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Rounding wizard of times gone by
Looking over the past nearly-a-year with 6moons at all that's changed and all that hasn't; and picking up a few pieces to dust off and highlight reminds me of Hans Castorp. Just like good ol' unsuspecting Hans in Thomas Mann's Magic Mountain chugging up the Alps on that little train that could, Hans was soon filled with ideas and opinions of all shapes and sizes by a colorful assortment of fellow inmates (at the sanitarium at Davos). In the end, Hans did not end up where he thought he would. He didn't even end up who he thought he was. But that's another story. "...though it must needs be borne in mind, in Hans Castorp's behalf, that it is his story, and not every story happens to everybody..."

Yes, the company. Every Fi I've had or heard is beautifully made while it makes music beautifully. So anything by Don Garber comes highly recommended in my book. I own the Fi X, the Fi Yph and the Fi 45, my favorite amp encountered on my personal audio journey. And along with Srajan I'll keep it lit up with EML solid plate 45s. Jeff Day and Art Dudley own Fi and Srajan just reviewed the Fi WE421A and was very favorably impressed. To quote Art Dudley, "His amps get to the heart of what he finds important in music, and I think that Don's priorities as a listener and mine overlap more than they clash. Which is good."

If it hadn't been for Jeff Days' excellent Fi 2A3 review, I never would have thought to ask Don Garber to make my Fi 45 in the first place. Which means, I most likely never would have become a writer for 6moons. It was through an exchange with Jeff that my 6moons path, the departing station for this story, got its start. And through my review of the Fi 45, I got to exchange thoughts with some of the more colorful people in and out of audio: Don Garber, Herb Reichert, JC Morrison, Nori Komuro and Art Dudley. I plan to continue this thread as it leads to many interesting places.

Audio Tropic Mœbius Line Stage
Terry Cain told me about this great line stage he bought built by this great guy Poindexter from the Asylum. When I started officially writing for 6moons, this was the first piece of gear I went after for review. Call it beginner's luck. In my brief time as a writer, the $1500 Mœbius stands out as a sound educational experience. Probably as close to passive as an active circuit can get, Mœbius is transparent, punchy and oh so very musical. I'm still wondering why I don't own one. Eric Kingsbury aka Poinz: "I have made racing motorcycles, guitars, swords and knives, rifles, hang gliders, airplanes, sailboats and audio gear. I've always loved music firstest and mostest and so just kept gravitating back to instruments and gear for reproduction." Poinz is the kinda guy you want to have a few beers with. The fact that he lives in Hawaii suggests he gets to pick the pub.
Minute Amplifier
The Audio Tropic Musical Machine [subject of an upcoming review] uses SILK transformers from SACThailand. In researching Mœbius, I happened on the SACThailand web site and their myriad amps including the Minute. Available as a kit or fully assembled, the Minute amp uses hand-wound SILK transformers designed for this circuit which is a "stereo vacuum tube amplifier featuring EL84Ms running in either Triode or Ultralinear Class
A with zero negative feedback". And it's got a volume pot so single sourcers can hang sans preamp. Since SAC does not yet distribute review samples, I went ahead and just bought one. The bad news is shipping from Thailand costs some real scratch. The good news? Beyond the fact that this thing makes music, shipping is included in the price. Oh, did I forget to mention the Minute amp costs $350? That's assembled, tested and delivered to the US. Including tubes. Review to follow.

Auditorium 23 speaker cable
Music and magic for $850 a pair. And not just in my system - every moonie that has lent an ear to the A23's cotton-clad green magic has given them two big moons up, so bham - here they are on my list. Jonathan Halpern the US importer for Auditorium 23, Shindo, Leben Hi-Fi and Euphya Audio is also someone I'm very happy to have met. Knowledgeable (and that's with a capital K) and most helpful, Jonathan was the source of great assistance and some great gear for my recently assembled vinyl rig after a 15+ year absence (Rega P3, Denon DL-103, Auditorium 23 step up, Fi Yph). And it was through Jon that I met John DeVore, another class act in the audio world (also with a capital K). As the story goes, I never would have found Nori, JC and Herb if it wasn't for Jon and John. I asked Jonathan to contribute to my Fi 45 review early on when the question to be answered was "Who is Don Garber?" Jonathan's answer? "I don't know."
Cain & Cain Abby/Bailey
Single driver immediacy, beautifully crafted, easy to drive. Add the Bailey and as Srajan noted "In many respects, this combination really gets you the best of two worlds". As I said to Jeff Day in one of our early email exchanges, the Cain & Cain Abbys tend to lead you in the right direction. I never would have thought to buy an amp made for the 45 triode if I didn't own the Abbys. And we know where that led. But wait a minute, isn't that two departing stations? That's really how this goes, isn't it? Stuff doesn't really move along a single track, from a beginning point to an end point, all neat and tidy. Just as my best of may be your not interested. Depends where you are on your trip and what you're looking for.

To borrow a line or two from one of my favorite writers on audio "We are not after good sound. We are after good living." Herb Reichert had it right. And I think Srajan and 6moons have it right too (if I do say so myself). Good living is living with music. That's what the road trips look for and that's what all this gear serves. Don't get me wrong, that does not diminish the role of the gear; just keeps it in its place. People like Terry Cain, Don Garber and Eric Kingsbury make gear that gets you there while still being able to sock away some savings for things like your kid's college fund – one of my personal good living requirements at present. So while I never officially reviewed the Blue Moon Award endowed Cain & Cains, having owned them before I started writing for 6moons, I am putting the Abby/Bailey combo at $3,000 on my 2005 Personal Best of List because I just plain dig 'em. They are a central character in this tale. And not every story happens to everybody.

"Space, rolling and revolving between him and his native heath, possessed and wielded the powers we generally ascribe to time". Just like Hans' journey, our little hobby can take us rolling and revolving. I know I'm enjoying one hell of a great ride with no end in site. All aboard.