulous designer and the Mouse has gone through very thorough research and development to evolve to what it is today. Of course there’s room for improvement for everything. In stead of seeking such improvement elsewhere, I would suggest that you contact Jay directly and ask for a special custom order. Who’s the better modifier than the original designer himself?

http://winsome-labs.com/contact.htm

All the best with your new house!
David

Greetings Mr. Kramer,

In your review you refer to the Sibelius Violin Concerto with Zuckerman performing. However, the picture of the CD cover in the review is a recording of Salvatore Accardo: You shouldn't tease people like that. I've been looking for a reissue of Zuckerman's performance of this concerto for years. (I don't think it was ever released on CD.)

Cheers,
Joseph Pagán

Just keeping you on your toes – thanks for picking it mate, wrong image indeed but Zuckerman certainly does perform the Sibelius Violin Concerto with the London Philharmonic/Daniel Barenboim. A real find! Beethoven Sibelius Violin Concertos - Deutsche Grammophon 457 294 2, 1975 – Good luck!!

Cheers,
Edgar Kramer

Hello David,

In your review of the Kingrex T20U, you mention use of a software called Amadeus II to upsample the music, but mention that this is a Mac only program. I am currently building a system utilizing the T20U and supplying music via a windows computer, and am curious if you have any recommendations for a similar software program to upsample my music. Also, you mention the use of FLAC, but I'm assuming that you used FLAC to encode music from CDs to play, but that it didn't feature any sort of upconversion, is this true? Any tips you can give to get the best performance out of this setup using a PC would be very much appreciated.

Thank you.
Ian

Hi Ian,

I have only toyed around with FLAC on my Mac. Amadeus II has been improved to 24/192 capability but still restricted to Mac.My experience with FLAC in a PC environment is probably as limited as yours. If you Google FLAC you'll find some useful info from these websites to acquaint yourself with the technology:

If you dig a little deeper, it's not hard to find the PC softwares that handle FLAC, like dBPowerAmp and others listed here: http://flac.sourceforge.net/download.html

Good luck.
David

Srajan,

I don't know if I ever told you this story but in light of your Price & Perception piece, I think it's worth potentially repeating. When I sold an audio rack a few years ago, the buyer was local so he came to pick it up. When he saw my setup, he asked if he could listen. I said "sure" and while he was looking around at all the gear, I hit play. I suggested he sit down in the sweet spot and relax which he did. After a few minutes he smiled and said "that Audio Aero is a great sounding player. I've always wanted to hear one and it sure is smooth."

What he didn't realize was I had put the Audio Aero back on my rack to photograph it but it was not connected. A Sony Playstation sitting on the floor next to the rack was responsible for the music we were listening to and when I pointed this out, he seemed a bit taken aback. Like I was intentionally trying to trick him. After that, he didn't seem to be able to relax and left soon after.

On a similar note, years ago I was flying from France to Italy to meet some friends. Before the flight, I filled an empty Evian bottle with tap water for the trip. When I landed, my friend saw the bottle, took it, drank a big swig and said "Man, you can't beat that Evian water."

True stories ;:)

Mike

Hello Jeff,

Thanks for the heads up on the White Lightning Moonshine. I now have a pair of the best speaker cables I have ever owned. Sitting on a shelf next to 40' Woods Yard Master Patio cord was 40' of Woods Yard Master landscape cord. It's lime green and it calls less attention to itself in my living room which I find esthetically pleasing.

Yours truly,
A Happy Camper
Miguel de Freitas

Hello there Jeff,

Found your article about a week ago by a mention on an audio forum. Now I am the proud owner of my own pair of WLM cables for my bi-amped system. They have about 3 days/20 hours on them and I can tell you that I do not intend to look any further for speaker cables. I love this kind of stuff. I posted a message with pics about my project on "Audio Circle". Here's a link to the page. It's part way down:

http://www.audiocircle.com/circles/index.php?topic=37980.msg448911

Thanks!

Doak
Dear Jeff:

I've been promising myself I would write this for a while but, with one thing and another, i.e., two children 3 and 7, it takes a while to keep some of these promises. I was fascinated by the article you wrote back in April 07 concerning the Zigmahornets and the Walmart cables. I hope to do the speakers in the future but just happened to be in a Walmart, saw the cable, and thought what the hell?

I took it home and it sat around for about two months and then one weekend I started it as a project that was fun for my 7 year old daughter to do some helping out on. We built a set of interconnects to run from my preamp to my amp, using Scosche interconnects. The soldering was a bit tricky but we managed.

Now I don't upgrade my system a lot. I've managed to upgrade it in stages over the past five to seven years but I'm careful with what I buy as I can't afford to go massively high end and have to find what performs above it's price level. My system is an Odyssey Stratos amp, Acurus RL11 preamp, MMF 5 turntable, CDP XA20 ES CD player and a Sony tuner. The speakers are Thiel CS1s. I live in a coop apartment so don't need massive speakers as I am a near field listener. I used Monster and Kimber cabling. The interconnects between the amp and preamp were damaged by accident involving so it was logical to start there. I know the sound of my system intimately and enjoy it very much. The Sony CD player was superb when it was introduced and remains wonderful to my ears. I also love the Music Hall table. The Acurus preamp is passive and a wonderful bargain. The Odyssey amp was my last upgrade and took the system performance up a huge notch. The amp has been in the system two years so I am accustomed to its sound as well.

I attached the finished interconnects and put on Wilco's Sky Blue Sky which has been in constant rotation for three months. I am not prone to hyperbole but to say I was stunned is not an overstatement. The amount of detail I heard that I'd not heard before was amazing. Voices, guitar strings, instruments and harmonization I hadn't noticed in such detail. I followed up by replacing a rather expensive set of speaker cables with the Walmarts and the difference again was not subtle.

I am planning to cable the entire system with these over time. Thank you for publicizing this. I've always been a fan of more bang for the buck and this is a huge improvement available to anyone who can solder. The nicest part of this is that I feel joy in the hobby again, it reminds me of buying my first system as Stereo Warehouse. We need more of this feeling in audio. Thanks for providing it again.

Yours truly,
Ray De Angelis
Hello Srajan,

Met a friend in DC who is an audio/music lover who has been following Rethm's progress over the years. He also happens to be a "valve nut" like me - and since I had the Red Wine Signature 30.2 with me from CES, I offered it to him to have a quick listen in his system. He has had a PX25 for the last 4 years, which he adores and which he says nothing came up to. He called me the next morning..... and said that a 'paradigm shift' had taken place in his audio universe. Needless to say, he has also ordered a unit from Vinnie (I am doing well by Vinnie, having given him 3 orders in the last 2 weeks! .

I have yet to compare the 30.2 head to head with the Divas. Will probably do it over the weekend.

Cheers,

Jacob
Dear Srajan,

I love your on-line hi-fi journal - your crew does a great job of keeping the hobby fun, reviewing gear at all price ranges (what a rarity!), and finding the funky and more obscure stuff (another rarity). Your work is novel, and I am very pleased to see it catch on as well as it has.

For my money, Steve Marsh is the best reviewer out there on the hi-fi scene - I feel he has the most accurate and critical ear. I say this because Steve's insights have done more for me than any other source of information that I have come across during my 27 years in this hobby. I admit that, at times, I was skeptical of some of his ideas, but I was always proven wrong. I no longer doubt Steve's "ear". For example, when Steve suggested the Red Rose 2a (amp) and Audio Physic Step SLE combo (monitor speakers), I just did not see how a 35 watt EL34 amp and a pair of 4 ohm 84dB efficiency speakers could satisfy me - such a rig would not even be able to fill my room when I want to crank up The Tragically Hip! Well, I ended up trying that combo and am hooked - I am getting the best sound I have ever mustered from a stereo system. And Steve's influence is spreading - friends come over and leave wanting a pair of Step SLE's - one buddy finally found a pair on the used market and is as tickled as I am at the sound. Nothing in my experience can deliver the kind of speed, leading edge, dynamics and transient "pop" that the Red Rose 2a/Step SLE combo can deliver (not to mention the exceptional soundstaging capabilities of the Steps, and the reach-out-and-touch midrange - mindblowing). The Steps somehow manage to do all of this without being bright or edgy, a most extraordinary feat. The fact that they will not play at 100+ dB has never been a consideration, since they are subjectively more than "loud" enough to completely satisfy me - and I am not afraid to crank it up now and then (I should also note that I use them with either an Audio Physic Luna or a REL B3 sub-woofer).

So, I am hoping you can post this message to raise awareness of the Audio Physic Step SLE speakers, and the Red Rose 2a tube amp, and to give kudos to Steve Marsh for bringing this gear to my attention - I am very thankful, as I never would have thought of those components on my own.

Yours sincerely,
Ed Chapman

PS - This is my first message to your website. I have more to say regarding my positive findings regarding the Dave Slagle TVC, as well as lots of other gear, that Steve Marsh also recommended - in every case Steve hit the nail on the head. I also want to thank you - Srajan - for pointing me toward the Eastern Electric MiniMax - that is a special bit of kit too : )
Hello Srajan,

I read Jeff's mini blog and wanted to comment on one of the rooms he mentioned. Your recommendation of the Red Wine Audio Signature 30.2 to the Rethm exhibitor was spot-on! There were quite a few of us who thought the amp was outstanding and Jacob told us he was planning to buy the unit after the show. This is an amazing amp at any price. Unfortunately, there still were those who would not take it seriously because of the way it looks and what it costs. There was one reviewer who came in and said that he had one of the amps in for review and that he had already told Vinny that he was not going to say " that it is better that $40K amps out there"! This attitude makes me ill. For the record, let me say that many of us admire you precisely for this quality you have - of being able to review a piece of equipment purely on its strengths and not based on its cost or brand name.

All the best,
Carl

I'm sure there are $20,000 amps that will handily outperform the 30.2. There better be. However, I did hear it go up against a particular $40,000 super esoteric amp and both its prospective owner and I clearly favored the "cheap 'un" hence I mentioned it. Needless to say, the prospective owner was relieved that he didn't have to spend that long green (with the usual qualifications - on his speakers, in his room). I'm fully aware that statements like that -- this $2,500 amp can go up against others costing $40,000 -- will raise a lot of eyebrows but if I hear it, I'm gonna say it, perception be damned. It's great though to be occasionally complimented for it rather than just hearing the howls of derision and accusations of whatever. And yes, Jacob wrote me and said the same thing - that he will buy the Red Wine unit and compare it at home to a new amp by his favorite designer, TS Lim who came out with a new Diva Tian Zhu, a 10wpc SET. That could well outperform the 30.2. But Jacob will be smart enough to realize that once you change speakers, the T-amp will hang in there far longer than a 10wpc SET so ultimate statements always also need to account for the bigger picture... which is why it was important to chronicle what type of speakers the RWA unit can actually drive. A lot more than its power rating would suggest. Hence my enthusiasm for it - SET-ish sound (though not identical) for tons more speakers and with bass SETs can only dream of.

Srajan
Hello Frederic,

Thanks for your review of the Esoteric SA60. I just purchased a DV60 based primarily on your review. I am very impressed with the player. I do video & audio with the same player and both are the best I have seen and heard. In your review you said " After you've added the provided felt pads under its 3 feet, gently position the SA60 on your rack (and Sound-Quest Isol-pads in my case)". I use Iso-pads but have not used them under equipment. Did you put them under the SA60? If so did you remove the feet?

One interesting note: I get HDTV with and outside antenna & a Sony HDTV receiver. After putting the DV60 in the system, that picture & sound improved. Unusual as that has nothing to do with the DV60.

Thanks,
Rick Frye

Thanks Rick, for your kind words and I am glad you are finding the DV60 to your liking - it is great to read it has video capabilities to match its sound performance as well I have found the Isol-pads to work best under the equipments' feet. With components that had short feet, I tried resting the enclosure directly on top of the pads to "bypass" the supplied feet and that never worked as well as just putting one pad under each foot and that's how I operated with the SA60.

I would not even try to to venture a guess on what happened with your HDTV reception but I am glad the change was for the better.

Best regards,
Frederic

Hi David.

I have read your reviews on the Mark and Daniels as well as hearing them down at Audiooasis and might buy a pair. I have a question about the digital amplifiers you have used. How would you compare the sound of the Audiozone Amp-ST to the Winsome Mouse. I believe one is a UCD amp and the other a T-amp.

Thanks,
Frank Kocsis

Hi Frank,

Thanks for your email. It's the second email from readers in two days that asked me 'Which one is better, A or B?' While I feel privileged to be entrusted with such an important question, the privilege comes with enormous responsibility. I must make the choice between A and B as if I am spending my own money. On top of that, I must be fair and impartial to the manufacturers - and this is not as simple, nor as fun, as a shoot-out.

As we all know, A or B boils down to partnering and synergy. You have helped me by narrowing down to Mark & Daniel speakers. Though you didn't mention which model, but if you are thinking between Audio Zone AMP-ST or Winsome Labs Mouse, it's got to be the newer models that are amp-friendlier than the Ruby. So I guess you're considering the Topaz, the Sapphire, or the Mini. I have tried all the three M&D speakers with both the AMP-ST and the Mouse. Surprisingly, both amps sound very similar in terms of sonic attributes and musical reward, although they are of very different design ' AMP-ST is op amp based (so-called gain clones, utilizing the National semiconductor LM3875 chips) and the Mouse is Tripath based. If I must point out one major difference between the two, it would be the AMP-ST is warmer and the Mouse is more transparent. Having said that, I'm not even remotely implying that one lacks what the other prospers. I'm just speaking in hair-splitting, relative terms. It's just a reviewer locking himself up in the audition room trying to discover something smart to say. When you are enjoying music, who cares?

Pragmatic issues to consider: price and functionality. Price comparison is roughly 10 to 4. AMP-ST has three sets of input and built like a tank with world-class resonance control. The Mouse has only one set of input, cleverly thought out and well-built with extremely short signal path inside a tiny project box. Having only one set of input has always been detrimental to small Tripath amps. So, being technically naive, I asked Jay Hennigan of Winsome Labs if I could connect two input sources to the Mouse through a Y-splitter and make sure I always have only one source powered on. His answer, as usual, was detailed and helpful. You might or might not be concerned with this, but it'd be beneficial to all if I quote Jay here.

"It won't hurt the amplifier, and it is possible but unlikely to hurt either source, but sonically not really a good idea. Sources typically have relatively low impedance compared to the intended amplifier load. So typical preamp or CD player may have an output impedance of 200-600 ohms, designed to drive a load of 10,000 ohms or more.

When you parallel two sources, the inactive source will present a lower impedance source to the active source than it is designed to drive. The active source shouldn't be damaged, although its output stage will be working a bit harder. The inactive source will be sinking most of the current from the active source, something it has not designed to do. In the vast majority of cases this won't cause any damage but if you have a very high level, high current active source and a sensitive output stage on the inactive source, it is theoretically possible to damage the inactive source.

Sonically, the inactive source will present an unpredictable load to the active source that is likely to be non-linear and/or vary with frequency. This will likely color the frequency response and induce some distortion. Turning them both on and playing music will just act as a crude mixer.

You could make an isolation box that would allow two sources with protection from all of the above like this"

>---------------------/\/\/\/\/---------------|
Source 1 with 4.7K resistor
|-------------------------------------------------- to amp<
>---------------------/\/\/\/\/---------------|
Source 2 with 4.7K resistor

Use RCAs for all the above, tie the grounds together, in a small project box. This will reduce the level from either source slightly but provide isolation and protection. One circuit per channel, obviously, but you can put them all in on box. Alternatively, you can go with 20K resistors, for better isolation than 4.7K at a slight cost in gain."

In addition to that, Jay put theory into action. A week before Christmas, I received a handsomely finished tiny isolation box from Jay. What a surprise! And it works beautifully. (Thank you, Jay.)

Back to the partnering issue. While both the AMP-ST and the Mouse can drive the M&D new models with satisfactory results, I must stress that none of them could fully unleash the true potential of the M&D speakers – they love to be driven with high current power amps and that could be your future upgrade. But for now, for that kind of investment, you could not possibly go wrong with either one. As a matter of fact, I'm currently using the Mouse (four of them) to drive the Sapphire/Topaz 5-channel system, the AMP-ST to drive the Maximus-Mini.

Best,
David

Hi David,

I've enjoyed reading your reviews and not long ago purchased something you said you really liked, the Dared VP20, 6L6 mono blocks as I had wanted to try something with tubes. I very much like them and have upgraded the tubes and they really do sound quite wonderful. My question if you don't mind, is I've also read your review of the Dared VP 845 SET amp and am now very curious to try that in place of the VP20. I don't need the extra power so that's not really a concern, I just wonder if in fact you felt the 845 was a big improvement over the little vp 20's? Anything you could share as to what you found between the 2 amps that might cause you to prefer one over the other or just any obvious sonic differences would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks and keep up the great writing,

Samuel DiPietrantonio

Hi Samuel,

Thanks for the kind words. I'm glad that you are enjoying the Dared VP-20.

You are correct: the major difference between the VP-20 and VP-845 is more in sonic attributes than output power. On paper, both are rated at 18wpc. However, the VP-845 is single-ended triode Class A, while the VP-20 is ultra-linear push-pull. The beauty of 845 tube is that it gives you the pure, warm, golden sound of 300B but with almost three times the power, making it more versatile and arguably invincible with any repertoire. With large orchestral works, it gives command performance with effortless charisma and a sense of authority. Bass extension is another forte of 845 that surpasses the smaller SET triode. Personally I find the VP-20 to be very close to the VP-845 in terms of the versatility I mentioned. You can say it lacks the purity but I'm not obsessed with that. The only complaint I have about VP-845 is its heavy weight and that's why I sold it. (As a reviewer, I need to move the amps around very often and I hate to trouble my wife.) But I missed it from time to time! If you do go for it, be prepared that the (transformer) hum could be a little louder than the VP-20 since 845 runs on very high voltage. But that should not be audible from your listening position.

Best,
David

Hi Jeff,

Jeff, I thought I would drop you a line to give you a layman's perspective of living with the Ziggys for the past four months. In September it was decided by the boss (i.e. the wife) that my dedicated listening room was to become the bedroom of my oldest daughter so that her room would then become occupied by the youngest daughter. I protested in vain. (Insert your own sob story here). However she said I could use our almost never used formal dining room until the area above the garage could be converted to a proper man cave. You know, 18'x 24', vaulted ceiling, dedicated AC lines and a wet bar.

I decided to go with a minimalist temporary rig of your suggestion to include a T Rex chip amp, PlayStation 1, White Lightning cables and RCA connectors (made exactly to your specs), a cheap JBL 10" powered sub and of course the homemade solid maple Ziggys. At first the sound of the Ziggys was a bit bright and just a touch grainy, however after about 10 hours of robust playing with the likes of Van Halen and Rush they opened up and I mean fast, as in flip the switch! I know that you said you did not find the need to use a sub, but I found that once I did I could not turn back. Interestingly I found that the high-level inputs worked the best (I have a low-level out adapter for the T Rex).

Fast forward 4 months. With my wife and kids at Grandmas for a week I decided to unpack the reference rig and have a little shootout in the living room. Now this isn't some megabuck cost-no-object system but it ain't junk either. It consists of a pair of highly regarded Bel Canto switching amps, Bel Canto Pre2, Sony 9000ES CD/SACD player, Paradigm Reference 100v3s and Mapleshade cables. What the eff had happened? Did the capacitors in the crossovers discharge? Did a family of stowaway rodents take up residence in the ports of these big black boxes?

I thought, well lets give it an hour to warm up and see if it sounds any better. No! I decided to put the Bel Canto and Sony gear in front of the Ziggys. Now 300wpc in front of fairly efficient minuscule single driver speakers may sound insane but with very judicious control over the volume pot, I attained stellar results. Killer tone, nice detail. I must admit that like you, I found a few things that are beyond the little Ziggys and after listening to the Gallo 3.1s, I have found a replacement for the Paradigms. I apologize for the long-winded yarn. Keep up the great reviews, especially those of the giant killer ilk.

Sincerely,
Stacy Seim
Hi Marja & Henk,

I've read your reviews on 6moons with great interest and now have a question for you. I have put together a wonderful system with Avantgarde Unos, Tom Evans' amp and preamp, Gordon Rankin's Cosecant DAC, Mac computer, Merill-Scilia MS2 turntable, Tri-Planar Arm, Ortofon Jubilee Cartridge, Roger Sanders phono stage and Stereovox Reference series cabling. I have a great room (by luck) and the sound is first class. I have seen a pair of Avantgarde Solos for sale and I'm wondering how well they would work in a surround sound application with Unos. I realize this may be massive overkill so I'd like to know what other speakers you might recommend if I want to use the Unos in the surround system. I realize, too, that I'm still missing a center channel if I use the Unos and the Solos. I guess I'm really trying to find a good center and surround speaker combination that would work with the Unos and, perhaps, that is impossible. For the surround A/V receiver, I'd probably be using the Arcam 350. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

John

Hi John,

we can only speak from a pure 2.0 setup with Solos. However, the voicing of the Solos is pretty much the same as our Duo Omegas. So a combination of Unos and Solos should be equivalent soundwise. Maybe the following is a bit 'off' but have you thought about the possibility to use one Solo as center between the Unos and the second Solo in the back pointing toward the back wall? Most information in a movie at least is in the front 3 channels and the back channels are only for that 'annoying helicopter'. By pointing the Solo to the wall (or even parallel to the wall pointing upward?), a more diffuse background can be created. Just an idea...

/M&H

Hi Jeff,

I wrote to you about a month ago to thank you for your review of the MacBook, Hagerman USB converter and 47labs NOS DAC. I'm using the new iMac and I got the Hagerman USB converter and run it thru the Promitheus Audio NOS DAC. I found this info on how to set up your Mac for best audio with a USB:

http://extra.benchmarkmedia.com/wiki/index.php/OS_X_Audio_Playback_-_Setup_Guide

When you set up the MAC, disengage the preamp in the Mac iTunes (click 'view' on the top bar and click 'show equalizer').

Greg Calise
Srajan,

Thanks for your great reviews and outstanding comparisons.

Happy Holidays,
Bill Riley
Hi Srajan,

I wanted to pass along info about an audio gadget called Echofone that I came across and have been trying out for a few days now. It may seem a little gimmicky at first which is OK with me as I am a bit of a gadget lover anyways - my wife the astrologer would say it is due to the placement of Uranus in my chart.

But the effect of this particular gadget is totally unique. It transmits sound, especially high frequencies, to our brain through the skin and bones, bypassing the ear altogether. This can be a profound benefit if you have any high frequency hearing loss which most of us, including audiophiles, do as we get older. The designer of the Echofone was a former Cobra pilot who lost a lot of hearing above 10 Khz from his exposure to jet noise, and this was his solution to be able to hear high frequencies in music again. It also functions as a kind of super-tweeter, and is also unique because it is a super-tweeter that you can use with speakers or headphones. Since I listen almost exclusively through headphones to maximize my marital bliss, this has been quite a fun discovery for me.

And while the build quality is not the equal of most audiophile gear, the uniqueness of the concept makes up for its shortcomings. I figured it might be worthy of a mention at least in your letters department, or maybe even a full review someday. In the meantime, you can read more details and an amateur review of the Echofone that I posted to Audioasylum here: http://www.audioasylum.com/audio/general/messages/50/504376.html

As you may notice in the description of my current system at the end of the review, I have been following along with many of the recommendations I find on your site. Probably the most profound enjoyment I have found is with my new Yamamoto HA-02 headphone amp paired with my Audio Technica ATH-W1000 headphones. As you have suggested, they are a match made in heaven.

Keep up the good work, and give our best to Ivette.

Warmly,
Nirmala
Hi Srajan,

Just wanted to wish you, Ivette and moon staff a very merry Christmas and all the best in Health & Spirits in the New Year! And thank you for this passing year of good reading, great photography of both audio gear and injections of history from some of these awe inspiring worldly sites!

Thanks,
Ed King

Hi SE -

Just a short note to encourage you to continue your excellent writing 'trends' in the diverse world of the serious audio inmates. I've noticed that you have really come to full bloom this year with your ability to create the much needed excitement in most all of the different technology approaches you cover. Sure, you have your biases but it doesn't get in the way. Instead, it adds intrigue and wonderment for the serious audio inmates.

Again, keep up the great work!
Regards -
Dan
Hi Jeff,

Just finished the White Lightning Moonshine ICs and freshly soldered, they sound quite 'musical'. Not a bit of grain or grit. That article saved me a lot of frustration and $$$. Wire has always driven me nuts. Thanks, you are one of the good guys in audio.

Happy Holidays to you and yours,
Les
Hi Srajan,

just a quick note to mention how much I enjoyed your 30.2 review, especially that you dedicated so much print to speakers that might be copasetic. Even my Gallo Refs got a mention!

I attended the Montreal audio show this past spring and the room with Red Wine and Omega speakers was one of my favorites. I've just returned from a week in Havana. A highlight of the trip was to see an incredibly charged concert featuring Roberto Fonseca on piano and Javier Zalba on clarinet, sax and flute. I think you might enjoy BaritonCha, the CD that I bought at the club that night. It tends to the polished and polite instead of the club feel of a Latin Coltrane on a very good night. Nonetheless, it's worth your consideration if opportunity arises!

Regards,
Al Luke

Dear Jeff,

My heart raced when I read your introduction to your favorites of 2007. You wrote, so concisely, the words I have been struggling to find when it comes to audio gear. Your statement says it all, for me:

"My Favorites of 2007 focus exclusively on equipment that possesses exceptional musicality in the Music Lovers style. Hifi equipment that possesses exceptional musicality is equipment that emphasizes the musical aspects of a recorded performance over the non-musical artifacts of the recording process. For example, the timbral signature of a band, the melodic flow of music over time in a song, and delivering the full emotional impact of music are considered to be more important than the exaggeration of the non-musical artifacts of the recording process such as soundstaging, transparency, imaging and extreme detail recovery that has found favor in equipment voiced for audiophiles."

That's my gospel as well, and it's so darn hard for me to communicate this to friends and strangers who seem confused when I ask them..."but does your gear really play music?".

Thanks.
All the best,
Jason
Oakville, ON
Canada
Hi Frederic,

I just read your review of the SA60,and found it quite interesting and informative considering that I own one. I picked one up less than 3 months ag, and I am real happy with it, but I'm happier now since reading the review. After reading, I decided to test the difference in sound between the XLR and single-ended RCA. The difference was immediately noticeable and quite significant. As it turns out, I have both connections hooked up at once, so it it was just a matter of turrning one notch on my Modwright 36.5

Stuart B.
Toronto, Canada.

Hi Frederic,

I thought you did an excellent review & report of the Esoteric SA60player. Very thorough, and professionally written. I personally give you a "moon sticker"...

Ed King
I read you site weekly and I rarely write but I wanted to share this with you.

LessLoss Filtering Power Cable: It is rare that after 15 years of trying power cords, interconnect and speaker wires that I lucked out to find a product that stopped me in my tracks and made me sit down and take notice right out of the box.

Back in 1982 I started to realize the value of good interconnect and speaker wire was way before MIT and Monster cable started to take off. The man back then was Randall McCarter of Randall Research who did the mod on Dahlquist DQ-10, which by the way was one of the few that really improved this speaker to the point that it could stand on its own today against some of the best out there within in the $8,000 plus price range.

Randy started to develop interconnects and speakers wires and due to his electronic engineering back ground he really put some thought into it, the wires were stiff as all get out, but the sound was an eye-opener. Once MIT and Monster hit the market with their advertisement dollars Randy could not longer compete and after a few years he through in the towel. His products by the way sounded better, was designed right and truly researched and had a much higher built quality and materials.

As the cable and accessory market grew I went along for the ride, cable after cable, brand after brand, expensive and not so expensive. You name a major brand name cable and I tried it and even some home brewed cables from the mom and pop companies, you know the one's who work out their garage as a side job and charge almost as much or more then the major manufacture, some sound quite good.

After 10 years I started to come to the conclusion that wires were a crap shoot at best, even reviews from reviewers are way down because you really don't know how they are going to interact with one's system. Then of course you get educated and you learn good is good, after that your chasing your tail, let's be honest there is only so much a good cable can do, and what you want it to do is bring out the best in your system and not hinder the performance.

I had finally settled down and excepted the cables that I owned as being as good as it gets regardless if I switched them out, I could change the sound a bit, but I would not hear a significant improvement. By the way all of the last few I owned sounded real good.

Some of the Brands: MIT Oracle, Tara Lab the One, Harmonic Technology Magic and on, and most currently Shunyata Python & Andaconda power cords which I liked quite a bit though they were expensive also but they brought out the best in my gear to that point.

Then one day I was looking over the Audiogon site and I saw the ad for Lessloss power cords and I was ready to keep going but I saw the info tab and click it and up came an 8 page PDF file on the design of this cable, well reading will cost me nothing so I printed out the information.

Not since Randy McCarter did anyone really explain the design of the cable and what improvement the cable would bring. I also read where Marty Dewulf enjoyed the cables and I have spoken to Marty several times during my years with Sony Electronics, and I have know him to be a honest and upfront guy and reviewer.

So my wheels in my head started to turn, and to be honest I was so happy with my system, but I figured I give them a try at $550.00 and order three of them for my system, after all I could sell the Shunyata's and cover the expense of purchasing if I liked them, so I did.

I ordered the power cords and I received an email thanking me and telling me around 3 weeks. I said fine and waited. After 2-1/2 weeks the power cords arrived. I pulled them out and I was impressed with the built quality, I thought just maybe they will sound ok, if I don't like them on my system and I use them on my plasma, DVD player etc.

So I plugged them up to my Marantz SA-7S1 CD/SACD player, McIntosh C200 preamp and the McIntosh MC402 amp and let them stay powered up for an hour and I then hit the play button and listened to "For Duke" (M&K Realtime recording) and started to walk away when the horn section went off and the solo started, I heard detail, speed and micro to micro swings in dynamics and overtones that I had not heard as easily before.

I went back to my listen chair and went to track 6 & 7 and listened to the piano, drum and standup bass, the detail was as good as I have heard, but the over tones of the instruments came forth with ease and a flow that I had not heard before, did it make the Shunyata's sound like crap? No, but the Lessloss were quieter, better extended in both directions and the dynamics swings were better, in fact my volume control was lower then it normally was when listening to the same disc and I switched the power cords a few times just to see if what I was hearing was right, the Lessloss was providing more current, reproducing less noise thus my system sounded louder with a ease to the reproduction.

Now mind you these were fresh out of packing, no time on them yet and they were better then the Shunyata's at ½ to a ¼ of the price!!. In fact what these power cords were doing I had not heard before from any power cord to date, DCCA (home brew cord I had tried, stiff to the point of being un-useable, good sound, but not good value for the money) or MIT Oracle (great on amps), Shunyata's (good on digital gear)etc.

I’ve now have had them a month and they have improved by opening up a bit, but that is it, my system images better, it’s focus is better due to the lowering of the noise floor, you can hear music that is just there in front of you out of a silent background.

Choral Music, stunned me, the power and swing of the voices, the number of voices that were now produced clearly with no blur to them, I no longer had to “listen hard” to hear the individual voices.

Male vocals superb, female voices superb, Piano reproduction when recorded well was like hearing the real thing.

Recordings from the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, and current era take on their recording quality in stark relief.

There is no highlighting with this power cord, no bloating, no bass over hang or lack of mid-bass, highs extend forever, yet never hyped, smeared or in your face, they are just there and extend forever. Now mind you these cost $550.00 apiece not $2,000 or more. Less noise more music, less jitter from power supply noise, means more natural reproduction from CD players, in fact some older cd’s now sound quite good, god knows how many good cd’s I may have traded away, the Marantz SA-7S1 CD player is also a huge factor in this being so.

And even more important then money, they work exceeding well on preamps, amps, CD players and even my on my plasma TV.

They really lower the noise floor to the point of really considering the need for a line conditioner on any of my gear just like Lessloss white papers said, plug them directly into your wall” and you will hear what I am talking about, no more trade off’s that you have to make when using a line conditioner, your system comes into it’s own with these power cords.

Once in and while even someone jaded like myself gets a pleasant surprise, and the excitement comes back to what got me into this hobby in the first place, and that is the love of music, and the attempt to get my system to fool me once in and while to thinking that sounds like the real thing.

The Lessloss power cords have taken my system to that level to the point that when I am listen to my system I feel relaxed knowing the system sounds “right” no thought of this could be better or that could be better, based on my experience with many, many power cords, I could pick that up in a second, keep in mind I had my Shunyata’s sitting right next to me to go back to, which I did just to give them another go. Same result, Lessloss was better top to bottom, imaging, and less noise totally from my whole system without the loss of dynamics or the slight veiling.

This IS the power cord to own, but order enough for your whole setup, once you insert even one of your power cords back into the mix you will hear your system take a step backwards (only when compared to what you just heard) and again I not saying your tried and true power cords will sound bad, it just these power cords are just so good.

My Marantz SA-7S1 was an eye opener and for the past 8 months I have never thought about another CD player, that was a first for me in the digital world, when I got the McIntosh’s I felt the same, they cost much less then the gear I had owned in the past, yet sounded better and I never thought I own McIntosh that was “old school” Levinson, Krell, Rowland, ARC, C.J. etc was where it was at, the McIntosh gear taught me a thing or two.

The Lessloss power cord now enters into that club, it’s the best, cost far less and takes your gear to the a level that you will say, I can now appreciate what I paid all this money for, your system will be as good as it can get, that what we strive for and these power cords will bring out the best your gear can be.

On a rating of 1-10 these would be a 20 (consider the cost also), you’re done chasing your tail, you start enjoying your system and the music it reproduces. That is the best compliment I can give these power cords.

I no longer even think about another power cord or change of gear, I want more music and I will be out shopping quite shortly, nice to spend money on the music and not on equipment/cable changes over and over again.

You will be doing yourself a disservice by not trying these power cords and reviewing them, Martin Dewulf was right; these are “the new king of the hill”.

Enjoy!!
Phil Baatz

Having a very impressive interaction with the Kingrex people in Taiwan. I recently bought a Kingrex T20U plus PSU, intending to run the computer through it. But of course, I had to try it out on the Avantgarde Duos, didn't I.

But there I found that the amp was unbalanced. The centre image was a bit to the left (about a foot), and it seemed that the volume control, when turned up from zero, came on first on the left, followed a bit later by the right. I contacted Kingrex about this, but was resigned to just running the PC out to (yet unbuilt!) Zigmahornets and didn't pursue the matter.

But, unasked, Kingrex first asked me how things were later. Then, a little later, wrote telling me that not only were they concerned but had also taken advice from Michael Mardis and John May and changed their volume controls on all the amps from now on to Nobles!! And are sending me a new one after the Christmas postal rush!!

Now that is what I call excellent service. So here's wishing Kingrex great success and many thanks for such excellent service!

I await the postman!

Chris Skelton
Hi Jeff,

Just thought I would let you know my story with the Walmart specials. I have only cut the ends off and tinned the wire. And I have only made the speaker cables. When I first used them they were ok but glary, cold and just hard sounding. I am using these on a 2-speaker OB with B200 on top and Alpha 15As on the bottom. As it turned out they did sound pretty good on the bass speaker. Nice tight bass - so I left them driving the bass speaker and kept my other cables driving the B200.

I guess I did that for a month. The other day I decided to just use one cable and wired in just the Walmart Yard Master. I guess this is after ~200 hours? Well, these cables are no longer hard sounding. They have transformed. Wide soundstage, detail, depth, nice tone. Wow, for the price they are right up there!

Thanks for a fun project.
Jeff Kelly
Hello Srajan,

I love your site because you guys are all over the map. Large manufacturers & small(Decware, The Horn Shoppe, Scott Nixon, ...). Lotsa tube gear. Well, in case Eddie Vaughn has flown under your radar, the Vaughn Carina is an incredible little hand built amp. This thing is fast, quiet and beautiful (extremely affordable also). I learned about Eddie over on the Decware site. This guy is so incredibly knowledgable of all things tubes. Eddie is the type of guy who cares more about musical enjoyment than turning a profit. A down-to-earth guy like Ed Schilling. I wish I was more articulate. I'm sure you get hundreds of emails a week and hear this shit all the time. I know your readers would love to learn about this product. It really is an amazing amp.If you have'nt heard of him, please check out his site. vaughnaudio.com. Keep up the great work.

Regards.
Rich Dreyer