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Srajan Ebaen
Financial Interests: click here
Source: 2TB iMac 27" quad-core with 16GB of RAM (AIFF) running OSX 10.8.2 and PureMusic 1.94g in hybrid memory play with pre-allocated RAM, Audirvana 1.5.10 in direct/integer mode 1, Metrum Hex, SOtM dX-USB HD with Super-clock upgrade & mBPS-d2s, AURALiC Vega, Aqua Hifi La Voce II, Apple iPod Classic 160 AIFF-loaded, Cambridge Audio iD100, Pure i20, Pro-Ject Dock Box S Digital, RWA-modifed Astell&Kern AK100
Preamplifier: Nagra Jazz, Bent, Audio Tap-X, Esoteric C-03, J
ob Pre2 [on review]
Power & integrated amplifiers: FirstWatt S1 monos, SIT2.
, F6; Crayon Audio CFA-1.2, Bakoon AMP-12R, Goldmund/Job 225, Gato DIA-250, Aura Note V2, AURALiC Merak [on loan]
Loudspeakers: soundkaos Wave 40, Boenicke Audio W5
se, German Physiks HRS-120, AudioSolutions Rhapsody 200, Zu Audio Submission
Cables: Complete Zu Event loom; KingRex uArt, Zu Event and Light Harmonic LightSpeed split USB cables; Tombo Trøn S/PDIF; Van den Hul AES/EBU; AudioQuest Diamond glass-fiber Toslink; Arkana Research
RCA/XLR interconnects & speaker cables [on loan]

Powerline conditioning: GigaWatt PF-2 + Vibex Two 1R on amps, Vibex Three 11R on front-end components
Equipment rack:
Artesania Exoteryc double-wide three tier with optional glass shelf, Rajasthani hardwood rack for amps
Sundry accessories: Extensive use of Acoustic System Resonators, noise filters and phase inverters
Room size:
Irregularly shaped 9.5 x 9.5m open floor plan combines the living/listening room, kitchen and office. Added to this space the speakers see the air volume of the entry hall and a long corridor plus the 2nd-storey 6 x 9.5m loft. Wood-panel ceiling slopes up to the loft. Parquet flooring. Lots of non-parallel surfaces ('vertical gable' windows, twin-angle ceiling, spiral staircase enclosure, fireplace enclosure). For a pictorial tour, see here.
Review component retail:
Hi-Pro's Taiwanese €365 Tornado integrated "is different from conventional amplifiers". That's what my company contact Yvonne Lai wrote. "No kidding" thought I once disbelief over its rear panel set in. Aside from speaker outputs and a port for a sizeable laptop-style power supply of the switching kind, there were no inputs. None! There was just a WiFi antenna. Oy! "Any 44.1kHz MP3, WMA, FLAC or OGG file will be played back with our app. To play music over this amplifier, one needs wireless Internet and install our app on a smartphone or pad (PC or note book don't apply).

"After the installation is completed with proper WiFi settings and downloaded app, one can play music from smartphone or pad. With a streaming service like Qobuz, one first needs to download the music to the phone or pad. Our app supports Android and iOS but not Windows."

Had I known how narrow Hi-Pro had specified their machine, I'd have turned down this review solicitation cold. In fact I thought that I'd get the deck below. That's because for music I categorically don't do WiFi. It registers uncomfortably on our brains. My wife gets actual migraines from it. I feel toxic. Thus my Samsung Galaxy 4S smartphone is stashed away in the car for emergencies only or the rare on-the-road call. My iPad is used very occasionally as iTunes remote—which requires WiFi—or as a fancy SPL meter. If I stream music, it's via hardwired Ethernet connection through the Qobuz desktop application. It delivers 16/44.1 FLAC files to either my work or music computer (Windows 7/64 or iMac respectively). Those connections are via certified very affordable CAT6a wires from Blue Jeans Cable. My work computer's mouse and keyboard are hardwired to avoid Bluetooth in close proximity. Obviously we're surrounded by WiFi. Even our mountain-side location has my iPad or Samsung see four to five private networks. We simply don't need to add another active micro-wave transmitter right inside our own four walls. Old-fashioned? Perhaps. But our health is more important. Here's some reading on the topic if you're curious.

This is the amp I thought I'd signed up for. Note the tiny but in this context very meaningful difference of that frontal USB input.

On the next page, you'll see the revised rear accommodations of the amp I thought I'd get. Surprise. What then was that unofficial motto of the Marine Corps about surprises? Improvise. Adapt. Overcome. It was time not to be overcome but do the overcoming. Yessir! That's Marine Sgt. 'Gunny' Highway aka Clint Eastwood in Heartbreak Ridge to your left. And a snappy salute that man expected too. Obviously I'm having some fun at my own expense. This review is about a traditional audiophile grappling with WiFi Audio 101. I'll be documenting the various basic steps and potential annoyances or hurdles such a one might encounter until he or she has grown her proper sea legs.