Blue Moon Award Winners in the Audio Reviews Categories

The 6moons Blue Moon Award is bestowed only on components or music releases of rare excellence. The following audio components were deemed outstanding for the specific reasons cited.

For English speakers not familiar with the colloquial phrase "Once in a Blue Moon", it connotes an event of considerable rarity, like finding a pearl inside an oyster. The actual occurance in its original and proper meaning relates to the extra full moon in a quarter of the year when there are four full moons rather than the usual three. The division of the year into quarters for this purpose sets the dividing line between March 21 and March 22. This relates to the rule for setting the date for the Christian Holy Day of Easter. It depends on the last full moon (as calculated by a somewhat inaccurate formula) on or before the Equinox on March 21.

This meaning of a blue moon was lost when the editors of the original Farmer's Almanac died. It was recovered only when researchers for Sky & Telescope magazine noticed that the Maine Farmer's Almanac from 1829 to 1937 reported blue moons that did not fit the meaning of the term calendar blue moon as has since become convention when people have taken to calling a full moon a blue moon based on the Gregorian calendar. By this use of the term, a blue moon is the second of two full moons to occur in the same calendar month. This definition of blue moon originated from a mistake in an article in the 1946 Sky & Telescope magazine, which failed in an attempt to infer the earlier definition used in the original Farmer's Almanac. It was helped to popularity when a Trivial Pursuit question used this as a source for one of its questions. Sky & Telescope discovered the error nearly 60 years later and the magazine printed a retraction and correction. But by the time the correction came about, the calendar definition had already come into common use. Because it is so much easier to understand, the mistaken calendar-based meaning has stuck.

Regardless of these arcana, a blue moon sighting refers to something that doesn't happen very often - a perfect image for a selective award and a fitting tie-in to this site's lunar identity. To read the winning reviews, click on the respective links below. But first, a reason why you should:

Reading improves your vocabulary, Officer Maiden. You should try it sometime. Though I suppose you can get by with just looking at the pictures."
"Ooh, I'm cut to the quick on that one," Maiden said.
"If you cut us, do we not bleed?", Belisarius asked.
Maiden shocked the hell out of me by giving the next line: "If you tickle us, do we not laugh?"
Belisarius clapped softly. "Touché, Officer Maiden."
"Big and well read," I said. "I'm impressed."

He pulled a chain out of his pocket with keys on the end of it. "Don't tell the other cops. They'd think I was a sissy."

I looked up at him, all the way up at him. "It's not reading Shakespeare that makes you a sissy, Maiden. It's that damn gun. Only pansies carry that much hardware."

He unlocked the door at the end of the hallway. "Got to carry something big, Ms. Blake. Balances me out when I run."

From Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter novel
Blue Moon
I was not planning on issuing any other type of award outside our already sparingly administered Blue Moons. But the appearance of Anthony Gallo's latest $2,590/pr super speaker on my own floor in April of 2004 simply necessitated that very unexpected action. What could be more rare than a blue moon and still be of lunar origins? A Lunar Eclipse of our 6 moons course. With the Reference III being the first-ever such recipient, I honestly don't expect another one this year - though never say never as Mrs. Moneypenny would remind us. Simply put, to garner a Lunar Eclipse award, a component has to combine the following attributes:
  • Implement unique technical solutions
  • Be a giant killer (it's easy to advance the state of the art when money's no issue)
  • Be styled and configured such as to become a real-world product for real people with realistic constraints of budget, space and appearance

Now you'll appreciate why a Lunar Eclipse recognition from 6moons must by necessity remain a very rare occurrance indeed.

Three years after launching this site, the $2,800 Zu Cable Druid Mk4 appeared in my reference system in May of 2005 and warranted the only second-ever bestowal of our Lunar Eclipse award. As with the Gallos, I bought a pair. You see, this award business is serious and means exactly what it says - you can play in the big leagues without forking over big-ticket salaries.

Some cynics have suggested that if a return to sanity really was on my docket, why did I not buy a pair of Paradigms and be done with it? That's certainly an option. However, it completely overlooks that sanity need neither equate mainstream nor mandate mainstream products as though stellar performance for a relative song couldn't also be found in the more esoteric strata. By the same token, to go esoteric for its own sake is just as questionable as believing that value can only be found with large corporate entities. Both Gallo Acoustics and Zu Cable are smaller enthusiast HighEnd audio firms dedicated to offering high-performance value product. Both have really hit one out of the ballpark with these two models!

Then tube man John Potis stumbled upon the Bel Canto Design analog switching amps called Reference 1000s for their 1000wpc output into 4 ohms. They became both his new high-power reference amplifiers and our first electronics to garner our rare Lunar Eclipse recognition. These amps are small, lightweight, ultra efficient, brutally powerful, very suave and, as the caption describes, quite a far cry from what one might traditionally expect of a muscle transistor design, soncially.

The following awards were given out in 2006.
Kondo Ongaku-Pre KSL M-77:
"for The Absolute Pinnacle Of The Preamp Art in the extreme price category"
Mark & Daniel Maximus Ruby:
"for Perhaps The Ultimate Solution in the affordable minature monitor category"
Living Voice OBX-RW:
"for The Ultimate Expression of a classic UK speaker"
Melody I2A3:
"for All-Around Perfection int the low-power tube integrated category"
Miyabi 47:
"for The Perfect Blend of Art & Science in cost-no-object cartridges"
Raysonic Audio CD128:
"for Design, Build, Musicality and Value in the <$2K CD player category"
JM Reynaud Twin Signature:
"for The Perfect Music Lover's Speaker in the <$2K monitor category"
Acoustic Zen Adagio:
"for Ultra-Low Distortion Transducer Magic in the two-way floorstander category"
Grand Prix Audio Brooklands:
"for Over-The-Top Performance Without Negatives in the wall-mount equipment support category"
Art Audio Vinyl Reference:
"The S.E.T. Of Phonostages"
NuForce Reference 9SE:
"For From-The -Ground-Up Amplifier Technology with S.O.T.A. performance at a real-world price"
Tom Evans Audio Design Groove+, Vibe7/Pulse, Linear A:
"For Seriously Additive (And Addictive) Synergy Gains in the edge-of-the-art phono, preamp and power amp grouping"
Zu Cable Definition Pro:
"For S.O.T.A Performance, Extreme Adaptabilty & Size/Decor Friendliness in the full-range, wideband driver high efficiency speaker category"
Bastanis Prometheus MkII:
"For DIY & Turnkey Allaround Excellence in the fullrange, wideband hi-eff speaker category"
Avantgarde Acoustic Duo Omega Retrofit:
"For A Sound Upgrade Investment in the hornspeaker category"
Bel Canto Design e.One Ref1000s:
"For Tube-Reminiscent Density & Exceptional Presence Factor in the power house amplifier category"
Esoteric X-03:
"For Competing With Established Benchmarks at up to 6 times its price in the Redbook arena"
Axiom Audio M80 v2:
"For Unprecedented Value & Performance in the sub $2,000 floorstanding category"
Axiom Audio EP600:
"For Unprecedented Performance & Flexibility in the value-priced monster subwoofer category"
Manley Labs Shrimp & Mahi Mahi:
"For Way Cool Looks, Build Quality & Boogie Factor in the <$5K valve seperates category"
Zu Tone:
"For Immediacy And Sheer Fun in the high-efficiency monitor category"
Solid Tech Radius:
"For Flexibility, Performance & Appearance in the equipment support category"
The following awards were given out in 2005.
First Watt F3 Power JFET:
"The Amp For Low-Power Tube Aficionados Who Don't Want Tubes"
Tom Evans Audio Design Vibe Lithos 7 with Pulse Power Supply:
"Possibly The Most Resolved Yet Musical Solid-State Preamp For Tube Lovers"
Zero One Audio Ti48:
For "Superior Sonics, Features & User Friendlieness" in the CDP-packaged hard-drive server category
Opera Audio Consonance CDP-5.0 Droplet:
For "Amp-Direct Tube Preamp Functionality" in the single-box CDP category
Hyperion Sound HT-88:
For "Amazing Value & Real-World Drive" in the low-power S.E.T. category
Yamamoto Sound Craft A-08S:
For "The Whole Package Of Perfection" in the micro-power S.E.T. category
Sonic Impact Son of T-Amp:
For "The Most Affordable Amp Ever" in the bona fide high-performance category
Nanotech Systems NESPA #1:
For "Effective, Permanent CD Improvements" in the optical finalizer category
Thiel Audio PowerPoint 1.2:
For "Boundary-Expanding Performance" in the special application speaker category
Cerious Technologies:
For "Innovative <$1K Cable Technology" for price-no-object performance
47 Laboratory Cable Kit:
For "Top Performance At Entry-Level Prices" in the complete loom signal cable category
Balanced Power Technologies BPT PPC:
For "Versatility And Performance" in the <$1K passive power conditioner category
Zu Cable Definition Mk 1.5:
For "Statement-Level Concept & Execution" in the high-efficiency full-range speaker system category
Anthony Gallo Acoustics A'Diva Ti, Micro Ti, TR1 & TR2:
For "Over The Top Value & Performance" in the 'lifestyle' speaker system category
ModWright SWL 9.0SE:
For "Raising A Very High Bar" in the affordable valve preamp category
Ray Samuels Audio Raptor:
For "Finesse, Resolution & Universal Drive" in the valve headphone amp category
Usher CP-6381:
For "Stellar Fit'Finish, Unflappable Musicality & Panache" in the <$5,000 floorstanding loudspeaker category
Green Mountain Audio Callisto:
For "Exceptional Size-Defying Performance" in the monitor loudspeaker category
Onix SP3:
For "Recommendation Numero Uno" in the affordable tube integrated category
Cain & Cain Abby/Bailey:
For "Hitting The Essence Of Music Making" in the 3-piece single-driver speaker category
Walker Audio Velocitor S:
For "Statement-Level Performance" in the passive power distribution category
Audio Aero Prima SE:
For "Class-Leading Peak Performance & Features" in the tubed DAC/preamp category
The following awards were given out in 2004.
Zanden Audio Model 2000P / Model 5000S:
For "Resetting The Art's Outermost Limits" of cost-no-object RedBook digital
DeVore Fidelity:
For "The New Standard" in statement-level dynamic loudspeakers
Brinkmann Balance:
For "The Perfect Marriage Of Aesthetics, Engineering & Sonics" in the S.O.T.A. turntable category
Schroeder DPS:
For "Possibly The One To Beat" in the S.O.T.A. tone arm category
For '"Room/Speaker Correction + DAC/Pre Functionality" in the affordable one-box turnkey solution category
Yamamoto Sound Craft A-08 45 S.E.T.:
For ''S.O.T.A. Performance, Quality & Looks" in the 2wpc micro power SET category
Hyperion HPS-938:
For ''SET-Friendly Full-Range Performance Value" in the <$10,000/pr speaker category
Magnepan MMG W:
For ''Unparalleled Versatility & Excitement" in the truly budget-conscious panel speaker category
KR Audio Antares VA340:
For ''Stunning Dynamic & Rhythmic Fildelity & Drive" in the 300B SET integrated amp category
Exemplar Audio's Denon DVD-2900:
For ''S.O.TA. RedBook & SACD/DVD-A Performance" in the universal player category
SinglePower MPX3:
For ''That Perfectly Elusive Mix of Qualities" in the tube headphone amp category
Eastern Electric MiniMax CDP/pre/power system:
For ''The Ultimate Affordable Tube System" in the $2,500 3-piece category
Wyetech Labs Sapphire:
For ''Genre-Defying Articulation, Linearity & Musical Honesty" in the SET 300B amplifier category
McCormack Audio UDP-1 & DNA HT-5:
For ''Sterling Performance, Build Quality & Value" in the multi-channel amp & universal player categories
Audience Auric Illuminator:
For ''Outstanding Price/Performance Ratio" in the optical disc resolution enhancement category
Resolution Audio Opus 21:
For ''Outstanding Performance & Affordability" in high-performance digital one-box solutions
EAC | Exact Audio Copy:
For ''Outstanding Software Contribution" in the CD ripping category
Living Voice OBXR 2:
For ''The Classic British Masterpiece" in the small tower loudspeaker category
Stealth Audio Cables Indra:
For ''Breakthrough Technology & Performance" in the analogue interconnect category
Pro-Ject 1Xpression turntable, Speed Box & Tube Box:
For ''Musicality & Build Quality" in the <$1,500 analogue system category
Eastern Electric MiniMax CDP & audio-technica ATH-W1000 headphones:
For ''Fatigue-free Hi-Resolution Musicality" in the CDP/headphone system category
Supratek Chardonnay:
For ''Superlative Design, Build & Sound Quality" in the sub-$5,000 preamplifier category
Combak/Reimyo CDP-777:
For ''Best One-Box CD Player?" in the price-no-object category
McCormack Audio DNA-500:
For ''Best solid-state amp extant?" in the sub-$10,000 category
Thiel CS 2.4:
For ''Setting a New High-Water Mark" in the sub-$5000/pr speaker category
Walker Audio SST:
For ''Archetypal More-for-Less Rewards" in the contact cleaner category
The following awards were given out in 2003.
Audio Zone PRE-T1/AMP-2:
For ''Musical Energy, Excitement and a Live Presentation" in the small separates category
Ohm Walsh Micro Tall:
For ''Transcending Expectations & Class" in the $1,000/pr loudspeaker category
BPT BP-3.5 Signature:
For ''Best We've Yet Heard" in the AC line conditioner category
Eastern Electric MiniMax:
For ''Finesse, Adaptability & Build Quality" in the tube preamplifier category
Sonic Euphoria PLC:
For ''Transparency & Low-Level Dynamics" in the passive preamplifier category
Art Audio Carissa:
For ''Refinement, Fun & Raw Drive" in the SET amplifier category
Stereovox HDXV:
For ''Extreme Value Surprise" in the digital ic category

Coda-Continuum Unison 3.1 Limited:
For "Complete Package" Excellence in the integrated amplifier category

Shanling SCD-T200 Vacuum Tube SACD Player in Level-1+ Modification Guise:
For "Excellence in High Value Modifications" in the tube SACD player category

Music Maker II Moving Magnet Phono Cartridge by The Cartridge Man:
For "SOTA Performance at Working-Class Pricing" in the moving-magnet cartridge category
Audio Zone AMP-1 by Audio Oasis:
For "Most Exciting Early Discovery of 2003" in the 1-input integrated amplifier category
VBT Magellan VIII:
For "Pitch Definition, Pace & Rhythm Magic" in the subwoofer category
Bel Canto Design DAC2:
For "Affordable Peak Performance" in the digital converter category
Zanden Audio Model 5000 MkII:
For "Analogue high-Definition Performance" in the digital converter category
AUDIOPAX Model 88:
For "Engineering Brilliance & Massively Musical Success" in the tube amplifier category
The following awards were given out in 2002.
Walker Audio Velocitor:
For "Ultra-Tweaked Peak Performance" in the passive power conditioner category
Unison Research Unico Integrated:
For "Component Of The Year 2002" in the integrated amplifier category
DeVore Fidelity Gibbon Eight Loudspeaker:
For "Emotional Fidelity & Communicativenss" in the 2-way tower category
AKG K-1000 dynamic headphones / nOrh SE-9 SEP integrated amplifier / Stefan AudioArt K-1000 cable:
For "Performance, Price, Finesse & Workmanship" as a complete High-End headphone system
Bel Canto Design 2i integrated amplifier:
For "Features, Sound, Aesthetics & Value" in the integrated amplifier category
AKG K-1000 dynamic headphones:
For "Serious Contender for World's Best" in the dynamic headphone category
Audio Magic Digital Stealth Power Purifier:
For "Superior Price/Performance Ratio" in the powerline conditioner category