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Kharma Loudspeakers
Replacing the oak and fabric doorways to music that are the Magnepan 3.6s, Joe had a karmic moment when he spotted a pair of Ceramique 2.2s on AudiogoN for what appeared to be typo-type money. But it wasn't. So Joe drove to NYC and picked up his new speakers. While packing, Joe asked the previous Kharma owner what he planned to get next and he dejectedly muttered "Bosecubes". Like an-under-the-breath, I hope you don't understand what I'm actually saying, fist-covered mouth-coughed apology. Bosecubes. Like the Animal House bullshit. Then from the other room, the Kharma seller's wife shouted "He'll get over it." I don't know about you but to me this sounds so bad in so many ways on so many levels, I think we should alert the proper authorities. Is there a Dyfuss-equivalent Dalai Lama-manned hot line for abused husbands and audiophiles? Is there some pants-transference incantation we can collectively chant to get this poor guy his hifi life back?

The Kharma Ceramique 2.2s are sleek slanting 3-way rear-ported floorstanders. Joe's pair is in the Aubergine finish or as we say here in the Garden State, eggplant. The drivers from top to bottom are a 1.5" cloth dome tweeter, 4.5" ceramic midrange and 9" Nomex Kevlar woofer. Stated efficiency is 89db 1W/1M and each speakers weighs in at 100 pounds (so yes, if you're thinking what I'm thinking, Joe's got well over 600 pounds of audio gear sitting over his wine cellar - talk about suspension). The Kharmas are much less physically imposing than the Magnepans and coupled with their reflective sleekness, lend Joe's room a more modern air.

Bottlehead and The Tape Project
Joe is a charter subscriber to The Tape Project. For those of you not familiar with what these guys are up to, I'll quote from their website: "The Tape Project has been organized for one purpose: to make available to the discerning audiophile an analog listening experience that comes as close as possible to the experience of hearing the original master tape." The Tape Project, which is Paul Stubblebine (Paul Stubblebine Mastering), Dan "Doc B." Schmalle (Bottlehead) and Michael Romanowski, essentially secures the rights to release first generation copies from analog master tapes of old and new recordings. Some examples of currently available titles include works from Malcolm Arnold, Robert Cray, Bill Evans and Sonny Rollins. Joe has received the first two tapes from the catalog; Jacqui Naylor's The Number White and Dave Alvin's Blackjack David. Sticking to just the physical presentation, these guys are not messing around. Each tape comes beautifully boxed, with large photos, liner notes and for subscribers, your serial number engraved on the reel.

Once you have the tapes, you need something to play 'em back on. Fear not, Doc Bottlehead has you covered. Joe's deck is a Doc B modified Technics RS1500 which is tied to the Bottlehead Seduction Tape Head Preamp. For the skinny on what magic Doc B is working within these machines and how they are optimized for playback of the Tape Project Tapes, I suggest a visit to the Tape Project site where they get into detail about their reasons for choosing the Technics1500 as the platform of choice as well as the extensive modifications they offer. Joe purchased his refurbished 1500 from DTR, a Tape Project recommended source for machines. I also heard a few other Tape Project decks at this year's CES including a beautiful Studer A80 in the On a Higher Note penthouse suite at the Mirage.

Wolcott, Supratek and Rives
I'm going to skim over the things that have stayed the same. The Wolcott P200 monoblocks pump out 200 watts per side from a total of 16 push/pulling EL34s. The Supratek Chenin preamp (Supratek has unfortunately announced their closing) is the full-function version of the Chardonnay and incorporates "...high quality NOS 6688, 6922 phono tubes, 4 inputs and 2 outputs, a separate matching power supply with detachable cord, a separate tube regulator for each channel using 5881/6L6GC tubes and a 6SN7 line stage with adjustable gain from 0-30dB." Joe had Rives Audio design the room treatments and luckily nothing needed changing even with the switch to the Kharmas. For more info on the Rivers recommendations, I went into some detail during the last go-around.