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Howdy Srajan: I saw your response to Nigel, then just read your preview on the new Sonnet DAC from Cees Ruijtenberg. To me it reads pretty much like his earlier Metrum Adagio. Do you expect it will actually be different or just a repackaging job of old guts? Frankie Rothman
Cees is a true engineer who seems to never rest. The converter modules are new as are the MQA and upsampler boards. The modular approach is different. So I expect an evolutionary refinement of the Adagio recipe; same core approach but refined. Because I don't own a Metrum DAC, I won't be able to conduct actual sonic comparisons. On that score, someone else will eventually have to pitch in. For now I have no additional information on the Morpheus DAC and the Acelec Model One review will come first. But Cees is always very forthcoming about what he does so I'm sure that in due time, we'll have a full breakdown on how Morpheus differs vs. Adagio. For obvious reasons he won't make any sonic comparative claims but I'm sure that technically, he can talk about what he does different now. Srajan
Hi Srajan: I've been following your preview for Acelec with great curiosity. The Model One certainly looks the real bruiser. I love what Cees did at Metrum Acoustics and like you wondered what happened over there. I'd not seen any new products in what seems well over a year. While Cees ran things, there was always something going on. Any idea whether he'll resurface on the digital side of things as well or is he hamstrung by some kind of non-compete agreement with the new Metrum owners? Cheers, Nigel
I'm not privy to non-compete deals and such but I do know that Cees hasn't been sitting idly by on the digital front either. "I saw this question from Nigel. It is okay to mention Sonnet. For now we are supporting many old Metrum customers but next, they expect new products which probably will never come. The new owners of Metrum have seen our Sonnet website plus all the info on FaceBook so it is no longer a secret. Nigel can find more about us here. Hopefully our first product will be available end of October, early November." Srajan
Hello Srajan: Dawid just beat me to the punch with his comment on your Buchardt review. But unlike him, I've not heard them yet. In your opinion then, it there another speaker in this price range I should consider if all the qualities you laid out apply to my search to appeal? Sincerely, Pat Staunton
I actually wasn't kidding when on that review's final page, I pleaded ignorance and the fifth. It's been a good while since I've listened to a speaker in this price range. In fact, I think the last one was an Amphion which struck me as altogether cooler and closer to the studio monitor aesthetic. Before than Amphion, I can't even remember. So I'm really the last person one should ask for any advice in this area. Doug Schneider at SoundStage! is probably the reviewer with the most small speakers under his belt so if anyone, it'd be him that I'd ask. Srajan
Dear Srajan: I've read many Aqua Hifi reviews on your site in the past and noticed that they're launching a new network interface called the LinQ. Any plans to review that when it comes out? My understanding is that it should start shipping later this year. Alessandro
I've looked at its specs just now, Alessandro. Aqua's I²S protocol doesn't shake hands with our Denafrips or Soundaware hardware. At least it didn't in the past. In my experience, I²S beats AES/EBU and coaxial/BNC. Now it would make more sense for a reviewer to do the LinQ who owns a matching Aqua DAC to exploit the best transmission format. Given the excellence of Aqua products, I'm sure you'll see more than one LinQ review shortly after it launches. I've simply not been approached so I doubt it'll be us. Srajan
Hello Srajan: Read your Antipodes review. Is that then the combo you'd go after yourself if your iMac suddenly went on the fritz? Or is there something else one might consider that would perform equally well? Markus Ratzebühl
As you know, our music library lives as .aiff files in iTunes; our household is WiFi allergic to eliminate tablet remotes; and Audirvana 3 and our particular USB bridge elevate an iMac into a bona fide 'audiophile' server no matter all the forum noise to the contrary. So no, I wouldn't spend three times as much and still need to buy another screen just to access the Antipodes in hardwired mode in lieu of a WiFi tablet. But I'm in the distinct minority here. Sonically, yes, I'd pursue the Antipodes separates in a heartbeat. But when I add up cost, features and performance, I'd simply buy another iMac and run that with the rest of our current PCfi ancillaries. That solution just works for me. Srajan
Srajan: Any chance that you'll manage to get your hands on a pair of T100 to try in your Vinnie Rossi preamp? Those are the tubes I'm most curious about but I'd like some sonic profiling before I take a leap of faith on these. They're not exactly cheap and with tubes, you can't return them if you don't like them. Fergus
I believe that after Dawid Grzyb compares the Living Voice 300B to the T100 in his LampizatOr DAC, he'll loan me his pair so I can take it for a spin and see how it compares to the Western Electric 300B and Elrog ER50. Or, you could contact dawid at hifiknights.com directly and see what he thinks. His application is a bit different but with his tubes not driving speakers directly either, there's also sufficient overlap to suspect that his findings would translate to the L2. Srajan
Srajan, any updates on the Swiss Holton review? The intro reads most interesting but what about the sound? Waiting impatiently to learn how all of the shiny tech and constructor's care translate in the listening seat. Tom Wozny
The conclusion is delayed due to a typical review weirdness. My sample suddenly refused to power up even though I replaced fuses, used different power cords and different wall sockets. Upon return to its maker, it of course worked straight out of the box. But shipping had caused some cosmetic back-panel damage so Holton must wait for a physical inspection by the carrier to start the insurance claim. Those things tend to take far longer than it takes the shipping companies to bill your credit card for a ship fee. That's what's presently holding up the unit from coming back to finish up the review. All I'd gotten to was confirm that it played, take the photos, finish up another review or two and when the time came to get serious, Uncle Murphy visited. Srajan
Hello Srajan: Just read your latest C.E.C. and Antipodes reviews. Good to see you confirm that CD still lives. In certain magazines, the format has disappeared completely and anyone still doing it is regarded as a lost cause. I for one appreciate reminders to the contrary. Thanks for that. Chip Mulligan
In Aalborg during my visit to Ansuz, Aavik and Børresen, there was no streaming, period. Their demos were conducted with CD. Their principals feel that there's still more information hidden in them thar grooves than we have harnessed yet. Until then, why bother with other formats? The majority will disagree, of course. But if you don't mind the 'anachrophile' label, keep spinning the silvery discs in the knowledge that you're not missing anything. Srajan
Do you know what’s going on with Michael Lavorgna? This doesn’t sound too good. "Due to personal and professional reasons, Twittering Machines will close its virtual doors next month. I am, in effect, retiring from hifi." Frederic Beudot
It's the first I heard of it. Hopefully his health is fine and he just tired of writing on hifi. Or perhaps, operating a site with all the managerial background work that entails stopped being fun. If he wants us to know more, I'll expect we find out in due course. Srajan
Good morning Srajan, I've read the review last night and shared it with my team. As I already said, I really do like how you play with words and expressions. Honestly, I'm really with it. Also thanks a lot for posting Marta Topferova's video. It's a great inspiration. It's a bit of a shame but I've never heard of her. I know her dad who is a well-known Czech actor. Anyway, she is such a great artist. I've already booked a date in my calendar for her gig in October. Her voice and style are truly amazing. Ondrej Chotovinsky
I have most of her albums which are of this type Mexican-inspired music. But she also runs the Milokraj project under which there are two albums of more Slavic music. Like you said, a splendid very inspiring artist. I envy your ability to hear her live. Srajan
Hi Srajan, just read your latest Gold Note review and wanted to comment on your music choices. To my surprise, I found them quite inspired. But do you think the majority of your readers will relate? Shouldn't you use more mainstream music that people are familiar with to better gauge your comments? Markus Staunton
I view 6moons as a global publication. We review gear from all corners of the globe. We can be read everywhere with an Internet connection and English comprehension. To underscore the fact that good stuff comes from everywhere, I fly country flags at the beginning of each review. The same goes for music. There's a lot of fabulous stuff from all over the planet and my choices reflect that. You yourself called it 'quite inspired'. Given that I embed links to YouTube videos so people can hear the tune I'm referencing while they're reading my comments, "being able to relate" is instant and tacit, no abstract maybe. So I don't understand your comment. Broadening one's scope in any endeavor is always valuable. Rather than write music reviews, I can now drop 8 or 10 tracks from different artists into a single hardware review which, by that very fact, becomes on-the-fly music exposure. If you don't like a given tune, hit 'stop'. If you do like it, you just added a potential candidate to your future listening pleasure list. Even if you had no interest in the hardware I reviewed, I'd call that a fat win. Srajan
Srajan, you probably already know this, but the recently remastered version of Jon Hassell’s City: Works of Fiction is fantastic. Also, if you’re a fan of big band jazz, check out Wes Montgomery and Jimmy Smith’s The Dynamic Duo. Surprisingly good sound and great music. Both are on Tidal.
What would you recommend in the $500-600 range for a 2-meter balanced interconnect going from an iFi Pro iDSD to an Electronic Visionary Systems Class D amp? Any recommendations come to mind? Thanks for your help in advance. Jacob
When it comes to cost-effective cables, I don't think you can do better than Chris Sommovigo's Black Cat Cable range. I'm just not sure he has a balanced design in his entry range. If that doesn't net anything, the Vermöuth Cables from Bali are very good and affordable and should suit your budget. Srajan
Hi Srajan, I thought you would be interested to know about my positive experiences with mounting the Cube Audio Nenuphar speakers on Max Townshend's Podium supports.
From my notes...
... there is a more natural top end; increased space around instruments; music more absorbing and delicate; increased transparency; clearer top end; improved transients; greater harmonic structure to the music; better cohesion; increase in detail; bass tighter more natural; depth and openness increased; notes last longer. Kind regards, Robert
Hello Robert, thanks for the recommendation. I'm pleased to see you've discovered something that works out this well for you. Srajan
Hello Mr Srajan, I am one of the readers of your excellent reviews, thank you for that. Now I am addressing you to ask some advice. My passion are vinyl records. I own a beautiful collection of them and for more than 20 years already restore turntables. So my front end is quite good with a Lenco/PTP, Garrard 301, Technics SP10, Thorens TD124, Linn LP12 with Schick tonearms, Audio Creative Groovemaster, SME 3012 and phono stages from Tavish Design for tubes and Ayre and Sutherland for solid state. But I have some problems with my amplification/speaker match.
I own a First Watt SIT3, Audio Research hybrid LS17 preamp and Omega Super Alnico monitors plus a set of Harbeth P7ESR. The SIT3 has, as you know, just 11.5dB of gain.The Omega are efficient at 94.5dB into 8Ω but the Harbeth at 83.5dB and 6Ω are not. Also, the LS17 has only 12dB of gain in single-ended mode. So as you would expect, I fall a little short of gain. Especially with low output cartridges, listening to some records just doesn't get loud enough. I am thinking of buying another preamp with lots of gain like the Ayre KX5 Twenty with variable gain settings; or something completely different like a Eastern Electric MiniMax with I think 20dB gain. But my finances don't allow me to make a mistake. I want to make the combination of my SIT3 with the Omega SAM really swing with low noise and good control. Now this combination lacks gain and bass weight. What advice would you give me? How can I enjoy my SIT3? Thanks and best regards from Belgium. Sven
It's good you're not asking about the Harbeth. For them the SIT3 would simply be the wrong amp I think. From what I remember, the MiniMax isn't that quiet so wouldn't be my first choice. If you can't get the gain up with a different phono stage, you're right to look at the linestage but chances of raising the noise especially with tubes come with that. So you're looking at a preamp with 26dB or so voltage gain. Given that you have the Tavish phono stage for valves, perhaps your best bet would indeed be a solid-state preamplifier. I really liked the Pass Labs HPA-1 which, yes, is marketed as a headphone amplifier but makes for a terrific preamp, albeit minimalist and without remote control. You may want to check with them on voltage gain. It's ultra quiet since headfi is super critical. It's powerful, like a mini amp in fact. I just don't have the voltage gain figure to be sure it'd give you that boost you need. If you can swing $3'500 and Pass confirm its gain, that'd be a cherry. Srajan
Hello, thanks for the answer. The HPA-1 has low gain, only 8dB so that's far away from the 26dB needed. Maybe you have other ideas? Sven
Not off the top of my head. I'll give it a think though. The high-gain situation requires a search parameter I haven't memorized. Srajan
Hi Srajan, in your review of the Diesis Ludos speakers, you include several musical examples. The first one is a recording of the "Adagio" of The Concierto de Aranjuez being reproduced by the Diesis Roma which, I presume, you recorded while you were there at the HiFi Deluxe audio show. It is the only recording in the review for which you did not give any information. If you happen to know which recording that is, could you please let me know? By the way, those recordings are all very good. I am sure that they are not done with a smartphone. Could you share what recording equipment you use to make them? Regards, Peter
The first video is from Diesis so I don’t know the recording they used. Hence I provided no information; plus I didn’t review the Diesis Roma in Munich. All the other recordings are on YouTube and not mine. They’re simply a way to let people stream some of the same music I used during the review; whilst reading the review. That makes it easier to fully appreciate some of the sonic descriptions. As to recording quality, most of my examples tend to be better because these artists paid attention to it (and also for it) but I also listen to quite poorly recorded stuff. At times I will deliberately highlight a lesser recording to demonstrate whether a particular component's quality still matters then. I recently did that in the Mutec review with an Amr Diab track. If a hifi only sounds good on premium fare and makes everything else unacceptable and no longer fun, it's counterproductive. So mixing it up on recording quality is key then. Srajan
A related question, please. In the same review, Diesis specify their bandwidth at ±8dB. I've never seen this before and assumed ±3dB was the standard. Peter
Correct. Unless theirs is a typo, Diesis have used a looser tolerance. Then if we translate the currently published 37Hz-26'000Hz spec to -3dB, we might perhaps arrive at 55Hz - 20'000Hz? If it is really important to you, you could ask them. As my review explained, the figure 8 cancellation of out-of-phase data at the edges of an open baffle makes for less bass extension than raw woofer diameters might suggest. Even though the Ludos uses dual 10-inch woofers, the small port-loaded widebander in the Camerton Binom-1 just reviewed actually goes lower. The flip side is, it won't move anywhere near the same air. So it's six of one, half a dozen of the other. Srajan
Hello Srajan: From what I can tell, the key difference of the Camerton speaker is its port loading where the majority of single driver speakers uses big rear horns, quarter-wave boxes and such. From your descriptions, it seems like the Binom speaker works very well with its port to manage what the other types need much larger enclosures to do. Why do you think ported widebanders are so rare then? Gert Schultz
That's a most excellent question, Gert. In fact, it's one I've pondered myself. Once Oleh is back in the office, I intend to ask him exactly that. So stay tuned and let's see what the two us can learn on the matter. Srajan
Hi Srajan, plus one! After finding Conrad's letter, I surfed over to that Audio Science Review. For me the most interesting response was Bruno's. He refers to what I assume was your own review because I haven't found any others on the OEM module yet. In case you haven't seen it, here's what he said: "In vindication of that POV we've now seen more than one enthousiastic "subjective" reviews of the 1ET400A go up expressing delight that we have both great measurements and great sound (as if that were a contradiction). I'd like to state here that in our company, as listeners we are fanatic about sound and as engineers we are fanatic about measured results. The trick is to pick a set of measurements that have a modicum of relevance to psychoacoustics (in the case of amplifiers, accepting that hearing goes south beyond 20kHz and that music is more than sine waves). Once we get the lab result that we expected, we go and listen carefully to make sure we're not missing anything. That's rarely the case so the next stage (playing great music and breaking open beers) tends to follow quickly afterwards."
Unlike Amir who seems to only measure, Bruno and his team actually take listening just as serious as measurements. Like Conrad, I don't see how one could call something a review that contains no listening comments but still stimulates endless pages of follow-on posts from readers. You guys at 6moons don't do any measurements and ideally, we'd have both. Stereophile do but theirs often don't match up with what the actual reviewer said so aren't terribly relevant. In the end I keep coming back to a Nelson Pass thing you've quoted at times. He said that we listen to music for entertainment and not through an oscilloscope. That's why I look for reviewers like yourself and Marja & Henk and Herb Reichert and Art Dudley who communicate whether they were entertained and if so, how. In your recent Gold Note amp review, I knew you hadn't been and that was just as helpful. Leave the science of audio reviewing to Amir and keep doing the subjective reviews you guys do. Frankie Staunton
Because I'm incapable of drawing up a complete mental image of what something sounds like from measurements, we'll keep on doing our thing, no worries. But it's still great that there are places where measurements dominate. Clearly there are readers who prefer them and only want that. And then there a places like SoundStage and Stereophile which do both. That serves yet another audience. Choices are good. Wouldn't it be boring if we all did it the same way? Srajan
Hiya Srajan: After reading your review on the new Purifi OEM module demonstrator, I've snooped around the forums to find more opinions and information on early adopters. There I came across this review which is just measurements to tell me nothing about what this amp actually sounds like. I was quite disappointed. Is that what people nowadays call a review? I must say, despite disagreeing with your style at times, I much prefer your approach to reviewing. It always tells me what you thought things sounded like and I leave with quite a clear idea in my mind. Thanks for that. Conrad Meesle
I took a look. Conrad. Agreed, it's also not what I would call a review but there clearly is an audience for their test-bench approach. I wouldn't know how to correlate such measurements to actual sonics but I'm sure that serious engineering types who measure and listen have taught themselves how to interpret them quite accurately. As long as the readers of such articles can do the same, they should find themselves well served. Actually, there's a far more advanced type listener who, just by looking at pictures of gear in a room, can tell what it sounds like. I'm far more primitive. I actually must listen to something first before I have any notion on what it does, sonically. Srajan
Srajan, thanks for the review of the CAD Ground Control unit. I had the opportunity to meet Scott @ T.H.E. Show a few weeks back. I found the room great sounding with the Boenicke Audio speakers. I am curious on your thoughts about human sensitivities to hearing. Many might argue ultra-high frequencies. Many would say that humans hear 20Hz-20kHz and that anything above that is not audible. So when we hear differences when a device like the Ground Control is placed in and out of a system for comparative purposes, what are we truly hearing? Would love to hear your thoughts. Regards, Everard
It's not about hearing beyond 20kHz. It's about what noise far beyond our range of hearing does to the range we can hear. There's intermodulation. There's making certain processes harder for parts like D/A converters. Why do we think a diamond tweeter sounds sweeter than an aluminium dome? The diamond breaks up at 70kHz, the aluminium at 23kHz. Both breakup modes occur far beyond our hearing threshold. Then why is it that the breakup further away from our limits creates less audible hardness? Why is it that 1MHz bandwidth in amplifiers sounds more open, transparent, clear and fast than an amp which is -3dB down at 25kHz? If you only trust the numbers, a CD brickwall filter at 22kHz should sound no different than a very shallow filter at 384kHz.
It's simple enough to do A/B comparisons. If you can hear a difference and find it attractive (better, preferable), does it really matter to you how and why that is so? If you turn your WiFi off and the sound gets better, who cares that we can't hear to 2.4GHz where WiFi begins to operate? I'm not a scientist or audio engineer. I leave it those guys to figure out and explain the how and why. I simply trust my hearing and report about that. That's why it's called subjective audio reviewing. In the end, what matters is what happens to our ears and brains since we don't listen to music with oscilloscopes. Srajan
Hello Srajan, thank you for a fantastic review! I can tell that you spent significant time with the GC1s and I am very happy with your comments. It is always a bit tricky describing what Ground Controls do to sound quality and you did an excellent job describing the changes. Once you get what a Ground Control does, it becomes easier to move them about within a system and decide the best location(s) to connect them. Are you interested in a manufacturer's comment? I would like to mention a bit about using Ground Controls in analog systems. One of our big sellers of GC1 Ground Controls is for phono preamplifiers. Due to the very high gain of these components, they typically react very well to the connection of a GC1 Ground Control. Here is a GC1 being used at Munich with the new TechDas Zero turntable. If you look just in front of Mr. Nishakawa’s right hand, you will see a GC1. - Scott Berry, CAD
Hullo Srajan, I quite enjoyed your review of the Gryphon Zena not the least because I snagged two albums on Tidal: Andima and Longing for Paradise. You also mentioned tweeter break-up which fascinates me. I have a pair of Vivid Oval 1.5 speakers which despite being in the entry-level category for Vivid sport the same D26 aluminum tweeter found in the Giya G1. The tweeter exhibits its first break-up at over 40kHz, small thanks to a carbon stiffening ring. The tweeter is the real star of the Oval even to my 67-year-old ears! Thank you Laurence Dickie! Finally, I learned a new use of the word "flageolet." Having spent five years in France, I thought it was only the inestimable legume found in France and not a woodwind. Have you thought of applying for tax-exempt status due to the educational nature of your website? Cheers, Michael Fanning
Yes, both Vivid and Audio Physic exploit ordinary aluminium tweeters but push their break-up modes an octave higher with damper rings which Audio Physic now incorporate into their surrounds. No need for toxic expensive beryllium. And as you said, even 67-year old ears can tell the difference. That's a mind rattler until we accept that somehow, out-of-band distortion does intermodulate signal in the bandwidth we can hear. As to flageolet, I didn't know it was a bean or woodwind. I was referring to the playing technique on strings when you subdivide them with a very light touch to deliberately invoke their harmonics. That's what happens on that Andima track - which is one of the best of the album so hopefully you like the rest enough to warrant having bought the whole thing. SrajanThanks for the quick response. Methinks I'll have a stew enriched by flageolets while listening to Andima! Double the flavor! Michael
Hi Srajan, thank you for your dedication and insightful reviews! I am intrigued for some time now by Lavardin. I auditioned their IT model with an Esoteric K05 and Vivid Audio V1.5, a truly unique experience. After many years of stagnation and silence, this manufacturer seems to wake up with new "x" upgrades to their famous organic tube-like sound. Have you come across them and what do you understand of their transistor memory distortion theory? I would love to read your review of their new "x" integrated models, IS or IT. Much appreciated, Frank Peylaire from Sydney, Australia
A friend of mine let me listen to his older IT a few years back and it was lovely. Since then I've not heard anything by them. Wojciech at www.highfidelity.pl has an 'x' review. As to understanding their circuit re: memory distortion, that's beyond me. But I do remember a recent query about in on www.diyaudio.com in the Pass Labs forum where Nelson explained that the phenomenon is well known and can be quite easily addressed. You might do a search in that forum to read what he had to say about it. Srajan
Hi Srajan, I hope this email finds you well. Following up with the Lavardin story, I ended up buying the new Aesthetix Mimas hybrid integrated amp. And I urge you to have an audition. It is an absolute treat. Details remain extremely musical and just organic, the soundstage is to die for without this overly discrete imaging, there are pitch-black backgrounds voices just right, just the best of two worlds, analogue without its imperfections and plenty of power to drive demanding speakers. Looking forward to reading you soon. Regards, Frank
I just signed 15 new reviews in the first day of coming back from the Munich show and there's more in the wings so I'll be very busy for months to come. If Aesthetix want a review, I'm easy to get in touch with. They just have to contact me. Srajan
Thanks Srajan, I will let them know. Appreciate your great work. Cheers, Frank
Srajan, in your latest Limetree review, what are those gorgeous speakers on your desktop? I must have missed a review somewhere because I've never seen those before. Could you provide a link if you did review them? Holger
Fram Audio Midi 150 from Poland - all metal cab, active design, with one additional passive radiator out back so two passives in total. Amazing performer. Look in our archives under Fram. The designer started with Ancient Audio, top-loading CD players and valve amps. Srajan
Hello Srajan: Just finished reading your latest review on the new Living Voice. Loved the embedded music videos and particularly how you used the last one. I'm not a fan of opera so really the opposite of knowledgeable. That had me really surprised by how much I enjoyed that unexpected duet between Stevie Wonder and Luciano Pavarotti and how useful I found it to read your comments on their different phrasing as you put it and how you related that to the speakers under review. Clearly neither of these singers are better or worse. They sing in totally different styles. But I understood exactly what you meant and now have a clear idea on what sets the Living Voice apart. Just thought you'd like to know. Keep it coming! Martin Hubbard
I'm pleased to hear that you found that helpful, Martin. There are very few classically trained musicians who can completely transcend their training of timing, intonation and phrasing then make the perfectly seamless transition to Jazz, Soul or other music forms. On clarinet, Eddie Daniels is the only one I've hard who's equally brilliant on Jazz and Brahms or Weber. Sabine Meyer duetizing with Paquito d'Rivera always sounds like a giveaway classical clarinet. So coming across this particular duet, it was most useful that Luciano couldn't do Soul to make for the perfect example of what I had to say. Of course Stevie doing opera would be equally 'different' so as you sagely pointed out, it's not about better or worse. It's about two completely different art forms in which each of these singers has become a legend. Srajan
Hello Srajan, my name is Saar from Israel and I am an audio fan. Recently I got to hear my stereo system at a friend's house where the only change he made was replace my simple USB cable with one which he had prepared himself. The change was so big and better that it left me in shock. He sells the cable at a price too expensive for me ($2'000) so I started searching for USB cables on line, I found your review of the Lightharmonic Lightspeed but this cable is too expensive for me. I am looking for a USB cable at $250. Can you please recommend something to me? Thanks in advance, Saar Galon.
Hi Srajan, thanks for the insightful review of Franck's César! I visited Franck some years ago in his Paris atelier when I purchased an ASI LiveLine cable loom. Ever the gentleman, Franck didn't want to simply make a transaction, he wanted to make a connection. So I sat and listened to some Stevie Ray Vaughn via an elaborate vinyl setup with the Tango speakers, viewed Franck's unique resonators squirreled away in the room and listened to a Franck solo on one of his custom guitars. I left the atelier exhilarated—and somewhat exhausted—after a visit with the acoustic alchemist of Paris. Cheers, Michael Fanning
Franck is a high-energy individual, isn't he? I remember when he first installed a full resonator set in our first Swiss dig. We had to have him re-tune the overall balance the next day because my wife literally couldn't sleep. He'd dialed up the energy in the house too far for our lazier temperaments. But he knew exactly what to do and it was perfect then. Srajan
Srajan, I just saw that your friend Dan is doing you a follow-up on that Vinnie Rossi pre. That wouldn't by any chance be the same guy whom you, a long time ago, visited with his very big horn system back when you lived in Cyprus? If so, I'll be very curious indeed to see what he has to say. He certainly seems to have been through some very elite stuff. Kevin Hart
That would be the one and same. Correct, he's been through a lot of hifi kit of the exotic sort since I first met him. Like you, I'm very curious about his feedback. In fact, I'm promised his first installment by tonight. I have no idea how many he's planning on. So stay tuned. Srajan
Dear Srajan, I just read up on your ongoing sessions with the Polish 6BQ5 amps and hola, amigo, links to YouTube music. Good on you. Being able to track your comments by hearing some of the stuff you refer to makes things even easier to follow. Thank you very much. Pjotr Kaminski
Aha. You noticed. Seriously, I've wanted to do this "forever" but I first had to get the site out of DreamWeaver and into WordPress, then learn how to embed videos so they visually integrate with my layout. With some help from my IT guy to tweak YouTube's code, we're there. Now it's just a matter of actually finding some of the stuff I listen to. We'll see how that goes. But I'm happy that this feature is now part of my approach to reviewing. The music really ought to do (some of the) talking after all. This is also a neat way to introduce our readers to some tunes, far more direct than any music review could ever be. Srajan
Hello Srajan: What happened to your Vanatoo preview? I was looking forward to its conclusion because at $599/pr, this is a product that really would make sense for our son. Michael
Because they presently only sell in the US and Canada, Vanatoo ultimately decided that a review in a global publication like ours wasn't in their best interest. And in hindsight, that seems fair. Why tease 2/3rd of our readership in Europe and Asia with a product they can't buy? What I had thought was a commitment to have me already produce a preview turned out to be more of an initial inquiry after all. Srajan
Hello Srajan, I just got a message from our distributor in Singapore who is very impressed that you are a straight shooter and that everything you wrote, the SR1a deserved. Over there, he encountered somewhat reserved comments from the reviewers who told him that they can't actually write how awesome the SR1a is because other manufacturers will feel sore about that. So am I. I'm very impressed with your ethics and independence! Thanks again. Your KIH #66 is wonderful. Aleksandar Radisavljevic
Dear Srajan, I just finished reading your long Vinnie Rossi review. The most amazing statement you made was at the very end in your postscript. It's taken 99 years for us to get a preamp machine which uses direct-heated big power triodes in a grounded grid circuit without OPT or coupling capacitor. I also share your surprise that this accomplishment should have come to us from a very small boutique operator, not one of the majors with their cadres of engineers. The review well portrayed your excitement over this discovery and I can only wonder whether sooner than later, you'll acquire one of these to use in your reviews going forward. Thanks for keeping the flame alive! Robert Kincaid
Being a helpless hater of black hifi—it's a silly bias but what to do—I'm keeping my fingers crossed that eventually, L2 might become available in silver. Then I'd definitely want to pursue one with that ¼"/XLR headphone option installed. Happy to hear that my enthusiasm communicated through the writing. This really is one of those discoveries reviewers live for to share. For now this loaner will make onward tracks to one of Vinnie's Swiss customers who wants to hear it and possibly buy it. If it doesn't have to cross the Atlantic again, it'd be a win for Vinnie and this client. Srajan
Read your review on the Allnic L10000. I'm thinking of purchasing one. Current pre is a Luxman C900u to match my M900U. Would you say that the L10000 is one of the best preamplifiers you've ever heard? It's not cheap, that's for sure. Clint Tracy
Yes, the L10000 is exceptional. Also check out the Vinnie Rossi L2. It's half the price and an even more interesting take on a similar concept. Srajan
What is your personal choice if both were priced the same? Clint
They're far from priced the same. Even if they were, I'd still consider the Vinnie Rossi the more advanced machine. It has far higher bandwidth, lower noise and it takes 2.5, 4 and 5V DHT. It's the one I'd buy. Srajan
My current setup is a C-900U pre and M-900u amp. I'm wondering if the L2 would be a game changer over the C-900u. I'm using Martin Logan 15a speakers. Clint
Knowing none of your components, I haven't the foggiest. But it does strike me that rather than arbitrarily inquiring about costly machines, you ought to first do a proper self assessment on your current system. Why do you want to change anything? What are you unhappy with, exactly? Only that can create a proper game plan for improving things. Why do you suspect your preamp in the first place? And so forth. These are questions you need to answer for yourself. Nobody else can do it for you. Then you can proceed to step #2, which is identifying potential candidates for replacement. But only someone very rich and/or casual would spend €17'000 or €30'000 on the advice of a stranger. I politely suggest that the game changing really has to start with how you're going about all this. I'm not a hifi shrink or buying adviser. I write reviews and trust that our readers are intelligent enough to take things from there. Srajan
Hi Srajan, out of curiosity, do you have an idea of how many Lunar Eclipse awards have been bestowed since 6moons began? This year may set the record. Thanks, Fred
Not sure. That requires memory. But if mine still works as it should, there was the Zu Druid. Peachtree Audio Decco. Vinnie Rossi LIO. Cube Audio Nenuphar. Ilumnia Magister. Today the Vinnie Rossi L2 line stage. If I didn't forget anyone, that's 6 in 17 years. I'm suspicious I dropped someone. Srajan
HI Srajan, Glad to hear that nuggets of inspiration and wonder continue to dot your calendar. I'm not surprised. It happens here as well though in slightly different fashion...to a degree both businesses bank on inspiration. I know without it, we'd be done in under a year. The 'flagship' is the ship in a fleet that carries the admiral and tends to be the most impressive example therein. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Fred
I know the raw meaning of the word. My dad was in the German navy. He progressed through the ranks to at least Kapitän zur See if not above but I'm hazy on the final stripes and stars on his epaulettes since I left home at 17. It's how we use the word 'flagship' that doesn't really make sense to me. Srajan
Hi Srajan, I enjoyed Jarek's new designs and reading about their specifics in your review. The more-for-less sweepstakes may be at a relative high. What I'm hearing now was just not out there in the same quality nor at these price points 10 years ago. Of course the über end has gone the other direction. There's still that high middle ground. My eyes did prick up when I read about the active crossover coming before amplification. I have seen this before in multi-horn speaker systems. It worked very well. Best, Fred Crane
Yes, the Fram were a real wakeup call for me, too. As to active crossovers before amplification, that's pretty much the definition of an active crossover and what differentiates active from just powered speakers. Where Jarek really differs is that he uses DSP plus a traditional passive 1st-order filter. The DSP already knows what that filter does and includes it in its corrections as a global approach. That bit is quite unusual but it clearly works a charm. Srajan
Dear Srajan: I was just looking at your preview roster and saw that the thumb nail for the Kaiser monitor disappeared. Did something happen to that review? I was actually looking forward to it. Jeremy Young
Sharp eyes, Jeremy. Something did indeed happen. Nothing. A review loaner simply hasn't materialized. For the time being then, I've taken the preview down. It hasn't been deleted from my server so will be easily revived should a Furioso Mini sample still materialize. But I imagine that in the current economic climate, it can't be easy for Kaiser to juggle their main furniture business with their hifi division. I remember talking to Hans-Jürgen at the show last year. Due to very high manufacturing costs (Panzerholz, premium drivers, premium filter parts), their margins are quite low so as to not escalate the sell prices further. Meanwhile promoting an ambitious speaker brand with shows, reviews, advertising and the works is costly business. HJ might prefer to play it slow and steady. That's just an assumption but would seem sensible and explain why distributor/dealer orders must take precedence over reviewers. Srajan
Dear Srajan, just read your Raal review. Wow! I'm left with only one question. How do these compete against electrostatic headphones? You forgot to comment on such obvious competition! Vassili Hrontis
I didn't forget. I didn't have any electrostats on hand. I can't just make shit up. However, visit the growing thread on head-fi.org about the SR1a and you'll find an owner of Stax electrostats who just bought a pair of Raal Requisite and described the differences. In short, his Stax got very badly beaten up. A bit of Googling will get you there.
A word to our general readership: don't ask us for comparisons we cannot conduct because we lack the specific hardware or hardware combination you're curious about. It's what the equipment listing at the beginning of each review is all about. If it's not listed, we didn't have it. We're not dealers with massive inventories of brands and models. Having to still explain something so basic and obvious does get a bit tedious after all these years. So please, use your intelligence and stop asking for the impossible. The same goes for asking how something we just reviewed compares to something we reviewed 10 years ago. If we didn't have it side by side, such comments rely on just aural memory. Worse, the time gap could mean that our main system evolved in the interim or our room changed. Comparative reviewing the way we understand it isn't about aural memory. It's about actual A/B comparisons. Wherever we can, we'll conduct those. The rest we can't accommodate and asking about it won't squeeze blood from a stone. Srajan
Hello Srajan: I don't think I'm imagining it when I say your reviews seem to be getting longer with each passing year. Did you notice that? I don't mind, it's just a trend I'm spotting. Michael Jader
Well, my atittude remains unchanged. I feel that the subject matter should dictate the length of any review. Some pucks or cones don't merit the same length as novel technology in a loudspeaker. For example, the Raal Requisite SR1a ribbon headphone review I just finalized certainly became one of the longest I've yet written. But there was good reason. This would become the first review of a project with well more than 10 years of serious preceding R&D. It's new technology. It's genuinely different to also perform different. It involved a bi-continental collaboration between Serbia and the US. Just to properly cover the background, gestation and tech alone took 5 pages. Had another publication reviewed these first, all that ground would have been covered already. It would have become part of the company and product lore, been featured on the company website and I could have more or less jumped right into the listening impressions.
The Vinnie Rossi L2 review currently being written will also get just a bit longer for very similar reasons. I'm again first to break the story (unless Michael Lavorgna at Twittering Machines who was first to get a loaner publishes before I finish my assignment). But I can't rely on that. To do a proper job, I have to cover the tech and unique solutions involved. That takes up space.
But in general, perceived length is a function of our page layout. If I make the pages shorter, there'll be more of them to mean less scrolling. If I make them longer, there'll be fewer pages. Now that I've made the site adaptive to your device screen size, less scrolling particularly on a cellphone is a lot friendlier. By necessity, such narrow screens make each page already far longer than it presents on a desktop monitor. So your perception of lengthier reviews is for the most part a function of a higher count of shorter pages. Srajan
Hello Srajan, first of all let me thank you very much for the review of our Gold Note CD1000 MkII. I found it extremely nice and saying exactly with every single word what I think about the units. Generally speaking I also agree 100% about the quality of music played back via CD and that too many companies thought very prematurely that the CD player was dead. It reminds me of what happened 20 years ago with turntables. In fact I believe that there are billions of CDs around and millions of CD collections in homes which need to be either listened to or sold. Obviously there are people selling their CD disc collections as happened with vinyl where I know at least a few dozen people who sold their entire record collections only to rebuild them ten years later for 10 times the price. But there are also people who still want to listen to their CD collections and I suspect the younger generation might do something like they did with vinyl when they inherit the digital collections from their fathers. Maurizio Atterini
Hello. I bought Wyetech Sapphire amps several years ago after reading your glowing review. I love the amps. However, shortly after purchase I had to return one to Mr. Hebert because a resistor melted free from the board it was soldered to. He fixed it under warranty. The same thing happened months later but this time he blamed me for this, accusing me of sabotaging the amp. He agreed to fix it but I had to pay for repairs. Now years later, the other amp has developed a hum emanating from the chassis. I emailed him several times but did not get a reply. I then took the amp to a repair shop in New York City (Technitron) who found the problem to be one of the transformers. They cannot repair it so they called Mr. Hebert to buy a new one. He refused to sell them one and was reportedly not nice about it.
Since then I have emailed, sent a Federal Express letter and even telegraphed him asking to buy a transformer. I have heard nothing back. My listening room is very quiet and the hum is very noticeable. As a last resort, I thought I would ask you, someone he obviously respects, to ask him to please sell me or the repair shop a replacement transformer. Thanks for any help you might give. Paul Fellenbaum
Paul, I truly appreciate the difficulty you find yourself in. As a reviewer, it's simply not in my job description to arbitrate this type situation. I've not worked with or communicated with Wyetech Labs or Mr. Hebert for very many years. The only thing I can really do is publish your letter to serve as a warning to others. Asking to purchase a replacement transformer at your own expense and having it replaced at your own expense certainly sounds like a most reasonable request. I can think up no valid reason why a manufacturer would deny it unless they no longer had replacement parts or could no longer procure them. But at least then they could tell you that. Either way, your story doesn't reflect well on Wyetech's long-term customer service. Srajan
Hi Srajan, I went ahead and ordered the Kinki Studio EX-P7 preamplifier. My friend Vince Saw has the same Crayon CIA 1T integrated I do. He tried his Bespoke Audio preamp with it and heard notable improvements. Another friend of his uses a Wyred4Sound preamplifier with the same 1T and is also very happy. I could never afford a Bespoke or Nagra (at this point not even a W4S) so after your review, I turned my thoughts to the EX-P7. But I was hesitant because in your review of the Crayon, your impression with the Nagra Classic was that the Nagra slowed down the CIA 1T to some small extent. As you said in your review, anyone purchasing a CIA 1T for its speed would most likely not want to slow it down by using a pre with it.
However Vince does not experience that his Bespoke Audio preamp [a passive - Ed.] causes any slow-down to speculate that what you heard may have been due to the fact that your Nagra is tubed. That led me to once again consider the EX-P7. What convinced me to pull the trigger was what you said about about it compared to the Wyred4Sound and Nagra Classic. It had me believe that in your opinion the EX-P7 made a richer warmer more analogue sound than the W4S (albeit less hyper detailed) to be closer to the Nagra for a fraction of its cost. Based on that I decided to give it a try. It arrived two nights ago and has been playing ever since. I can tell you that right out of the box I was super impressed. It brought very noticeable improvements to the sound in every parameter known to audiophile ears. I am not going into great detail but will comment on two characteristics.
1. the one most readily perceived is improved tonal density and richness by rendering instruments and voices more lifelike. Instruments which on some tracks were sounding a bit thin like violins in some orchestral works are somewhat more substantial now. 2. audible space with a wider deeper soundstage and how the EX-P7 utilizes this space with respect to placement of instruments within that soundstage are much more natural.
The manual suggests that the EX-P7 requires 300 hours to reach its full potential. After only about 40 hours or so, I would be happy even if it did not change at all. That is how I am finding it so far. My perception may change of course. I will know more when the recommended run-in time has been achieved. By the way, do you know there is an upgrade chip for the Soundaware D300REF? I have already ordered mine and it should arrive shortly. It is very low cost and its insertion is supposed to be easy to do but does require some soldering. Peter
PS. I still am not able to find my master clock on line. I asked Alvin. He told me that it is manufactured by a private seller in China and there is no information about it. I asked him if people interested in it could purchase it from Vinshine Audio and he said they certainly could. So if you or any of your readers might be interested, that's how it can be had. To my ears it brought noticeable improvement to the contribution of the D300ref. I heartily recommend it.
Hello Srajan: That Raal ribbon headphone review turned out to become a very educational piece and I see it's still ongoing. Do you expect any major revisions after living with it longer? Samuel
This review is one of those rare instances where a writer encounters something truly novel and different to warrant digging a bit deeper to tell the complete story. That's a great privilege and responsibility. As to revisions, I don't expect any. The modified adapter box will land next week to experiment with shifting that line source de-emphasis value. I just received the tube output stage for the Gold Note CD-1000 MkII. This turned out to be a very potent 'steering wheel' on its sound. I will do an audition with that and the SR1a to see what happens if instead of rotating through amplifiers, one attacked the voicing issue at the source instead. Once the Vinnie Rossi L2 direct-heated triode preamp arrives, that'll make an appearance as announced already. If the Bakoon AMP-13R arrives in time and turns out to be powerful enough, that too will show up. And then the book on this assignment shall close. So again, no revisions expected, just additional data points to fill in a few remaining holes in my narrative. Srajan
Hi again, I'm happy to write that I ended up getting a pair of Boenicke W5. I sought them out based on your reviews and really love them. Thank you! I have them paired with a vintage Scott EL84 tube amp and it sounds wonderful especially at low/moderate volumes. I recently heard them with a Hegel amp and the speakers really rocked so I'm thinking that I should consider another amp, possibly the Hegel or maybe the Job Integrated. I'm wondering if you had a chance to hear the Boenicke W5 with the Job Integrated (or 225 amp)? Many thanks, hope all is well, Mike
The Boenicke do like power. My wife drives hers with an Aura Note 100-watter. I found the Job integrated to be excellent and since it includes a DAC and volume control, it really kills three birds with one stone. Srajan
Hi Srajan, thanks to you I've paired my SIT-1 with Nenuphar and they are truly glorious. But I'm thirsting for a DHT preamp. Where would you go for one of those? Gary
Allnic and Vinnie Rossi both make direct-coupled DHT preamps, meaning there's no output transformer or coupling capacitor between the direct-heated triode and your amplifier inputs. That takes out a common limiting factor on bandwidth and speed. The Allnic is nearly twice as costly and uses a multi-stage circuit with additional input/driver tubes. The Vinnie Rossi L2 uses just a single pair of output triodes with a 2.5/4.0/5.0V bias selector to make tube rolling possible between PX4/25 to 45 to 2A3 to 300B to more specimens. I've already heard and reviewed the Allnic. I'm already scheduled to review the Vinnie Rossi but won't have it until March sometime. I have a feeling that the L2 will be the one you ought to be looking at but won't know for certain until it gets here. I'll test it on the SIT-1/Nenuphar combo so my review will certainly be very specific relative to your own situation. The Vinnie Rossi preview is live already and the Allnic review is in the archives. Srajan
Srajan, greetings! Just read your review of Franck's super tweeters. Glad to see the old magician is still on his game. I purchased a complete loom of ASI Liveline cables when I lived in France. I visited Franck in his atelier at the time and he was really engaging: he played his guitar, gave a vinyl demonstration and provided a tour of his facility. What a terrific fellow! Cheers, Michael Ian Fanning
He really is a very talented individual who walks his own path unafraid of conventions. Hifi is lucky to have him. Srajan
Srajan, I just exchanged some emails with Franck. He said he's going to produce a diamond-plated magnesium version retailing for about €2'000/pr so a nice middle ground. The man is just amazing. I so enjoyed my afternoon with him many years ago in Paris especially as it followed a nice café lunch with some reasonable Bordeaux. Thanks again for providing a nice home for people who appreciate music and its faithful reproduction. Cheers, Michael
Srajan, thanks for the Mimí review. In my snail-like 'downsizing', I'm thinking of swapping my lovely Ocellia Calliope .21 Signatures—and my upgraded Leak 3090—for a singular. in both senses, much smaller speaker. Life moves inexorably on and a reduction of possessions beckons. After building of my Zigmahornets some years back, my prior disdain of small units has gon, though the 'reality' of the Ocellias wonderfully natural sound will be missed, just not the physical size. Add to the fact that the Mimía are made in Granada, one of my all-time favourite places. That could tempt me to consider visiting to collect them though those delivery boxes are a bit large for luggage! I'd love to get them to make a pair with cork sides to represent the Andalusian cork forests that abound. If they do, you read it here first! Might seem strange to swap such big units for the stone mini Mimí but it will fit the room. Plus, I've always liked the 'sideways' approach to hifi. The Zigs are made of polystyrene! Anyway, it's all your fault! Zigmahornets, Ocellias....and a few other things I've had! - all well reviewed by you! Javier, I'll be in touch. Anyone got room for Ocellias? Chris SkeltonChris' email if you want to follow up. And guilty as charged, sir. Lock him up, your honour!
Dear Srajan: Weren't you working on a review of that Russian/German R2R DAC with the very interesting technology? I can no longer find it and in fact don't even remember what the brand was. Volker Höningen
Correct. I started working on that Etalon Sound originally Wagner Audio review 3 years ago when we still lived in Switzerland. Since then the company restructured a few times, the original designer left, communications were exceptionally poor, delays endless. I finally decided against pursuing it further seeing how I had built up considerable anti bias if you will. But I understand that Matej from Mono & Stereo will be working on his own review with a clean slate so in due course, you should be able to learn more about Etalon's DreamDAC there. Srajan
Howdy Srajan: Just finished following up on all the embedded links in your developing super tweeter review [Avantages Audio - Ed.]. I had no idea how diamond tweeters are made. It still seems like a technical miracle but at least now I have a far clearer idea than before. I wanted to thank you for combining entertaining reads with such useful education. It's what sets you apart from other sites who simply regurgitate a manufacturer's own advertorials or use strange abbreviations as though we had a clue what those meant. Good show you guys. Please keep it up. Simon
Good day Srajan, I have asked this question through 6moons but not sure whether it reached you. My system is: Schiit Yggy + 2 simple passive resistors + 2 power amps (new Job 225 bought after reading your review + old power Arcam) + Triangle Delta speakers. I realized that the sound was better with two power amps in bi-amp mode. I like my system but two passives are not easy to use so I am considering to purchase a preamp. And obviously I would love to improve the sound while at it. Recently I've seen your reviews on the Kinki and Denafrips preamps whose prices are within my reach. Could I please ask for your recommendation, whether it would be worthwhile considering any of these and if so, which one sounds better to you? I read your comments about Hestia. I like 6SN7 tubes but at the same time appreciate transparency and speed. Would love to avoid purchasing something worse than my current setup. Do you prefer the Kinki over the Hestia? Many thanks, Robert
Unless you don't mind splitters, you'll need two RCA outputs on your new preamp unless the Arcam has XLR inputs. Hestia only has one RCA output whilst the EX-P7 has two. Sonically, the Kinki will be faster, leaner and more lit up, the Hestia denser, slower and warmer. Will either improve over your current scenario? Impossible to predict from the distance I'm afraid. SrajanMany thanks. The XRL of the Yggy sound better so I ordered XLR-to-RCA cables which will do the job with the Job. Robert
Hii Srajan, I read your review of the Kinki EX-M1 integrated today. You were truly impressed with it I see and it does sound like a wonderful integrated... at such a low price, yet! You are not the only one who sees it that way. Several other reviewers mightily praise this amp. It sounds ''perfect.'' That would be to good to be true. But maybe it is true? My questions are two: Did you purchase this amp for yourself? To the best of your memory, how would you compare it to the CIA 1T? Peter
Nothing is perfect, Peter. But for its price, this is a super-impressive powerful integrated amplifier in the Job 225 vein but more sophisticated. I didn't purchase it. And seeing I've not compared it to the CIA 1T which had long since left when the Kinki arrived, memory won't help. I'd have to triangulate my own two reviews of them just as you're doing now. Sorry but I'm not a machine which prints out report cards and keeps copies of each in my brain to spit out and tally up whenever convenient. Whatever I actually compare, I write about. Anything else would be pure speculation. So if I didn't write it, I didn't do it and as a reviewer, I'm not into speculating but describing what I really heard. Srajan
Hi Srajan, I've appreciated your help in the past. I wanted to ask you a pretty quick question. I owned the Job Integrated for awhile and I really enjoyed it. I ended up selling it at some point but now I find myself putting together a new system around the Harbeth C7es3. I actually heard the Harbeths with the Job about a year ago and it was a surprisingly good match. I'm wondering if A) there are any other integrateds you've heard since you reviewed the Job that stand out as being on the same level sonically for not crazy coin? and/or B) If not, is the Job 225 even better than the Integrated? I could possibly match a power amp with a tube pre if I went that route. Thanks, Todd
To go beyond either Job in integrated form, you'd opt Kinki; with separates, Denafrips. The Kinki would be the next level up from the Swiss on sound but in the same vein or sonic class, just more sophisticated. The Denafrips pre/power combo would be a bit slower but richer and heavier. Either are far more luxuriously built than the Job kit. Srajan
Hey Srajan, is it just me or does it seem that most of your previews have been in various stages of limbo for a lot longer than usual? Some seem to have shown for well more than 6 months. Perhaps you're just taking it a bit easy after all these years? In any case, best wishes for 2019! Gert
You're very perceptive. A lot of stuff is exceptionally delayed, particularly on "first reviews" where there are unexpected issues with first production, back-ordered parts, late circuit changes and such. In some cases people can't figure out how to ship to rural Ireland. They really struggle with their freight companies. In others, they've decided to issue a MkII variant since contacting me about the review so that set back the clock. One piece delivered developed an issue and I'm presently waiting for it to be picked up for repair. I have the Gold Note CD player and power supply on hand but not the tube output stage yet so I can't finish up that review. Some manufacturers are considerate about my break-in requests and spend weeks piling on hours so that too factors. Others ship to then tell me that their thing needs 300 hours (which at 8 hours a day makes for a bleeding 37.5 days of making noise before getting to it). Yet others are waiting for shipping materials or the slow sea-going container to arrive. In one case, final firmware rewrites are held up because a software engineer was struck down by lengthy illness. In other cases, communications are simply poor and my emails not answered so I'm in the dark as to status. Finally we had the Xmas and New Year's holidays, then the Chinese New Year. Winter tends to be a slower season all around. Anyhow, I'm bouncing back the balls as they land in my court. Like stakeouts, waiting is part of the job; without the junk food. My wife is a very good cook. Srajan
Hello Srajan: I've been following your unfolding Raal headphone review with great interest. As of this morning, I counted four pages already. Given your lengthy intro, do you expect these to be the new king of the headphone jungle? It's hard to imagine they wouldn't be. I really can't wait to read your conclusions and was hoping for some bread crumbs. Brad Hyram
I expect that king making shall depend on recording/mastering quality to an unusually acute extent. With good stuff, I'd expect to hear even more goodness than before. With bad stuff, I'd expect to hear more badness. How could it really be different if we apply the same high degree of magnification? I've heard open-baffle bass in my room to know how it differs from ported/sealed versions. Removing that distortion and overlay onto the midrange alone opens things up. Few of us have the opportunity to know, by contrast, just how used or brainwashed we are to cabinet colorations to consider them right and normal. When you first remove them, certain things fall away, others come to the fore. How one reacts to such a shift depends. And obviously home listening is (ought to be) for pleasure whereas monitoring/mastering is about finding faults and correcting them way deep in a mix. How will a rigorous truth teller apply itself to pleasure across a wide swath of recording quality? That remains to be seen. From the standpoint of dissecting complex mixes down to their individual strands, I do expect that these could set new strandards. So we'll see how it all pans out. Raal Requisite are still back-ordered on their Pelican cases so my shipment is held up until those get in. Until then, all I have are assumptions so no bread crumbs, sorry. Srajan
Dear Srajan: I've been following your Rike tube amp review with great interest. I really appreciate how you describe the basic "nothing added, nothing subtracted" situation because it made it clear that on soundstaging, treble, midrange, bass, dynamics and all the other stuff we usually fret about, there was no real difference. Then you added your "Y factor" about that back-lit illumination. Your choice of imagery of the framed photograph hanging on the wall then seeing its digital file on a Retina display where the light passes through the image really portrayed it. I now "see" the difference which finally had this whole tube/transistor debate make sense to me. Would you then say that it is rare to come across a tube amp which, on all the other counts, doesn't take away from the strong sides of solid state? Marco Stratzi
In my experience, yes - finding a tube amp which isn't softer and slower than a premium DC-coupled wide-bandwidth transistor amp is far from common. That's why I'm quite excited to have heard this Romy amp. On our 10" widebanders for which its power rating is excessive to operate the amp in the sweet spot of lowest distortion, the Rike gives me everything I expect of copasetic transistors like our FirstWatt SIT-1. Then it adds that radiant thing which is fabulously attractive. I just wish that I could get that without an amp that runs this hot and still has just a bit of hum; and without tubes that can misbehave as described. But it seems that this inside-out glow effect is peculiar to actual valves. I'm still wrestling that. The MySound Cube EL84 monos are en route already so I'll learn whether on the same speakers they could be stand-ins; or whether triode mode is a prerequisite. Srajan
Srajan, Doug here, one of your avid readers. Always appreciate your reviews and columns. A quick question if you don't mind. I was wondering if you heard of White Bird Amplification, at least in the form of their reputation, quality etc? I am interested in their Thunderbird mono class AB amplifiers with optional KT88 tubes. In addition, could you comment on two of their attributes, their optional "amorphous core" transformers (my knowledge of transformers is limited) and their claim that the power tubes do not require biasing because of their design and power output. Thanks again for all that you do. Doug
I've never heard of them before by either reputation or actual experience, sorry. That said, self-biasing tube amps are quite common. Exotic transformer core materials tend to get costlier but specialty makers use them as a point of distinction with attendant claims of superior sonics. To really know what such transformer cores add to the sound, one would need to compare them to conventional equivalents on the same amp. Until then, 'amorphous core' doesn't tell us much beyond being a legitimate exotic option for an output transformer like Finemet or cobalt cores which are costlier than conventional silicon steel. Srajan
Hi Srajan, belated congratulations on the site relaunch: much better and very appreciated by this homo smartphonensis. I’d like to ask you for some advice. I am in the mids of a main system rebuild and a pair of Amphion 7LS have presented themselves at a very competitive rate. Ever since your reviews of the Amphion offerings and also having followed the Gearslutz threads, this brand has been on my radar. I listened to the 3S and 3LS and the latter were really nice but with symphonic fare lacked a bit of the low-end reach that probably the 7LS have to offer - if not too much. I am not a bass head but not too shy of bass either - and my partner likes her bass indeed.
Your addendum about Amphion's capable of close-to-wall situations was very reassuring. Our room is 7 x 3.7m so rather narrow, speakers are on the long wall to only have about 5-8cm of distance to the front wall. Listening distance is ca. 3m. The Amphion footprint and small silhouette would be a good fit for the space. I just wish they’d be less tall. With your experience with this speaker: do you think they work well at relatively low levels? My partner and I listen almost exclusively in the evenings and we can’t go loud. We do long listening session, often 2 - 3hrs and our diet is 85% classical, some Pop, some electronica, also harder fare every once and then.
What I heard with the smaller Amphions was the right mix between musical and analytical - it would just be important to have this qualities consistent at lower levels. Amp is either a Crimson 620D or the internal amp of a Majik DSM/3. Having recently built a Pass Amp Camp Amp for my office system and scored a Nutube B1 kit in Nelsons Xmas giveaway, it is likely that I will acquire a XA25 for the main system eventually. The DSM is to stay for a while and Linn’s Space Optimisation should help with room modes and dialing in bass response. Carl
I'm happy with everything except unsure about that 5-8cm distance from the front wall. I had mine quite close but not that extreme; and my wall had built-in shelving to leave additional air space. I'm not saying it couldn't work well. I just haven't done it myself to be certain. Here an email to Amphion boss Anssi Hyvönen would be best just to tick off that loose item. On listening at lower levels, the extra radiation surface from the passive radiators and doubled-up mid/woofers really helps so all your sonic requirements would seem handled. Srajan
Hello Srajan: I know you'be been criticized by this individual in his blog more than once so I wondered whether you'd seen this? In it a reader of his blog got to hear Romy's personal system and shares his observations on DIYaudio. It made me wonder about hearing reviewer systems (including yours) and what I'd think. Have you heard any systems by colleagues over the years? Did you, like Josh, feel disappointed relative to your own expectations created by those reviewers over the years? Just curious whether you had any insights. Aaron
I just took a look, Aaron. I also went to Romy's blog and read his own reactions to Josh's post since he couldn't reply directly because he's been banned there. In my opinion, it all depends on the kind of music you listen to primarily; on how loud you like it; and whether you're in the nearfield or much further away. Romy's favourite fare which he comments on the most is classical including large-scale complex stuff like Bruckner. According to Josh, he also likes it very loud. If John Darko who fancies electronica heard Romy's system, I doubt he'd like it very much. And vice versa. A system carefully calibrated to excel at symphonica will not automatically excel at synthesized infra bass, synth drums, close-mic'd kick drums or wailing e-guitars. A lot of carefully curated classical can be very well recorded. That too makes a difference on what you can hear and care about to begin with to then fine-tune a system to excel at. If someone listened predominantly to compressed recordings of synthesized fare without real venue ambiance, I'd not expect their systems to be dialed for it. If I suddenly asked them to play back a premium recording with cubits of audible space, I'd be surprised if that ended up being a strong point of their setup. These are very basic examples to point at the various layers a system can explore depending on what one aims to do.
Would you like my system if you heard it? I have no clue except to ask, which system?
Unlike some people who invest all of their discretionary hifi funds into one big 'end-of-life' system, I deliberately keep around a variety of kit in each category to mix and match and change things in smaller less ambitious setups. The SIT-1/Nenuphar system is a very different proposition from a Hyperion/Druid VI combo which is very different from a Codex/Liszt pairing. I don't listen to large-scale classical. I find the attempt of cramming 70+ people into the physical soundstage dimensions of our normal rooms perfectly silly. It's just not gonna happen. I've played in an orchestra. I don't view that experience reproduceable. I prefer to reserve it for a live performance. I've heard Stevie Wonder, Pat Metheny, Dhafer Youssef, Lila Downs, Andreas Vollenweider, the Taksim Trio and many others live, too. But that kind of style and repertoire isn't what I played myself. Now I don't apply the same expectations to its replay. And I don't tend to listen very loud either, finding that quite fatiguing.
So, would you like my system with your own kind of music? If we had a day wherein I'd collect your feedback from whatever system was set up first to keep swapping things in and out toward conforming more to your personal tastes, I'm reasonably certain that I could come up with something which was at least 'close'. But if I expected you—or you expected yourself—to love whatever happened to be set up when you got here, then I'd rather doubt it - unless what you and I listen for and to sync'd up by pure chance.
In the end and like Josh found, it'll always sound like a hifi system with speakers. What else would it sound like? It's not live music!
As to the systems of colleagues, I've heard some. Will such an experience head-on meet one's own expectations based on how they describe it? That really depends on whether we use the same language to begin with; and what our evaluation criteria are. The thing to remember is, you only have yourself to please. Romy shouldn't care whether Josh likes his system and you needn't worry about whether I'd like yours. But since most of us suffer egos, the likelihood is that we'll react like Romy did to Josh's feedback. It's quite easy to be an opinionated critic. When critics themselves are criticized... that's when there suddenly can be a fire in the kitchen. Srajan
Hey Srajan, just finished your Kroma Mimí review and am left with just one question. Why no award? Surely this one deserved it. Or have your standards changed or I overlooked anything? I'd really like to know so I understand how to read things going forward. HolgerGiven that I purchased the pair, I felt that adding an award was like bragging about myself. It just didn't seem right. But when it comes to what an award tends to do—which is signal a writer's enthusiasm—what could speak louder than the same writer buying himself a new toy? The other option was to give an award but not mention that I bought the samples. On balance that felt deceptive since sooner or later, this pair will probably make an appearance in another review. Should I then explain it away as an endless loan? Not right either. So that's what you overlooked then... Srajan
Dear Srajan, one thing confused me a bit about your latest Denafrips review. They make DACs all the way up to your Terminator which I believe costs somewhere around €4'500 yet their separate preamp and amp are priced more like their entry-level converter. Doesn't this suggest to you that something bigger and better is already in the works? Pjotr Rasnik
Actually, the Terminator is (was?) €3'600 when I reviewed it but if we add at least 20% VAT for EU deliveries, your number isn't far off. And yes, I've wondered the same thing but don't know more at this time except that the flagship Artemis headphone amp is in the wings. Will Denafrips at some point in the future have bigger separates to add socketry and power? It's well possible. But for now, the Hestia & Hyperion are silly good and sufficiently kitted out and powerful enough to serve the vast majority. In fact, my loaners are en route to Italy for home-demo trials with a registered group of interested parties. If you keep your eyes on Vinshine's FaceBook page, you should see first user comments in about a month I'd expect. That might help get you off the fence. Srajan
Hello Srajan, I've been following your slowly developing story about the Simon Lee relaunch with great interest. Like you, I've loved his earlier work and am happy to hear he's coming back. Do you have any idea how close he might be to 'go global', i.e. sell outside of South Korea through regular dealers? Buying mail-order at $4'500 isn't something I'd be prepared to do. With best wishes, Craig Holton
I have zero insight into that, Craig. I imagine the same holds true for Simon. Unless I'm mistaken, my forthcoming AIO review will be the first English writeup outside of his domestic press. How many more reviews it will take, of just one product or some of the others as well, here and elsewhere, until there's sufficient dealer interest to place orders? I think that's way up in the air. That's why I very specifically state in my introduction that this isn't a review about anything you can presently buy unless you live in South Korea or order direct. Wishing it to be different doesn't make it so. Perhaps Simon should contract with Alvin Chee of Vinshine Audio who is doing a bang-up job for Denafrips? Srajan
Srajan, I really enjoyed your latest Kroma review. Even though you own quite a lot of speakers already, you still fell for it. I found that rather telling - and amusing, like seeing a guy's New Year's resolutions all go to hell. Would you still call its treble still slightly soft even with your Bakoon or Job 225 amps? That's the only aspect which has me hesitate. I happen to love a wide open top end. Ian McKenny
Yes. Compared to our Aptica with smaller ceramic mid/woofer handing over to a hard dome tweeter, Mimí is softer. That's clearly a very deliberate design decision one must agree with. No matter your amp—here I don't know any more open on top than the Bakoon—will alter that. But I propose it's exactly this voicing which contributes to making this speaker so sonically attractive. Granted, I already have the alternative. You're probably just trying to settle down with one speaker as all normal households should. That's where I don't believe in monogamy - but only because my day job can justify such excess and my tax accountant actually encourages such business expenses. But again, if a maximally explicit treble is important to you, the Kroma won't do it for you, sorry. Srajan
Hello Srajan, it's been a few years since I asked you about the Bakoon amp. I never upgraded from 11R to 12R to gain the extra 5 watts. I have lived happily with mine but have not yet found the perfect speaker partner. The rest of the family prefer one with a small footprint. But speakers with high sensitivity that can work with the 10 watts of the Bakoon seldom come in small packages. Most of them are too big and not visually appealing to the others in the family. I recently had the possibility to buy a pair of B-stock soundkaos Wave 40 in black but my wife said that she would feel as if Darth Vader was looking at her in the living room. I found them quite beautiful so our preferences differ. I am currently running the Bakoon with Blumenstein Orcas, a wonderful single-driver speaker with a warm character that has lovely tone and works very well with acoustic instruments and small ensembles. But a 3-inch driver in a 20m² room has limited dynamics and you sometimes feel that you are seated in the back rows in the concert hall.
Therefore I am now thinking of finding a speaker that has the virtues I appreciate with the Bakoon – great clarity with excellent detail but not too bright or edgy and fully enjoyable at low volumes – and to buy an amp that works well with that speaker. One of the candidates would be the Albedo Aptica you own. It is a compact beautiful speaker that, according to your review, works well at low volumes and has the same clarity in the presentation that I like with the Bakoon. Even if the sensitivity is a low 85dB, you indicate that the Aptica can work with lower power quality amps. I understand that 10 watts from the Bakoon wont sufficient but do you think that any of the First Watt amplifiers could work well? Best regards, Christer Lagvik
The FirstWatt F6 or F7 work very well with the Aptica. I’d go after the F7. That’s 25/50wpc into 8/4Ω and plentiferous in your size room. Mine is five times the size and the FirstWatt still is enough. Srajan
Hello Srajan, in the end I didn't go the Aptica route and still have the Bakoon 11R driving a pair of 3-inch single drivers. I am following your evolving Kroma Mimí review with interest. Any chance you will ask Mimí to take your 15W Bakoon for a waltz? With a sensitivity of 92dB, Mimí might consider that amp to be a charming cavalier. Even the little brother with only 10 watts could perhaps be a candidate in a small room though Kroma suggest 15 watts as a minimum. All the best, Christer
Yes, I'll take Mimí for a Bakoon ride. If it works out, I'll later use the inbound AMP-13R for comparison on the same speaker. SrajanSrajan,
I noticed that the waltz with Bakoon and Mimí turned out rather well! My listening space is about 3.5x6 meters so Mimí could definitely be of interest. But considering how I have started to really appreciate the charm of single drivers, Cube Audio may very well be a better candidate. That company has recently gained a Swedish importer so now I have a chance to audition. One common disease amongst audiophiles is the need to swap gear constantly. There's always a novelty that might be better than what you currently have. Another version of that flue is the difficulty of deciding which component to buy because there are so many options. I am suffering that latter variety. It is better for the wallet but can be frustrating. On the grave stone of Swedish writer Fritiof Nilsson Piraten it says, "Here rests a man who was in the habit of always postponing everything. However, in the end he improved and really died on 31 January 1972." Hopefully I won't postpone my next loudspeaker choice that long but there are some coming reviews on 6moons that need to be read first. Regards, ChristerThere'll always be coming reviews on 6moons that need to be read first - until one day there won't be. Perhaps you'll need to wait for that day? Srajan
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
Would you like to download the current image?