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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.

Aloha,
Lovely to have this account and documentation of the epic project. Congratulations!

On its completion and on this first part of the audio Pentatuch. The work of scholars and kings!

Garret Hongo
Stephæn,

What a great great project! A great way to bring many talented friends together. So... How do they sound?

Nobuko

Hi Nobuko,

They sound smooth and swift, vibrant and vivid, unprocessed and effortless. Yet it's entirely possible that we have not yet realized the full potential of the speaker system. We are still in the midst of tweaking the crossovers and measuring in-room response to see what we can learn and be ready to apply to the slimmer version (slated to live in my house).

æ
Stephæn:

Nice piece on the Po' Boys. Looks like it was a huge freakin' project.

Bill Leebens
Stephæn,

Thanks. I enjoyed that very, very much. I'd like to have a pair of these some day...

Tom Scata  (thetubeguy1954)
Stephæn,

Thank you so much for the 6moons document on the poboys. It was a clever method to get the immense amount of work involved documented.
Loved it!

Ron Barbee
Stephæn,

Thanks for that.  It is reassuring to know there are others out there as relatively insane as oneself!!

John Coulsen
Congrats on the great article with Stephæn & Pete. I think these kinds or articles really help to set you apart, in a good way. :)

Interesting, fun, and informative. What's not to like? Anyway, as you know, the best story wins...

Jim Smith
Hi Stephæn,

Thanks for including us in your article. By the way, you guys are crazy ... nice work!!!

Rich Drysdale
Stephæn,

I have long felt that knowledge is more useful than a pile of cash when it comes to assembling a world-class horn system. Great performance is where you find it and it is seldom located in an audio "salon." As Dr. Edgar has said, "Horns are the wild frontier", so construction articles like yours can be really valuable to those who are willing to launch a similar effort.

Cogent is busy this year prototyping new driver designs and construction techniques. We would like to build more affordable drivers but will only make changes if current performance is retained or improved upon. Stay tuned.

Thank you for all the kind words!

Best,
Steve Schell
Hi Srajan,

As someone who appears to have such equal conviction in his yen and yang, 'conviction' is such a key word) and the discipline to write everyday; I dare say you seem in a unique position to cull gems (or turds) from your years of correspondence and write a book of entertainment or perhaps a screen-play.

Even with my comparatively distant exposure, it would be difficult not to write it as a comedy of sorts. I imagine there must be more than the odd moment when you're writing something on the power of tea alone...or thinking, 'Jesus, here again...'  "tone, paper, compound marble, stage, SET, good sand, not live, better, quiet, loud, louder, even, odd - bathroom break"

Of course, playing with new toys is fun...this would just be a different kind...just a thought.

Fred Crane

Should the day arrive that I feel I have something to say that might interest enough folks outside audio - who knows, perhaps my current gig is mere apprenticeship. But creative writing is a very different kettle of fish and the publishing world of novels and such is yet another challenge to deal with. It's true, I firmly believe that you don't know what you're capable of until you put yourself in a place where you have to either sink or swim. So perhaps, one far off day, in a universe far away? For now, I best stick with what I know to support my wife who has finished a number of novels which need to get published. She says she couldn't write like I do. I'm not sure I could do what she does. Sometimes it's best to know one's place and leave it at that -:)

Srajan
To whom it may concern:

After having been bombarded by the press and reading many articles about NuForce amplifiers, I eventually decided to try them in my system - Apogee Duetta Sig, Martin Logan SLl3, Apogee Stage, Cadence Arca speakers, JR Consonance, Manley Purist, Krell KSP 7b, Marantz CDA & CD94, Accuphase CD 75, Oracle Delphi mkV  Benz Ruby, Benz Lukatech phono stage, Straight Wire, Cardas, Siltech cables, JR Model 5, Plinius SA 102MkII, Krell KSA 250, Xindak 8800.

The NuForce was the Reference 9 SE v2 initially driving the Apogee Stage speakers. After 30 hours of listening I found it despite its musicality lacking in timbral accuracy but the sound was lively and well controlled  despite lack of mid bass. The bottom end was fine but not tuneful. The Martin Logan SL3 performed fairly well but the sound was dull and muddled especially on top, the bottom end was boomy. The Refence 9SE v2 did not perform well with the Apogee Duetta Sig at all, finally the Cadence Arca sounded okay-ish but very much like the ML SL3 - the bottom end was very boomy. Nturally I was disappointed by this outcome but when I tried the D. Rusby-made 5kW transformer-based mains conditioner it sounded better in many areas I mentioned above so in my belief the power supply is the weakest link. But I sincerely did not find NuForce to be a great value for money especially as a US-designed Taiwanese-made amplifier.

Kindest regards.
Sabih Tasoz
Dear Srajan,

I've just read your review of the EL84 Minueta. I was particularly interested in your link article on the 'no holds barred' EL84 commissioned amp. Having changed last year from the much vaunted EAR 859 to the Leben CS300XS (but revalved with Harma Retro Cryo from Watford valve which transform the sound), I am fascinated by this project as the revalved Leben is so much more "musical" than the EAR. Is there yet any clear indication of when the commissioned amp may be commercially available?

Best wishes and thanks for your lucid writing!
David Deboys

Sasa announced maturation to IT N°5 which he feels could be the final one. At this juncture, I believe the circuit could be completed by late February which would only leave the cosmetics. Late March right now seems possible for the project to conclude. But one must always account for the unforeseeable and I'm giving Sasa no time lines, just the mandate to do his best. Which isn't necessary since he wouldn't do anything less. Another interesting 'development' is the discovery of Synergy Hifi in Hong Kong and their custom commissioned tubes from Shuguang. They supply all the internal metal structures which are made of an unidentified coated nano alloy and exclusive to them. These tubes aren't cheap but purportedly different from anything currently made. And yes, they make EL84s and I'm getting some to test - as well as 12AX7, 300B and 6SN7.

Srajan
Combining numerous email exchanges with reader Goran Vasilov from Skopje/Makedonia, the following summary might be useful to those interested in tube-rolling on the Dared MC-7P preamplifier. There are three areas one might consider: the power supply (the three tubes on the left: 5Z3P+6V6+12AX7), the phono stage (the two 12AX7 on the right) and the preamp stage (the 12AX7 and 12AT7 in the middle). I personally like to suggest that users try rolling the power supply tubes first and listen to the improvement because that's the basics. Also the factory-supplied 5Z3P is the weakest in the chain. It you do not use turntable, you can skip the two 12AX7 of the phonostage (or even unplug them). 

1. Rectifier tube 5Z3P: The factory supplied Shuguang 5Z3P rectifier tube has only 4 pins. The GE 5U4GB has 5 pins and the Sylvania 5U4GB has 8 pins. They can all fit onto the tube socket and are safe to use on the MC-7P. These tubes are uprated to higher mA/DC and therefore can replace the Chinese 5Z3P. Another excellent rectifier tube is RCA 5U5G but it is hard to find. I know Sovtek also has 5U5G but I have not tried it yet.

2. 6V6: Top choice is RCA 6V6GT or Brimar 6V6GTY. Electro Harmonix is reasonably priced and a safe choice. Tungsol is better in terms of richer harmonics. JJ Tesla seems to have QC problems.

3. 12AX7/12AT7: I have tried only Mullard and Telefunken 12AX7and 12AT7. Mullard is very warm and typical melting butter if you like that kind of overtone. Telefunken is not that buttery but absolutely musical and organic, more balanced for sure. Sovtek and EH are also good value for money. The Dared factory also confirmed that you can replace the 12AX7 tubes with the JAN GE5751.

David Kan
Srajan,
Happy New Year to my favorite audio reviewer. My latest benefit from being an avid reader of your site is a MusicStreamer+ I am trying out after being tipped off to it by your Realsization award and review. I have an amusing little ‘historical’ audiophile story for you as my meager holiday gift.  Background: I have a hearing loss, a bit different in both ears. It doesn’t stop me from enjoying music or appreciating la differance of a great system. Most people imagine human hearing, whether good or bad, moves up or down on some kind of smooth swooping curve when in fact it can look more like the Swiss Alps, with jagged peaks and sudden valleys or even black holes. Unlike bad eye-sight, what people don’t hear does not exist for them so we often don’t know what we are missing.

I was discussing this with my father-in-law, another audiophile. He was a scientist at Lawrence Livermore Labs back in the early 1950s working on H-bombs (remember them?). Seems there was an unofficial group of audiophiles there including a master carpenter who ran the on-site woodshop. They worked together DIY fashion to purchase the essential components for nine or ten Klipsch loudspeaker systems. Notice there is no ‘s’ at the end of speaker, I had not thought about it but of course there was no stereo back then, just mono. The scientists worked out the electronics and the master carpenter built the big wedge-shaped cabinets for the group. Talk about sensitive, the horns only handled up to 15 watts of power (he added a second one when stereo came along and still had these speakers in the 1980s when I met him. They were very nice to listen to and powerful, with little effort it was like being in a movie theater!). 

When they finished building the first speaker they tried it out at the home of one of the scientists. The guy put on an LP of tones so they could gauge how the speaker did at different frequencies. When it was over, the guy whose house it was commented on how he loved the speaker but was disappointed it did not reproduce the full range of frequencies the LP offered. My father-in-law didn’t know what to say as he had been able to hear those frequencies reproduced just fine. 

Everyone’s ears change over their life and everyone suffers some amount of hearing loss as they get older. I’ve some times wondered if equipment reviewers could post their own hearing test charts just like the equipment test charts I so often see so I could compare their frequency response to my own.  Of course just like equipment tests, charts don’t always tell you whether a piece of equipment is ‘musical’ or not - but it would be revealing.

Kevin Teixeira
Srajan,

This year had a bumper crop on 6moons and I have thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it. It's by far the most entertaining, instructive and captivating audio on-line mag. I can't tell you how many times I have to restrain myself from rushing out and buying something (which I can't afford!) after reading a review! I heartily endorse a previous letter in praise of sourcing new and little known products from all over the globe. Think how much more waits to be discovered! As a Yank, I am properly humbled to be reminded that not all began or ends in the USA. I look forward especially to the upcoming Burston review and those Boenicke Audio speakers.

Shep Strudwick

If you say so -:)
Feeling inundated elsewhere with "we're the biggest and best" self declarations, I prefer it when other people say nice things about us...

Srajan
Srajan:

As a longtime (and borderline obsessive) reader of 6moons, I wanted to thank you and your team of reviewers for putting out such consistently excellent content. I particularly appreciate you scouring the globe for giant killers (whether they are manufactured in the U.S., Hong Kong or Serbia).  For me, both your writing style and the subjects of your reviews are what makes your website so compelling.

I am writing you to pick your brain about an issue that I am sure is common for many 20- and 30-somethings: my primary mode of listening to music is streaming Rhapsody via Sonos. The setup at my home office consists of a Sonos ZonePlayer to a Grant Fidelity B-283 Tube Buffer to Audioengine 2 speakers.  For me, this provides ultimate
convenience: I have almost every conceivable song instantly available, and the sound quality is good enough for a secondary system.  Someday I hope to be able to stream hi-res music using Rhapsody and Sonos. Until then, what are the best ways to maximize the sound quality of the 192kbps MP3 stream? Obviously, bypassing Sonos's DAC with a higher quality DAC is one option.  But I was also wondering whether an upsampler or upsampling DAC would make a big difference, and what your thoughts are on upsampling in general.  As the saying goes, I am asking your help polishing a turd, but any thoughts are appreciated.

Regards,
Dan Pringle

I'm no expert on digital engineering but I will say this: Both I with the Meier Audio StageDAC review and Marja & Henk with their PS Audio PerfectWave Transport/DAC writeup concluded that the very comprehensive digital filter + sample rate options the respective Wolfson DAC chips used in these machines offer the end user are, essentially, inaudible.

I'm not saying we have the world's best ears or systems. But we do have some experience and own systems that most would call superior to yours at present. Meaning that if we can't hear the benefits of upsampling and various filter options with these machines in our big rigs, it's most likely you wouldn't hear them on your system. Which gets me to my point. Don't worry about upsampling, oversampling and the rest of the digital buzz words.

I believe that the real performance advantages of better DACs are in their power supplies and analog output stages. Modern digital has gotten so good that what's measurable often exceeds what's audible. But digital itself makes no sound. It still needs to be brought into the analog domain and there good old engineering for beefier power supplies and cleaner, faster, higher bandwidth purer output stages with good drive still make very audible differences. That's speaking in generalities of course.

With your MP3s, the tube buffer seems to be an excellent solution to paint in some 'soft focus'. That exactly was the rationale for the tube in the Peachtree Audio Decco and Nova according to David Solomon from the company. They wanted MP3 files to sound better and determined that a valve in the signal path would do the trick. If you're shopping for DACs now, I'd not inspect their digital specs but the analog bits. If it's got a wall wart for power or runs off the USB bus directly, you can likely do better given what you already have. Look for a discrete output stage and a robust power supply at the budget you're comfortable with. That would be the tack I'd pursue.

Srajan
 
Just a quick note to thank you for your advice. I recently upgraded my desktop system by purchasing the Peachtree Nova with matching DS4.5 speakers. Although it is still in the break-in stage, it already a dramatic improvement. It is amazing what the Nova can do with a humble 192kbps MP3 stream from Rhapsody via a Sonos ZonePlayer. I have also listened to a few 24/96 songs downloaded from HDtracks and played via USB. To my untrained ears, the difference between the two is not so dramatic that I am willing to abandon the incredibly convenient 192kbps MP3 stream from my Rhapsody/Sonos/Nova combo. 
 
Best,
Dan   
Srajan -

I received these just before Christmas for my Yammy A-08S. Wow. It’s almost the same magnitude of difference as coming from the RWA 30.2 all over again. I can’t believe how much better these are than the old RCA Radiotrons. The separation between instruments is unbelievable, the soundstage is stronger and voices are eerily realistic (texture?). These are mandatory for the Yammy and the new globes look pretty neat too. I’ve been tempted by your reviews of the FirstWatt J2 but tubes are just too much fun.

Ian Butt

I believe I've recommended the Yamamoto/EML connection for many years now. Good man -:)
Hi Srajan,
 
As per our previous chat I am a long time reader. I have just finished building a dedicated music room, dealing with acoustics, power supply, sound proofing, etc. and have just bought a pair of very efficient single driver speakers (Audio Nirvana Super Cast 12 inch, 99db, 8ohm - much better than my Sonus Fabers!) and want to move into low powered valve amp territory. The issue I have is that it is very difficult to hear low powered valve gear in Australia, and though some brands are imported, many dealings simply don't carry stock and you need to order sight unseen (well unheard). I have been using a low powered and very musical ss amp (Sugden A21a) for many years, but really want to get into low powered valves, most likely SETs.
 
The single drivers, in the fairly big cabinets produce nice tuneful bass, but with the Sugden I always turn the system off at the end of the night wanting more tone density and mass...I really like a dense meaty, flesh on the bones sound (wish I could afford some Zus). I also crave dynamics and emotional inner connection, rather than watching things...which ss mostly does not give me. Any recommendations on an amp that can deliver this. You seem to have reviewed more low powered valves that just about anybody extant, and I always relate to your descriptions of their sound. Contenders in my price bracket so far are one of Don Gs Fi 2A3/45s, Traformatics 2A3, or an EL84 amp like the Vaughn Carina, or WLM, but I would love suggestions. I am thinking that a 2A3 would give me a denser/ meatier sound (please correct me is I'm off), but most people that own this type of amp seem to run the 45s. Also there seems to be plenty of people moving away from DH SETS to EL84s. Given you run the Saadhanas, which would be on the leanish side, what have you found to fill them out?
 
Really love some advice.
 
Many thanks and from someone who really doesn't find much excitement in the print mags, except for Art, thanks for producing a really neat publication for the rest of us.
 
Cheers, Andy
 
Ps. I am endeavouring to start an audio/music lovers group in Canberra, so if you are even in this part of the world...and would love some great food, wine and music....please come and stay.

For your application, Trafomatic's Experience One with EML 2A3s would appear to be a very good choice. Naturally I'm biased but I'm putting my money where my mouth is with my custom commission of the Kaivalya monos. For value and solid design with excellent iron, this brand at present is hard to beat.

Srajan
http://www.spatialcomputer.com/page6/page6.html: A friend of mine had a conversation with the gent from Underwood Hifi who he said also owns Emerald Physics. In any event, it was a recommendation of his.

Best,
Fred Crane

We're talking about a review already, most likely an Emerald Physics CS2.3. The question remains, which 'spatialized' electronic brain? Once Walter Liederman returns from CES, we'll probably put something together. It's clearly one of a few probable ways things will be done in the future of audio.
Srajan
Happy new year and all my best wishes of sucess and health for you, your wife and your family. I have been a regular reader of your web pages for years and would really like to thank you for the quality of the job you achieve (with all the other members of the team also). 6moons is my reference site together with Positive Feedback in the US. But I must say that you are obviously the most curious and open-minded team on the Net!

You  certainly have many occasions to test hifi gear. May I suggest  two fascinating firms and the people behind them? The first is a French firm called Chamade Acoustique. The owner is Damien Poisblaud, musician, singer of medieval and old music who performs regulary in the Abbaye du Thoronet in the south of France, a cloister with extraordinary acoustics mainly for the voice. His speakers are quite diferent from the mainstream, certainly good subjects for a 6moons review. Try here and here.

The second firm is Italian and from Venetia - Extreme Audio with Aldo Zaninello. You know them probably from the audio show in Milano. Great sound with NAT valves electronics! I was so fascinated that I ordered a pair of Eclipse Piano (arriving probably next week). I don't read Turkish but these photos and video are interesting.

With best regards,
Long live 6moons!
Emmanuel Poulain

PS: Naturally I have no business relations with these firms. I am simply an audiophile who is always fascinated by the many different ways to achieve great sound! I listen to music with an EAR Yoshino system (864/509mkII / CD Acute/ LP Avid Diva + Moerch + Ortofon Valencia / Shunyata / Goertz / Frank Tchang's resonators...
Ayon Audio CD2 review canceled
Gentlemen, a very Prosperous and Happy New Year to you!
It has come to my attention that there is a review written by Wojciech Pacula and published by High Fidelity of Poland, November 2009 issue for the Ayon Audio Skylla. At some point, the Skylla Polish review was translated from Polish to English and by your stated mutual syndication, which Ayon Audio does not acknowledge, the English translated review was published by 6moons.com, December 2009 and also High Fidelity of Poland.  In as much as we do appreciate the review, Ayon Audio has had for many years, a strict policy to not allow translation of reviews from their original native language. The Ayon Audio Skylla review written by Wojciech Pacula was originally written in Polish, country of origin and Ayon Audio Austria did not authorize the translation of said review to any other language. The translation of the Skylla review from Polish to English is in violation and was not authorized by Ayon Audio Austria. No representative, agent or distributor has the authorization to do so. Hence, please delete and remove in its entirety, the English translated Skylla reviews from your websites and any and all other forms of publication immediately.
Gerhard Hirt,
President CEO
Ayon Audio

The above e-mail caused a string of confused reactions from myself and Mr. Pacula. First, his is a bilingual publication which always published in English and Polish. Two, numerous prior Ayon reviews had published there in both languages already. Three, Mr. Pacula is the copyright holder of them all and not only gave us express written permission to syndicate what we liked, he solicited us to. Fourth, Ayon's own website lists and links to prior syndicated 6moons reviews like the Polaris II. So something here made no sense at all. Yet subsequent emails kept insisting with belligerence that both HighFidelity.pl and 6moons remove their English versions of the Skylla review at once, invoking a mysterious company policy against translations which previously had never been communicated. Needless to say, we both refused such interference in our affairs but did offer that if Ayon Audio truly insisted, we'd unhappily delete all prior reviews in both our publications on this company's products and would refrain henceforth from ever reviewing anything Ayon again.

As we're now told, Ayon's US importer Mr. Harrison impersonated Ayon president Gerhard Hirt. It was he apparently who signed his emails (including the above) as Gerhard Hirt. We have received an email from the—purportedly real— Gerhard Hirt now apologizing for the incident. As a consequence however, I have taken the liberty to cancel the Ayon Audio CD2 review we had pending with Ken Micallef. My apologies to those readers who looked forward to it. As they might appreciate, we're not about to be caught between different members of one company who pursue conflicting agendas while pretending to be one and the same person. I'm still uncertain what really happened but life is too short for this type of thing. I think it best to give Ayon coverage in these pages an indefinite break.

Srajan Ebaen
Hi Stephaen,

I have the MiniWatt amp and enjoyed reading your recent take on its virtues. You mention the possibility of tube-rolling so I thought you might like to know about ALO Audio's two upgrade packages, one tubes, the other tubes plus their power cable. I think they also will do some cap rolling but you would probably have to send the amp in for that. I haven't tried any of their upgrades but it's been in my mind to do so. Perhaps you will want try one or more of them and report on the results in 6moons at some future date?

Best to you for the New Year,
Marshall T. Taylor

Marshall,

Thank you for your kind words and for the tip! In all of my searching, I did not dig deep into the ALO pages so I appreciate your having brought this oversight to my attention. As far as I can see, the tube upgrade package is currently sold out but I'll make it a point to check in with ALO at a future date.

Best wishes to you and yours for a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!

æ
Hi Srajan,

As I read your post, I couldn't help but feel complicit in the idea of emotional readiness for magic. To be prepared to accept intellect, emotion, and execution into your personal space. When I was a boy, it may well have been another food group. Each month, I would take 40 of my father's albums to my room. I would listen with my head near the table soaking in our rich history of song...and when I heard a lyric or lick that threw me, I was within reach to move the needle back to hear it until it stuck.

One other element of a live performance is the element of surprise. I attended The Keith Jarrett's Trio 25th anniversary concert in Boston. When he lit into Nina Never Knew, I was thrown through time and space to a room that just he and I occupied. It was one of several perfect moments of that night. I only hope ECM recorded it. As a fan of the trio, I have to say they were in Olympic form.

The most ethereal system I've heard was also a Lowther-driven affair. Whatever the verbiage, it leaves room for magic. Was it as important to me as the nights with my head by the record player? Not even close. But to return to such regularity in attentive and expectant listening is the goal, the key to enjoyment. So that's what I've taken most from your essay.  Practice practice practice.

Be well, happy holidays,

Fred Crane
Hi,

several weeks on and I think that the cables may finally be fully run in. The Liveline interconnects made an immediate difference when connected up for the first time. Surprisingly though when I inserted the Liveline speaker cables (a few hours after the Liveline interconnects), I heard no real difference (over the Zu Julians). I think I'll need to try this out again to be sure.

When I went for the Ayon CD 5/Bladelius Embla demo I mentioned to the dealer that I was using the Livelines. This was a big surprise for them because they are also the UK distributor for Acoustic Systems and as yet had not seen/heard the cables (and couldn't believe I had them before they did). So within a few days they had them in and I thought you'd find their impressions interesting but not surprising:

"Too late to report in the enclosed newsletter in full as I have only just taken delivery of a sample set of these cables but they are so shocking that I have to bring you this last minute news. I have tried literally dozens of cables in my reference system at home, some of which make quite good differences and I have lived for the last few years with some very high-end cables that gave a performance that was world class to say the least. However, the new LiveLine cables are an embarrassment. I listened with a colleague for a few first hours after running in and we never heard such an amazing upgrade for such a reasonable price.

"No they are not budge, but also not at the top end of the price bracket either. They are quite unbelievable and in fact, I think they are the best improvement I have had in my system including electronics up to £10k for years. Interconnects start at £600 and speaker cables at £1,300. I am so confident that these cables will improve your system by a huge margin that I'm offering you a full money refund if not absolutely delighted.. These cables are going to be the next reference cables and for those of you who think cables do not make a huge difference, you are in for a huge shock. And they are quite thin and manageable too. Please call me for more details and the best deals that I can put together for you. Astonishing, amazing, the new reference - I am running out.
"

Naveed Latif
Hi Srajan,
I'd missed your 'Difference' piece; was alerted to it by the letter about Auditorium 23 listening experience. I guess I'm in a similar situation as I use Ocellia Calliope .21 Silver Signature speakers, also PHY units,  and run via Leben CS600 - okay not Shindo but sounds lovely anyway! As your corespondent says, and you in your piece, the sound is different. Less impressive initially. But as a picture of music (which is really all we get via hifi), it paints a truly seductive image. How did you describe it in your Ocellia-visit piece? 

"...the Sound From Panjas (Ocellia) was the most refined, non-mechanical, liquid, organic and resolved sound I've experienced yet." Like a smooth Brandy, it slips down wonderfully! Once set up properly, the Calliope paints a wonderful picture in my listening room. Not as forcefully dynamic as my—and your!—previous Avantgarde Duos but more holistic, more 'real', somehow completely satisfying.

The PHY (and Samuel Furon's cabinetry!) produce something special in a similar way to how you describe the Saadhana. Have a cool Yule, Srajan and everyone reading 6moons!

Chris Skelton, Bristol, England
Hi Srajan,

very interesting article you wrote, it resonated true for me and although I won't pretend I am as far on my musical journey as you are, the Essence has opened me to better understanding those inner fluctuations of the music and what they can bring to this experience of "traveling to the zone". I also recognized my own experience with headphones, when you talk about this period of hightened awareness while being fully relaxed and drifting away - I've actually come to a much greater level of understanding of very complex orchestral pieces during those episodes.

What I wanted to add though is my personal conviction that the renaissance of vinyl has a lot more to do with this ritual of preparation that you talk about, when getting ready for a concert, than it does with an actual sonic superiority. Vinyl can sound divine, and the very best do sound better than my very best SACDs - but I listen to a lot of crappy vinyl too and I can't use the exceptions to justify my interest and love of vinyl. After a couple of years I am now convinced it mostly has to do with the involvement needed to listen to vinyl. Checking the setup regularly, cleaning the stylus, cleaning the record - while you do all that, you also prepare yourself mentally for a focused listening event, because you won't go through all this effort for background music. That's where I struggle with music servers. Although I love the convenience and am convinced of the superior quality of 24/192 files or even the superiority of 16/44 material played back from hard disk through a superior DAC; I miss the ritual, the preparation.

I love turning on iTunes and finding an internet radio to listen to through the Nuforce iCon and the Rogers while I work - but it is not an involved listening and certainly nowhere near the zone.

Cheers,
Frederic
Srajan,

great article. It's hip to be different.

Refreshing.
Best regards
Mujtaba
Read your Different article, Srajan. All I can say is that you hit the nail on the head. The emotional charge is what I refer to on the opening page of our website too. This is something very very special and not something everybody necessarily 'gets'. I know I sound like an elitist SOB there but unfortunately, it is a fact that the so-called audiophile community is a very strange animal with very strange priorities. As a matter of fact, the more 'schooled' one becomes in 'audio', the more disconnected one seems to get from this particular aspect of musical reproduction as our attention seems to get diverted to other areas. Folks like you are exceptions. Which is why I almost always judge the quality of the sound we are getting by the reactions of the women (who are almost always not "audiophiles") who walk into a room at shows. 

There are many reasons that possibly go into this ability for a speaker to 'communicate'. And I will continue to maintain that one of the fundamental must-do items is the use of a full-range single driver. Yes, one can certainly design multi-ways that sound right but I believe that they still create a certain confusion in our auditory senses, a disturbance at a very instinctive level that we may not be able to objectively put our finger on. 

I forgot to add that my ideal driver will still be made of paper. That is because I believe this is another element that contributes to the ability of a speaker to sound natural. I consider myself a high-tech architect, always willing to experiment and embrace new materials and techniques. However, there is no substitute for organic materials when it comes to certain things in our lives. As in the case of drivers, it would be very difficult for me to explain why I say that paper is the best material we have today but I believe that the 'vibrations' of paper have a greater 'resonance' with the human psycho-auditory system than other man-made materials. Think homeopathic science. And consider the tonal qualities of a clarinet made of plastic—or carbon fibre to use an audio industry favorite— as compared to one made of good old ebony.

As for the UL amp, UL is not my favorite configuration. I continue to remain very much in the SET camp. UL just does not give me that 3-dimensional wholeness a good SET does. However, this was being designed for one of my customers, Premnath in Bombay. And I know that his listening preferences run a little more towards slam and linearity than SET dimensionality. However, I have told him that we can easily switch to triode mode if he is unhappy with UL. The designer of the amp is a great UL fan because of linearity. So that is the one thing we are constantly arguing about. 

We have just finished a prototype of another new amp and it sounds really promising. It uses the PL509 which incidentally I discovered is Tim Paraviccini's favorite tube as well. Television sweep tubes are apparently a lot more linear and have the potential to provide the best of both worlds when wired as triodes. I have heard the prototype in pentode mode and it was already sounding bloody good. I have sent it back to the engineer to convert to triode. The amp is quite unique as it has only two tubes, one PL 509 output tube per channel. We are using 'driver transformers' instead of driver tubes, again for much better linearity and more dynamics. And the input stage is just a transistor as a buffer. 

The "portals of exploration" you have mentioned—that can 'open up' when one is at that cusp between sleep and wakefulness—is an amazing experience. I can tell you that the solutions to many of my vexing design problems have come precisely when I was in this state ( of course, one has to be thinking about that particular "problem" when one is about to fall asleep for this to happen ). There is obviously something there. But not having been schooled in the meditative process as you have, I cannot comment authoritatively or scientifically on this state of consciousness. I can just say that I have experienced it.

When it comes to music listening, yes Iam sure one can have another experience entirely if and when you can ascend into that state (I have listened to friends talk about listening to music when they've been stoned and the unique exoerience that is.). However, what we were discussing earlier— of being able to float away on the emotional impact of the music, of just being drawn in and feeling every muscle relax—I believe is something any music lover can experience if the equipment is right and if we allow our minds to react  to the sound and music at that very instinctive level. A lot of the "non-audiophiles" do this naturally. Once an audiophile, we may then have to resort to what Steffen refers to as a "different mindset"....to appreciate what we are listening to. 

Of course I believe we can and should have both - exciting, impactful sound that is full of detail and nuance so we can hear what the performer is trying to do; as well as that ablilty to elicit emotional reactions from the listener. Shall certainly keep trying.....

Jacob George

I completely agree, there are many different ways of approaching the experience to change it as a result and that's not anything mystical but fluid - a matter of where our focus of attention is and what 'perceptional' organ it is related to; the heart, the higher mind, physicality etc. Music lovers tend to do it naturally and in general, what many call daydreaming already is such a nonlinear state in which knowingness and intuition can operate more directly and less censored by the analytic mind.

The audiophile journey as I've often said tends to abstract that ability by introducing the hardware as the new focus that is somehow assumed to play a great role in it all. Except it didn't when we started out. We're simply misguided to assume that as the equipment improves, this type of experience has to improve with it. It can. But it's not a given. Rather, your and my feeling is that most of the time, it does not and gets somehow perverted. And we in the press carry much of that burden by how we talk about the hobby, what we make important about it and what we don't talk about. The thing I remain puzzled by is that when it comes to selecting wine to drink, a car to buy or a vacation destination to book, most people trust in their own abilities to make those choices. When it comes to audio, they seem suddenly stunted and insist they need 'expert' advice. Why do people not trust in what their own ears tell them? It completely befuddles me to this day. Of course nonsensical concepts like the absolute sound don't help at all. They propose something that doesn't exist in the first place, then set everyone running after an illusion. That game then has no happy end to it at all. It's one of the reasons the name of my publication doesn't include stereo, audio, sound or anything else about the hardware side of things...

Srajan
Dear Srajan,

your Different article reminded me of a visit I paid to someone a few years back. I wanted to know what all this hype about "the world's best widebanders / tube amps / turntable - system" circulating around at the time was about. I wanted to know whether this was, as proclaimed, the most "musical" and emotionally involving listening experience possible. So there I sat with Mr. Keith Aschenbrenner of Auditorium23 fame in front of his PHY-HP / Shindo / Platine Verdier system.

Now, you might expect me to be either totally thrilled or totally disappointed with what I heard. Surprisingly, it somehow was both at the same time. On the one hand, I found what I'd call outward resolution, detail retrieval and bandwidth to be among the worst I'd heard. The impact I was used to was completely missing. For the time I was there, I found the sound decidedly dull.

But all this didn't seem to matter much because I still enjoyed what I heard. While I couldn't get to the point of actually "getting it", I still noticed that here was something going on that either didn't match my tastes or I was in some way not ready for. I say this because back home, when asked how it sounded, I responded "Pretty dull - and maybe the highest resolving system I've ever heard."

My guess is that it is necessary to approach this type of sound with a very different mind set to really enjoy it. Could be a more "hifi-experienced (been there done that) and gotten over it" one. Although this might sound arrogant, it really isn't. When we get deeper into any subject, over time some things about it get more important to us, others less. This, though is not (necessarily) just a matter of "different" but one of progression toward a goal. The goal is always the music (its "content").

A person who has never heard a mammoth -system in a huge room might think this will be "like the real thing, a live experience". Only when you've tried many things and none of them has taken you there you might start questioning the means by which you're trying to reach your goal. This is when systems like Mr. Aschenbrenner's become interesting in the first place. Before, they are (usually) instantly passed as "obviously missing something". The extreme ("inner") resolution I talked about was definitely taking place on some other plane that I—although realizing it was there—could not fully grasp and enjoy.

Kind regards
Steffen

Most excellent points. If we apply the Oriental chakra system where each major gland in the human body has a corresponding 'etheric' nexus through whcih associated energies enter and leave; and if we apply different states of attention or consciousness to these chakras; then there clearly are very different means, levels or states by which we can perceive. Carlos Castaneda called it shifting the point of attention.


"What we listen with"—obviously the ear/brain remains involved—or "where from" then becomes the vital distinction. For example, it's quite easy to fall asleep with headphones. Before you do, there usually is a cessation or slowing down of mental activities; and a merger with the music where observer and observed intersect. When things get too relaxed, one tends to go unconscious. But before that happens is where interesting "portals of exploration" can be found. It's really about slightly altered states where music becomes the guide or context.

From personal experience, I'd propose that for this kind of trip, low volumes are useful, a particular kind of music is and, certainly, a specific type of presentation. For me, the Rethm Saadhana is an excellent tool for that. And, this is certainly not the stuff most audio talk or reviews are made of so I parked it under industyfeatures..

Srajan
Hello Srajan,
Want to thank  you for your reviews of both the Druid and Essence. I currently own a pair of Druid speakers (largely due to your review) and have paired them with a Leben CSX 300 fed by a Cary 303/200 player. My listening room is small 10' x 12' and listening habits lean toward acoustic jazz and pop/rock. Have owned the Druids for over a year and never enjoyed listening to music more.  Reading your review of the Essence has sparked my interest. I am considering trading in my  Druids for a pair of the Essence. I have been very happy with the  Druid and am wondering if the Essence is significantly better sounding than the Druid to warrant the purchase. I am also concerned about the  bass response of the Essence in small rooms. I corresponded with Zu and they said the Essence would work well in my 10 x 12' room. I  respect your judgement and would appreciate your thoughts .

Respectfully,
Don Ross

Like you, I'd be worried about the bass response due to your small room. My room is so large now that it's impossible to guesstimate how what I hear might translate into something far smaller. The Essence is solid to about 10 cycles lower than the Druid. If the Druid's bass is somewhat on the light side for your tastes, you should be fine. If the Druid already rocks and gives you all you could want... then you might invoke the 60-day return privilege for an Essence trial run if Zu still offers it. Really hard to predict.

The Essence has more and lower bass than the Druid and a rather more open informative top, with better resolution and linearity. It's clearly a superior speaker so on that front, it's a no-brainer. It's merely that bass question which needs verification and the only way to do that is to listen in your own space with your own gear (the Leben should be fantastic on the Essence too). Sorry I couldn't say anything definitive to help you out better.

Srajan

Received the Essence speakers late last week. Bass response is much better than the Druid and does not seem to overload the room. Resolution is indeed better and they seem a bit more relaxed. I am however experiencing an issue with the tweeter sounding a little "hot", with an exaggerated response to sibilance in vocals. I am told that this should improve over the next couple of weeks as break-in continues. Had you any issues of this sort when you first received the Essence ?

Thanks for your time,
Don

My MO relies on requesting pre-conditioned review loaners since otherwise, I'm out of business for the duration. I didn't encounter any treble issues which I remember so I'm comfortable saying that post break-in, the integration is very well done. I simply don't know how long the process will take. That's where my personal experiences with equipment tend to be non-representational. I don't go through most the usual break-in changes. But it's the only way I can conduct business.

Srajan
Dear Srajan,
 
I am living in Istanbul/Turkey and have followed your reviews from the beginning of 6moons (sorry for my English as it is not my native language). I give high credit to your reviews and personal music taste along with your equipment choices for yourself.

I also prefer low wattage amplifiers—preferably tube amps—and havea Placette Audio RVC passive, Leben CS 660 tube power amp (2x40 watts, KT66 tubes) and Coincident Total Eclipse II speakers. had used many single-ended amps in the past but mostly had some reliabilty troubles or expensive tube hassles. Fortunately Leben has no reliability problems so far but still tube hassle every 1-1.5 years (I listen music 5-6 hours a day).

I have noticed that you liked the Crayon very much and gave it a credit as much as your 45 tube amp. It makes me wonder whether to purchasethe Crayon either in 40-watt or 90-watt version as I am a believer in your ears (my speakers are 16 ohms, therefore 40 watts at 4 ohm may be low wattage to drive 20-30watt at 16 ohm, 90 watts at 4 ohm is better on the paper but I am curious if higher wattage version sacrifice musicality or tube-like presentation against to lower wattage version?

Where do you put the Crayon amp against J2? Do I get the same presentation if I couple J2 with Placette RVC or Wyred STP semi active pre? know you are so busy with your work but if you could find af ew minutes to reply,I I would be grateful.

Basar Bengu

Samuel Furon who builds the Ocellia speakers based on PHY drivers (about 98dB sensitivity) bought a Crayon amp based on my review and loves it - and he makes commercial 300B amps. I believe the 40-watt version has been replaced by the 90-watter now but I haven't heard the latter. I'm told the sonics are identical, merely that the power rating was scaled up with a beefier power supply. The Crayon is unique in my experience in that it gives that three-dimensional 'psychedelic' sound tubes excel at and transistors never do in quite the same manner. Even the J2 does not. If you don't require a 2-box approach for functionality, the Crayon has my highest recommendation even for the very counter-intuitive application of higher-sensitivity speakers. I still kick myself for sending it back.

Srajan
Marja and Henk,

Nice review of the PWD/PWT. I particularly appreciated your long preamble to set the stage for a review of a memory player. One thing I was looking for in your review was whether you tried the DAC in your system as a preamp?

David Castle

Hi David,

Thank you. The PWD DAC itself is no preamp of course but has variable outputs from 0-2V. So one can go amp-direct, shorten the signal path and eliminate a preamp. For digital sources, the PWD does become a quasi preamp—for CD, PC via USB and via the upcoming Bridge for a lot more—and our Audio Note Meishu integrated can bypass its preamp stage by pulling out the 6SN7 and turning the pre-out into an input. This is a bit awkward and with our habit of also spinning vinyl, we need a 'proper' preamp to follow our Tri Corp. phono stage.

As soon as the announced network Bridge lands on our doorstep, we will explore the PWD further including its amp-direct capabilities.

M&H/
Dear Srajan:

Your reviewer Steve Marsh has been less than honest with his eBay auctions. As you may know, we posted the information below on the Audio Asylum.  It lasted about a week before it was deleted (that’s a whole other issue).  Of course you have to deal with this the way you see fit, but it’s our opinion that there’s no place for this kind of activity in our beloved hobby.  Here’s the AA post:

Tube audio legend Arthur Loesch's relationship with 6Moons reviewer Steve Marsh has been reported on this website before.  However, it was deleted, probably because of the people and connections involved.  Given that, we will just report the FACTS and let the people form their own opinions. 

FACT:  Steve Marsh and Arthur Loesch are good friends.  Very good friends. 
FACT:  Steve Marsh's eBay ID is: MESH50.
FACT:  Arthur Loesch eBay ID is: AZLH. 
FACT:  Arthur Loesch's eBay ID is shown as A***A (with a 373 rating) when he is the bidder on an auction.  A little research has proved this true beyond ANY doubt - see the next fact below.  
FACT:  Prior to December 1st, 2009 Arthur Loesch's eBay feedback rating was 371 and so was A***A's.  On the afternoon of December 2nd, Arthur Loesch's feedback rating increased to 373 and so did A***A's.  Also, if you look at Arthur's Loesch's 30-day bidding history, you will see the same bidding data as you will see for A***A's.  Example: seven bids on a turntable.  There's no reason to belabor this point any more. 
FACT:  Steve Marsh listed an ALTEC 603B auction on eBay with a starting bid of $9.99 and no reserve price. 
FACT:  With one day to go, there was only one bid on the auction.  It was shown as a bid for $9.99.
FACT:  Arthur Loesch, eBay ID AZLH  (shown as bidder A***A with a 373 rating), bid on Steve Marsh's ALTEC 603B auction.  Use the link below and look at the bidding history. 
FACT: Arthur Loesch, eBay ID AZLH, has not bid on any other 603B auction. 

We are posting this anonymously for the obvious reasons, but we feel the facts speak for themselves.  Please note that any changes to the numbers and/or information posted above, that occurs AFTER this post, are not relevant. 

 http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=160380754817    

Thank you.
Signed: To whom it may concern

"We are posting this anonymously for the obvious reasons." It's far from obvious to me. Why can't you divulge your identity?

I fail to see what this has to do with me or my publication. Steve listed an Altec 603B for sale. I've never bought or sold anything on eBay. If Steve has violated their rules, it's between eBay and him. Steve told me long ago that he is friendly with Arthur Loesch, hence he never has reviewed anything by him nor ever will. If your note to me was intended to somehow besmirch my writer, I'm afraid I'm too dense to grasp the significance of it all and suggest that if you have any issues, you deal with Steve Marsh, Arthur Loesch and eBay.

Srajan
Hi Srajan,

My Esoteric rig uses 3 cables, two 110-ohm XLR cables and one 75-ohm BNC cable for word sync. Earlier I was using the DH Labs cables. Based on your feedback I shifted to Liveline digital cables. There is a night and day difference. But I am facing a peculiar problem. The 110-ohm XLR cables work fine but the 7- ohm BNC cable is giving problems. Every two hours or so the music mutes for a second and then plays properly again. Franck Tchang was sweet enough to send me a replacement cable. But the problem persists. Both Franck Tchang and the Esoteric technical team are at a loss to explain why this is happening. When the Liveline BNC cable is replaced by the DH Labs BNC cable, everything is perfect. But unfortunately there is a drop in sound quality. I would really appreciate if you could guide me to another brand of BNC digital cable where there is no compromise in sound quality.

Premnath Rajagopalan

I would investigate something from Chris Sommovigo/Stereovox or Serguei Timachev/Stealth Audio Cables.

Srajan
Hi Srajan!
 
I loved your excellent Road Tour article concerning Nagra (and fully agree with you about visiting factories vs. attending shows). Their history and products are amazing! Their products look like they would last a lifetime or two. Well written article as usual.
 
Keep up the great work!
Thank you,

Donald
Hello:

I absolutely loved your review of the Esoteric C-03 so much, I ordered and took delivery of one. I do have a question. I find using the main output gain set to zero exhibiting a neutral sound signature. I wonder if increasing the gain to a higher level will in any way degrade the sound. I understand increasing to 12 or 24dB deepens the bass and adds more attack to leading notes. Is this attack defined as more etched, harder, harsher or... I ask only because I'm vision impaired and will need the assistance of a friend to make the setting change. I don't want to lose any of the smoothness of this pre but would like a little more bottom end charge in it. BTW, you write the best reviews of any audio reviewer in the industry. Note: are there any other settings that you recommend to get better sound i.e. turning off outputs etc.

Thank you in advance for your help.
Sincerely,
Chris Chamberlin

I can't predict which setting you'll prefer in your system but it's easily done by remote and might work even with impaired vision. On the remote, the lowest button to the left enters setup (there's only three buttons in a row below the circle). Press this lowest left button for two seconds. This enter the main menu. Now press this button three times in a row to get to the gain setting. To change the gain (it toggles from 0 to 12dB to 24dB to 0dB), you press the right or 'East' button of the circular array. One tap and you go from 0 to 12, one more and 12 becomes 24, one more and you're back to 0.


To get out of the menu, either wait and do nothing; or hit the 'clear' button which is the fourth from the top on the right of the remote, below open/close, 4 and 8. Higher gain veers deeper into tone density and bass weight but the transients mellow a bit. You can ask your friend to turn off all the unused inputs and outputs (also via remote inside the menu options) to learn whether you hear a difference. I suspect it'll be very subtle at best.

Srajan
Hello Srajan,

The PerfectWave review was worth the wait. I posted a link on AA. Will you personally do a follow-up? I wonder how it would compare to the Japanese and Polish dacs you're using?

Howard Lindo

Why would I? The review covered a lot already. I really can't expect the Dutch importer to finance unnecessary second opinions while shipping his personal property through Europe. We only do second opinions when the manufacturer had a serious issue with the original findings; or when an opportunity presents itself naturally (as occasionally happens with our syndications for example).

Srajan
Srajan,

I’ve been waiting for your Trafomatic Head One review for many months but I think I’m ready to jump the gun. Basically, my audio predicament is as follows: • I listen to a lot of music via headphones (Grado RS1) but while my headphone amp (Grado RA1) is quite good, I think there is a quite a bit of room for improvement.
• I love my NAD M3 integrated amp particularly for its power and grip over my low-sensitivity Thiel 2.3 speakers. However, I’d like to add a touch of tube magic to the system, particularly since my Thiels are great at imagining and resolution but not so good at air and vibrancy and tone lushness. I thought adding a tube preamp could be a good solution to this dilemma (my M3 allows for its preamp stage to be bypassed) since buying a high-power tube amp would cost a lot of money and duplication.

Do you think the Head One would allow me to both improve the sound of my RS1s (which I might upgrade to PS1000 or Sennheiser HD800) and my M3/Thiel combo at a reasonable cost to boot?

Thanks in advance,
Jacques Miniane

I bought a quarter of headphones to accompany that review and other headphone-centric assignments but those new cans needed breaking in so I've been a bit delayed. In answer to your question, yes. I own the big 300B Woo, the Yamamoto HA-02 and have on loan the KingRex Headquarters and RWA Isabellina HPA headphone amplifiers. For my tastes, the Trafomatic is first in this group. It's now also very quiet and does make a very good preamp as well. And it drives the proverbial piss out of my HD800s, PS-1000s, W5000s and K-702s. Given your intended dual-use applications, I think you'd do really well with this machine.

Srajan
Hi Srajan,

I skimmed a newspaper article yesterday and came across a new car review, part of which might interest you. It did me. To paraphrase, "Refinement and ride quality are expecte - as is a silent interior. To assist in achieving the latter, the ***** uses Active Sound Control, an electronic system that uses microphones to detect unwanted sounds and an amplifier to produce counter-waves through the audio system speakers to negate them.

Cool!

Cheers,
Alan Luke

It's the sound-cancelling headphone principle applied to cars it seems.

Srajan
Hello David,

Greetings from freezing Alberta. I just finished reading your review on the JohnBlue TL-66 amp.  As with all your reviews, I notice a thoroughness that is missing in 90% of audio reviews today.  Also, your reviews have lots of superb images which help one get an idea of what a product really looks like inside and out and in comparison to other gear. Your reviews are the ones that piqued my interest in the JohnBlue and KingRex gear and when Sacha Kuettel of Obad imports contacted me offering samples to try out, I couldn't refuse. (I own audioboutique.ca a small home-based audio business 1-1/2 hrs south of Calgary). I am astounded at how good the T-20U/PSU/JB-3 combo sounds at my desk (no sub needed) and hope to have them up on my website soon.  Sonically the T-20 nips at the heels of my Audio Zone Amp STI but with less power of course.

As you can see from my website, I favour low-powered SET, chip and tri-path amplification, NOS non-filtered DACs along with monitor-style single driver speakers augmented with a good music sub. The room system pictured in the audio rack on my website is the best stereo I have heard and I have heard some very pricy gear. The low-powered SET, chip, tripath/single driver combo is the direction I want to take my business but getting Canadians to wrap their heads around the concept is challenging. As you can see, I have the Decware SE-84 amp in my lineup. It is 2 watts per channel and the best amp I have ever heard when paired with the right source and speakers. It can be bridged mono to get 6 watts. The TL-66 appears to be quite similar to two bridged Decwares in power and price. Do you have any experience with the Decware amp or any knowledge of how the two would compare? The TL-66 is very tempting to carry in my lineup but it must remain as monoblock whereas the Decware can run either way, cutting the price in half. Your input would be greatly appreciated. Keep up the excellent reviews.

Regards,

Rob Martin

Hello Rob,

Thank you so much for your kind words. I’m sure the other 90% of audio reviews are professionally done and easier to digest. Getting into details has been one obsession I can’t quit even after retiring from the advertising business. Keep asking questions and turning every stone to define the marketing niche or the so-called UPS (Unique Positioning Statement) has gone into my reviews. Thoroughness is one nice way of putting it. Other comments I’ve seen online go like this: I love David Kan’s reviews, but I wish they were shorter! I think he and Srajan are having a contest or something.” And: “Yawn….yet more of the same from the premier snake oil rag.” I’m taking them all constructively and learning to readjust the balance.

I just finished browsing through your website. I haven’t tried the $950 Decware monoblocks but I could understand why you said that If Steve (Decware’s designer) would jack the price up to $3500 he would sell a lot more, because sadly for most audiophiles they think low price automatically means low quality. The reason Steve sets the prices on his products so low is because he wants the average mortal to experience how really good audio can sound without going into a five figure price tag.”

Absolutely agreed.
Best regards,
David
Dear Srajan,

having read your articels about the Gallo reference 3.1, I just bought a pair. Due to the fact that iIlive in Switzerland, the distributor was reson. They have done some improvements to the original speaker so the bandwidth has massively improved. There is absolutely no need fo the bass amp from Gallo. If you have the chance to listen to the speaker, please do so. I listen with Resolution Audio Opus 21 CD, XS Box and the S80 Amp. A fantastic bargain for the money ! By the way, thanks a lot for your great reviews.
Many greetings from Switzerland!

Sascha Ruggli

I know of reson and their alterations to the Rethm speakers they imported but wasn't aware of their Gallo modifications. The important thing is you're enjoying the results.

Srajan
Hi Srajan,

Just a note on the fly (likely selling & installing mid-fi starting Friday though this year in my old stomping grounds in Hannover). David (Diawok, Hong Kong, from LencoHeaven.net) brought for me to Europe two wedge-formed 'CDPs' http://www.sony-asia.com/product/dvp-pr50p for €70 for the two..

He wrote that it is the present 'thing' in the Hong Kong high-end circle. Just out of the box with Zu Gede into MiniWatt into DNM Reson into [vintage] Heco SK680, I presume it blows any €600 CDP out of the water and is a guesstimated 60% of my ModWright 9100ES (tube-rectified PS with Zu Mother). David says to hang the thing off a quality DAC and stand back. I've got my Micromega Duo Pro warming up right now for a short taste tomorrow.

BTW, I had Christian Schulz mount a blue Alps pot in my Ampino. He says it sounds as good as his 'classic' CS Elektronik DeCapo 30W A/B monos & preamp (~ starting at €1,100) but with even more and better highs. The Alps cleans up the stage and even furthers its sophisticated musical presentation. I've cleaned and boxed up my Gryphon Tabu Century for sale.

Keep up the good work!

Cheers!
John Walton
Hello Srajan,

Hope all is well at your place on the globe. FYI -  http://www.scan-speak.dk/docs/M10.pdf  is a hot link I just come across when viewing a brand new ScanSpeak tweeter using Beryllium material. Like most of us inmates running on the wild side of things, it is still nice to be aware of these possible health-related risks associatde with certain types of material.

Regards,
Dan Ellis
Just thought I'd throw this link your way after reading your commission for some cost-no-object EL84 amps. Rather interesting products which deserve some press based on 'internal' design appearances alone !

Regards,
Mr. Luc Allen
Hello Srajan,

I just came across your article as I was doing some reading around. I happened to have the experience of listening to it in a demo a few weeks ago together with the Bladelius Embla player. To me the Ayon CD 5 is definitely not the perfect source. The Bladelius Embla is cleaner sounding (less noise), slightly more detailed and especially its bass is tighter. The Ayon had a more weightier sound - good for some people but less so for me. There were slight differences in the soundstage but nothing to really notice - but soundstaging is quite hard to get right in a demo.

I was hoping that it would be the other way around since I own the Tube Tech CD64 Fusion player which also uses a valve output stage and so would expect to be drawn to another tubed player. In act I thought my player to probably be at least as good as the CD5 (at 1/3 of the Ayon's price) - shame that Tube Tech suspended operations a couple of years ago after the chief designer's wife passed away.

The Embla drew me more into the music than the CD5 - like my Tube Tech does. It had enough warmth and other virtues to be a good possible replacement for my CD player when the time comes. But I will wait until Bladelius have upgraded the player at least once as this is (quite) new technology and I think that that they have some improvements to make to the interface, remote etc. I would imagine that the Embla's exceptional sound quality is in large a function of solid state (flash) memory playback i.e. no moving hard disk. Factor in that it too has analogue and digital inputs (including USB and Ethernet), plays HRX and alsohas a built in pre-amp, then it's even closer to being the perfect source - and it costs £1500 less than the Ayon too! Can't comment on the preamps on either though as both sources were put into a Vitus integrated.

If you get a chance to hear the Bladelius Embla I would love to hear your viewpoint. If you're looking for a highly versatile source component to review then this might (imo) be the closest candidate. During the same demo a friend who also attended on impulse bought a silver-colored Ayon CD1 because there was a fantastic deal on it. We had a listen to it - the law of diminishing returns was self-evident. The silver version of the CD1 looks great too. Same cannot be said for the CD5 - it really is one hell of an ugly mf. Its preposterously huge (I laughed when I first saw it) and the move for Ayon to exclusively black cases is a weird retro step (again all imo) - all those remarks about the "Austrian Naim" have gone to their heads.

Regards,
Naveed
Dear Srajan,

I've just got a Yamamoto A-011 amp (the one with 2A3 output tubes) and can't believe my ears! The rest of my audio setup is: Exemplar-Denon 2900 CD player, Zu Druid loudspeakers and Zu Method subwoofer. I'm  very happy with the music that I get with that setup. I mainly listen to electric blues and rhythm and blues music (especially with Hammond B3 and Fender Rhodes sound). Soundstage is something very important to me.

But as always in life, the Exemplar-Denon is beginning to fail (even though I've already changed the laser pick-up). So I'm toying with the idea of  migrating to  my Apple  Mac Book Pro. In that case I'll  need  a  DAC (and  a USB to S/PIDF converter for those DACs without USB input). I've read carefully your Yamamoto YDA-01 and YDA-01B reviews and I believe I won't go wrong with any of those DACs and my short experience with the Yamamoto amp indicates that the synergy between the products from the same maker should be fantastic. The other route I should follow is to buy a DAC from Exemplar Audio because my experience with the Exemplar-Denon is oustanding.

Fine tuning: To your ears—and having in mind that I listen to electric blues and rhythm and blues—you'd suggest the Yamamoto YDA-01 or YDA-01B? I love Yamamoto tube sound but I have my ears open to solid state if needed.

I´d appreciate very much your opinion.
Regards and greetings from Spain.

Daniel Lage

I'd get the Yamamoto YDA-01 (without tubes) and the April Music Stello U2 USB/S-PDIF converter.

Srajan
Hello Srajan,

I thoroughly enjoy reading your reviews and most recently your review of the First Watt J2 really captured my attention because I am currently auditioning one in comparison with a Pass XA30.5. The differences between the two are quite large to my ears. Most notably, the J2 produces the most startling micro detail I have ever heard, particularly in the treble. On the other hand, the XA30.5 has a wonderful sweetness and richness to counteract the relative lack of detail. I truly love both amps and will have a difficult time parting with either.

So here is the question on which I am most interested in your thoughts: do you find that the J2 has a slight bit of hollowness to its sound—sort of a concave quality—or does it only seem that way because I am going back and forth comparing it to an amp that has more warmth and roundness than is actually natural?

Jay Barnett 

In my system, the J2 did not strike me as hollow at all but it's certainly not warm. If you want more warmth, it'd have to come from the preamp. To know what is "actually neutral" requires a standard. It could be live music, what a performer sounds like in your own space or simply your personal sense of realism. It does little good then to apply another person's standard if it doesn't agree with your own. If the J2 strikes you as hollow by comparison—and I assume this wasn't meant as a compliment—then that in itself would already be your answer, wouldn't it?

Or, if you fancy aspects of either presentation—a little of this, a little of that—you'd have to see whether you can use one of the two as a platform and then apply system tuning/voicing to embed the missing aspects. My thought there would be that if you found the XA30.5 lacking in detail, its voicing would be a bottle neck and I'd go with the J2 and "warm up" things ahead of it; or achieve it with cables or different speaker placement.

Srajan
Dear Srajan,

I very much appreciated this latest review on the Wyred4Sound STI 1000. It was very nicely judged, concisely written and hit all the right points. I freely admit to being biased since I am the happy possessor of a quite different and far more pared-down ICE -integrated, brought up to spec by J. Sorento of Cullens. I cannot recommend their services and their sonic taste too highly and I hope this latest demonstration will bring them to a much wider audience. Whatever reservations that have been expressed in the past about this technology as being un-musical and un-engaging are totally refuted when revisited so knowledgeably and thoughtfully.

As always
Yours
Shep Strudwick
Hi Srajan,

Just a quick note to thank you for your honest appraisal of Shigeki-San's newest iteration. It's faith-instilling knowing your preference for most of his other gear - a preference shared by many. I I too would assume that the YS-500s would benefit from near rear wall placement and lots of space.

Best,
Fred Crane
Dear Srajan,
 
On page 3 of your recent Raysonic CD228 review, you show a photo of the system components.  Most of the components in the photo are labeled.  However, I would suggest that you failed to label perhaps the most important component - the cat!  They make great organic tuning devices.  Notice the carefully placed cat in the photo of my system. Eli completely damps out the glass window resonance. In addition to system tuning, cats also provide a welcomed respite from the madness and insanity that our chosen hobby often brings.  BTW, your cat is a real beauty.  What's his/her name and is he/she a Maine Coon or Norwegian Forest Cat?  Keep up the great work! 
 
Sincerely,
Gerry E.

We used to own MainCoons but this one was a baby stray we picked up on the beach in Coral Bay all ravenous and clearly abandonded. We named her Blondie because for the first year, she didn't know her name. Blondie is what Clint Eastwood's man with no name was called in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. By now the cat with no name has cottoned on to the nick though. She's come up in the world from being a homeless in Cyprus to sleeping in a window sill that overlooks Lake Geneva and snow-capped peaks...

Srajan  
Srajan,

Just a note to let you know that I recently contacted John Kalinowski of KCS Custom Speakers for a recommendation of a best amp to use with one of his BLHs using the Fostex 206 ES-R 8" full-range driver which I own. Without hesitating he said that many of his clients who bought this particular speakers from him are using the Korneff 45.

I've also seen that you have mentioned the use of the Korneff in passing while reviewing other products. Thus I took the plunge and got me one of his integrateds, the 45 SEi with National Union 45s.

Being my first foray into flea-powered amps, I did not know quite to expect. Wow! I was blown out of the water as what two well-placed watts are able to do. Since you have heard it and have a very favorable opinion of it as well, I will not bore you telling you what you already know. I am hopeful that some time in the near future you'd review this amp, so more folks would be aware of this hidden gem. I'm enclosing a picture of my setup. The Korneff is on the top left tower. Below the left corner of the TV seating on the shelf is an E.A.R 834P phono pre, hidding from view is a Rega P5 w/a Benz Micro Glider. Digital source is provided by a Rega Planet 2000 CDP.  A modest two-channel system that yields great musicality. The 18" Velodyne is not connected to the Korneff. No need to. It is however connected to the B&K AV surround receiver for movies. Keep up the good work Hope all is well with you.

Regards,
Noverto Vignoli



Hi Srajan,

Just a note to let you know how much I enjoy your site. For me it takes up where Listener left off. I guess it is more relevant for niche products that cannot be auditioned beforehand. My ownership of a Fi X integrated and your review of Don Garber's 421a power amp led me to contact Don and purchase one. Boy, talk about a musical product. Anyway, in the process of that transaction, Don informed me that he was making a new single 'box' full function preamp. (I believe he is also making an updated version of his 1990s 2 piece statement preamp). Well I guess that's what credit cards are made for. So I had him make me one of the single pres. (Evolution MM.) Yikes! Talk about musical synerg !

Your musical equipment  labor of love is definitely appreciated.

Regards,
Michael Prendergast



Dear Srajan,

I read Ian Butt's letter about his problems with his Yammie/Zu setup. I do have the same amp/speaker combo but with a Shindo Claret active pre. I also used Zu Gede ICs for some time but substituted them—after various other experiments—with DIY cables using Boenicke Audios silver wire in cotton tubing with cheap Switchcraft plugs (what's good for  Shindo is good for me). This silver wire is also used by Audio Consulting in their super high-priced products and it very much transformed the sound of my system. Compared to the Zu Gede I now have much deeper and more defined bass, a midrange with much more tone and space and nothing of the glare of highs that I heard with the Gedes. i asked Sean of Zu Audio about this difference, all he replied was "isn't it strange what cables can do to a system?". Well, yes. I subsequently replaced all my cables with this Boenicke wire and can honestly say that it also works great as a speaker cable between the Yamamoto and the Druids. And, it is darn cheap at €13,50 per meter. For me this cable set everything right. Maybe you could forward this to Ian?

Thank you very much, and as always, I want to say that I like your work.

Oliver Kartak
Hi!

Just got finished reading your excellent article on the First Watt J2. Loved it. Nelson Pass is such an interesting man and his designs are interesting as well. Your writing style only gets better over time and I wanted to thank you for the article and encourage you to keep up the great work!

Thank you!

Donald
Srajan, 
So I just received my Yammy A-08S 45. Wow. I’m coming from a Red Wine 30.2 integrated and so far I’m completely blown away. Let’s start with the setup I’m currently listening to for some perspective (it’s a temporary living situation).

1. 1920’s outlet with no ground
2. el cheapo power strip from the 80s
3. Brand new Zu birth power cable for the Yammy (cheap and not broken in)
4. Denon DVD-2900 circa 2003 as CD transport
5. Zu Ash Digital
6. Zu Gede IC
7 DH Labs Silver Sonic IC
8 Zu Wax speaker cables
9 Red Wine Isabellina DAC
10 Red Wine 30.2 Integrated (used as a preamp)
11 Zu Druid Mk IV 

Signal path: Denon -> Zu ash -> Isabellina -> Gede -> 30.2 -> Silver Sonics -> Yammy A-08 -> Zu Wax -> Zu Druids.

First the noise level. I cranked the volume up, stuck my ear to the Druid’s 10-in driver, and I don’t hear anything, nothing. I’m not sure how it can be so quiet with crappy power and no ground. Really good transformers? I’ve listened to Jack Johnson, Lennon, Krauss, Michael Buble, Los Fakires, The Killers and now The National. So far so, so good. The sound has much more body and warmth than the 30.2, which sounds flat/empty in comparison. I was afraid bass wouldn’t be very good but it’s actually better.

You may remember that I recently asked for a preamp reco. You suggested the Wyred preamp if the Isabella was too expensive but I went for the Isabella anyway because I’d really like to have the USB and two units in one. I’m going to wait for my Isabella to come and have another more comprehensive and properly set up shootout but if I still like the Yammy this much better than the 30.2, I don’t know why I would keep the latter. I could use the $ towards the Isabella, cables and tubes. Also, if I favor something, the alternative is unlikely to get much attention.

The only gripe I have is a lack of midrange. Vocals seems a little weak. On Lennon’s “Imagine” my mother happened to be handy and made an observation that the piano seemed to dominate him and was too forward. (Not bad for a newb!) Let’s see how the Isabella affects things. I’ve noticed that no matter what you are reviewing, I always see the A-08S either in the room, on the rack, or part of the review. So, regardless of even your own writing, it was pretty clear to me that this was a product dear to your heart. Following the same premise, I need to find myself some ASI Livelines!

Thanks for making it a (little) bit easier to sift through this insanely crowded market. 

Ian Butt

Now you know that a lot of SET comments are complete bullshit. Mind, it takes a superior SET—and this Yamamoto is one of the finest of its kind—and properly matched speakers or all bets are off. But you've got a happy mix and presto - very different sound than preconceived notions would predict. About that midrange performance. First, give it time to make sure everything is settled in. Two, you've got a passive pot for volume control at the moment. Just wait for a proper active linestage. Three, the 45 tube doesn't do the warmth/texture think like a 300B. Four, triodes have 'artificial intelligence' which is arbitrary, i.e. not 'really' intelligent but interesting nonetheless. They can peel out certain instruments from a mix very differently than most transistors. It's an altered perspective that requires becoming familiar with as you'll hear different things than before. What you'll favor is unpredictable but different needn't imply better or worse.

Srajan
Hey Srajan. I just read your Weiss Minerva review. I have been finding recently that iTunes sucks! I run Macs. I was listening to recordings of myself and a couple of singing colleagues (through iTunes just awful) and I immediately noticed that sound payed back through the wonderfully flexible freeware called Audacity sounds hundreds of percent better. This just on my computer's (new Macbook Pro) lousy built-in speakers. This worked for my own recordings as well as albums downloaded off the net. The interface is totally not designed for the user simply wishing to play back music (it's a sound editing tool), but it sounds so much better! Check it out if you are not familiar with it. I bet there are plugins for any sort of DAC export.

Seth
Hi Srajan,

I liked your review of the J2 First Watt stereo power amp. I have had the J2 in my system for a couple weeks now - I received the 3rd unit off the production line. "Perfection exists in many forms. Common to all is absence of lack." I loved this quote because it is so apt. I have tried to describe a great component before but your description of perfect is.....uhm, perfect.

I have the J2, the Wyred4Sound, Wireworld cables, Zu Essence loudspeakers .... and also 4 x 18" Epik Phoenix subwoofers and a 60" Pioneer Elite KURO Signature Series plasma monitor (pro-141fd). But now I need a DAC commensurate with the rest of my system. I figure about $2,500 is about right.  I'd love to get the Yamamota YDA-01 but it only has coax S/PDIF inputs, so I would have to get a Mac Pro with a Lynx 16e soundcard to output my audio signal and that would cost close o $3,000 (minimum) and I've already spent close to $30,000 on my hifi o system and plasma monitor and I'm pressed for cash at this point.

The DACs I'm considering are as follows:
Ayre QB-9, 2500
Bryston BDA-1, 2000
Yamamoto YDA-1, 2500
PS Audio DLIII (cullen mod), 1000
Metric Halo ULN-2d Extended, 1700

These are my current choices and USB or Firewire inputs would drastically reduce the price I'd have to pay for my media server. Do you have any thoughts on this topic? Is the YDA-1 significantly better than the other options?  If so, I'll spring for it and also get the Mac Pro but if not I'd prefer to get the QB-9 or ULN-2 and just get a cheap Mac Mini.  I've been researching this for weeks now and can't make a choice.  Your opinion would be greatly appreciated.

Regards,
Andy Phillips

USB/Firewire converters as a category are still an area I'm unfamiliar with as far as the general overview goes. While I know of most the ones you mentioned, I've not personally heard them except for the Yamamoto which of course doesn't do USB I'd not worry about a special soundcard but consider the April Music Stello U2 inline USB/S-PDIF converter if you ran a small MacBook into the Yamamoto. The Ayre of course would have you set, period - but I can't comment on performance from experience, sorry.

Srajan
Thanks for sharing your great website. I was looking forward to the review of the FirstWatt J2 and was not disappointed.  A seminal piece of technology designed and built by circuit guru master Nelson  Pass. Of course the J2 would be the box that converts Srajan to sand amps. Really serendipitous. I can’t wait for further applications of the power JFET in audio. I need an integrated amplifier [all JFET] that is 50 wpc @ $500 USD. Man on the moon, flat screen TV, sincere and true audio fidelity in my lifetime. Oh yeah. Thanks again,  Srajan.

Leo Rodriguez
Marja & Henk,
Are you guys serious about this box? I mean, really? You do know that what comes off a CD are bits, i.e. 0s and 1s - how in the name of baby Jebus on a pogostick could this device possibly work?

Sampa Laine

Yes, we are definitely serious, really. We do know that what comes off a CD are not bits. i.e. 0s and 1s. What's on an audio CD contrary to what is on a data CD is an interpretation of the musical sinewave encoded in 9 types of pits T3 through T11. Only after extensive manipulation a bit stream of zeros and ones is presented to the DAC's input. Before the bitstream is created, all things are happening in the analog domain. We all know that the analog domain is very susceptible to external influences. Hence the existance of a myriad of tools, gadgets and methods that all have an effect on the resultant musical perception. Whether the effects are positive or negative in a musical context is a different matter just as are associated costs. Our upcoming PS Audio PWT/PWD review will refocus on the analog persuasion of 'digital media'. For now you might take a look at this article.

M&H

Could I ask you to do a simple experiment in this case. Take some digital audio data in CD format, take a reliable (e.g. MD5/SHA1 hash) digest of it. Now burn it onto a CD, modify it with your magical box, re-read the audio data onto a computer, calculate a new digest of it. If the digests are different (and there weren't any burn/read errors) I might even start to believe you. If not, you can see how your theory is complete nonsense.
Sampsa

You still don't get it. There is a fundamental difference between an audio CD player and a computer reader. What you suggest fully bypasses the analog domain where the weakness of audio CD resides. Ever had problems with jitter on an OpenVMS system? Jitter is the part attacked mostly by digital tweaks including the intelligent box. A computer doesn't give a hoot if a word is read some picoseconds late, in audio it matters. A computer has CRC, can reread a word etc. Audio is confined to the Reed-Solomon algorithm and cannot perform rereads. Direct access? No way, it can only use an offset. We agree that bits are bits in the digital domain but until audio information is in the digital domain, it is analog in nature.

M&H

As I put it in the review of Hegel's top CD player, "...to read this 0.4 micrometer track, an infrared laser diode illuminates it, light-sensitive photo diodes receive back the reflections from the pits and lands. These response currents are far smaller than the large servo motor currents. Contrary to popular belief that CD is an all-digital system, the current outputs from the photo diode readers are high-frequency analog signals. It is these tiny photo diode currents which are disturbed by the large servo-motor currents. This disturbance must be avoided for error-free high-frequency analog optical response. The design of the photo diode amplifier circuits and their circuit board layout is thus extremely important to preserve the highest possible S/N ratio for the CD signal. And, error-free read-in is vital because CDs are processed in real time. Lost data cannot be retrieved."...

Srajan Ebaen
Hi Srajan,

I strongly believe good sound can be a great source of enjoyment for all people and not just the hobbyist. I have for a long time wanted to come up with a speaker that one can connect to anything and still convey the musical message. I strongly believe that timing is very closely related to how the sound affects the human sensory system. Therefore we at Amphion follow the same basic principles regarding timing properties with our most economical product as we do with our most expensive.

 I have in the past been a bit worried about the industry in general. How often does one walk around shows and shops to see expensive systems which do not deliver? Now the economy has shifted focus to a little more common-sense priced articles but still we are far from offering solutions to regular people.

I think the times are over when hifi products had true meaningfull value in and of themselves. Less and less people are interested in buying a hifi system. Less and less friends can be impressed by expensive boy toys related to hifi. I think the focus must shifted from inherent value to lifestyle impact..

The funniest part about this cottage industry called hifi  is that we have products that when correctly designed and paired up can convey emotion, relaxation and wellbeing. In today's stressfull and busy environment, people are desperately looking for such things and will gladly pay if they feel they get something real in return. Yet we try to sell them specs and boatloads of bizarre-looking boxes.   


In order to show how well managed sound can enrich a regular person's life, I have for a long time wanted tooffer a speaker which can be used ina broader context than just hifi and home theater. I think the fact that flatscreen TV sound is pretty annoying even to non-hobbyists, the time has come to persuade regualrl people to invest in a small DVD player/2-channel amp like this and a pair of good quality speakers for a package price of no more than $1500 - 2000. Because there are surprising number of listenable cheap electronics available, the speakers must fulfill the following criteria:

• Requirement - Helium 510
• Pricing must be realistic - €900/pr
• It must work relatively close to the wall - controlled dispersion + adaptable bass output
• It must create a true 3D soundfield from just two speakers -  low crossover of 1600Hz and new waveguide offering even dispersion to create a surprisingly accurate 3D image with especially unheard of depth at this price point.
• Speakers must be aesthetically pleasing enough to integrate with living environments - the Helium 510 has classic timeless proportions and invites the customer to place it in the prime real estate of the living room, not modify their decor to insure it matches the speaker
• It must be pleasing and effortless to listen to even at moderate or very low levels  to persuade a normal person to spend close to a thousand euros on a pair of speakers. They must feel they will gets lot of useful hours out of their investment.Listening to music or watching movies intensely is not sufficient. Watching TV or listening to the radio in the background must be included. - Due to very advanced acoustic design, the Helium 510 drivers integrate perfectly even at very low listening levels. The controlled dispersion creates an audible sound flow all over the apartment.
• The speaker must work with all kinds of electronics. -  This has been one of the hardest parts to get a handle on when constructing speakers like we do. I would compare our way of building a speaker to Japanese cooking where one chooses the ingredients perfectly and then balances them out harmoniously. Any small staleness in the signal chain easily spoils the harmony. I think we have managed to find a nice balance between openness and warmth in the Helium 510 and it seems to work well even within the most modest of signal chains without getting fatiguing.

Best regards,
Anssi Hyvönen
Amphion loudspeakers  
Dear Srajan,
Thank you for syndicating fairaudio's Octave factory tour and revising the graphics to suit your layout. Looks good. The unavoidable questions about the SE concept and my replies related to makers who abuse single-ended circuits to compete with the output power of push/pull machines. In my view, such approaches lack aesthetics. They're mostly marketing gags. Properly designed SETs do have real appeal however.

During Jörg's visit, we discussed an SE machine which technically is quite flawed but still received glowing reviews and plenty of drum banging in the German press. Just so you have a notion about what informs my position (and which lacks in fairaudio's text) - the corner specs of this Italian machine 'X' are 3 x EL34 per channel, single-ended operation, two driver tubes, idle power consumption of 270 watts,a retail of €3,300 and output power of somewhere between 30 and 60 watts depending on acceptable distortion. Armed with these few hard specs, one can calculate the following: heater current per EL34 6.3Vx1.5Ax 6stck = 56.7W. Heater current for the drivers 6.3Vx0.3Ax2Stck = ca 4 watt. Estimated current draw of driver stage, remote and input selection = 10 watts. The outcome we arrive at is 278-56.7-4-10 = 207.3 watts. Let's subtract 10% for losses in the power supply to get us to 186.5 watts. The six EL34s thus throw away 180 watts at idle. That's 30 watts per tube plus the heaters. A few watts are lost in the cathode resistance but it's obvious that one can call this amplifier a real valve killer. The EL34 is known to run max 25w anodes with G2 losses. The fact that dissipation per valve will only increase when the machine is actually driven by signal is plain without calculations. Such a design is beyond discussion. In my opinion, it's a commercial rape of the single-ended ethos and thus 'mainstream'. Cheers,
Andreas Hoffmann
Hello Srajan,
 
Just a short email to say how grateful we are for you publishing Chris Redmond's review of Artisan Silver Cables Silver Dream interconnects.
 
On the day the review was published, we received a ten-fold increase in the usual web traffic! Of course that went down fairly quickly but even now we are still experiencing 2-3 times the usual traffic. The result of all this has been a move to near the top of the Google search rankings for a search on "silver cables"; and of course a really significant increase in sales.
 
Obviously 6moons has a lot of readers - and deservedly so, because the quality of the content is so high. Once again many thanks indeed for your support.
 
Best wishes,
Alister
Greetings Srajan: 

I appreciate having this positive review on 6moons! You have a very professional, disciplined and intelligent staffer in Glen Wagenknecht. He took the time to read and understand the footers’ owner’s manual and then properly set them up. And, he was astute enough to explain what he heard in terms that many readers can understand and appreciate.

In my “thank you” message to Glen, I said, “I am delighted with your very thorough and incisive analysis of my Footers! You get it!”

Very best regards,
Joe Ciulla

Glen indeed has done a fantastic job on covering various resonance-address products for us which usually don't feature high on reviewer priority. Before he feels cornered as the 'gizmo' man, it's necessary to get him into electronics and speakers as well and I'm pleased to say, the first of those products has already arrived for him. I am very pleased with his work.

Srajan
Dear Srajan,

I follow up 6moons regularly and enjoy reading the component reviews a lot! Two particular developments in the hifi world I like and which are covered very well on 6moons are on the one hand the introduction of great sounding gear at a considerably low price (the Miniwatt being one example) and the streaming clients that enable music transfer over a LAN (through Ethernet) or via USB. And on this last development I have a question for you. I introduced a NAS (Qnap) into my LAN on which I will gradually rip all my CDs in FLAC. My house is fully wired with Cat6 cable and in my main setup, my ultimate streaming client will be an Ethernet streaming client (currently available ones are Linn DS players, T+A MP players, Blacknote, etc and one which I want to listen to is the PS Audio Perfect Wave Dac (whenever it gets its bridge ready)). Up till I made up my mind (see later) I'm using a Linux based netbook (Asus EEE 900) running Amarok as a player through the HRT Music Streamer+. I have to say that this setup sounds pretty OK. The question I have relates to bit perfect audio reproduction on the PC. When reading FLAC files by the PC those FLAC files are treated by the Amarok software and played through some device driver software before the digital stream is send over USB to the DAC. I noticed that I can fiddle around with the volume in Amarok such that it is audible through the speakers. Therefore I conclude that audio-processing is happening on the netbook PC. When searching on the Internet, I learned that in some cases the PC-processing can include up sampling/down sampling cycles which of course alter the lossless bit-perfect copy of the music stored on the disk/NAS and thus the music. In other words, ripping the CDs in a lossless format such as FLAC or WAV does not necessary mean that the bit stream on the USB interface corresponds with the data in the bit-perfect copy stored. Have you or your reviewers taken these aspects into account when evaluating USB DACs? I couldn't find any Search facility on the 6moons site, so I couldn't search for bit-perfect reproduction on the 6moons site. It might be worth for one of your reviewers to dig into this matter and do some kind of measurements.

Of course in the end it is the listening experience that counts. However I believe some wrong conclusions could be the result of introduced noise or jitter due to unexpected and unnoticed signal processing on the PC. I believe the same will apply for Mac, but as I have no experience with any Apple products (which I avoid deliberately) I cannot know for sure.

When making up my mind on which Ethernet based streaming client to choose, I will take into account sound quality as the no 1 criterion but also the "ergonomics"! One of the shortcomings in my opinion is the user interface and the way one can select an album to be played back or browsing through the archived collection. It is mainly software and while for example the Linn DS Klimax might sound fabulous, I think the software for controlling the playback is still not up to par (especially at that price). I would also like to see a bunch of Ethernet/LAN based streamers compared to each other, which might be tricky for reviewers.

All in all I think we have only seen the start of a new era where lots of new products can be expected and lots of interesting reviews as a consequence. Keep up the good work!

Kind regards,
Jan Mannekens

I am in complete accord. Servers are about convenience, hence software/code-writing centric. They should offer the utmost in GUI slickness, file access, file naming and upload options, minimize PC activity to be solely concerned with the streaming protocol and pass on unprocessed data (or give the user clear options how the data will be processed, including completely transparent bypass). Responsibility for sonics then is up to the downstream D/A converter. Thus far I haven't come across anything that seemed priced fairly and offered significantly more by way of the convenience aspects than the various basic Mac/Windows platforms. Hence I've been holding out and not considered things "there yet". When I look at some of the prices audiophile companies want for their 'servers', I'm aghast. What really do they do above and beyond what a MacBook with iTunes and Almarra or a Windows platform with J.River does not?

Srajan

Hello Srajan,

Talking about Linn in my humble opinion, they used to be a company that delivered outstanding products for a not so cheap price but have evolved into an arogant company that sees their customers as walking wallets. But as I said that is my opinion. I've been also thinking about a modified squeezebox in combination with a first-class DAC but it's very hard to get comparisons set up which such modified gear.

I really know a lot of people who are on the lookout and are of the same opinion "it's not there yet". In the meantime there's enough work to be done ripping CDs and properly tagging the ripped songs. Another issue I haven't looked at —I don't dare to—is how those Linn like players support .cue-based single flac file rips (of classical or live CDs for example). On the ordinary software front this is already a problem. It seems as though Foobar is currently the best option. But then again, running foobar under wine on my Linux is a not so nice hack.

Thanks for your response.
Kind regards,
Jan Mannekens

This particular field really mandates rather greater computer savvy than I possess to properly understand the various issues before one can adjudge properly engineered solutions. I'm afraid I'll have to let smarter folks in this sector do the leading and then get into the act as I learn more about what matters and what the possible approaches are. Indeed. At present, I think it best to focus on getting one's library 'to bed' on hard drive or solid-state memory and install proper back-up protocols. Getting the files off and into the system can be accomplished very cost-effectively with something like April Music's Stello U2 or the HRT Streamer Plus. The Stello or equivalent are real handy when one already has a superior DAC with standard S/PDIF input and merely needs a USB interface to bridge the gap. That's my admittedly non-sophisticated reponse to the scenario until more sophisticated all-in-one solutions arrive that really do the business on all fronts without overcharging us for the bits that are nothing more than specialized computer parts, programs and applications.

Srajan
Dear Srajan,

A big thank you from all of us at KingRex for your time and passion in doing the review. This is the kind of satisfaction that best reward our design team. Your extremely thorough audition and accurate findings prove to be their best recognition. Although we are small in the audio business, we never launch a product casually. The HQ-1 has gone through countless stringent tests, rounds and rounds of blind auditions among local audiophiles before we committed ourselves to what is in the market now. Although another online publication has given the HQ-1 a negative review, our confidence in our product is never shaken. We respect the other reviewer's opinion and we appreciate his time and passion just as much as we appreciate yours. After all, difference of opinion keeps the audio business alive! Again, your professionalism is very much appreciated.

Christine Wu
Hi Srajan

If you thought the Milan Show was the 'same old, same old' then you  would have been less than impressed by the U.K. Show. It was as if the Heathrow Show had been airlifted and dropped in a  field at the side of the Silverstone race track. The venue was much better in many way than the old one but really, it is such an  unprofessional way to do business. I kept thinking as I walked around  the show ".... this is no way to promote HiFi!".

A report really isn't needed... the guys on PFM and WigWam have done a  far better job than I could.

I liked your quote from the Avantgarde boys in your Milan show report. They are really nice guys and have some great stories.

What are the dates for the Zürich show?

Cheers
Martin
Dear Srajan,

just read the Heartsong review. As an owner of Frank's former selfmade "unobtanium wood" rack and reading about your findings, my guess is that the new ones do not (yet?) perform in the same league as the old. Let me explain.

Maybe the wood plays a bigger role, maybe the fact that they were built by his own hands does, or maybe I just lack the experience with GPA. Still, I know exactly what you are talking about regarding lower noise floor, less but cleaner low notes etc. from my comparisons of stands for compact speakers (and the coupling/decoupling between speaker/stand and stand/floor). My current room is not treated with resonators but it is, by a very long way, the best "sounding" room of the many I've inhabited so far. All acoustic treatment has been done by way of furniture/carpets and the like.

With my system and in two very different rooms, the effect of the old ASI rack is that on top of reducing noise and crispifying everything better than the best I've tried before, it brings all the benefits of more tone and most importantly, a much more natural, organic, musically engaging listening experience. It combines these seemingly exclusive aspects much like the Liveline cables do as far as I can hear. Before using the rack, I had very expensive footers with ceramic ball bearings installed under all components and no matter what they were sitting on - expensive racks or wall-mounted wood blocks - the improvements were always really big. Installing them in the old ASI rack made just a very slight difference, and not for the better!

Again, I have no clue why this is the case but I sure can hear it.
Best regards,
Steffen
Dear Mr. Srajan Ebaen,

I discovered a factory named Atelier Rullit Project (http://www.field-coil.com/) by coincidence going through much research on the Internet on different factories of speakers. I feel that they construct a really nice speaker that is very well built and in a way totally different from what the "huge worldwide production" follows. They've got a philosophy really particular, no sacrifice to the quality without really taking care about what the final product will look or weight. It seems that they are starting this job or at least beginning to sell these units since it isn't possible to find any dealer or price on the web or even any review. I saw that they are planning to make a new website with the adress http://www.rullit.com.

So, because I know and believe that you are a person with an important knowledge in this domain, I was wondering if you already knew this factory? I searched on the 6moons website any post about them but I didn't find one. Are you planning to visit them in Nuremberg?

About an other subject but related to what this mail deals with, I saw that you published some time ago a small article about the brand Fertin Acoustic from France. You were speaking about the production of a new unit based on a surroundless suspension. It used three carbon wire instead.. I think that Rullit and Fertin are the only two factories of the world to propose this kind of speaker. Am I wrong? So could you tell me what you think about this speaker (his name is Fertin Model 7) and did you have the opportunity to listen? And more widely about this factory, what could you say about these speakers?

I saw that you made a larger review about PHY HP. I was wondering which difference could exist between these two factories from the south of France because they produce the same type of product and moreover, not really far each other. It seems also that there emerged a new brand named Electro Magnet Speaker (EMS) just near Fertin but I don't have any feedback about the quality of the product they sell or even the kind of sound. I don't know if you heard aboud them?

Thank you in advance for your answer.

Best Regards,
Devenson B.

I have neither listened to the Fertins nor heard of Rullit until you mentioned the latter. The brief industry feature on Fertin was just a "they exist" piece. I believe DaVinci Audio Labs in Switzerland is using their drivers in an open baffle speaker but again, I have never listened to them. I did write a factory tour on Ocellia during which I also visited Bernard Salabert at PHY. A review of Ocellia speakers has been planned for a long time but to date, I have not received any review loaners.

Srajan
Hi Srajan

Could also include in your J2 review comments on running this amp with RCA (single-ended) vs XLR (balanced). This sort of information was left out of the Aleph J review so it would be appreciated if it was discussed in this review.

Thanks,
Jeff Heath
Hi Srajan.

I thought that you might find it amusing that a reader has reread some of your articles in anticipation of a short, well deserved vacation to France. We'll be landing in Lyon, renting a car and driving southwards. It was the Ocellia factory tour and memories of some great photographs that you posted (I'm thinking of your restaurant and village shots) that had me revisit that article. I've heard PHY drivers used in Coherent loudspeakers and was quite impressed. It would be tempting to audition Ocellia's!  I'm also fond of JM Reynaud's speakers and would enjoy hearing them again should an opportunity arise.

Otherwise, kudos to Frederic for his recent article on the Weiss dac. I'll admit to being a luddite when it comes to PCs. His article went a long way to encouraging me that I could wade through the learning curve to set up a PC based music server. I also read with interest his experience using the Genesis amps with his Zu Essence speakers. Quite counterintuitive but it made me wonder how my Bel Canto REF1000s would fare? The Zus strike me as a great real world bargain now that they're available factory direct again. I recall past years when Zu ran 12 days of Christmas specials. It was a lot of fun to see what would be on offer each day and I still have power cords and Zu Varials from that time.

Cheers,
Alan Luke

Your REF1000s would work fine. The Italian importer for Zu, Bel Canto and Leben had the M500 MkIIs on the Essence and the combination at the just concluded Milan Top Audio Show was superb.

Srajan
Re: Advertorial. Bravo.  Damn the cynics, and let the proverbial door hit them in the ass.  Other than that, may they have a lovely day.

Alan M. Kafton
audio excellence az
Hello Srajan,
 
Wanted to thank you for getting the review finished. I must say, yours is one of the absolute best I have read to date (and we now have 21). The public reaction is similar. I have received a number of emails from people that felt you really understood and described the character of the product. 
 
Thanks again and hope all is well for you,
 
Kevin Halverson
High Resolution Technologies
It's a pity you had to get involved in that silly stuff on Wigwam. here are always those whose kneejerk reactions are based on envy or just lack of brain. E-mail makes instant responses easy. E-flippancy—to put it mildly—is the new version of the yah-boo shout. As you say in your response piece on your own site, it's hard to read the pieces on 6moons and not understand the care that shows there. You might want to criticize Srajan's prose perhaps.......but not the results and diligence.

As someone who sits here surrounded with equipment I'd probably never have had but for the input from your pages, I can say thank you for the enthusiasm. Ignore the 'slings and arrows'. Don't dignify the nonsense with rebuttal.

Chris Skelton

I usually don't get involved. I prefer to let our work speak for itself. If it doesn't speak to certain folks, no further explanations are necessary. It's when assumptions are presented as facts which completely alter the reality of what we do and how we do it that I need to correct the errors. That's why I posted to Wigwam. Little good it seems to have done, too. Last thing I saw, the thread completely derailed.

Srajan
Be still my beating heart. A review of a Yamamoto speaker. It is beyond my wildest dreams. The anticipation is palpable Srajan, bring it on!
 
Cheers
Eric Cross

It's a privilege, particularly considering the two-way ship costs of such goods from Japan to Switzerland and back.

Srajan
Dear Srajan,

I was really looking forward to the review of the Luxman SQ-N100  because I recently bought one. It it is exactly what I could afford,  it looks great and I am genetically bound to buying Luxman (that's all my fayther has played from the 70s up to now). Now first I see the review is postponed due to replacement (it broke down?) and then it appears to be off the list of upcoming reviews altogether. Will the review still happen? And if not, would you please be so kind  as to let me know why? Even if the review would turn out not so good, I'm still very happy with the little amp. Maybe that says more about me than about the  qualities of the amp in the end :-).

For the rest I really enjoy reading 6moons. It has helped me so far  in regaining my interest in hifi and investing in a decent set.

Thanks.
Albert Meijer

The Luxman review is still on. The review sample was from the very first shipment the French importer received. It had intermittent output on one channel. A replacement unit will be culled from the next mass shipment which is expected in October. I simply took down the preview until then as it would remain pending for too long.

Srajan