This review page is supported in part by the sponsor whose ad is displayed above
2006 has been a year of tweaking, both professionally and in the realm of our audio hobby. Professionally, we tuned quite a few of our customers' computer systems for better performance and reliability - plus we wrote an outright pile of IT articles on how to hotrod computer systems for peak performance. For the audio hobby, we had plenty of equipment coming and going though a few pieces did stay for good after we settled the tab. A fairly large amount -- for us -- of these hardware guests were loudspeakers this year. We had the joys of listening to the Tannoy Glenairs with whom we had an instant love affair. The wonderful resolution of the new Quad ESL 2905 was another eye-and-heart opener. Very different from those two was the Paolo Beduschi Scarlatti, a loudspeaker not as extreme as the other two by being less obtrusive in sound and physical appearance. Then there was the Haliaetus Firebird with its radical application of rocket booster technology. Of course we also had problems with review equipment. A pair of overly new speakers landed on our doorstep and refused to break in under the conditions we could provide. Letting them play full throttle for 300 hours isn't a good idea when neighborly tolerance is part of the equation. Next year a new, now fully factory-preconditioned pair will get its second chance. Also next year we will share our experiences with the current subjects of our attention, the Final 1000i electrostatic loudspeaker from Holland - and a Velodyne DD subwoofer.

At the onset of 2006, we got really entangled in a room full of interconnects. Where many reviewers try to avoid giving their opinion on cables, we bit the bullet and were amazed by the differences. Not only did the asking prices vary from modest to unaffordable, the sound 'effects' did too. With cables you can literally make or break a system's tone and personality. Next year certain power cables will get a chance to show their true colors.

Eddy Driessen's marvelous Pluto 10A Carbon allowed us the joys of having one of the best turntables extant in our own crib for -- naturally too short -- a stretch. Such a superior front end accelerated our learning curve of discovering more in the music while honing our listening skills. Listening is just like learning a language. It takes time to get the smallest of nuances right and comprehend their subtle meanings. With our combined ages of over a century, we finally have succumbed to the notion that we're actually getting somewhere, no doubt to all the equipment we were privileged to evaluate and sharpen our ears on.

On the amplifier front, 2006 brought two extremes. The cutest of all, the dwarfish µVac from Germany's Greatech, did a job out of proportion to size when leashed to our at the time 103dB/8-ohm Avantgarde Duo horns. And speaking of tweaks, the largest physical tweak we encountered and subsequently performed for good was the upgrade of Duos to 19-ohm Duo Omega status, lifting their already sensitive egos to an even higher level. With a big return on a relatively modest investment, our previous monetary investment was retained and a completely new loudspeaker acquired. A second amplifier that refused to leave is the Moscode 401HR. With this gentle giant of 200wpc, we kicked life into all loudspeakers mentioned, even the highly sensitive ones. At the moment, this tribute to Harvey Rosenberg is in the final stretch of its review. This amp is not just a hybrid amp. It's probably the ultimate wet dream for any die-hard tube roller.

And then there were the tweaky tweaks that stirred a surprising number of people to vehement comments. There were Franck Tchang's amazing resonators and Furutech's DeMag. These two proved highly controversial with certain skeptics. Those critics must have lost many a night's sleep ranting on just as many forums and bulletin boards or firing off nasty emails to Rotterdam. Our coverage surely hit a sore tooth, all the more reason to keep on poking and find out why it is so sore. Having Franck Tchang fine-tune our entire flat with a collection of resonators and diffusers in strategic places was the biggest audio-inspired event of 2006 for us - and it did more then just improve our listening pleasures.

All this equipment is great, of course, but without music on CD or LP, it's utterly useless. Even though record stores are either evaporating or dedicating themselves to the more lucrative sales of DVD video, for as long as the going is ongoing, we still managed to find a couple of hundred CDs worth taking home, mostly by smaller labels whose artists issue more and more interesting music.
Besides our love affair with the emotionally pregnant and thus rather obvious music in the world music and jazz genres, we also discovered this year Early Music. Compositions from the end of the 16th century, beginning of the 17th are almost Rock'n'Roll-ish when played with schwung. 2006 thus proved to be an excellent vintage, audio-wize.