KIH #93. Incredulous. House brands. In audio retail, it used to mean a brand exclusive to a chain of franchised stores. In reviewing, it could mean a brand very popular with a publication. In that virtual sense, we’ve had a few house brands over at 6moons. Here are three handfuls: Acoustic System Int. Bakoon. COS Engineering. Cube Audio. Denafrips. Gallo Acoustics. Gold Note. Kinki Studio. Mark & Daniel. Metrum Acoustics now Sonnet Audio. Red Wine Audio now Vinnie Rossi. Rethm. sound|kaos. Wyred4Sound. Zu. Over the years, we enjoyed whatever new model these brands bowed though Anthony Gallo has since vacated the field. Either way, it’s made these brands and others like them predictable successes in the sense that in the hands of designers with such consistent track records, one felt assured an assignment that would be fun, satisfying and exciting to share with the readers…

SD, 9th heaven? With the Kilrush move behind us and the new digs sorted, my wife’s studio hiccupped—or rather, downed—when she tried to play her vintage 160GB iPod in its digital dock. That’s how she got signal into her Fram Audio Midi120 actives just fine before the move. But now the iPod froze. Ice Age. Scanning my memory banks, I had a hazy thaw on how to reboot it…

We usually don’t indulge them, not even April 1st. But today is the exception. Let’s see how long it takes you to catch on…

It’s all good, man. In the wake of a recent review, a reader asked whether I’d keep its speakers or go back to my old ones. Then another asked whether in such decisions I at all consider unobtainium vs mainstream relative to my readers’ ability to relate. These questions became today’s jumping-off place. It will be obvious. Reviewers aren’t officialized by exit exams from any degreed multi-year university course, not even by get-rich-quick evening seminars from that online college in American Samoa. ‘That’, if you didn’t make the connection, was a nod at Bob Odenkirk’s title character of Better call Saul. Prior to his Breaking Bad career, he’d joined his older brother’s law firm and to advance beyond mailroom clerk, gained his law degree by mail-order course from a third-rate institution. No, writers who review for a part-time or full-time living simply converted their hobby into a job…

There are nomadic and settled peoples. As typical householders working from home, we’re the latter; except that we move house on a regular basis. In that sense it’s as though a nomadic memory from lives past still inserts an influence and preference. Now it’s that time again. This latest move was prompted by our Irish landlords. Living in London where their kids attend university, Brexit’s new realities now have them want to come home. Existence thus knocked on our door with the familiar whisper. “Pack up and get ye going again.”

It’s no secret. I love to integrate a subwoofer by filtering both it and the mains via mirror-imaged low/high-pass filters. In the 2-channel space, analog solutions like Wilson Audio’s and JL Audio’s are rare and become expensive outboard crossovers. In the digital domain, I’d heard of Linn and TotalDAC. Today I became aware that…

Hifi hookworms. A DAC’s sound is not (solely) dictated by its chip. Output stages and power supplies can have even more of an impact. Input stages too. And yet consumers cling to chip info because a make/model provides a hook on which to hang one’s expectations. Alas, power supplies and I/O stages don’t come with manufacturer/model info. So no expectational hook. That was the Darko(ne) suggesting a new KIH feature. Scratching just beneath the surface…

Plus 1. It’s a shorthand invite for bringing arm candy to a party. Today’s post reads minus 1 and the arm candy subtracted from our ongoing hifi party is Mrs. Wagenknecht’s hubby Glen. Here’s what happened…

Mind the gap. Hamburgers or humbuggers? Dark specs are specs which hifi manufacturers don’t publish because they offer no bragging rights; or specs that apply non-standard tolerances or definitions. With the first, we must be informed enough to ask directly. With the second, we must pay attention to the small print. In no particular sequence, here are a few dark, colourful and hazy specs for your amusement…

I hear it from more and more industry contacts. There’s a growing…

An interview with Ivan Liu. For readers who didn’t know already, Ivan Liu is the chief engineer and owner of Kinki Studio, a high-end value brand that launched in China in 2008. It’s being globally marketed by Vinshine Audio’s online boutique in Singapore. Their Ken Ng acted as our mutual translator…

Work smart, not hard. It could be the same thing. But today is about when it’s definitely not…

Proppa subbing, bubba – an exciting discovery…

Remote viewing with Gold Note: First photo gallery and Q&A. Part II still to come…

How will we be remembered? Marja & Henk were my oldest contributors. They joined 6moons when Ivette and I still called Taos/NM our home and listened to Avantgarde Duo speakers like our Dutchies did. They also were the only wife/husband reviewers I knew and knew of. Sunday before last, Marja emailed me a long very carefully crafted and detailed letter… originally published last year, now updated with new replies.

Slow bass. From our feedback section. “Srajan, surely you must be aware that with two 15-inch drivers, pretty much any other sub would go a lot lower and far louder than that esoteric Swiss box you’re covering. Why would anyone settle for a design that throws away so much output? That’s nuts if you ask me.” …

Not kif herb but KEF Herb. Whilst waiting on my own KC62 loaner to breach the company’s back-order embargo, I read Herb Reichert’s Stereophile review for extra anecdotal facts. Each reviewer uses different hardware in different rooms. More data equals more utility to the reader and potential shopper…

Dust-up at the Diesis corral. Whilst waiting on my Aura review pair, company boss Giuseppe Gabbarini checked in from Italy explaining the delays. “We’ve been busy filling orders and just delivered 10 pairs, added new distributors in Germany and Israel and are currently preparing two pairs of Roma and one Roma Triode for NYC’s Rhapsody Audio, a pair of Caput Mundi for Holland and more…”

Furniture or funiture? When it comes to audio racks, one could wonder.  Does it have to be one or the other? What makes for a serious hifi rack? And if it’s serious, can it still be fun? Hello utility, howdy looks. At its most basic, furniture which houses hifi components must support them. Given that hifis come in all shapes and sizes, we should want some modularity. That’s also because systems tend to morph over time. We add or subtract components. Today it’s half-size Naim, tomorrow could be oversized d’Agostino. If the latter, weight ratings enter. How much weight can the rack under consideration handle?…

Wood rage. It’s not an overdose of Viagra. It’s when a woodpecker gets asked to drum out Ravel’s Bolero. What a pain in the neck? Not if you’re a woodpecker. Motorcycle helmets have been modelled around how the bird’s skull protects its brain from such severe impacts. If you know how to deal with it, wood rage can be all the rage…

Drain the swamp. It didn’t happen during the tenure of America’s 45th president. See ya later, alligator. Can it happen in hifi reviewing? …

I type, therefore I am. The ancient Greeks wouldn’t have understood. “What’s type?” they’d have asked. They knew type as a subject not verb.  They might perhaps have understood type casting but typing? Today we have the Internet. Anyone with a keyboard can type. With that comes freedom of expression. The democratic right to free speech has its grey zones. Can the police arrest a pulpiteer in a public park for homophobic, racist or otherwise offensive diatribes?  How about shock-jock radio or comics who go too far? Should social media platforms safeguard against abuses to common sense and good taste? Where does totalitarian censorship begin? Unlike the judge who knew pornography when he saw it, there’s no global consensus on where that line is…

The good hifi communist. I’d just dispatched KIH #85. I joked with the Dark One that I might run out of steam before hitting #100. Everyone loves a round fat number. Then inspiration hit. “If you’ll allow me to suggest a topic? The idea of ‘best’ as an objective ideal rather than something that holds plenty of subjective reality; people’s obsession in cutting straight to it (bypassing the learning journey) and (maybe) the headlines that feed it (of which I am occasionally guilty)?” “Seed received. Waiting for rain. If it sprouts, I’ll live to tell the tale.” Today is that day…

Time heals all wounds? The tie-in with hifi is obvious. It’s called break-in. Kinda. Let’s momentarily delay discussion about who breaks in and shift attention to audio reviewing. How much time does it take to do a proper review? Since I know my systems very well, for me a hardware change registers quickly. Once the component has been powered up for a day or two to shed low transit temps (cold speaker magnets are an example you may not have considered), it doesn’t take hours to know how it differs from the status quo. It’s right at that old/new cusp where the old remains powerfully entrenched and the new is as incisive and piquant as fresh-squeezed lime juice. It has you wide awake. Now give your listening apparatus a day to adjust…