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Dear Srajan, thanks for publishing parts of my mails – that's nice. I am feeling a bit strange because of my comments on an electrical product. Using big words isn't usual for me but at the same time it feels nice to share them with you. After being a hifi enthusiast for about 40 years, I was always looking for more excitement through better gear but over time some natural cooling down of my passion took place. After doing distribution for more than 15 years, my view on hifi got ever more neutral. Now if someone raves about a product, my reaction is mostly 'it seems fit to his taste' or 'it seems to fit well into his system', not 'I must hear this'.
When KS first introduced his Allnic L-10000 to me, he said I would be shocked. And I was. It is exciting to have all of these attributes like a huge soundstage and incredible dynamics at the same time. But more interesting to me was that I learned from this unit. First, if all the attributes come together at the same time, you get (and this reads boring) naturalness. What else could you get? Second, this naturalness not only transports music as merely the network of played notes but, now comes the beauty, by recreating all the subtle details of the acoustical happenings in their proper context, it syncs you with the heartbeat of the very moment when the music was recorded. That's the bliss of the experience. And because we are listening to recordings, we can go there over and over again. For me, that's the real enjoyment. I honestly want to thank KS Park for making this possible.
"We only live once – but that's forever". Mooji
Kind regards, Peter
Thanks, Peter. I'm presently working up the competing Vinnie Rossi L2 review. That unit should arrive next month and I'll learn whether it revisits the same ground or, perhaps, goes even further. Srajan
Dear Srajan, what makes the L-10000 special is not the use of 300B. I had the Manley 300B preamp here which didn't make me sweat. The unique thing about the L-10000 is that KS managed to build a stable circuit without any capacitors or transformers in the signal path. So it is only tubes. That's what makes it so fast and pure. I think he is working on a cheaper model now with the same circuit concept but no DHT. Should have similar advantages. He never used a 300B in a preamp before. Normally that doesn't make too much sense. Besides cosmetic reasons for those who like it big, his SEPP circuit demands the 300B in a p/p configuration to get the lowest output impedance. What is the input stage of the L2? Solid-state? Or directly driven 300B? Peter
After doing the Allnic review, I think that I understand the basics of Kang-Su's circuit well enough. It's still a more complex circuit where you're not just hearing the DHT but how it is being modulated by the two tubes preceding it. Vinnie's spud circuit is far simpler. No driver tube, no input tube, just one DHT per channel. No transistor, no transformer, no capacitor coupling, direct-coupled like Allnic – but with 120dB S/NR and bandwidth out to 900kHz. So whilst Allnic's circuit is unique for its particular ingredients, it's not unique for eliminating coupling capacitors or output transformers. That particular honour it shares with the LIO DHT and L2. What Vinnie's simpler circuit means at the ear remains to be heard of course. With the Allnic already back in Holland, I won't be able to conduct any direct A/B. And only calling upon memory I don't find reliable. So you're correct, the use of 300B isn't unique. What makes these units different is direct-coupling their DHT to the amp following. Incidentally, the Vinnie Rossi isn't limited to 300B but can also take numerous 2.5 and 4V DHT specimens with the simple flick of a switch. If you read my preview on it, you'll get a good idea of the design basics. Given how much I enjoyed the Allnic, the fact that the L2 sells for about half, is more compact and visually more attractive then uses only two not eight tubes has me personally quite excited. Srajan
Hi Srajan, just read your review of Tony Minasian's Moon Jazz. I'll contact Tony and get him to send me the .wav files. Thanks for keep your community posted on Tony's efforts! Cheers, Michael Fanning
Our man Tony is definitely working up a sweat. While you're at it, also ask him for the five unpublished tracks. Since he has 'em, he could well be willing to part with them if asked nicely. They were insufficient to make for another album but they're quite thrilling in their own right. Srajan
Hello Srajan: I just read your reviews of the Allnic tube preamp and monos over the holidays. Interesting how you loved the preamp but not the amplifiers. Given your intervening years with fast highly resolving solid-state amps, do you think that maybe your ears have simply outgrown the appeal of traditional SET amps? Holger
That's an excellent question which I've asked myself in the wake of that experience. I'm leaning toward answering with 'yes' if we underlined 'traditional'. If we expand the scope to 'non-traditional' to point at things like David Berning's solution; to pentodes with far simpler output transformers than are necessary for the popular filament-driven triodes... then I suspect the answer will be 'no' when I use our Cube Audio Nenuphar widebanders. Those are ideal loads for this type amp. Now it's simply a question whether a tube amp will have enough of the low noise floor, resolution, bandwidth and speed which our transistor amps have me used to. Hence I'm very curious about the incoming MySound EL84 monos and Rike Audio SRS551 integrated. If those shake out, I would rephrase your question to having outgrown the appeal of traditional single-ended no-feedback amps with direct-heated triodes. I'm quite certain already that the really best place to exploit DHT is as a line-stage voltage gain device. That Allnic preamp was spectacular and I expect the incoming Vinnie Rossi L2 to be that if not more given its simpler circuit and higher specs. Srajan
I don't know if you have heard the Playback Design gear but I've always loved their DACs built around discrete differential FPGA way before anybody else decided to explore them. I always thought that there was a natural ease to their sound but couldn't really justify the price. And then last week a used integrated IPS3 in pristine condition came up for sale as a steal. So I got it.
It has their entry-level DAC built in but that's all relative. It has no problems eclipsing the SOtM and it gives the Aurender a run for its money especially on DSD.
The amp is magnificent, 130 watts into 8Ω, 260 watts into 4Ω of very sweet and nuanced power. Very much like the Gryphon 120, a bit less on the dynamic edge but effortless nonetheless with that same tonal density that lets all the details and nuances through. Completely silent, bigger imaging and layering than the 2A3 integrated - I can't believe it's such an obscure piece of kit. Certainly leaves behind the McIntosh, Simaudio and Mark Levinson integrateds with DACs I heard recently and the only one I would rather own is the Gryphon. But new that is 50% more than the IPS3 and 7 times more than what I paid for this pristine used example.
With the Aurender, it makes for a wonderful minimalist system. I am streaming from the Aurender into the IPS3 but also have the balanced connection going so can easily compare to the Aurender's DAC by just switching inputs. There is something to be said for simplicity. Have a very happy 2019! Frederic
I've never heard Playback Design in our crib except for the Andreas Koch portion of the Nagra HD DAC I reviewed. Which is telling. Nagra are very engineering-driven to design whatever they need in-house including winding their own transformers. But for digital, they went to Andreas Koch who probably forgot more about DSD than all the other guys together ever knew. So I'm not surprised to hear that even their entry-level DAC performs as well as you say. Congratulations on an excellent find! Srajan
Hi Srajan, I have a Soundaware D300Ref. I have been listening to it for a while now and I love it. What a wonderful piece of kit!! It works so well with the Denafrips Terminator. As you wrote in your review of it, it improves the sound even when only used as a USB bridge but the best playback seems to be from the SD card. From the SD card, I have found the sound to be more substantial... voices and instruments fuller and more solid for want of a better word. Tonal density? What you may not know because Soundaware have not yet posted it on their website is that there is a new firmware upgrade. A friend of mine managed to get an advance copy and he sent it to me.
I downloaded this new firmware onto my D300Ref about an hour ago. This new firmware is set up for MQA and also makes the machine Roon Ready. But I am finding, as did my friend, that it also brings considerable improvement to the sonic performance even without whatever benefits may be brought to the equation by Roon or MQA. I am finding that instruments and voices are even denser and more tonally saturated now... much more real sounding. Plus the soundstage seems wider and better sorted out.
I was listening to a recording of a Black gospel choir and it sounded so real that it was sending chills up and down my spine. While being aware that I could be simply imagining it, to my ears this improvement is not subtle. So I am writing to you to see if you have heard of this new firmware, if perhaps you already have it, and, if so, if you have experienced the same type of improvement that I have.
I am now running a pair of Harbeth M30.2 40th Anniversary speakers. I find them to be absolutely wonderful speakers. The Wavetouch Anteros (which I still have) are amazingly good speakers especially for the price. In my opinion, they were a big step up from the the Spatial Audio Master Triodes which, to my ear, always had a hard edginess in the vocals and highs, especially on violins. The Anteros went a long way to eliminating that harshness/edginess. When I got the Harbeths, that edginess was entirely eliminated... voices sounded very natural... not strained at all. There's also an upgrade coming for our Denafrips Terminator which is supposed to further improve its sonic performance. It was supposed to be released before the end of the year but they did not make it. My understanding is that it will be available this month. Peter Borelli
I didn't know about the firmware updates for the D300Ref and Terminator coming up. I'll ask Alvin Chee about them since he handles both products. That's a nice surprise. Thanks for alerting me to a free upgrade. I couldn't care less about MQA and Roon isn't important to me either but better sound in general - any day and thrice on Sundays. Srajan
PS: I've installed the new firmware and agree that on standard 16/44.1 files as well as higher sample-rate material, the machine now forwards a digital signal which makes our Terminator DAC sound fuller and richer. Of course PS Audio too have made a tradition of releasing iterative firmware for their everything-DSD machines where each release is announced as a major sonic improvement. That's part of the appeal of using re-programmable chips. Of course certain very labour-intense math may need new FPGA hardware with higher processing power like for example resampling PCM on the fly to DSD 512. It's likely that our versions of the D300Ref will never be able to do that unless their FPGA was wildly overspec'd for the original functionality to anticipate such an eventual development. And higher DSD rates are the target for the new Terminator firmware I'm told. But how that will affect its PCM performance I don't know yet. And Denafrips and Soundaware are two different companies. It just so happens that these two models work so very well together. Srajan
PPS: After three days of 'critical' listening, I can confirm that this firmware made a sound improvement, bringing it very close to my APL AS2 with TDA-1541 and on par with the iFi Pro DSD with Mutec master clock and MCRU external power supply. Both APL and iFi have the direct SD card input so no need for the D300Ref. As to Nenuphar, after several months of comparing amps, I can confirm without any lingering doubt that the Berning ZOTL with VT-52 or Elrog 300B sounds best to my ears in my acoustically optimized room. There is 'electricity' to the sound without drifting into the bright or forward, very life-like and simply feeling right. Drums beating, no need for more. Bass on the Nenuphar substantially improved after four months but occasionally I must confess that I still turn on the Voxativ sub for some electronica and also some classical. Dan
Hi Srajan, hope you are having a decent holiday season in Ireland! I just purchased a SOtM dCBL-CAT7 cable and based on your May 2015 review of a similar cable, wonder where I should put it in my audio chain. I have a Roon Nucleus music server tethered by a Blue Jeans Ethernet cable from my router. I also have a switch with another Blue Jeans Ethernet cable tethered to my Devialet 200. Methinks the best place for the SOtM cable is between the router and the Roon Nucleus. Any thoughts? Michael Fanning
I'd think of this like a filter for drinking water which you want right behind your faucet. I'd put it closest to the DAC so there’s no subsequent place at which HF noise can still enter the digital data stream. If the Devialet handles D/A conversion, I’d put it there. But of course your ears may tell a different story. Lke I would have to, experimenting then is the name of the game. Srajan
Hi again, many thanks for the quick reply! Yes, the Devialet handles the D/A conversion so I'll test the SOtM cable there first! I'll report back. Cheers, Michael
Hey Srajan, looking forward to reading about your time with the Vinnie Rossi preamp. Quick question. What tubes will you try it with? I'm particularly curious about the Japanese 300B Vinnie recommends. Jimmy
The quick answer, whatever comes with it. When I divested myself of all my resident tube amps years ago, their tubes too departed. So my prior stash is entirely depleted except for a replacement set of small triodes for my Nagra Classic Pre. It'll depend on what Vinnie has on hand and decides to include. Options for currently made 300B alone are astonishing; and that's just one of the many types one could roll. So I really don't know. I do know that the ElectroHarmonix 300B Gold are his chosen stock tubes so those are a given. Whatever else shows up will be a surprise. With luxury power triodes, one really doesn't hit up their makers to send out review loaners for a tube shoot-out. They can no longer sell them afterwards; and whatever findings on tube differences shake out are specific to that particular component. So the whole notion is a bit of a raw deal for them. Neither should one expect an electronics maker to shell out big coin just to satisfy a reviewer's curiosity over endless tube options. I was extremely lucky that Tektron's Polish importer Pawel was so generous with his review loaner. But that's not the norm nor is it to be expected. Srajan
Dear Srajan: With your preview section showing upcoming reports on Rike, Rossi and MySound and your recent Allnic and Tektron pieces, you're back on tubes. That's great for me because I prefer them over transistors. Could you tell me what other brands you're considering covering for 2019? Charles Davis
It's really the Cube Audio Nenuphar which opened those doors. It's not primarily a matter of speaker efficiency. Our 15wpc Bakoon drives our 85dB Albedo Audio Aptica to all the SPL I want in a smaller room. It's primarily a question of whether a speaker deals well with high amplifier output impedance. Now that I have a sample which wants that, classic tube amps are again sensible. That said, my MO over many years now has been responsive, not strategic. I mostly just respond to review solicitations. I rarely go after something from my end - mostly only when the loaner pipeline runs dry or gets clogged up by compound delays. Occasionally I learn about something which seems really interesting to dispatch an "I'm interested, are you?" email. I did that with MySound because I very much like EL84 and because now 12 watts are overkill. But I've not strategized on what tube gear to review this coming year. If things continue as they have, it'll be a matter of who is ringing my bell. I'm generally not keen on ultra-high voltage rails which leaves out certain very big bottles; massively paralleled tubes; or ultra-priced things in general. But I'm always curious to hear a tube I've never heard before. That will be the case with Rike's Romy 20SE. And hearing a spud DHT circuit in the Vinnie Rossi L2 will be off the beaten path as well. So we'll see what 2019 brings. You can always petition your favourite maker/s to approach us. Srajan
Hello Srajan: I read with great interest Pat McGinty's manifesto on DSP'd active speakers. Technically, most if not all of what’s presented is absolutely correct, including the evidence of the conclusion. Yes, DSP and actively driven speakers are the future. I do feel however that the information is polarized because it assumes the (all) source material is digital and standardized and it is not. Digital runs from MP3 all the way to DSD x or ultra high- rez PCM and everything in between (MQA?). Assuming the DSP magic happens in 24/96, everything below or above will eventually be dithered prior to processing. Then the processed bits are converted to analog for amplification and playback and in all the processing, some bits will eventually be lost in noise. This is an aspect where I think passive still has an edge: unlimited S/N ratio. I have been very impressed with recent efforts from Kii Audio, however I feel note decay seemed shortened a bit compared to super-efficient passive speakers for example. You spent decades trying DACs and amps and cables and speakers, each time arriving at a different conclusion (sound quality, color, texture, depth, luminance, density…). Will DSP end your illustrious career? I certainly hope not. Best from Montréal, Robert Gaboury
I didn't get the assumption that all sources are digital. Analog signal simply gets digitized where the assumption is that whatever minimal losses are incurred pale by comparison to the gains which are made when we replace passive filters with DSP. Yes, Pat's happens in 24/96; far beyond the vast majority of CD-quality music. Anything beyond 24/96 is really just the audiophile fringe. And with the vast majority of music being delivered digitally today, D/A conversion occurs whether in a standalone super DAC fronting a passive speaker; or in the DAC built into an active speaker. Same difference. Relative to the Kii Three, I heard the same foreshortened decays. I attributed it to nCore's very high negative feedback and concomitant high damping across the entire bandwidth. I wondered whether extreme damping is desirable in the upper frequencies. But even if one booked that aspect as a minor demerit, all the other advances which the Kii Three brings to the table absolute crush the passive competition one could assemble for the same price (having to include a complete electronic stack). At least that's my read. Finally, there's no rule that demands that active DSP speakers must use class D power. It's simply the most and most compact power for the money. But Class A/B could be used instead; and tweeter/midrange amps could deliberately apply lower damping if class D's vise grip were considered unattractive. As always, what we present in our reviews and editorials just represents someone's opinion. It's perfectly fine to disagree with it. Srajan
PS: Robert subsequently submitted a link to material which doubts whether for heavy DSP like PEQ, high-order filters et., 24-bit math is sufficient to maintain 16-bit dynamic range. One excerpt reads: "... to maintain the 96dB signal-to-noise ratio for 24-bit processing of second-order IIR filters, a double-precision filter structure was required to ensure that the digital equalizer output's noise floor was greater than 96dB. Chen researched various second-order realizations to determine the best structure when performing 24-bit processing on a 16-bit input. In one test case, he implemented a single high-pass second-order filter using direct-form-1 structures, findings these implementations to yield an S/NR between 85 - 88dB, lower than the 96dB theoretical maximum of the ideal 16-bit A/D converter." Based on this paper, it would seem that heavy processing well beyond simple 1st-order filters executed digitally could well rely on 32-bit or higher DSP. That's where us lay folk bow out and leave the ongoing discussion on the exact math requirements to the digital experts.
Hello Srajan: I enjoyed your return to tube amp reviews and noted your reference to Dan's Berning Siegfried. I'm not sure whether you know that Linear Tube Audio took on manufacture and sales for certain licensed Berning designs. This brought accessibility to lower price points, bringing Berning's OTL circuitry to more people. Can we hope for a LTA review in your pages in 2019? Horst Rüdinger
I'm very aware of LTA and contacted them during their earlier days when they weren't interested. I contacted them again recently about their new Ultralinear amplifier but again they don't seem interested in working with us. Unless I bought one to review it which isn't my business model; or they change their mind... I don't see this happen, sorry. Manufacturers aren't required to play the review game; or play it with us. It does look like very interesting product and as you know, I've been exceptionally impressed with my friend's Siegfried which remains his favourite amp after all these years. Srajan
Hi Srajan, I hope you are well. I contacted you a while back when I was using the Octave v80 and you were very helpful. I hope you don't mind that I am reaching out again. I came across your review of the Bakoon AMP-41 and I am very intrigued by this amp. I never heard of this company before. Does this amp sound like other amps from more popular brands? What type of listener do you think would buy the Bakoon amp? Thanks again for your reviews and audio insight. Adam
Why would you be intrigued by this amp if from the very same review, you still have no notion what it sounds like? That review clearly mentions the Nagra Jazz/LinnenberG Allegro combo as sounding very similar, then explains where the Bakoon differs. It mentions the Crayon CFA.12 and Goldmund Telos 590NextGen as belonging into the same class. All of these are components which I've reviewed so you read about them in our archives for further triangulation. Have you done that? Because then you'd already know what kind of listener would buy the Bakoon: the type listener who enjoys this particular kind of sound. What kind of sound that is these reviews describe to the best of my ability. If my ability fell short of your needs at the time when I actually had those components to write about them, why would it be any better now that they've long since left? Srajan
Dia dhuit Srajan (I think that's hello in Gaelic): I contacted Tony Minasian after reading your review of the Tonian Trio album. I ended up purchasing wav files of the two CDs you reviewed. You're spot on: both are extremely well recorded. Why don't the record companies employ his techniques so we can have non-compressed music? Cheers, Michael Ian Fanning
My question precisely. Without doubt, the CD format is capable of a lot more than we usually hear. If Tony can record to 16/44 with 50dB of dynamic range, so could others. Why don't they? Why do they tell us we need 24/96 (or more) whilst they compress the living daylights out of CD? Something doesn't add up. Srajan
Hello Srajan: I'm curious about the Gold Note amplifier and have been patiently waiting for your review. What's your status on that review, please? Will it be much longer? Was something not working properly and you had to send the amp back? Horst
After I'd penned the preview expecting two loaners (for stereo/mono comparisons) to follow quickly, I was informed that their engineers were revisiting the design for a MkII version. That and apparently really stout holiday business has postponed delivery of my samples. At this rate, I don't really expect to see them until some time in the new year. When a company can only build so much and has more orders from paying customers than they can readily accommodate, itchy reviewers simply must wait and dealers/distributors take precedence. That's just good business. So hold your horses; or let them run to elsewhere. Srajan
...I forgot to say - congratulations on the update to your website! It looks better than it ever has; and now is smart phone friendly. That must have been quite the project to take on! Vinnie Rossi
Hey Srajan - congrats on your site revision. The mobile site looks beautiful and works great. A very nice improvement. And your comments about covering shows struck a chord. Here in the US, regional shows seem to be an attempt to make up for the dwindling few retailers. But you don't see many guys at them actually writing checks. Happy days! Pat McGinty
Writing checks. Do people still do that? Switzerland had abolished them altogether after French banks reported far too many man hours spent on chasing down bad checks. But your point is of course crystal. Unlike many forum posters who seem to believe that industry people are into audio as a matter of big-hearted charity or being independently wealthy saints, we are just like any other business wo/men - into it to make a livelihood which demands profits. And every business must weigh expense versus return. Proper hifi shows too are a business and its organizers too must make a profit or close down.
Big international shows are an opportunity for manufacturers to meet all/most of their distributors in one place at one time. That's rather more cost-effective than traveling to see each of them in their home country; unless one only has two or three international distributors and can live off that. Newbie makers make their first noise at such events and hope to attract press coverage and sign on their first dealers or importers. But smaller shows and pure consumer shows don't fulfill that function. Not being a manufacturer, I can't speak to how attendance there furthers one's business. But it must or such shows would only have empty rooms. Can they really take the place of what dealers used to do, however? I'm not sure and it seems, neither are you. Srajan
I notice that the car guys hold shows almost exclusively to generate press, not to write sales. But the boat guys do it entirely to write biz. Gun and art guys too. Their show guys sell their shows as buying opportunities. I'd be a lot more interesting in showing if I thought it likely to write enough biz. But that has never yet happened. Our customer would much rather tease himself with his choices for months on end than step right up and pull the trigger. Pat
It'd be interesting to hear from other hifi manufacturers how this math works out for them. And it could be mighty hard to quantify what just showing up generates in follow-on business over the years afterwards. It could be a bit similar to advertising where sheer stubbornness—being seen over and over again—creates brand recognition and cachet, then desirability. I do know that some makers sell most or all of their show gear at a not-quite-new discount right on closing day which pays for their attendance in full if not better. Srajan
Srajan, I just reread your Munich show report of this year. At the end, you covered the Newcomer's Corner with a direct-drive turntable and a tube amp in a composite chassis. Have those two makers contacted you for a review? Both their products looked very interesting and I would love to know more. Cheers, Bernd Jørgensen
Yes and no, Bernd. Onkk, the maker of that record player, is scheduled to make a delivery/presentation to Marja & Henk next month after which they'll write a review. The Greek valve amp in that very trick chassis hasn't checked in with us since my report so I'm not sure what its current status is. You'd have to contact them via their website and inquire yourself. Srajan
Srajan, quick question: did you ever complete the review on the Audiozen Lysios? The only review on 6moons that I can find says "to be continued." I am still intrigued by this amp and wanted to know your thoughts. Thanks again for all the great audio reviews! Doug
I did finish that review last year. However, when the legacy site was first copied/imported into the new data base; and then scanned again just before we went live... 14 reviews slipped through the cracks, i.e. were captured during their preview phase. We've rescanned those slippery weasels and you can now read that review in its entirety as it was published last year. Sorry for the oversight. Srajan
Srajan, thanks for the update. I was now able to read your article on the Audiozen Lysios amplifier. And indeed it sounds like a great amplifier, only falling short of really expensive amplifiers in the external cosmetics department. I have the Audiozen Insight preamp and enjoy its simplicity being paired with a couple of class D mono amplifiers. I couldn't help wonder if it might sound even better paired up with its proper mate, 'better' of course being a relative term. I suppose I should say that I'm always looking for more definition and revealing qualities while never wanting to exaggerate the coloration of sound. Doug
One thing good class D is good at is resolution. That's because properly designed switch-mode power supplies can be very quiet to give a high signal-to-noise ratio. And that's key for fine detail. On that count, I'd not necessarily expect the Lysios to offer more. Given its far wider bandwidth however, I'd predict a rather different top end with more air. And I'd also predict a different handling of the power region where class D can be very damped and dry. Srajan
Dear Srajan Ebaen, I’ve just read your remarkable piece about the Pantheon. I’m looking to complete my Voxativ Ampeggio with multi-way speakers as an alternative for my Zanden 6000. Would the Pantheon fit the bill? Kindest regards, Johan-Frédérik Hel Guedj
I guess I don't understand your question. How does one complete one nearly full-range speaker with another? I'd like to be useful but at present I'm mystified. Srajan
As I said: as an alternative to the Ampeggio, meaning I could alternate between Voxativ or Pantheon. Would the Pantheon bring a larger well-defined scene to big orchestral music? I listened to the Pantheon under sub-par conditions with an amplifier which gave it bloated bass and not yet with my Zanden. Johan
Even in my 100sqm prior room, the Pantheon nearly had too much bass. And I used proper high-power transistor amps. I doubt that a valve amp even of Zanden pedigree would be ideal. Also, unless you had a very large room, I'm not positive that your prior sub-par experience in the bass would be 100% corrected. Otherwise, yes, orchestral music with its complexity and sheer mass would benefit from a multi-way design with suitable cone area. That part is easy to confirm. Whether you'd prefer these to what you have... that is not. Srajan
Exactly my first sentiment when listening to the Pantheon. The bass was bloated. Voxativ is definitely a better match with the Zanden. Still, I’m wondering what could be superior with large orchestral. Voxativ's 9.87 is a bit pricey. Pacula spoke to me highly of Serblin's Ktêma. The Ilumnia designer Tom Nuyts will be at my home Tuesday with his Magister. Thank you and bravo again for 6moons. Johan
Based on M&H's review, the Ilumina should be very special indeed. If you're up to it, let me know what you thought. Srajan
Yes. I paid good money for that with a custom plug-in. For too long people have helped themselves freely to our content without permission. If people want to copy us now, they'll have to do it the hard way - type it out one word at a time just like I have to. Copyright and all that. So yes, that's one of the side effects of the new code. Sorry that it also disabled some harmless translating help. Srajan
Hello Srajan, interesting take on show reports. If it matters, I've always enjoyed reading yours. But I can also appreciate the points you made. Still, don't you think it's part of the give and take in the hifi industry that the press supports hifi shows not only by attending but by reporting on that attendance? Thomas
There are many aspects I didn't cover. I had someone from the NYC show email in saying that without shows like theirs, people like me would have nothing to write about. I beg to differ. Yes, there are publications which do focus on covering as many shows as possible and whose contributors enjoy to travel regularly. For them such a comment might hold true. Without shows, that type content falls away after all. For publications like ours however, the focus is on writing reviews in a controlled environment. For that shows aren't just superfluous. Attending and the time it takes afterwards to pen a meaningful report are actually in direct conflict with producing review content instead.
Why do I stress review content? As with any business, one must weigh expense versus returns. Which expenses benefit and grow one's business, which expenses contribute less or nothing? Having had 16 years to observe that dynamic to see what type content has the greatest impact on my small sole-trader business, I can honestly say that attending shows and the associated costs of travel, accommodation and time have become less and less productive or relevant over the years.
I still feel compelled to attend. As you said, I'm a part of the industry. By working in it, my livelihood depends on it. I do want to mix and mingle with my peers, maintain relationships, develop new ones, spot newcomers and just have fun. I simply question the usefulness of writing more reports on my attendance. I've had a good run at doing reports for many years. Now I want to try something different which won't be in the public eye but just between me and whoever I stop by to talk with. Srajan
Dear Srajan: Mega props for the recent site development. That must have been quite the job. Now that you've roped mobile users into the fold, how about us YouTubers? Do I see 6moons video reviews in the near future? Inquiring minds want to know. Your friend John Darko does some excellent ones. You might take a look at them for some ideas. Joseph Martin
Indeed John does. I'm well familiar with his developments on that score. My "problem" is that I love to write. Doing talkies would undermine that. Why cheat myself out of the most fun part of the job? That said, I do see specific applications where video would work well without taking away personal satisfaction. But I'd need to learn video editing first. I see no upside to farming out costly services to someone filming and somebody else editing. Living way in the boonies doesn't help on that count, either. Plus, as I do with my writing, I'd want to be in full control and do all of it myself front to back. My current camera does 4K video just fine. But I'd still need some other hardware to do what I'd want to do. Most importantly, I'd need to get fluent in whatever video editing skills are required for the type quality I have in mind. So not in the near future but a possible investment in hardware, software and learning down the road. But as it says in my slogan, this site will always remain dedicated to people who love to read. Srajan
Hello Srajan: I was pleased to see Tektron in your review queue. Like you explained there and also in your Thoress preview, having the right speakers is key to get the best from such amplifiers. Do you have further plans to return to reviewing SET amps? If so, may I suggest the 2A3 designs from Whammerdyne in the US? I've not heard them for myself but looking at their specs (zero noise, 150kHz bandwidth) and clever outboard output transformers, I would be surprised if they didn't deliver comparable to how you've lived now for years with fast transistor amps. Holger
In fact, I'm wide open to re-entering the world of very special valve amps. And you bring up an excellent point about my having veered deeply into solid-state amps of exploded bandwidth for the last few years. It's made me drift away from appreciating transformer-coupled valve amps that barely make it to 30kHz to sound clearly slower and more veiled by comparison. Vinnie claims 900kHz for his new DHT preamp which has me most curious. Your Whammerdyne recommendation fits the same bill. I in fact expressed interest to them not long ago after a request to post a news item but was told that they're a very small outfit and currently neither have 230V units nor traveling loaners in general. They sell what they make and don't really want more exposure to put pressure on their production schedule. Which I well appreciate. Finding one's ideal size for a business is key to quality of life and growing beyond that tends to eat into that quality. But if you have any other recommendations along those lines—what I recently told a friend I'd call "Bakoon type sound executed with tubes"—I'd be all ears. Truth told, my absence from the SET scene means I haven't paid attention for a while to what might be new and exciting there. So I really could use some help. Srajan
Srajan, great decision to make 6moons mobile friendly! It was the one thing you didn't have that I considered lacking. Now I can read you guys on my iPad in my preferred café downtown Duisburg to enjoy my afternoon Kaffee mit Kuchen. Good show! Jason
I see you've caught the German love of the afternoon sweet tooth, Jason. A friend lives there. He and his wife took us to one of their favourite haunts for exactly that purpose on a Sunday afternoon at 15:00. I must admit, it was lovely seeing young and old, outdoors, together, enjoying some sunshine, java and rich cake with plenty of whipped cream. Happy surfing on the moons. Srajan
Hi Srajan, in Internet Explorer the floating icons move into the text when you scroll down. They are not doing this in the middle of the text. Best regards, Jan
That's by design. How else would you continue your navigation? They show on top when you first open a page since the header remains fixed while the page scrolls beneath it. The moon menu then blends out to as you continue reading to simplify the page look. Once you get to the end of the page, they return so you can keep surfing to other areas of the site. Srajan
I do understand the idea behind the feature. Other websites have solved this by putting them at the end (as in below) the end of the article which is what would make sense to me. Best regards, Jan
That's simply not what I decided on, Jan. I'm sure you can get used to it quickly -:) Srajan
Hi Srajan, it is great that you added responsive design to the site. That’s really important nowadays as 50% of the traffic comes from mobile devices. I’ve been talking to IT guys myself and chasing deadlines for our website development. Hate it. Georgi
Brett has been super responsive but also is busy with other projects and of course his ongoing advanced engineering degree classes. IT people are much in demand. Whilst I can do everything else that is required to run and maintain the site, writing custom code and forcing WordPress to conform to my design ideas wasn’t a skill I have. My mind doesn’t work that way. So despite preferring full control as I eventually learnt to have in DreamWeaver with its fixed static layouts, I had to farm this makeover out. I feel very lucky to have found Brett! Srajan
I love the reshaped moons: crisped the look and escalated functionality to boot. Fred Crane
That was the whole intent. The new access icons are no longer rendered as graphic files but in pure code so they load faster and show in higher resolution thanks to Brett’s code writing chops. This afternoon is set aside to fix coding errors that happened in the transition from old static site to new dynamic database. Readers are invited to assist the final vetting process by letting me know any functional or visual weirdness, dead links or dropped images they encounter whilst browsing the moons. As of this morning, Safari still misaligns thumbnails even though Opera, Firefox and Chrome look perfect on that score. Cross platform gremlins. Brett set aside time to exorcise the most obvious ones now. Srajan
Dear Mr. Ebaen, first of all I must make my best thanks for your advice on the Denafrips Terminator and Jay's transport and the best sound that I ever heard during 35 years of this passion. Now two super-fast questions: 1) I have the Nord mono amps and would like to improve the amplification. Do you think that the LinnenberG Liszt monos deserve €8'000 over the Nords? I have Wyred4sound STP 2SE Stage II and Legacy Studio HD speakers. 2) You often use the words "SD card" in your Soundaware product reviews. What do you mean by those words? 3) I have noticed that the Terminator produces a sort of hum inside the chassis. Alvin from Vinshine is thinking about. It seems that this can be caused by DC. Do you think that the Vibex Granada could give any benefit? Kind regards, Paolo Verzegnassi
1/ What kind of monetary value one places on particular improvements is entirely personal. To my ears, the Liszt monos are in a very different class than the Nords which I have as well. Is that sonic difference worth €8'000 however? I couldn't possibly comment. 2/ SD card = memory card just like what's in a digital camera or cell phone. In my experience, it's the most superior form of musical storage - better than CD, better than hard drive, better than SSD, better than streaming. 3/ My Terminator plugs into an Alhambra/Granada combination so I've not heard it without that since I otherwise don't have outlets nearby. My Terminator operates noiselessly. Would it exhibit any kind of hum without the Vibex gear? I frankly don't know. Vibex have a dedicated DC filter that's a lot more affordable than their flagship stuff. Srajan
Hello Mr. Ebaen, my name is Sam and I live in Southern California. I am an avid reader of the 6moons reviews, especially yours. Thanks to your review I have been a happy owner of FirstWatt F7 for the last 2 years even though I was a long time tube fan before that. I am mating it with an almost 30-year old Blue Circle vacuum tube preamp and I can't be happier. Yet I am getting older and bothered more and more by the necessity to change the tubes every so often. So I am considering changing the pre to solid state. You have reviewed the Pass HPA-1 and Kinki EX P7 recently and both got awarded. So I hope you can find time to tell me the sonic differences of the two in your opinion. Thanks mightily! Best regards, Sam Choi
Hello Sam: I’ve not heard the two preamps side by side so like you, I’d have to revert back to my own reviews and deduce things from there. Since you’ve read them, I trust you can do that for yourself every bit as well as I would have to looking back. Glad you enjoy our reviews. We’ll keep them coming. Srajan
Hmm.. thank you for your quick reply. let me see if I can deduce even though I couldn't before. Sam
Look, I put a lot of work into my reviews. Whatever I have to say at the time, I say it. If 6 months or 6 years later someone asks me to compare things I reviewed back when, I have to go back to my own reviews to see what I said. As a reader, that part of the job is on you. It’s not as though I kept a fixed aural memory of everything that comes through which, at any time, I could recall like a computer file and print out with percentages, regardless of what ancillary equipment or room was used between different assignments. And I don’t trust aural memory except for the basics so being asked how something I recently reviewed compares to something I sent back months or years ago is simply asking the impossible. At least for me it is impossible. Perhaps other reviewers are endowed with the audio equivalent of photographic memories. I’m not. Srajan
I understood that. If I sounded grumpy, pleased excuse me. As I said, I appreciate your quick personal response. And also I realized that you reviewers are not like average listeners. You listen to a lot of equipment vs I stay with something fixed for many years. Anyway, I sincerely appreciate what you are doing, including responding to my question. Thanks! Sam
You hit the nail on the head. Reviewers live with endlessly revolving doors so things tend to be moving targets. And I've moved a lot over the years so many reviews took place in various rooms and with quite different systems. Srajan
Howdy. Based on your initial comments about the AMP-13R Bakoon integrated, I made the point of taking a listen at RMAF. I was doubly happy to see the Soundkaos speakers, not ever hearing/seeing them other than in your reviews. The report card was easy....the room sounded great and looked great. The only issue was the music. They chose to play, over and over and over again during the show, the same Stevie Ray Vaughan song, that same slow Blues that has been played to death in far too many shows. What a turn-off. Play something else on the damn album! Oh well. I didn't say a word to Soo-In about this as I had many rooms to see and many meetings over the weekend. It was dash in, dashout. Exhibitors should already be clued in as to what music to play and what to avoid. It's a gorgeous piece of gear (the Bakoon) yet much smaller in person. Looks beautifully made. Glad they dropped the pricing. There is so much competition in that 6K-8K range. Alan
Had Soundkaos designer Martin Gateley been present, you'd have heard proper music. Martin gives very good demo. But designing brilliant hifi gear and running a killer demo aren't synonymous by any stretch and particularly John Darko over at darko.audio pens scathing repeat reminders about how weak and overplayed so many show music choices continue to be. So your comment falls right in line. Pleased to hear you enjoyed the sound however if not the music itself -:) Srajan
Greetings, I read your well-written review of the Nativ Vita and wanted to comment. I received a unit recently and the experience was horrid. You can read about it here. I humbly think it’d be responsible to warn prospective buyers. Best wishes, Guy Zilberman
Hello Guy, that really was an unpleasant surprise for you. Thankfully they refunded your money. I hadn’t seen that. Thanks for pointing me to it. As you’ve noticed, my article is still just a preview as I’ve not received my loaner sample yet. Since I always open my samples up to take my own inside photos (unless for some reason access requires specialized tools which I don’t have), if things are off, it’ll be there for all to see. And seeing how you had no issues taking photos, I don’t expect I’ll have any. In the spirit of fairness, I’ll thus wait to have my own experience but do consider me forewarned indeed. Thanks again. Srajan
Under normal conditions, you can’t open the clam shell. The display is supposed to be firmly glued to the chassis, maintainable only by Nativ. So no, you won’t be able to inspect the backside of the LCD display. In my case, the build quality was so poor, the display came unglued. That was the only reason I could inspect the internals. I don't believe Nativ ever accounted for that possibility. They were out of luck. But who builds a business on luck? I’d requested photos of a properly assembled unit but was rebutted multiple times. I think the facts speak for themselves. Guy
If that's the case—and when I can't open something up, I do request that the maker submit photos from their assembly line—this review might in fact have cancelled itself already. Srajan
Wanting feedback from someone who sells Nativ, I asked Richard of 8th Dimension Audio in the UK about his track record with them: Thanks for the link. I hadn’t seen it. Difficult to know what to say. It’s certainly not my experience with Nativ or their products. The only problem I ever had was with a CD burner which had a faulty drive unit (not uncommon) and they paid for the return and sent a new one which has worked perfectly. The build quality of my Vita is fine and I installed my own hard drive so had to open the case. I can’t say I made a thorough investigation of the internals but nothing obvious jumped out. Consistent and reliable QC has always been a challenge from China from what I can see. For a company like Nativ who can only make small production runs, it would seem like a rogue or at worst batch problem. That can happen to anyone. I’m currently beta testing the latest firmware for full Roon RAAT and it’s close to being ready. Richard
Dear Dawid and Srajan, maybe your remember me, I purchased a Diamond Server and Diamond DAC from Amare Musica directly from the factory and dealt with Marcin Solowiow who had a lot of problems since and couldn't deliver. The last email Marcin sent me on October 18th said that he had health problems but he promised to deliver the units on October 25th. Since then he hasn't replied or delivered. If he is still having health problems, I don't want to bother him while he recovers. Maybe you know more about this?
This purchase has been very difficult. I've been purchasing audio for many years and never had such a bad experience. I offered him as many alternatives as I could, from refunding my money to flying to Poland to pick up the units in person but nothing seems to work. This kind of situation is very bad and I am now afraid to purchase from the distance again. I sincerely appreciate your cooperation and help very much. Best regards, Luis Dobarro
I'm sorry to hear this still hasn't been settled. I remember you first contacted us many months ago. Not living in Poland, I'm sadly entirely out of the loop on Amare Musica's dealings or the health of its principal but perhaps Dawid who lives in Warsaw knows more. If so, he'll let you know. Srajan
Hi Louis, It's sad that his matter still remains unresolved. All I got from Marcin was one mail (which you've seen months back), even though several more were sent. I also dialed his on-site number many times yet never reached the man and he never bothered to call me back either. Today the same thing happened, thus I have no contact with him and my guess is that he simply doesn't want to talk to me, being fully aware that I'd like to discuss with him your situation.Luis, I'm sorry that this happened to you. I believe that I did all I could to help you solve this issue. It seems that there's no will/capability at Marcin's end to get it right. If I were you, I'd ask for a refund. I really would. Dawid
Hi Srajan, I hope that you are well and enjoy living on the West Coast of Ireland. I am considering buying the Cube Nenuphar speakers (or possibly the F10 Neo drivers as a cheaper but similar DIY option) and I have been in contact with Grzegorz. As you know from previous correspondence, I bought the Metrum Dac and the Bakoon AMP-12R based on your reviews and I am still very happy with them driving Apogee Perigee ribbon hybrid speakers. I have a few questions for you concerning the cube speakers.
1. Have you tried driving the Nenuphar speakers with the Bakoon AMP 12R (or the new 13R – I may upgrade to this if the rest of your review is favorable and the price isn't too high) and if so, was the Bakoon a good match for the speakers or did it exhibit the same problems you observed with the Linnenberg amps. 2. Is the 13R a worthwhile upgrade over the 12R (it sounds from your preliminary comments as though it might be). I am aware that that you have heard and were impressed by both the Voxativ Duo and 9.87 loudspeakers (i.e. similar widebanders to the Cube). 3. Do you consider that the overall sound from the Nenuphar speakers is on a par with that obtainable from the Voxativ 9.87 speakers (pi + subwoofer) that I think were being driven by Aries Cerat gear owned by your friend Dan D'ato. I look forward to your reply. Thanks for your time. Regards, Dr. Michael Woolias
To start at the end, Dan listens to the Nenuphar these days using David Berning amps but he also owns SIT-1 and likes that combination as well. His favourite is the Berning however. I did try the Bakoon AMP-12R not inside the actual review but I thought of it later and it worked very well; not as well as the SIT-1/SIT-3 but far better than the LinnenberG/Pass and without their issues. The AMP-13R hasn't arrived yet but will most definitely take a ride on the Cube. As to Voxativ/Cube, see my answer to Grant one down. There must be something in the air. Srajan
Hi Srajan, I love your site and thought I'd reach out to ask for your opinion. I have and love the First Watt SIT-1 monoblocks. I'm using them with Omega High Output Super Alnico monitors and a Rhythmik sub and I'm very happy with them except that complex music seems compress. I think I'd like to stick with single-driver speakers and I'm most pulled toward Voxativ and Cube Audio. Which do you think would be a better path to take with the SIT-1s? Thanks, Grant
If money is an issue, Cube. Euro for euro, you get more. Size for size, you get more low-end reach because they don’t pursue extreme sensitivity over bandwidth. The Cube Nenuphar does what it does without a sub. To compete via Voxatix, you'd need their Pi 9.87 system with its active bass. That gives you an extra 5-8 cycles over the passive Nenuphar. That's brilliant too but rather more cashish. Either works great with the SIT-1 and in our house, the SIT-1/Nenuphar combo is our favourite system. Srajan
Hi Srajan, a friend of mine has been praising the Soundaware D300ref for awhile now. After reading your review of it, I decided to order it. It should be arriving tomorrow. My question is about HDMI cables for I²S. I have read your assessment of I²S with interest and I see that you use the AudioQuest Coffee. While this is certainly an option, in the interest of spending less, I am wondering if you have any other options that function as well but cost less that you might recommend. The friend I mentioned is considering getting a Wireworld Silver Starlight 7 HDMI. Do you have any experience or thoughts about that one? Peter Borelli
When it comes to I²S via HDMI, this was my first rodeo as that writeup laid out. My choice of AudioQuest Coffee was predicated solely upon their reputation for engineering-driven cable design. And it did sound better than a €25 strip I bought at our local Electronics Emporium. The rest is all wide-open country to me. Srajan
1 : New preamp and keep my source and DAC, probably Accuphase C2450 or a used C3800. Your opinion?
2 : New DAC with volume control because the Denafrips Terminator does not have one. So I'm interested in the new AURALiC G2 combo of Aries with SSD, Vega and Leo; or an APL DSD-SR + Fidata HFAS1-XS20U. I listened to the APL DSD-SR and spoke with French retailer M Muller from Hifilink who said and wrote :"Nous avons pu depuis quelques jours confronté les DAC APL à des machines référentes (Ayon Audio S5, Métronome Technologie C8 et C8+, DCS Vivaldi, MSB DAC IV et MSB Select) et aucune, nous disons bien AUCUNE ne tient la comparaison plus de 30 secondes. Seul le Ayon Audio S5 avec son alimentation externe peut trouver un intérêt si vous avez besoin d’un préampli analogique intégré au DAC."
Your opinion, advice, alternatives? Thank you very much for your help and your fantastic 6moons site. Warmly, Eric Philippet
I’ve not heard the Accuphase, AURALIC, APL, Fidata etc. so I really couldn’t be helpful here in any meaningful way. And what do you mean by ‘improving’ in the first place? That shouldn’t be a mad rush to just spend more money. It should be based on a clear road map which states what qualities you’re presently unhappy with to want bettered. But again, I’ve not heard any of the gear you’re considering. If you think M Muller to be a reliable resource whose sonic expectations overlap yours, you might want to ask him for advice? Srajan
The basis of my problem was the A/B test of the volume control of the Accuphase E470 versus C2450. I heard that I could gain a lot in all aspects, dynamics, details, transparency, width and depth. So my road map is to increase this quality of the volume control. But there are two options: old-school like my Accuphase reseller who only considers the preamp; or new-school digital like M Muller, who considers preamps as just complications if I use only one source. Eric
You might want to wait just a bit for the Leedh lossless digital attenuation algorithm. Soulution already have it but I’m told it might come out as a simply plug-in. So for digital music, you might plug it into Audirvana, PureMusic, JRiver etc and forego a preamp altogether. Joël on staff has heard it. He owns expensive preamps including a DHT unit. He now thinks that entire category is obsolete – or will be once people catch on and the Leedh code becomes widely available. Srajan
Dear Mr. Ebaen, I am Paolo Verzegnassi from Trieste/Italy. Sorry to disturb but I would need your experience to try to banish all doubts about the difference between the Formula and Denafrips converters. I live in an area where there are no specialized shops or centers to listen to these products and Aqua don't give their products for a listening test at home.
1) You write that Denafrips seems to not be so transparent as the Formula. My question is: is the Denafrips capable to reproduce the ambiance, space between instruments, air, height of voices, dimensions of the room, anyway ? If you have to give a score to the two dacs for this aspect of the reproduction, which would it be? 2) Which of the two dacs has the most natural and believable sound (on the whole, therefore not too much bass, no harshness, cleanliness, instrumental timbre, sound colours)? The manner to evaluate this feature should be the satisfaction level after a listening test. 3) Which of them has the most explicit PraT? 4) If today you had to chose between Formula and Denafrips (or another), which would it be? Thank you. Kind regards, Paolo Verzegnassi
I'll jump straight to 4) and tell you that I recently replaced the Formula with the Terminator. This now gives me a direct I²S connection via HDMI, between both the Soundaware D300Ref USB bridge and the Jay's Audio CDT2 MkII disc transport which does make a difference. Sonically, I'd rate the Denafrips as denser/weightier but that's relative to the Formula without xHD upgrade. I never heard the latest version. Functionally the Terminator has more input options and supports DSD which Aqua do not. As a reviewer, more options are useful. For myself and on sonics however, I'd consider either a final machine at the top of the DAC game. I've simply mixed things up for a change. Srajan
Srajan, I've read several of your audio reviews on 6moons and greatly appreciate your insight. I am looking for an amplifier or monoblocks to go with my Kinki EX-P7 preamp. My speakers are Stirling Broadcast 3/6: a tiny bit on the warm side for me, looking to brighten up a tad. I see you have reviewed a few amps I have been considering, in particular: Modwright KWA 100SE, Kinki EX-B7, Audiozen Lysios IGBT.
As far as sound preferences: I tend to favour high clarity/definition in the treble, quick bass and not overpowering in the midrange. I guess the obvious choice would be to match with the Kinki monoblocks, however, I don't mind changing things up a bit. Variety is good. Solid state or tube is good (whether those listed above or something different you might recommend). I'd really like to know your opinion and appreciate your time. Thanks again, Doug
For the specific sonic action you're after, the ModWright would be the wrong choice. It's not that kind of amp. I haven't heard the EX-B7 yet but they should arrive shortly. I'd think they would make the most natural mates on all fronts - financially, sonically and visually. My review will obviously say what I think. From my circle of acquaintances, the Job monos should also be on your list. Srajan
Hello, I am interested in the Rethm Bhaava speakers and read your informative review. You had tried the Bhaavas with a Bakoon amplifier with surprisingly positive results and with the First Watt SIT to enjoyable results. But I was wondering if you’d ever heard that speaker with good, significantly less expensive and more traditional solid-state amplification that pushed heavier wattage (say100 or so)? If so, how did the Bhaavas react? Many thanks, Leonce Gaiter
If I had, I'd have said so. Traditionally, this type driver prefers high output impedance for low damping. Conventional high-power transistor amplifiers will instead provide high damping, leading this type driver to suffer poor bass, a forward presence to brilliance region and overall dryness. That's why most of these speakers are driven by lower-power SET amps or the type of unusual transistor amps I used. Also, speakers of such efficiency don't need the high power or gain and, on such amps, may reveal noise issues which standard speakers would not. But you might ask designer Jacob George what he thinks of 100wpc transistor amps for this model? He'd have the most knowledgeable answer. Srajan
Hello, I am regularly reading your reviews for already many years. I must confess that for me and some friends, the format is difficult to read on a tablet. The characters are very small. Do you think you can change that in the future? Apart from that, all is perfect and well written. Good continuation ! Pierre Keler
The site was never formatted for tablet or mobile consumption even though you could enlarge the type in your browser right now. But yes, we're about 4 weeks out from relaunching in a dynamic format. Srajan
Hi Srajan, I've enjoyed your bit about I²S. It reminded me of my CEC transport, with what they call SuperLink, essentially parsing out all the varied signals. It sounds very very good. Always liked I²S when given the choice, though not every time. Fred CraneAncient Audio and B.M.C. too used multiple RCA or BNC connectors to create their paralleled I²S data lines. Srajan
Hiya Srajan, I second Fred's heads-up on I²S. I'm curious to see how you get on with your players. It was somewhat disappointing to learn that matching sockets don't predict successful handshakes. You mentioned a miss between your USB bridge and the Aqua DAC's Ethernet port. How the hell is a consumer supposed to figure this stuff out? It seems like a classic hit and miss proposition; except that it'll be costly if one misjudges. John Fremont
Good point, John. It would seem to require contacting both manufacturers of whatever pairing is under consideration to have them confirm matched or mismatched wiring. I admit to being baffled myself why there have to be multiple ways to wire up an RJ45 socket for this purpose. Hopefully Métronome's HDMI version will play ball with how Denafrips do theirs. But this is far from the only example for how high-end audio lacks standardization. Pro audio just wouldn't work if they played it as loose as our sector does... Srajan
Hi Srajan, regarding the mild "softening" sound of the Lumin X1, you mentioned the Lundahl transformer being responsible for. Couldn't it be that the TI op amps before the Lundahls have an even greater impact on that? In general, op amps compared to discrete stages tend to do so. Response much appreciated. Best regards, Klaus Jakob
I merely suspected the Lundahls and clearly said so. There's no way to be certain. That would require extricating/replacing various parts to hear which one is contributing what. If you favour suspecting the TIs for the sonic quality I noted, by all means. It's guesswork on both our parts. And that leads straight at "€3 will buy you a cuppa Joe but having an opinion is totally free". At the end of the day, it's my review so I went with my guesswork. But it's perfectly possible that the opamps play their part. Frankly, I'm not sure why that's important. Unless one modified the X1, the sound is what it is. The important part in a review is to describe that by whatever means, experience and hardware triangulations a writer has at his/her disposal. Srajan
Hi Srajan, Great reviews on the Jay's transport/Denafrips Terminator DAC. You put a lot of effort into each review showing the many configurations that are available. Feedback from Down Under here is that the above units terminated with HDMI (I²S) bettered many much more expensive units including msb and Esoteric in a group listing test (USB, coax, XLR). The verdict was unanimous in favour of the Jays/Denafrips. End comment was so much more musical. Looks like the silver disc is not dead yet! Brian Livingston
I sadly reviewed each piece in isolation not together so I didn't get to try the HDMI interface. But I'm not surprised by the Aussie verdict. And absolutely, not only is silver disc not dead yet, it still has a mighty kick. It's in rude health in fact -:) Srajan
PS: Actually... I've just been informed that the Denafrips Terminator John Darko reviewed is coming my way for the I²S deed. In the meantime a Métronome AQWO has arrived which too features an HDMI I²S output so I have some comparisons coming up on that interface vs BNC and AES/EBU.
Dear Srajan, I hope that you are fine. I am a distributor from France. I’ve read your interesting review on the Soundaware D300Ref. If I understood, it seems you bought this unit after the review. Are you still happy with it? Is it a stable device? Also, do you plan to trying this unit with the I2S connection and clock synchro? Have you considered the possibility to test the D300Ref with an external music library storage and UPnP media server, particularly a Fidata model? I ask because I have discussed this product with Yuhsuke Iwahashi, the European distributor for the Telegärtner M12 Switch Gold. He uses a Soundaware D100Pro with an external rubidium clock. His recommendation for best sound is to use the D100Pro/D300Ref as a SD card player or, for the same level of quality, the Fidata. In that configuration, the D100Pro or D300Ref is used as a UPnP media renderer with its I2S output.AES/EBU seems to be very good too. The Fidata is used as musiclibrary storage & UPnP media server only... Best regards Marc
Since you've read my review, you already know that I bought the unit and that I tried USB bridge and SD card mode both via AES/EBU, finding SD even superior. If I had tried it with Fidata, I'd have said so. If I had tried it with the word clock or IS2 mode, I'd have said so, too. At the time, I didn't have DACs with the matching socketry. I later tried the D300Ref in network mode with Audirvana as UPnP renderer. This routed audio data from the iMac library through a network switch to the D300Ref. It didn't sound as good as USB direct nor the ultimate SD card mode. If you read my review of the Kinki DAC, you'll see that I tried its word clock input off the D300Ref and heard essentially no difference. Since the D300Ref review is published, I consider its case closed and am not planning on doing a followup on it. And yes, I'm still very happy with the Soundaware. It's only been two months since I bought it... Srajan
About your recent Jay's Audio review, I knew it. It’s something I’ve felt deep down inside for some time. 16 bits can be all one needs if done properly. Kudos for being open-minded enough to hear it for yourself, and to go to the trouble of trying just about every permutation extant. People are much too caught up in the numbers game. Also, the way you tease it out, like the old cereal movies I saw as a kid, had me primed for what I knew to be the ending and yet I enjoyed it all the same. I only wish I had the space to accommodate the gear as it would be the perfect set up for this old Luddite who still finds PC audio too daunting a task to partake in. All the best, Tim
Greetings Srajan. As a long-time reader of 6moons, I thoroughly enjoyed your recent review of the Jay's Audio CDT2 MKII CD transport. I especially enjoyed your analysis of the current state of the high-end CDP category as a whole. As you point out, brands like Denon and Yamaha are already using proprietary transport solutions, and when stocks of the CD-Pro2LF inevitably run out, the brands relying on this part will have to make new plans. I believe there's also some uncertainty around TEAC/Esoteric's future, given the financial woes of their majority shareholder Gibson. But I digress. I'm not a finance guy. I thought you might be interested in what appears to be an incredibly high-end completely proprietary CDP from French firm JMF - the DMT 3.7. The website is located here. I shudder to think what it might cost yet it's heartening that this kind of development is still ongoing. Hope it's of interest to you. Kind Regards, George Low
I stopped by to see JMF at the Munich's show alternate venue this year and last. Very interesting products indeed. Had a bit of a French/English language barrier issue so I never learnt more than what I saw. Thanks for the reminder, George. Srajan
Rank prejudice? You’ve always had it in for the Nagra CDP. I wonder why. Actually, it mounts a Philips CD-Pro. As I wrote you, I had a new one installed a few weeks ago, quite unnecessarily as it turned out. Matthieu’s stock trick during his time as a sales rep was picking up the player by the open transport and swinging it around nonchalantly. Michele
I have nothing against the CDP per se. I just find its CD-Pro mounted atop the ejecting sled an unnecessarily over-engineered bit of show-off-manship grand Swiss watch complication style. And that comes at a very real price when a far simpler top-loading implementation of the same drive would accomplish the same thing. And unlike for example the Jay's Audio top loader currently in for review where a child could replace the transport module if it went bad, a Nagra must return to the factory. To me neither that nor the extra cash paid for a piece of superfluous engineering extravagance are attractive. But as you said, Nagra really went to town on their mechanics to make them virtually bullet proof. Someone once said that it ain't bragging if it's true. I think that applies here. Srajan
Of course it’s engineering showoff grande complication style. Never found a source to match it though, up to and including the earlier dcs and Esoteric stacks. On a more serious note, it was time that somebody stood up to the streaming boondoggle. Rentaradio,pfui. Michele
Hi Srajan, have you changed your camera recently? Cheers, Dawid
Yes. Why? Srajan
Your photos got far better. Dawid
Blame the camera then -:) Srajan
Aye. All angles are the same but macro work, colours and overall plasticity got improved quite significantly and i.e. Lumin X review shows this very clearly. Now your photos look like made by a small modern mirrorless camera. My bet is Fuji. Some two months ago I've sold my rather expensive Canon full-frame DSLR and a number of L series lenses, got Fuji X-T2 and am perfectly happy. Photo work is fun again. Cheers, Dawid
Unlike you, I'm not a photographer but a cheating savage not of the noble sort. I use the exact same glass as before (Lumix/Leica, one wide angle, one macro) but got a Lumix G-80 2:3 mirrorless body. The macro work now is shot in 4K video. Then I do focus stacking (not in-camera but Photoshop) to select a range of frames with perfect focus in particular areas to overlay them for compensation for limited depth of field. Gives better results than F-stop manipulation with a single frame. For the regular work, I occasionally do something similar. I shoot multiple exposures and focus points of the same image, then overlay a few to pull out specific areas of specific layers in Photoshop. It gives me perfect focus and lighting in multiple areas that otherwise wouldn't be treated equally. It's cheating and a pro would know how to get the same or better results with proper setup but I'm a bleeding amateur. Here I'm interested only in the results, not the process. Very different from writing which remains my focus. There process is as important as the result. For photos, I've always used Lumix, my lenses are Lumix so I stuck with the brand. In Dublin they have a very good old-fashioned shop with very knowledgeable personnel who freely give of their time and expertise. That's how I ended up with the G-80. I got to handle it and try it out and compare it to Canon, Leica and Nikon. And like all modern cameras, it also does video. That'll come in handy in the future... Srajan
Thanks for explanation. It seems then that your previous body was the show stopper. Well, the result is better, that's the most important part. In photography, all tricks are allowed, even the dirtiest ones. When I shoot bugs, I stack images as well. It's quite surprising how good cameras became with video over the years. Something to exploit in the future, yes. Cheers, Dawid
Greetings Srajan, I guess you probably get many e-mails like mine so I expect that you may don't read it/never answer but I try anyway because I'm quite puzzled about a purchase and I think you could be the person I need for helping me through this. First I'd like to thank you for your wonderful job at 6moons, with your numerous very precise and well written reviews, which are very useful. Please excuse me for my probably bad English, it isn't my formal language (I'm from France). Well, I own a pair of Coda CX monoblocks, which you had for test with the rest of the Coda European line of amps and preamps several years ago.
I deeply read your review and I think I came to the same conclusion than you: theses amps probably shine in only the right conditions. I've owned them for several years and well, never been totally satisfied. They lack some warmth and liquidity to my taste and I find them to be a bit too much on the neutral side, which brings my Rosso Fiorentino Siena speakers to a bit of harshness with big rock guitars for example. Looks like they need an extremely big amount of power to give their best but my room isn't very big (20m²) so I guess it never happens, even with my quite low-sensitivity speakers. They're not bad but I'm now looking for something with more tube-like sound, something more seductive, even if I'd prefer to stay with solid state amps because I often leave them on all the day. My preamp is a Pass Labs X0.2.
I have the opportunity to get a used pair of McIntosh Mc501. You never reviewed them but I guess that, with your huge experience over the hifi world, you probably know them, or know some other McIntosh amps that are close to them in terms of sound. I always heard that the 501s had this tube-like liquidity and very fatigue-free sound. I'm highly interested in getting them but I won't have the opportunity to compare them side by side with the my Codas CX. Could you please tell me what you think about this change of amps? Am I going to the right way? Hope you'll have enough time to give me an answer, but I'll understand if not. Anyway, best regards and thank you for your very useful work, Sylvain Dolisi from France
You're right, I never heard McIntosh for myself, i.e. in my system. With their background in valve audio and the use of autoformers for their solid-state outputs, my natural inclination would be to believe that yes, they'd fall into the exact sonic class you're looking for. But that's just an assumption. I'm curious why you've not considered Pass Labs. You already got their preamp. Of course the McIntosh are used so at a good price. If you found one of the Nelson Pass XA.8 models, you'd surely get the sonics you're after. Owning their smallest stereo amp, the XA-30.8, I can say that from personal experience, not just a gut feeling. Being class A, they do get warm. It's perfectly safe to leave them on all day but it does throw away heat and impacts the utility bill. Back to the 501s, I'm in the same position as you are. I've heard the same things about them as you have to entertain the same notion about their compatibility with your desires; but also no personal experience to be 100% certain. Sorry for that. Srajan
Dear Srajan, Thank you for your review of Cube Audio's new speaker and driver tech. I was gladdened to see that Jon Ver Halen of the recently minted Refined Audio is out in front of them. He had Lowther for so many years and made a go of it despite inherent challenges. I imagine he'll do gangbusters with Cube if people don't make any assumptions prior to hearing them (which, sad to say, I did). Much of our listening this past year has led us to semi-active and active designs but who doesn't love a great FR? I see that Marja and Henk are reviewing Trafomatic's new Pandora Monos. To my ears, these are the most luscious commercially available amps to come from the House of Sasa. I would love to hear them on the Cubes...and I imagine many amp designers are thinking the same thing about their particular offerings. Thanks again, Fred Crane Prana Distribution
I didn't know Jon had taken on Cube. Good on him - and a nice endorsement for Cube. Few will appreciate their accomplishment as Jon can-:) Srajan
Hi! Reading the review of the Kii Three was very interesting. Meanwhile I missed your impressions of the sound from analogue sources souch as the Vinnie Rossi DHT preamp and others. How does the sound from analogue sources with the A/D converter compare with direct digital sources? Did you try this? Would a tube preamp as the Vinnie be able to run long wires to the speakers without degrading the sound? Transistor preamps often have a very low output impedance and in that case it wouldn't be an issue. Regards Thomas Nielsen
If I had tried it, I'd written about it. Also, I don't own a Vinnie Rossi DHT preamp. I reviewed it but returned the DHT conversion kit. I do have the AVC version without tubes. But I don't have any analog sources like vinyl or tape or radio. Using a DAC's analog outputs only to convert them back to digital inside the Kii Three then back to analog made no sense to me when you can eliminate that DAC entirely and drive the speaker off the same digital source you'd use for the DAC. Seeing how the Kii Control I had on review acts as a three-input switcher, I also didn't see any rationale in using an external preamp as go-between for my digital sources. Why make things more complicated and costly than they have to be? You obviously could do what you're asking; and would have to with vinyl. To my mind and with digital, it'd simply defeat the entire Kii Three concept with its innate elegance, hence I didn't try it. Srajan
Srajan: Nenuphars are simply amazing! They seem burnt in now and there is no more need for the Voxativ sub for most of the tracks. Tried SIT 1 and several tube amps. Even flea amps like the 46 stereo from Thomas Meyer (a bit more than 1 watt only) work perfectly. Give me another day for details please. Have to say though that for me, these Cubes are the most significant find of the last three years! ATB DanHappy to hear you concur. That's why they got our most rare award - to highlight the gravitas of their discovery. Srajan
Hi Srajan! Since you are now living in Ireland, this is a record you should be aware of. It is very good recorded in a Castle on the coast of Ireland. On my homemade SIT monoblocks and open baffle speakers (Betsy, Eminence), it has a very live feel to it. It is a collaboration between some of the finest Norwegian/Irish musician. And as you are also playing Lynni Treekrem's Haugtussa which is also one of Kirkelig Kulturverksted eminent recordings, so is Tideland by Dolores Keane and Rita Eriksen. Best, Olav Håland
Srajan: Just read through your Kinki headphone amp review. I got a very good grasp on its sonics, thank you. You did mention the Pass unit in passing as though to suggest the THR-1 was similar. Did I read that right? How about its use as a preamp? Just thinking out loud... Holger
I suspect that the Pass and Kinki are cut from similar cloth, hence the mention. But with the Pass long back at its maker, I couldn't be more specific. One thing is clear, though. The Pass makes a terrific active preamp without remote whilst the THR-1 on faux XLR is only a buffered passive volume control. That's a big difference if you mean to multi-task. Srajan
Hello Srajan, I knew Terry Cain fairly well and lived only 60 miles from him while he was still with us. I purchased a pair of Abby’s directly from Terry and later added a Bailey sub. Very well integrated combo, but can be quite fussy regarding amp matching. With the Cain’s, I’ve been most happy with tube amps and MOSFET solid state (a few, not all). I have a Sony VFET amp that I perhaps should try with the Cains. I am on the list for a First Watt SIT-3, likely to arrive next month. As you’ve heard and reviewed both the amp and the speakers, what would you expect from such a marriage? Thanks, Rob Schatz
My encounter with the Cain Abby is 13 years in the past, waaay too remote to even have a hunch. Power and noise of the SIT-3 should be no issue. Whether the Abby prefers an old-style 1:1 output/impedance scenario like a classic no-feedback SET would provide with an 8-ohm or 4-ohm output impedance; or loves the SIT-3's somewhat lower figure which gives a bit more damping... that I couldn't predict. But you should know for yourself soon enough. As my review of the Cube Audio Nenuphar described—a speaker in a similar vein as your Abby—I thought the SIT-3 was the hammer with it. More I don't know. Yet. A friend of mine owns SIT-1 and just got his own pair of Nenuphar. He also owns many single-ended triode amps. He promised some feedback on how the SIT-1 monos compare to tubes into that load, what they might leave under the table and where they might go further. That should provide good data points also for the SIT-3. Srajan
Dear Srajan: I have just finished reading your exciting and provocative review of the Cube Audio Nenuphar speaker: "Exciting" because of the ardor your review communicates – a particularly persuasive feature of your best reviews; "provocative" because this review caused me to revisit reviews for Pass Labs XA30.8, XA25, First Watt SIT-1, Sit-3, Boenicke Audio W-5 and W-11 and the Vivid Giya G-4 as well as prompting a re-examination of philosophies concerning audio music (re)production. Suffice it to say, I have increasingly come to appreciate and agree with your "weltansicht": that the notion of an absolute sound is misguided; that one’s music system must be informed by and tailored to personal preferences (spiced) in alignment with the type of music one listens to; and the hard truths of financial resources, product availability, and the physical context (environment) in which a system is used.
This would seem to be especially true in choosing (right-sizing) a speaker for one’s space. The review indicated the Nenuphar could perform well in both smaller and larger spaces. However, I was a little unclear what size room would be best for that speaker. Would the Cube Magus or Nenuphar Mini be better suited to a smaller room? Given the unique design of the driver, does it make a difference?Likewise, in reading Dawid Grzyb’s review of the Boenicke W-11, given the breathing room it is said Boenicke speakers require, one wonders what size room would best be suited for the W-11 (as opposed to the W-5 or W-8)? Indeed, albeit acknowledging the role proper amplification plays in the subject, explicit advice of some kind is of interest and perhaps vital importance when many of the enticing devices reviewed on the 6moons site are simply not to be found (much less heard) by many of your readers. Do you have any general advice along these lines?
Thanks again for an excellent review and for all that you and your colleagues do to keep interest in music reproduction alive, and the blue flames of desire burning bright. Godfrey Herndon
My advice would always be to contact the manufacturer. Most reviewers have just one room where they review. Their experience is specific to that alone. Some have two, at the most three rooms. Whatever those happen to be, anything falling outside their dimensions they couldn't possibly know about. They have to speculate at best. Meanwhile manufacturers will have done shows in different-sized rooms, have dealers with varying facilities, have their own rooms and that of employees to possess a certain data base of broader experience to cull from. If you contacted Cube for example and said "I've got 3.5 x 5 metres with standard ceilings to work with and the speaker can't be further than 60cm from the front wall, what's the appropriate best model in your catalogue for me", I'm sure they'd have a very clear opinion. Likewise for copasetic amps. If you contact Sean at Zu, he'll tell you what amps he's tried with their various models, which ones he liked best and why. It doesn't guarantee you'd agree but it's a good starting place; often better than a reviewer who has a far more limited arsenal of hardware which may or may not be ideally suited to a given review subject. Srajan
Hello Srajan, Very interesting and educational review of the Cube Audio Nenuphar speakers. Your attempts to try various amplification to get the best match was a good lessons for many. Right, it's like finding the perfect soul partner. One has to make an effort to find the best fit. Congrats Cube Audio team, it's truly well deserved based on what I've read from your 6-page long review! Awesome! Many thanks. Alvin
There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that widebanders of this very type prefer low-powered single-ended triode amps. In hindsight now, this seems to have very little to do with their actual output devices and far more with their high output impedance, i.e. very low damping factors of just 1 or 2. Very few transistor amps behave like that, hence that category of amps has been bypassed nearly by default for the "100dB single-driver club". But when you use a transistor amp with a 4-ohm output impedance which now mimics SET behaviour on that count, voilà - ideal results with such speakers. Definitely not a one-size-fits-all proposition but a matter of right tool for the job -:) Srajan
Nenuphar would make powerful amps with typical low output impedances sound like crap; or they it. That's a 2-way street. They'd be the wrong tool to review the vast majority of modern amps with. So Codex stays firmly put. On the other hand, Nenuphar opens doors to low-power triode types with damping factors of 1 to 2, i.e. circuits with high output impedances which shun feedback. Now Nenuphar sounds stunning and this type amp gets to show off its magic which often dims with standard speakers. As a reviewer, I can't act like Joe Private, get my favourite system together, meaning just one of everything, then call it quits. I need all kinds of hammers in my tool chest to, hopefully, always have at least one appropriate tool for the job at hand. Does it mean I'd love to keep Nenuphar around? Hell yes! It's an alternate flavour and approach every bit as valid; and one that, for the type music we enjoy the most, really works the magic treat. It also keeps the SIT-1 in business for which no other speaker in inventory is really correct. Cube Audio just told me that I'm allowed to hang on to this pair for ongoing use on extended loan. So it seems we haven't heard the last of Nenuphar yet by a long shot. Muchos gracias, Grzegorz. My tool kit just grew by leaps and bounds. And given Nenuphar's exceptional resolution, it'll be a helpful new microscope to look through for assignments that give me trouble telling much if any differences. I'm looking at you, certain digital. Srajan
Hi Srajan, I have 2 components I really love but one has to go because of an impedance mismatch. My preamp/DAC PS Audio Direct Stream will stay. My OB speakers are Spatial M3 Turbo S @ 4Ω, two 12" drivers, one being coaxial. I .love them because in my shitty room they do not create problems but a huge, huge stage. No booming and no room interaction. I could doa factory upgrade to 16Ω but my FirstWatt J2's power will be half, probably with less distortions. Anyway, as you know it is only 13W at 4Ω. Second, the First Watt J2 amp is not doing well with 4Ω but also I love it. So I need from you a speaker recommendation to sing with J2 up to $3'000 used value; or a better more powerful amp. Did not like a few heritage Klipschs (horn coloration), Reference 3A (deep into 4Ω from 8Ω nominal), single drivers like Cain Abby, Coral Beta 10 into back-loaded horn shouted too much like Lowthers. Nelson said Tannoy HPD but I don’t like vintage. Or do I keep my Spatial OB 4Ω and go for FW F7 or Pass XA30.5? I don’t think you’ll recommend SIT-3, right? Let me know what would you do in my shoes. Cheers Marius
Keep the speakers. Finding some which work this well in a shitty room is a miracle I'd not expect to clone that easily. You've already won 75% of the battle! So it'll be the new amp route - in my shoes. I'd look into the Pass Labs XA25: 50wpc into 4Ω, 100 into 2Ω, 1Ω capable, $1'600 less than XA-30.8. If I didn't already own the 30.8, I'd have bought the XA25 review sample. It has a certain special something which I thought went beyond the 30.8. For lower impedances, the Pass Labs amps with their bigger power supplies have the advantage over the FW which, really, are made for special-ops speakers. And I'm afraid yours don't really fit that category. But again, absolutely keep them. The speaker/room riddle is far harder to solve than the amp/speaker connection -:) Srajan
Srajan, one of these days I'm gonna write you a stinker but not just yet. The Unum thing was a masterpiece of reviewer balance. Still, I resent the F5 simile. No way my FirstWatt is cool, distant, whatever. If it was, I wouldn't have kept it and I've got three custom triode flea amps to prove it. PS: Westminster is in China? Who knew. Michele Surdi
An observation and a head scratcher. 26dB of local feedback goes a long way in confirming your impression of the Unum amp’s sound. A Swedish car with "…a 10 year Swiss warranty." Alan TrahernIn Switzerland, Volvo had a special program for cars sold there, hence that sterling 10-year warranty on our low-mileage used car bought there. That warranty is not honoured in Ireland however... Srajan
Hi Srajan, Ivo and Clayton, Thought I would update you with my system changes. As you know I owned the Bel Canto monos which I felt were too restrained in the treble. I approached Ivo of LinnenberG and have since bought a pair of the Liszt monos. Wow! I am in disbelief as to their bandwidth. Before this purchase, I would have questioned the 32Hz bass spec on the Spatial open baffles (sorry Clayton). Not any more. I am listening to Sylvan Esso and it sounds as though I have never heard the album before. I just bought the Metrum Acoustics Adagio DAC/preamp having previously owned the Hex for 5 years. I have subtracted my EAR 868 preamp from the system and drive the Liszt monos XLR off the DAC. Again a huge improvement with no loss of resolution. Thanks to one and all for all your patience and for all your assistance in helping me achieve a great music system. Time to stick with it, maybe? Kindest regards, Jez Anderson
Marja and Henk, your latest review—of the Bespoke preamp—finally prompted me to send off a long-delayed note to you two. I first just want to say that I thoroughly enjoy your writing and enjoy your reviews. And my own IT background favours the technical and theoretical underpinnings that you inevitably bring to the reviews. But what intrigues me, and has prompted me to write, is the notable correlation between our taste for equipment. So I wanted to compare notes and make a few observations, if you'll permit me. My core 2-channel system (about which a multi-channel AV system subsists) includes an SGM/Roon/HQPlayer front end (library on a NAS), Aqua Formula xHD DAC and Bespoke preamp. From there it gets a little wonky. Without boring you with too much detail, the preamp basically sends on 2 full signals. One goes straight to a pair of Pass XA60.8 monoblocks, which feed the 'tower' of my Zu Dominance (roughly everything over 100Hz). The second signal goes through a Rane rpm26z parametric equalizer that is split and manipulated to feed the downfiring 15" drivers on the Dominance and a pair of Zu Submissions via 2 pairs of Merrill Veritas Hypex Ncore NC1200-based monos.
So a couple of comments. While I have relatively little experience with your big horn speakers, I note that I also favour a super-efficient (101dB) albeit widebander-based speaker driven with lots of power. There's an ease there along with dynamics that I find I favour. I'm also completely enamoured with the SGM/Roon/HQPlayer combo, so much so that I've perhaps gone 'over the edge' with some of Emile Bok's (Taiko Audio) and Ed Hsu's (SGM) recommendations. Working with Emile and Ed, I've recently added their new premium isolation platform. It's a modified TableStable TS-150 with a separate linear PS, with Panzerholz platform, plinths and casework (on the LPS). And the *DAC* sits on this! It's crazy, I know but what can I say; I love the naturalness and clarity and ease that this level of isolation seems to add. It's not a subtle difference and I'm no 'golden ears' for sure. Their working hypothesis (they fully admit to no hard theories much less proof) centers around the possibility that suppressing extremely low frequencies (<10Hz) at the small signal level of the dac has a much bigger impact than we've perhaps previously appreciated. Who knows. I just know, to pull out that cliché, that everything seems to matter.
One more note on the Bespoke that you just reviewed: I tried an MFA preamp on extended loan and like you found the 24 steps simply too gross to be usable in my system. I eagerly went with Harry and Lucy's new company when it became clear that their product would give me MFA-quality transformers (no surprise there) and build quality while addressing my concerns. Apart from its sound of course, I found the 46 steps are a perfect fit for my system (I'm mostly in the 9-1 o'clock region on the volume knob) plus they were willing to customize the unit to my exact requirements (e.g. add a discrete LED to the volume knob so I can see where it sits even in the dark and from across the room). Plus it provides a kind of ground-loop 'brick wall' in the middle of a rather complex MC system which is a god-send. I do not find that the passive leaves anything on the table vs. the many active preamps that I've had in my system (granted everything is system dependent). Finally, I know you don't get over to shows on this side of the pond very often but if you're ever in the vicinity of Delaware (mid-Atlantic region), I'd love to have you visit and listen to a 'sister' system of yours (and I'm a member of the Philadelphia and New Jersey audio societies, which I host occasionally [and they love guest 'celebrities'--just saying...]). I've rambled on enough but just wanted to say keep up the great work. Regards, Jerry Powell
Hi Jerry, thank you for your reaction. Indeed, our mutual taste for gear is very alike - very much alike except in the speaker area where we are full-blown horn adepts. We would point you at a little thingy that we think makes more difference than reason should warrant. It is the Pink Faun LAN Isolator. We use one with the SGM and it does wonders. It appears there is plenty of junk riding on at least our LAN that when removed enhances the sound quality. On the part of crossing the pond, we’ll probably wait some time to let’s say have the political dust settle which we hope will be soon… /M&H
M&H, on your last point, I fully understand! One reason that my wife and I try to spend as much time as possible either in Canada these days (where one daughter lives) or on trips to Europe. Sigh. Thanks for the tip on the Lan isolator. Will definitely give that a try. Your latest review also reminded me that I had meant to look further at the Blue Horizon mains analyzer, which you’ve previously mentioned and which sounds very useful. (Another point of shared interest/prioritization: I’ve used an Equitech 5WQ balanced transformer for my audio room for years, but ended up bypassing all of the inexpensive “digital filters” and such that were added to the circuitry—the basic unit is designed essentially like the Elite unit you describe).
One final note: just attended an audio society meeting the other day featuring Pierre Sprey from Mapleshade (actually his operation is fairly close to where I live). It’s encouraged me to further explore a direction in which I’ve been moving anyway over the last couple of years, namely away from pure carbon fiber and “degrees of isolation” based support systems (a la my Grand Prix stands) to more molecular-level absorption-based natural supports (Pierre strongly advocates naturally-aired solid maple, for example, coupled via vibration-funneling feet of specific design and material). Anyway, another frontier to explore in more depth….Regards, Jerry
Hello Srajan, I trust all is going well. Your recent preview of the Kinki Studios EX-M1 piqued my interest, like you always do. Add in Terry London's quotes and the screen shots of the performance of the amp finds me reaching around for my wallet, and just when I've become accustomed to my present set up. Thanks. I listen in the nearfield due to room constraints (I'm eight feet from the front plane of the speakers) and like what I hear, getting an almost headphone-like retrieval of detail, but I wish it had a touch more density, which Liu says is necessary for texture and I would assume, tone, which I live for. My speakers are a pair of old school JBL 4319 monitors and are 92dB efficient so the Kinki would just be idling in my room. Having that “Swiss” sound of clarity, effortless power and presence is desirable but I fear it might be too stark from what I've gleaned from reviews of Goldmund and Gato efforts. My present integrated is a Marantz PM-15S2b Reference which is doing yeoman's duty and after three years, I'm wondering if the Kinki would give me a cleaner denser, sound with better tone. To make matters worse, Alvin is doing his level best to get me one. I wrote to ask if he's heard anything about any pending tariffs raising prices and so far all is well on that front. But with a foot in the door that I opened, he's made me a very tempting offer that I'm having a difficulty handling. He's a wonderful person to deal with which adds to my dilemma. I appreciate the way Liu goes about building his gear and the philosophy that drives him. If this Kinki had a Swiss nameplate, I could see it going for 4-5 times the asking price, if it's as good as I think it is. Long-distance diagnosis is not an exact science and I don't want to preempt your review but any input you have would be greatly appreciated. All the best, Tim
There's a kink in my Kinki. It's shipped but hasn't arrived yet. Until it does, possibly later this week or at the latest next, I won't have a clue other than Terry London's take. So patience and all that virtuous stuff -:) Srajan
Brilliant, indeed. Best money I’ve ever spent. This Kinki is destined to be a classic. It’s reeducated the way I listen to music as I no longer analyze but simply luxuriate in the music. To have a taste of what the big dogs experience has opened my eyes and ears. I cannot thank you enough for bringing this to light. All the best, Tim
Srajan: I wanted to get back with you and fill in my story from around the March/April time frame. You were then in the midst of reviewing the LinnenberG Liszt amplifiers, and doing some comparison to the Allegro mono amps as well. I was preparing myself for a pretty much wholesale change of system, the LinnenberG amps seemed like a very good place to go, along with my potential speaker mates, the Audio Physic Tempo Plus. My journey ended up with purchasing several components from Mark Sosa, Well Pleased A/V. These consist of the Allegro mono amplifiers, with source coming from an Innuos Zen MK2 ripper/streamer, and the LinnenberG Telemann DAC-preamplifier. As in the name of Mark’s distribution, I am well pleased, and must note, Mark is an absolute pleasure to work with! My speaker quest however, took a bit of a turn. In rethinking what has worked in my current room, which also happens to be my living room, I was worried over having to use up valuable floor space in which to give the Tempos adequate room to do their thing. I felt as if maybe this might be somewhat of a deal breaker and began in earnest to listen to, and look for other options.
I have been somewhat of an unapologetic Omni speaker lover, yet many do require them also to be pulled out into the room to work some of their magic. I recalled years ago, the wonderful music that a pair of German Duevel Venus made in an associates house, and I recalled how the room layout was similar to my current space. Also, I remembered how well these sounded without having to be out into the room, only about 2.5 feet off the wall behind them. The wheels turned....
I spoke to Pascal Ravach of Mutine, the Canadian North American distributor of Duevel, and shortly a pair of Venus in maple/natural plywood horns were ordered. Pascal made sure they arrived here in the US, and to my door. Well done, Pascal. The system has been duly set up for a week now and while some minor adjustments are taking place, I have to say that I am thrilled! The system as a whole will bring much joy to my home and hopefully, what comes next are those minor adjustments, fine tuning along the way. My choices have been made by the assistance of your reviews and words and also of the distributors mentioned above. All a joy to work with and I feel that they will be there to assist and support if anything comes up along the way for a very long time. Many thanks for your time and energy that goes into your reviews! And thank you for allowing me to close this chapter of my search, and on to enjoying my music! Be well! Sincerely, Tim Frazeur
Dear Srajan, I read your excellent magazine to know about the audiophile news you publish and find some information about some products I may be interested to purchase. I write to you because almost two weeks ago I sent an important amount of money (at least for me) to Marcin Solowiow from Amare Musica to purchase the server and DAC. He answered all my emails almost daily since the moment I contacted him through his page on his website but since I sent the money, I had no answers. Also I tried to telephone him using the phone number on his website but it was impossible to contact him. At this time I am becoming nervous. Do you know anything? Thank you very much. Luis Dobarro, Montevideo, Uruguay
You might contact Dawid Grzyb at dawid @ hifiknights.com. He is one of my contributors, Polish and lives in Warsaw. He might be able to furnish you with a working phone # for Amare Musica. I've not dealt with them in a very long time to have any helpful insights, sorry. Of course it's the summer season and many people go on vacation. Perhaps he's temporarily unavailable to respond to emails though I can fully appreciate how vexing this would be for you right now. Let me know if the telephone avenue works out. Best of luck. Srajan
Hi Luis, I'm sorry to hear that. Minutes ago I tried to reach Marcin with no success and I'll try tomorrow again on your behalf. I've also asked one of my colleagues about him but learnt nothing important. I can and will try to contact Marcin in the following days and once he picks up his phone, I'll know more and let you know. Still, he has to do it first... Dawid
Hi Dawid, Just a couple of minutes ago, Marcin sent me an email saying that he is on vacation and is waiting for the flight cases to arrive. As soon as they do, he will arrange shipment. I really appreciate your cooperation very much. Best regards, Luis
Dear Srajan, Thanks for the enlightening reviews of the Zu Druid V and Rethm Bhaava speakers, now a few years old I believe. I'm considering both as an upgrade from my single-driver Omega floorstanders. I'm looking for a more full-bodied presentation with deeper bass while retaining the Omegas' quickness and transparency. I may be asking too much at this price point but I'm wondering if you can say anything by way of comparison having reviewed both? I see your note in the Bhaava review that the Druid has better bass snap, but I'd appreciate your overall impressions. The Bhaava appears to have crept up significantly in price—now $4000—and undergone a driver change. Many thanks, Oliver
For a more full-bodied presentation with deeper bass than you have now, my nod would go to the Rethm. Its active isobaric bass with user adjustments will do exactly what you want and it'll have the speed you're used to. Granted, I've not heard the latest driver of the Bhaava but knowing Jacob, it will be an improvement over what I heard, not a sideways or backward step. And even at $4'000, the Rethm should still come in for less than a Druid V I think. Srajan
Hi Srajan, Well, I have lived with my Wavetouch Antero speakers for quite a few weeks now and at this point they have well over 500 hours on them. I don't know exactly because after 500 I stopped counting. These speakers are giving me the sound that I have been dreaming of for quite a while now. They are truly surprising. They sound like full-range floorstanding speakers. They make a big sound but not that overly big sound that some speakers make which does not allow you get past the idea that you are listening to amplified sound. Instruments as reproduced by the Anteros seem to be their natural size. They defy logic especially in their ability to produce deep satisfying bass. Monitors with small woofers should not be able to do that. Here is what I am hearing:
1. Outstanding resolution and clarity yet not at all thin-sounding because the tonal density and color saturation are equally outstanding. 2. Timbral accuracy throughout the entire frequency range as I have not heard before, certainly not in my listening room, perhaps nowhere else. 3. Very smooth sound especially in the highs with no harshness or edginess whatsoever. 4. A wide deep soundstage that goes way beyond not only the speakers, but the walls of my listening room. Great three-dimensional imaging. Prior to these I was running the Spatial Audio M4 Triode Masters which, being open baffle dipoles, create a very wide and deep soundstage. The Anteros beat the M4s by a significant margin. This is easily discernible when listening to large orchestral symphonic works.
5. Tight and tonally accurate bass which is very musical. Actually, I cannot understand how small 5.25" woofers can produce such incredible bass. The website rates the low end at 44Hz but when talking to Alex Yoon on the phone, he told me that is conservative and that depending on the environment and how they are set up, they can actually go down to 38Hz. And I can easily believe it. I have some Bach organ music which I am listening to as I write this and the Anteros handle the deep bass with aplomb, not by reaching down to the deepest level of course but still very very satisfying. 6. Very refined tonal balance from top to bottom.
All of the above makes it easy to believe that I am listening to real instruments in a real acoustic space. The Spatial Audio M4 TMs are pretty nice overall but there are two things which bother me about them. 1. the bass is, to my ear, overpowering. I was able to control this by making corrections in FabFilter Pro Q which I have from that time long ago when I had Clayton do the room correction on my Gallo 3.5 and thus I was able to live with the bass. 2. an edginess or hardness in the midrange most noticeable in the vocals which did not sound natural. Although certain changes I made in my setup corrected it to some extent, nothing I did totally eliminated it so I was stuck with it.
Otherwise, I liked the M4 TS for everything else they did right: an open sound with immense soundstage enhanced by the M35 dipole tweeter; very good timbral reproduction; holographic imaging etc. But after a while, that edginess really began to grate on me and in the end it prompted me to begin thinking about another speaker.Then a friend of mine whose ears I trust who has the Spatial M3 Triode Masters told me about having heard the Anteros at the house of a friend and that he was so impressed that he was going to buy them. He said that they handily beat his M3s and the best statement that he made was that they simply made music. And that is how I came to know about the Anteros and now that I have them I can affirm everything my friend said. They totally eliminated every issue I had with the M4 TMs and I no longer need any ProQ correction.
And they beat the TMs in every other parameter as well. So after living with them for all these weeks, I heartily second that which my friend told me... the Wavetouch Anteros simply make music. I have to confess that I would have been prejudiced against the Anteros. After having experienced the open-baffle Spatials, I would have thought that the Anteros could never give me a satisfying soundstage. And from what I had read about small bookshelf/monitor speakers, I would have dismissed them out of hand thinking that the bass would have been lacking. If it hadn't been for my friend who has the Spatial Audio M3 Triode Masters whose bass goes down to 35Hz and whose soundstage is the same as my M4 Triode Masters, Ii would have never considered the Anteros. PB
Srajan. I wrote you a few months back asking if the Pass XA30.8 would have enough power to drive my dynaudio Special 40 86dB 6ohms by replacing my Bryston 4B SST2 and its 300wpc which due to reading certain h-if mags I thought was necessary for the 86dB speakers to perform. Buying the Bryston without hearing it I decided it was not for me. It was just too clinical or sterile and produced too harsh a treble. After reading your and other excellent reviews of the Pass XA30.8, I decided that it may be the amp for me in terms of sound but I cannot express the nervousness concerning its power rating that has been instilled in me. An email to you alleviated my fears to a degree and I started saving for a used one that being more than my $4'000 VPI Prime would constitute the most expensive component I own. For me this is huge money.
I found an Internet dealer with a good return and great upgrade policy who will bypass local dealers for used or demo pass components. Since then though the XA-25 was released and your review was very intriguing. An email to Pass concerning which of their two lowest cost models determined that the less expensive XA25 would likely be a better match for driving my Dynaudios. I believe low-impedance stability and higher damping factor may have been the qualifiers. I have been listening to the XA-25 for the past few days and I am delighted. It is an amazing difference from the Bryston with more color saturation, much better timbral quality, more differentiation in bass tones and less strident treble - all that and it is still clearer or more transparent than the Bryston. Most of all it is simple significantly more musical. And now I know it is a very stout 25wpc and I had nothing to worry about. It sounds just as powerful as the Bryston and has plenty of gain for my small room. I thank you for not only helping greatly to alleviate my fears of enough power but for the superb review that led to what may be my most satisfying hifi purchase. The music from my system is for lack of a better word much more musical. The change brought by this amplifier is uncanny. I had no idea such differences could be wrought from amplification. Thanks again as your well-written very in-depth reviews have influenced my buying decisions that have led to me being a seriously satisfied individual.
I do have one question for you. I've been into hifi less than 10 years and have never experimented with cables. I have Belden 10ga. speaker cable and Canare professional interconnects. I do have a Wireworld Supernova 6 Toslink and a modest signal cable silver phono cable but haven't ever made comparisons to others. I did have a cheap no-name Toslink before but didn't make a great deal over swapping it out. I just assumed the Wireworld would sound better but with out actively looking for a difference I can't say I heard any and at that time my system may not have been resolving enough. But today's question: do you think an after-market power cable on the XA25 would make a audible difference and if so is there a specific model you would recommend? The caveat being it would by necessity need to be less than $500 but preferably in the $300 range. As I find your review of this amp spot on, I'd greatly appreciate your opinion on this. My goal is a nicely saturated color spectrum, great dynamics, strong bass, good rhythm and timing and if any effect on the treble I would like it airy but not strident or etched and would rather it be slightly rolled off than exacerbated. Thanks in advance Srajan and I really dig your reviews. Most of all—although I'm far from an engineer and truthfully sometimes do not fully understand—the in-depth details of technical and ideological philosophy's integrated into the components. This information is mostly unavailable elsewhere and of great import in not only component matching but also helps me to buy things that conform to the technical and mechanical qualities I have come to have biases for or against. And it helps me to weed out things i would or would not be interested in based upon these biases before deciding to do further research on a product. Being of not at all significant means and that money being worked very hard for, I prefer to know as much as possible before parting with it. Thanks and thanks in advance for any help and opinions you may provide. James Donahue
I find that of all cables, power cords can make the most unexpectedly big difference. Let's stay away from the why and just go by what our ears will tell us. I would also say that beyond a certain level, the differences become marginal if not imaginary. The question then becomes, are you already beyond that level or not? I've found a company in Ireland called Titan Audio and use their 3rd-down-from-the-top model for my high-current applications, meaning wall to conditioner and conditioner to amps. The hi-current model below it would come in at £175 so within your budget. From all the cables I've come across (and I haven't looked that much), theirs struck me as being very fairly price for high value. But I can't guarantee that it'll be a massive improvement over what you have. That's because I tend to review whole cable looms, not one-up swaps. With full looms, things add up and are of one approach. That's when the differences become most telling. In your case, it'll be just one cable. I'd expect rather smaller returns. Srajan
Hi Srajan, Great review (and wonderful writing, as always)! I haven't had a chance to hear the Davone Twist yet but I love the other models so I'm sure they are equally impressive. Your new room(s) are absolutely gorgeous! Jealous. All the Best, Galen Carol
I'm sure your own rooms are nothing to sneeze at, Galen. But yes, these came out nice. Dumb luck, really. That's how the London landlords designed their house. We were incredibly fortunate that it came on the rental market over Xmas when nobody in their right mind was looking. We were the first and only folks to see it. The rest was a lot of work as any big move always is but it did pay off. Doing reviewing for a living, I need good-sounding rooms. Despite plenty of experience from lots of moving, there's always uncertainty when the systems are first fired up. Thankfully, intuition and practice agreed to meet once more so sonically too, things are in decent shape. Stay of execution and all that... Srajan
Hi Srajan, It was good to meet you at the Marriott on Friday with Martin Gateley at the Ppfff room. I try to support Soundkaos in the UK as much as I can, and I am an admirer of Martin and Ursula both as lovely people but also for the emotional draw of the Soundkaos style. Thanks also for taking time to ask about 8th Dimension Audio. As I mentioned, I have been an avid 6moons reader probably since Yamamoto in your reviewing timeline and, along with John Darko's site, you are both my reading of choice for your uninhibited reviewing style and valued opinion. Even today on KIH #56 I can learn about the 'elevator pitch' - plenty of room to improve in my case, and as my Shotokan Karate instructor kept saying, "always practice the most basic moves and never think you have perfected anything".
For me 8DA is an experiment and a learning experience too. I am attempting within the generic bounds of 'lifestyle' to transition people beyond Sonos and into our world albeit in a selective way. Eventually I hope to add music therapy to the business model to assist with our growing mental health challenges, hence the attachment to Martin's sound. That journey started with Voxativ and has evolved to Soundkaos, although Cube at the Marriott also stirred something 'inside'. Its more of a 'consultancy with sales' concept rather than just transactional and with the Samphire Web App I hope to replicate the Interiors' approach of room and decor consideration along with a musical vibe to create a look book to start the conversation. It's a new approach and probably a long journey which is fine by me as I'm enjoying every minute.
This was one of the reasons I chose Davone. Glad everything arrived ok and I caught up on the review progress today. I did raise a smile when you wrote that Paul had already been in touch mid-review. I mentioned to you his nervousness from a previous review but when Debby asked who could they contact, I instantly recommended you. I am their only UK retailer. I love his product and also his efforts to create speakers to play all sorts of recordings - I seem to remember you saying something similar about Simon Lee some while back. I'm sure everyone finds it difficult to find the perfect spot to place their products on price and performance so I doff my hat to those bold enough to try. With that in mind I'll contact Sally re the Nativ Vita and see what she wants to do. If it all works out for everyone, I can send you my demo unit. I'm not sure when that would be and Martin is toying with running it at the North West Show at he end of June - if we can test it in time with the Bakoon and Waves/Liberation. I have been using the Vita with the Resolution Audio Cantata. I'm not sure if you managed to catch up with Jeff at the show, but the Cantata 3.0 with the ladder Dac is a significant upgrade on the version 2.0. Thanks again, and all the best Richard
Srajan: Any idea when Nagra's Classic PSU will arrive for review? And will you also test it on your Jazz preamp? Holger Scharmacher
No idea, sorry. I forgot to ask. But affirmative on the Jazz. I will test the ultra-cap power supply with both it and the Classic Preamp Srajan
Hello Srajan: Adding to Casey's question, were you able to visit the Fyne Audio exhibit you teased in your report's preview section? André
I was. They had three adjoining rooms in the Marriott and had already seen 17 prospective new distributors by the time I got there to seemingly hit the ground running. It was late in the day and my willingness to listen was at zero so I can't report on that aspect. I did think that their current flagship was cosmetically... well, a bit challenged. Fanciers of Tannoy's big legacy speakers certainly won't be attracted based on just looks. But I did take note of how their downfire ports were executed - with a 'negative horn' element mounted to the plinth. That was simple but clever and effective. Srajan
Srajan, remarkable job on your Munich show report. There are lots of nuggets of information tucked into a very entertaining delivery. I sense many most interesting reviews in the wings. One question if I may. Did you manage to hit up Goldmund on any new Job models? Casey Harwater
I did hit them up and no new jobs I'm afraid. I did learn that the Telos headphone amp I reviewed is undergoing revisions to come back made over and refreshed. What exactly its day-spa treatment will consist of I didn't find out but a review unit was offered and accepted so the full reveal should just be a matter of time. Srajan
Dear Srajan, I really enjoyed your tale of this last visit to Munich. I already read the coverage on SoundStage and the unfolding pages on Stereophile and DAR. Just as you predicted, it's all starting to come together into a very big picture and it's interesting to see how each writer has such a different take on things, style of narrative and what they pursue and focus on. Still, it's about more than just ticking off the novelty boxes and I commend you for including the human element in such tangible fashion. And despite your blown flash, I saw nothing wrong with your photos. Well done! Francis
Srajan: I have, as usual, enjoyed reading your recent reviews on the 6moons site very much. However, I have a question concerning the Allnic ZL (zero loss) cable loom. Your review was excellent - by which I mean you excited me about a group of products I might not otherwise have found alluring. Nevertheless, despite re-reading the review more than once, and even visiting the Allnic website, I cannot discern the reason for the substantial difference in price (as identified in the header notes to the review) between the ZL-3000 and the ZL-5000 products. Since this point was not mentioned in your review, I would appreciate an explanation. Please know that I have come to rely on the 6moons site for exposure to provocative new audio products from around the world. This was certainly the case with the Allnic cables. Thank you for all you do in this regard! Godfrey Herndon
I had the same question but got no useful answer from my Canadian contact, hence left that point untouched. What I reviewed was purely 3000 Series product. Srajan
Met you a few years back in Munich. You're certainly my favorite audio writer. Been using an nCore 500 on my Analysis Audio Amphitryons (the big ones). I actually use two stereo Nords, one for each speaker. I power each speaker actively with the digital crossover built into my TotalDac. I was loving this system until I went to someone's house over the weekend who run VTLs into their Magnepans. To your words clearly, I'm too far on the lean side. I need something wetter, perhaps from lower damping. Thinking about the Pass XA-25 or the new SIT-3! Since I get to double up the power with one stereo amp per speaker, both of these could work. Can't wait to hear more about the SIT-3 and how it fits into the world of amps! David Hyman
Panel speakers like yours tend to be wicked loads. It's why your friend has high-power amps on his Maggies. I'd not even consider the SIT-3 for such a job. The XA-25 might be up to the task but to be certain, I'd contact Pass Labs with the impedance and phase plots of your 2-meter panels. Unless they're much friendlier than typical Magneplanars, you may need to keep your eyes peeled on higher power as you have it now, just change the flavour of it. Srajan
Three-cornered hat. Thanks for reminding me of the De Falla. (I've got the Dutoit version.) Paco de Lucia did a few (Molinero' of course) on his 'De Falla' album. Takes me back to living in Andalusia for 6 months, plus many visits. I was only looking at a photo of the two of us (Carole + I) in the Alhambra, this morning (Nights in the gardens of Spain; De Larrocha version). Have you tried the 'Carmen, orchestrated by Shchedrin '- with 57 percussion instruments? Perfect for todays 24 degree weather. Chris Skelton
I've actually played it once with an orchestra. That's how I suddenly remembered the title whilst staring at Crayon's unusually shaped volume knob. But I actually don't own a copy of it. And 24° degrees - our thermometer tops out at 17°. Maybe I need to buy a UK model? Srajan
Hiya Srajan: Just saw your news announcement of the new Vinnie Rossi amps. So is he going away from the ultra-cap power supplies now? I couldn't make out for sure with your press release. Tim
These will be traditional linear power supplies I believe. That doesn't negate the ultra-cap models, just adds a different approach. I'm sure we'll learn a lot more in due time from the man himself. Srajan
Hi Srajan, Nice write up of the CIA 1T. Sounds like a really great amplifier. Are you going to replace you CFA 1.2 with it? Peter
No. In the LinnenberG Liszt I've already got 200-watt monos with very similar sound and there's absolutely nothing wrong with the 1.2 and its lower power as is. It'll stick around. Plus, Roland wants me to review the 1.3 when that bows so it'll be mandatory to have a 1.2 on hand to do a proper comparison. Srajan
Dear Sir, I really like to read your website. I really like the Rubanoides but I feel that you forgot to talk about the inventor of this king of speaker. The inventor is Mr. Deminière. He did really great work for the pure pleasure of our ears. It could be great the next time to present his work of the Janus 50. The Rubanoides are a copy of the Janus 50 and both are really really good. Little things are different but the concept is similar. If I remember correctly, after the creation of the Janus 50, Serge Schmidlin of Audio Consulting asked Mr. Deminière to collaborate and make it a commercial product. Serge did a great job to make them famous all over the world. But I don't understand why no one talks about the real inventor. Best Julien Allieux
Either Serge forgot to mention it; or I failed to pay attention to then not mention it in my report. I only knew of the obvious connection to Linaeum. You're correct of course, the real inventor should have been named but as a self-styled reporter not trained investigative journalist, sometimes I don't know what questions to ask so certain things get unintentionally overlooked as apparently was the case here. My sincere apologies to Mr. Deminière. Srajan
Hey Srajan: Saw the news that the new Stereophile owners laid off Michael Lavorgna at AudioStream. I know he wrote for you before he started there so can we expect to see him on your site again soon? I am curious because I always liked his writings and would enjoy more of it in the future. Simon Diaz
I don't know what Michael's plans or options are but if he appears on staff somewhere rather than starts his own gig, I'd expect that Darko.audio would be a much better fit for his current focus than us. Of course he might want to take a break from reviewing altogether; or find himself bound by certain non-compete or similar agreements. I certainly wish him well whatever he decides to do. Srajan
Srajan, I second Simon's feelings about Michael Lavorgna. If he's available, he would make a great addition to your team again... Matthieu
After having served in an editor's role for many years to develop his own approach and style, I don't think Michael would enjoy having to conform to our format again. So once more, I think he'd be a more natural fit for John Darko's site - or launching his own site altogether. Being one's own boss only to work under someone else again is often not that compelling. Srajan
Hello Srajan: Interesting review on the new LessLoss DAC. I enjoyed your discussion on 'echoic fill'. I too have noticed it with various tube gear I've auditioned in stores during my travels even though I didn't exactly call it that. It does describe the effect rather well I think. Do you have any theories on what exactly is causing it? Given how precisely you've described the "action" as you call it, you might have some ideas? I'd be very curious to hear them. Anton
It's one thing to come up with a decent description for an observation, quite another to determine cause. While it behaves like increasing a room's reverberation time, the gear obviously can't affect that. Hearing lengthier rather than shorter recorded decays requires a superior S/NR so that the faintest trails don't fall below the noise floor. But what this behaviour does is let you hear less of the recorded decays because it somehow 'fills in' silent space around the notes with what I called 'connective tissue'. I'm afraid that while I can hear it and described in in those terms to illustrate this texturizing action, I don't have a clear grasp on the mechanics behind it. Excessive 2nd-order harmonics do a similar thing but I very much doubt that was the case here. In short, your question rather exceeds my pay grade. I simply don't know. You'll have to talk to my boss. If I just knew who that was -:) Srajan
Hi Srajan: Joël's latest review really was something. With my broken French, I had sampled it on his site but it was great to now get all of the nuances in your English version. It's amazing to hear that class D can be implemented and voiced to mimic a good SET and still do the typical transistor things of better bass control and lower noise. Who would have thought? I would usually take such claims with a bucket of salt but Joël's ongoing ownership of Israel Blume's 101D preamp tells me that he knows direct-heated triodes. So that's really something. Thanks for letting us Anglophiles in on the action. Much appreciated! Corey Friars
Having syndication partners in France, Germany and Poland does broaden our coverage and it even works the other way around. Our fairaudio.de colleagues in Berlin just notified me that they translated our Lab 12 Suono review and that a Gold Note review will shortly follow. I checked it out. I had no idea that my German was still that fluent. I rather thought I was rustier. Doing a proper translation is far from easy but these guys did a brilliant job. It's a far more involved task than just a cut'n'paste job from one site to another. So kudos also to Joël's enviable bilingual skills! Srajan
Hello David (and Srajan), Well, I don't know if it's serendipity or coincidence, but your review of the m8audio Sweet Maxwells was such a breath of fresh air and touched me in a way that's hard to describe except for the obvious. Both my parents happen to have been Physics majors in Britain and named me after James Clerk Maxwell, the latter being my given name. Keeping in my mind that my parents were from the West Country in England and that I'm fairly certain our family history does not allow for any Scottish blood, I do feel that if it's not Scottish, it's crap! Nevertheless, in this case, a Dane's efforts Down Under are very intriguing indeed, given how much I like my current resident speakers (Dali Fazon floorstanders with cellulose mid/bass drivers and silk dome tweeter). Kudos to Dawid for a thoroughly engaging piece and to Srajan for making it possible. Max(well) Hollins
Srajan, I just read your Stacore platform review. One question I was left with was the issue of cost in your comparison to your own amp platform. You told us what the Stacore cost which you found even superior. How much was the Artesania? That would add more context to your findings. Craig Winston
Ah... the oversight committee in action. I just looked it up. €2'470 for the upgraded Krion platform over the triple-laminated glass, €890 for the steel support = €3'360 for our stand as used. Because it's a very valid point, I just added that price into the relevant section of the review, thank you. So the Stacore was nearly double... and indeed better to work to the math of 'you get what you pay for'. Srajan
Dynamic contrast = how much difference there is between not just the loudest and quietest parts but between far closer parts which might be quiet and just slightly less quiet. The more dynamic contrast there is, there more gradations of loudness there are - not black & white but 50 shades of grey. Saturated sound = rich tone colours with high black levels. Dark sounding = lack of treble air, possibly bassy tonal balance, with a common side effect of reduced separation and greater density. Srajan
Hello Srajan, I have been reading, pondering and watching your reviews on both Linnenberg as well as Audio Physic speakers. I wait especially to see your final comments on the Linnenberg Liszt amplifier, mainly in comparison to the Allegro mono amp pair you currently have as one of your references. I am looking at moving to a new system soon comprising of the smaller Audio Physic Tempo Plus, and possibly the Allegros for amplification. One question that I have for you, seeing how the Job 225 amplifier or even the Job integrated seem to be cut from a similar cloth to the Linnenberg Allegro, other than power, cost and a bit more on the looks, what sonic differences or otherwise might be a reason to sway from the Linnenberg to the Job amps? Congrats too on the new home, it looks absolutely fabulous! Be well! Sincerely, Tim Frazeur
I consider the LinnenberG 'the next level up' in refinement and beyond that, the Bakoon. Admittedly, those difference are getting smaller. As to an actual A/B, during our last move the Job, in its original box, vanished. We're entirely out of all boxes by now and it's still not surfaced. I don't know what happened but it seems to have - well, disapparated quite by magick. Srajan
I appreciate your reply to me about the LinnenberG amplifiers. I read the rest of your review this evening. It all comes together and makes good sense. I appreciate being able to read and follow your reviews of interesting and very unique equipment from around the globe. Sometimes small companies' products manage to slip under the radar and are missed, even in this easy to get information/technology world in which we live. Thanks again for your reviews and comments, as well as those colleagues of 6moons who also bring their time and experience to us all. Also the distributors and dealers who are able to bring them in for us to hear. Well done! Apologies also for the missing Job 225 amplifier of yours, hopefully some how or way, it will show back up, preferably in one working piece still, and if not, hopefully someone is enjoying it! Be well! Sincerely, Tim
Hi Srajan, I have been an avid reader for many years. I am currently DACless and have been contemplating a number of options that you have reviewed and would like your take on. You have given both the Metrum Adagio and the Denafrips Terminator a Blue Moon award. In terms of just the quality of the DAC section and ignoring price, which one would you recommend? From your descriptions it sound like they have similar sound signatures. Thanks Peter
Two discrete R2R decks, both very good on PRaT, but the Denafrips would be chunkier and denser on tone and imaging. The other aspect is country of origin and infrastructure. It'll be very easy to get service with Metrum. With Denafrips a repair may necessitate shipment to China unless they already have importer repair centres in the EU and US. That I don't know. Srajan
Hi Srajan, loyal reader, I am missing 6moons' Realsization recommendations (last one in Sept 2016). The topic of extreme value in audio is an important one, critical to motivate many would-be audiophile to enter this beautiful (yet expensive) hobby. This category could include $1'000 items but also products that deliver exceptional value (like the $5000 Rethm you reviewed). Few candidates spring to mind: • KEF LS-50 speakers • Auralic Mini streamer / dac • Naim Uniti Nova and Devialet 130 integrated • Micro Zotl valve headphone amp / pre amplifier • Crayon CIA 1 amplifier Thanks Vincenzo
Good point. Re: your recos, John Darko has already said everything there is to say about the KEF LS50. The T version of the Crayon is in the preview gallery already. I'd contacted the Zotl folks back when but nothing came of it. We've done a number of Devialet reviews. Which leaves the Naim and Auralic. Certainly very viable candidates. We'll see what we can do on the Realsization front. Srajan
Hi Srajan, Just read your updated Nagra Classic Preamp review. Sounds like you preferred 12dB gain with headphones. Do you also prefer it for speakers? Also, in your review on the Classic Amp, which input sensitivity did you prefer? 1V or 2V? Thanks Tommy
As the review explained, 12dB applies a bit less negative feedback. Depending on the speakers or headphones, one or the other could be preferable. It's immaterial what I prefer. Everyone has to try for themselves and decide. Those mentions were made just to alert people not to think about this switch in pure gain terms. As to the Classic Amp, I'm afraid I don't remember. But again, just try it and trust your own ears. A bit of self initiative, please! Srajan
Hi Srajan, just saw your updated Audio Zen Lysios review. I had to chuckle at your critique of the mismatched face plates. As you point out, the maker's lettering revision still goes with two different schemes in how they use caps and lower case. It stared me right in the face but I guess some people just don't get it. Not that it has anything to do with sound. I look forward to what you'll say about that next. Still, shouldn't attention to detail catch such obvious things before they go into production? Corey Smythe
I tend to agree. But then I'm guilty of typos and all manner of other mistakes which (they ought to, dammit!) stare me right in the face but which I routinely don't catch until they're live. Luckily I can fix them easily after the fact. Getting a batch of silk-screened face plates redone is far more of a pain and not free. And, big outfits can hire specialists for various tasks. Boutique operations usually have one guy play mad hatter and wear all the caps at once. It's rare that one individual then is 100% brilliant at all they must do. That's simple arithmetic. Srajan
In our team we have a design & media marketing specialist, my friend Alessandro Coletta, who is the one that made external changes on our products. The differences between the writings on the two units of Lysios is intentional, not a mistake: zen dual mono power amplifier is the 'subtitle' of Lysios, Power Supply Unit is not the same, it is the name of that unit that is a part of Lysios, that's why it is written with caps like all Zen Range products: only Lysios is written all in capital letters because it is the power amplifier of Zen Range. Alchemy, Aedo, Insight, Euphono, Positrone are written with the initial letter in caps like Power Supply Unit. Audiozen is correct, not Audio Zen or AudioZen. Ps: I don't wear hats... Cheers, Nino
Dear sir, i am Paolo Verzegnassi from Trieste, Italy. I am writing you because, like you had advised me, I have read all your reviews on Metrum and Aqua products to understand the difference. I own a Metrum Hex and find it explicit and dynamic but lacking in refinement, balance (too much bass) and sweetness. I would like to change after some years of honoured service. I really feel the necessity to upgrade to another level but without loosing the pace, rhythm and timing factor. I have built my system with great effort and am terrorized to make a mistake. If I should change the actual preamplifier too (Esoteric C03 xs, upgraded version of your previous one), please feel free to tell me without any reserve. Kind regards Paolo Verzegnassi
Your "too much bass" comment suggests to me that you might first look into your speaker/room interaction because that's not how the Hex ever behaved for me. Rather than focusing on the DAC as the culprit, it's more likely that your speaker (per se or how, due to setup, it behaves in the room) is responsible for any overly rich bass. Of course if you have the Esoteric preamp and if it retains the adaptable gain (0,12, 24dB) of my earlier model, you can easily change the tonal balance by using zero gain. The more gain I used on mine, the heavier and thicker the sound became. Srajan
Hi, Since you have reviewed Voxativ speakers, can you suggest few suitable amplifiers for it? I bought a Pi to partner with my Airtight ATM300B amplifier. Unfortunately, the high frequencies are too sharp. Tried changing the cables but no luck. Regards. Bijou
Have you tried speaker positioning so that the drivers don't aim directly at your ears but fire past them on the outside? That would tend to roll off the HF. Also, these drivers require many hours to break in. How much time do you have on yours? SrajanI would have used them for about 60 hours. Bijou
That explains it. High-efficiency widebanders like those from Lowther, Rethm, AER and Voxativ are notorious for their lengthy break-in. Don't judge anything until you've clocked 500 hours. To hasten that process, put the speakers face to face as close as they will go, then cover them in a few heavy blankets. Wire one out of phase, then play music on endless repeat at somewhat higher SPL than you normally would. Much of the output with cancel out due to the inverted wiring on one of the speakers to become less objectionable while you're out of the house. If after that, the HF still strike you as forward, then it would be time to explore other avenues. For now however, it's almost certainly lack of break-in which is the issue so stay put and don't even think of changing amps. Srajan
Dear Srajan, Thank you for your ongoing review on the Nagra Classic Preamp. I look forward to reading its continuation. Do you have any more info regarding the upcoming MPS based on the ultra cap technology? I currently have the MPS with battery powering the preamp. Will the new MPS come in the same size as the current Classic line? Or will it be bigger like the HD Preamp? Any ETA on the product? Thanks Tommy
I don't know any more than I wrote or I would have written it. You might contact Nagra directly. It was indicated to me that I might be allowed to hang onto the preamp until the new MPS bows to add some comments to my review. If so, I doubt that ETA is too far off since I'm not earmarked for an endless loaner of the Classic Pre -:) Srajan
Good day, I am attempting to become educated on tweeters and super tweeters. Please forgive my limited knowledge and thus somewhat dated inquiry. In your opinion what is the best tweeter / super tweeter you have come across and why?I have been told and read articles proclaiming that plasma tweeters are the best, rated up to 150kHz. Example - Lansche. I have also read and been told that ribbon tweeters can reach up to 100kHz and are the most detailed, second only to plasma tweeters. They are much more cost effective than the plasma tweeters. Example RAAL 70/20. I have also read and been told that the two scenarios above do not matter as the human condition cannot process sound above 20kHz. The problem becomes more of how to maximize the sound within those existing measurements rather than attempting to extend them. Example Audiosmile. I would greatly appreciate your opinions on the subject if you find the time. Regards, Gavin Citron
Tweeter bandwidth isn't really about hearing beyond 20kHz but hearing to 20kHz without phase shift. The broader the bandwidth beyond 20kHz, the less phase shift there will be in the audible range. Another factor is dispersion and power response. As sounds descend in frequency, their radiation becomes more omnidirectional. As they ascend, they get more and more focused or beamy. Put plainly, the balance of low and high frequencies within a room tends not to be linear. You will hear the bass at least twice if not more times (direct, first reflection, late reflection). And you'll hear more bass and less treble also as a function of the power response. A way to minimize that is listening in the extreme nearfield (speakers toed in directly at the ears, sitting very close). Once you transition from direct-radiating 1" tweeters to tall ribbons or even folded 'ribbons' like air-motion transformers, you disperse more treble energies at the ear. You literally move more air. Once such tweeters become open-backed dipoles to radiate sound front and back, the power response or in-room balance of hi/lo frequencies becomes more linear. Once you get a true omni tweeter like Elac's omni ribbon; like mbl's 'pulsating' tweeter; or 360° reflected like Duevel & Co, you're closest to how sound behaves live. Compare that now to a 1" dome tweeter firing just forward and there's a big difference in how you perceive the high frequencies. In my experience, the primary advantage of super tweeters is that they can fill in the power response if they're dipole or omni. It's not about going higher per se. It's about matching the radiation pattern of the lower frequencies. A smaller secondary advantage might be that their colossal extension suffers less phase error but of course that super tweeter output overlays (doubles up) on what a traditional tweeter does so isn't pure. Following that line of reasoning, you'd want to start out with a 100kHz ribbon and forget about the add-on fix. As to add-on super tweeters, my favourite was Elac's omni ribbon but successful use depends on the sensitivity of your main speaker and whether that's within the range to which the Elac (or any other super tweeter) can be matched. If you instead go with a true omni speaker like our German Physiks HRS-120, the Elac becomes superfluous. In the end of course, nothing replaces personal experience which in this hobby means listening. The rest is just theory, abstract debate, wishful thinking and endless reading -:) Srajan
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