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Marja & Henk
Financial Interests: click here
Sources: PS Audio PWT; PS Audio PWD; Dr. Feickert Blackbird/DFA 1o5/Zu DL-103; Phasure NOS1 DAC [in for review]
Streaming sources: XXHighEnd PC; iTunes; Devialet AIR
Preamp/integrated/power: Tri TRV EQ3SE phonostage; Audio Note Meishu with WE 300B (or AVVT, JJ, KR Audio 300B output tubes); Yarland FV 34 CIIISA; Qables iQube V1; Devialet D-Premier; Hypex Ncore 1200 based monoblocks; Trafomatic Kaivalya
Speakers: Avantgarde Acoustic Duo Omega; Arcadian Audio Pnoe; Vaessen Aquarius
Cables: complete loom of ASI LiveLine cables; full loom of Crystal Cable cables; Nanotec Golden Strada #79 nano 3; Nanotec Golden Strada #79; Nanotec Golden Strada #201
Power line conditioning: Omtec Power Controllers; PS Audio Powerplant Premier; PS Audio Humbuster III
Equipment racks: ASI amplifier and TT shelf
Sundry accessories: Furutech DeMag; ClearAudio Double Matrix; Nanotec Nespa #1; Exact Audio Copy software; iPod; wood, brass, ceramic and aluminum cones and pyramids; Shakti Stones; Manley Skipjack; Blue Horizon footers [in for review]
Room treatment: Acoustic System International resonators, sugar cubes, diffusers
Room size: ca. 14.50 x 7.50m with a ceiling height of 3.50m, brick walls, wooden flooring upstairs, ca 7 x 5m with a ceiling height of 3.50m, brick walls and concrete floor downstairs.
Prices of review items: XXHighEnd software household license €72, Phasure NOS1 Asynchronous DAC €3.320 ex VAT, custom Windows PC € 1.500 (kit)

This review spans the longest period we've ever allowed ourselves to get down and dirty and to the nitty gritty of any audio product. It not only took a very long time, it involved software, hardware and a lot of human interactions aside from certain legal mental enhancers plus a nightmare or three. Was it worth all that effort, the occasional frustration and our more than thick-headed endurance? Read on if you want to know. Or skip ahead to our conclusion.

Our personal quest began as a search for an iTunes alternative. One of the merits of playing vinyl is the ritual involved. Going through one's collection in search of a certain record—or plain stumbling over a long-forgotten treasure—is merely the start. Seeing those large artistic covers passing beneath your fingers instantly triggers all manner of memories. Those are of places visited, people met, food shared, romances kindled and extinguished and all vividly recalled by a picture on the cover which starts the music in your head and bam! ... there's the accompanying emotional setting. Magic.

As science tells us, this brainy action is strictly unique to the human species. Only homo sapiens has a musical gene hidden somewhere within its DNA. We love that. With the onset of CD one of the disadvantages of vinyl was reduced - the sheer weight and bulk of a substantial music collection. Some if not most the ritual had become obsolete as well; or so we initially thought. No more cleaning of stylus and record before hitting 'play'. No more pops and clicks as proof of a hard life to listen through. No more getting up to flip an LP over every 20 minutes or so. How foolish we were to swap so much of our record collection for the digitally enhanced version of the same. Oy, the pain of hindsight.

As our CD collection grew in size, the need revisited us to shrink back physical bulk just as it had with our massive LP collection. Now we found a solution of repacking silver discs into thin liners. Many CDs safely snuggled between two layers of soft fiber whilst the attendant booklet was slipped behind a clear non-decaying plastic window. The vacant jewel cases ended in the trash. Plastic recycling was not an issue back then.

Repacking CDs went on for some time and we bought a few thousand protective envelopes. It seemed clever. Just like the old LP sleeves, the contents had to once again be pulled out yet the awkward opening and peeling of a disc from its jewel box was history - until for various reasons more and more of them were released in folding cardboard casings. What to do with those? We tried cutting them up and make covers fit the CD envelopes. But as per usual when a new standard emerges, the size of a cardboard CD cover was larger than the booklet from a jewel case which the size of our sleeves was based on. Cutting to fit meant losing part of the cover art or the printed text. A color copier with resizing options helped but the bloody procedure just became too cumbersome and time consuming. Argh!