For previous articles in this series of industry features, please refer to the archives.
Coming in May 2014 - Munich HighEnd - As the arguably most important hifi show in the world, Munich is where journalists, distributors, dealers and the public descend in May to preview new products, meet their favorite designers and, as well as possible under such conditions, lend an ear or two to various exhibits. Our publisher will be there to pick out the most interesting novelties...
April 2014 - Ponofication - Pono’s just concluded Kickstarter campaign netted above $6'000'000 in pledges against an $800’000 ask to become one of this portal's most successful pledge drives in their history. It means Pono's Toblerone-shaped hi-rez portable software player designed by Ayre—the original Meridian platform was canned—will become Chinese-built reality. Whilst committed audiophiles already were listening to Astell&Kern or HifiMan players with very similar feature sets more than a year ago (yawn!), Pono front man Neil Young moved things into a different arena. Pono was not technical news at all. Pono was simply bringing the audiophile message—of sound better than MP3—to another audience. That was the news...
April 2014 - Cully Jazz 2014 - Though we now live on a mountain, close proximity to the Montreux and Cully jazz festivals affords us access to interesting concerts, never mind the Paleo festival, Lausanne casino and various Geneva venues. The final show of this year's Cully Jazz was a twofer entitled Fabulous Oriental Night. It featured Dhafer Youssef from 8:30-10:00 and Ibrahim Maalouf from 10:30-12:00. The former revisited tracks from his latest Birds Requiem CD, the latter from his award-winning Illusions album...
April 2014 - Axjet - Ever heard of a three-way single-driver speaker? Here is one - the Axjet from the UK. Marja & Henk have the story...
April 2014 - Delays: How much is too much? My friend Dan is unusually patient. You might say he can afford to be since he's well off. But that's no reason for abuse. Consider the gestation of this order which was solicited by the manufacturer, Clayton Shaw, on July 9th 2012 and hadn't been delivered by April 10th, 2014...
March 2014 - A new sound room - Moving is a bitch. But every three-or-so years the lady tends to visit upon us. And the outcome is always great. So the bitching about it really ought to stop. Sez my wife. Me... I do tend to go on about it. But the result this time really merited the considerable efforts so there.

Here's the final page to report on the acoustic differences with the former place.
March 2014 - 2nd hand - The term conjures up flea markets, Salvation Army stores, going antiquing and in general the potential for a good deal. Today I'll apply it to hifi reportage. What's second-hand hifi reportage? How about commenting on a formal review whilst packaging it as a type of editorial? Comments on published writing are the stuff our forums thrive on. Yet those posters never propose to present their comments or critiques as a form of 'review'; as a formal review on a formal review as it were. Yet precisely that sort of thing is now starting to pop up in more formalized settings. As someone who makes a living from reviewing to spend considerable time on the job, it's a bit as though writers of such pieces couldn't be bothered to produce their own reviews...
March 2014 - Diapason factory tour - It’s not that I'd ever complain about being a reviewer. Au contraire. I feel lucky having turned a hobby into a quasi profession. But when in December a spontaneous invite to visit Italy arose, more precisely Brescia in the Lombard region - that was a highlight. I packed my bags and quickly accepted Alessandro Schiavi’s offer to pen a Diapason factory tour. Okay, confession time. To me Italy is a crown jewel: the never boring landscapes; the varied vegetation; the pulsing old and new culture; cities like Rome, Milano, Venice, Syracuse, Florence, Naples and Messina. Now add their cuisine and wine. God must have been Italian to be so generous to one country...
February 2014 - Acoustic treatments & aesthetics - Acoustic treatment is a twice cursed audiophile matter. First and foremost, listening room acoustics derive from complex interactions of factors that are difficult to understand and even harder to model by the novice. Second, it quickly becomes difficult to reconcile aesthetic considerations and the effectiveness of passive acoustic correction. No sane person wants to live in as stressful an environment as this one except perhaps for some hardcore bachelor. But as soon as Mr. bachelor softens up to find a permanent mate, aesthetics become a serious issue again. The larger the room, the greater these inconsistencies will be....
February 2014 - Syndication - For years we've been syndicating regular reviews from the German fairaudio.de and Polish highfidelity.pl websites. By syndication I don't mean links to elsewhere. I mean formally published reports in our pages where layout and photos were simply reformatted to fit our website. Later we added Australia's DigitalAudioReview.net. Even more recently we began collaborating with Audiophile-Magazine and AudioMagazine from France and Russia respectively. My rationale for such arrangements has always been tri-fold: 1/ to expand our own mix of voices and products; 2/ to give manufacturers added exposure in a different language; and 3/ to collaborate with other publications in the same sector...
January 2014 - Triangle Electroacoustique - Joël Chevassus reports from this French loudspeaker factory...
January 2014 - How to reinvent oneself? When Jim Thiel of Thiel Audio passed away in 2009, his vacated engineering position wasn't filled until September 2013. Then Mark Mason became the company's new director of product development. Coming directly from SVS where he was responsible for their Ultra range, he'd previously worked a long stretch at PSB. The first indication of where Thiel in their new 'Mason era' is headed comes from the TM3. That's a $2'999/pr monitor ($599/pr stands) which flips the firm's trademark sloping baffle to the back. The front is vertical, the back angled. With stacked Ply, cabinet construction has gone original Magico Mini...
January 2014 - Looking back over 2013, I'd predicted—speculated, hoped—that it'd be the year Bruno Putzeys' Hypex Ncore 1200 tech would make serious noise in the market. It did and it didn't. Curiously those who made any actual noise were the OEMs, first of these Merrill Audio with their Veritas models, second Bel Canto Design with their new Black range whose power modules run low-gain Ncore boards. BCD's move from tubes to Tripath then ICEpower and now for their statement model Ncore is descriptive. Numerous reviews (Tone Audio, PFO, Dagogo) and show sightings of the Veritas monos gave them the high marks which my own review of this technology in the Acoustic Imagery Atsah monos had suggested were due...
December 2013 - Warsaw 2013 - In 2013 the Polish Audio Show celebrated its 17th birthday! Where many other national shows had to face their demise, Adam Mokrzycki managed again to attract enough exhibitors to fill 104 rooms spread over three hotels in the center of Warsaw. With our experience of last year's show still fresh in our minds, we were happy to accept an invitation to attend this year’s edition again. The show organization runs like a well-oiled machine. Setup and breakdown times for exhibitors are tight but doable. We heard no complaints from exhibitors of feeling under undue pressure not even on Sunday when the show closes at 6pm but rooms should be cleared by 8am the following morning. That’s hard work no doubt but ... Part III with pages 6-7.
December 2013 - Boenicke Audio - Ramsteinerstrasse 17 marks the spot of Boenicke Audio Manufaktur, a small but very different loudspeaker house within a few hundred meters from the Rhein river in downtown Basel. On a residential street with 5-storey brownstone apartment buildings in a commercial structure tucked into the interior courtyard of this city block, Boenicke Audio's show room cum workshop shares space with a Sicilian printer specialized in very large work. During my visit a 1-meter across blueprint of Switzerland's tallest new building going up within eyesight of this office stuck suggestively out of one of their machines...
November 2013 - The New Ways - After last week's depressing look at The Old Ways (plural just like today's to indicate isolated examples not absolutes) it was fitting to look at the other side. What could be new ways to reach out to consumers and make new friends in what is an invisible home-based hobby that relies on exposure? Park your shiny new ride on the curb. You needn't even be driving it to make a statement of some sort. Power up your new shiny hifi toy however and nobody knows about it. Reading magazines like ours relies on pre-existing interest. But just how are you supposed to be interested in fine hifi if you had no clue about anything outside your sphere of familiarity that was worth knowing about...?
November 2013 - The Old Ways - How not to win friends in the hifi biz: I am the founder and owner of X. If interested we would like to start discussing giving you some of our products for review. We think that your site looks beautiful and, should you be interested, think that our products could look good on your pages." And there I thought it was about content not any pretty pictures. We'd been online for 11 long years. X had never once contacted us. What compelled this email now? "First off, I'm old. I'm not computer or web savvy. I have tended to stick to what I thought I knew. Hence the concentration on 'the old ways'. Why now? I've become increasingly disenchanted with the arrogant capricious ignorant press...
November 2013 - Contagion - prescribed! - How to win friends in the hifi biz...
November 2013 - Not In but Deflation - With my dad a professional soldier in the German navy prior to his retirement, my blue-collar upbringing reflects how I view very pricey hifi. Thus I mostly shun it. Of course all is relative. A blue-collar worker today would have to ridicule my investment in this hobby. That said I'd always wondered about Jeff Fritz and the UltraAudio website he mans. Since ultra-expensive gear does make up a fair share of the high end, dedicating a publication to this sector of the market made perfect sense as long as there's enough to go around to keep you busy. I was simply curious how long he could plow these fields without exhaustion or eventual disillusionment...
November 2013 - DSD - Given the market failure of material SACD and DVD-A, I'd not blame anyone for wondering whether the current DSD-over-USB craze shouldn't have the DSD acronym stand for double strength dupe. If you've followed the loud cheerleading for the standard by Rob Robinson of PFO and Michael Lavorgna of AudioStream, you could fear that you're missing out on something truly major if you presently weren't streaming DSD. Yet anyone who thinks over why such files should or might be superior to high-resolution 24-bit PCM at 96/176.4kHz and bound to become the next big thing faces a few hurdles...
October 2013 - RMAF 2013 - Steve Marsh trekked to the Mile-High City for his annual pilgrimage to the temple of hifi...
October 2013 - Melbourne Hifi Show - 'twas Aussie contributor John Darko. "I'm overflowing with words and pics on the Australian hifi show that took place in Melbourne last weekend. Ordinarily I wouldn't think twice about banging it up on my site. However there were some exhibits/manufacturers that I think would benefit from a broader (read: European) audience. You want? I'll run the surplus photos and notes on my site as a teaser piece." Hell yes. Cue Gollum. I wantzed it. Here goes...
October 2013 - HighEnd Suisse 2013 - With 18 CH companies having participated at the Salon Sons & Sens a week earlier, the key attraction of a domestic show—meeting domestic manufacturers—had been strategically removed for this event. Still, a world premier unveiling promised at HighEnd Munich pointed at a very good reason to still attend. What I'd been told was that a German S.O.T.A maker of electronics would have something radically new, better, smaller and cheaper in their catalogue to launch at the Regensdorf Mövenpick Hotel. Would timing prove out? Find out whether more for less really happened...
October 2013 - Sons & Sens - I've heard it rumored that certain reviewers have been known to write full reviews without ever opening the box. To attempt a similar feat I decided to write a show report without attending. Here you go...
September 2013 - Swiss eggs on sticks - With the permanent arrival of my dream speakers immanent, here's a riff on how the room size, loudness preferences and type of music you favor influence your ideal speaker; why the absolute sound is a ridiculous myth; and why A re!ative Sound is a far better concept to hint at what it's all about... click hear for Page 2 if you've done 1 already.
September 2013 - What if? Today that perennial curiosity unfurls into "what would you buy if you had to do it all over?" Asking a reviewer can be interesting. It's not because he or she has better hearing than you. It's because our kind changes something in their system on a weekly or often daily basis month after month. Opportunity for regret when something plainly better or as good but far cheaper and/or smaller or more practical passes through is a lot higher...
August 2013 - When IT turns shIT. In good ol’ IT land there’s an iron-clad adage. Always test new software in a special environment completely isolated from the production environment where actual users work. Once seriously tested and approved by all users in the beta environment, one creates a backup of the current production version and only then installs the new version. With version releases it goes even further. Plenty of companies won't even dream of installing any Dot Zero (x.0) or even-numbered release. They wait for the first service pack, patch or whatever the supplier calls it to even touch the now x.1 software in their test environment before perhaps installing it formally if their entire staff agree...
July 2013 - Kyron Audio - Edgar Kramer from Audio Esoterica talks to Kyron Audio principles Leon Suter and Lee Gray about the extraordinary Gaia flagship loudspeaker, their real estate stint on behalf of a client and the astonishing soon-to-come Kronos loudspeaker...
June 2013 - RoadTour Mundorf. Ralph Werner visits the Mundorf factory in Germany and chats with its boss...
June 2013 - Things I learnt this year... and it's only half over. Sometimes it's time. Stop. Take stock. The most recent cause came from the Vibex power filters which I'd bought in the wake of their reviews. One is solely a DC filter - one socket in, one socket out. The other is an 11-outlet version which adds standard AC filtering to its DC blocking. I placed the former ahead of my passive GigaWatt power block which feeds my power amps and Zu Submission sub. The big Vibex Three 11R replaced my active GigaWatt conditioner on all my front-end components. The only reason I even pursued DC filtering was a cyclical on/off buzz from the Submission's Hypex plate amp. Its self noise went from nada to mega and back in endless loops. It had me conjecture that ...
May 2013 - Job search - When within hours of posting a review the first reader emails come in and keep on coming, a writer wonders whether he's hit a nerve. That's how this fella felt after his writeup of Job's 225 amplifier. Priced at $1.495 and sold only to US customers only via Amazon, without any published company email for pre-sale assistance, Job's marketing strategy is different to put it mildly. What makes it so interesting is that the actual product performs way beyond its asking price...
May 2013 - Munich HighEnd 2013 - The annual trek to see the wizard of MOC promised a number of hardware surprises... and delivered. With 13 pages there should be something for everyone - and still we missed plenty!
March 2013 - bandcamp.com - Browse from 6.668.670 tracks and 830.771 albums of artists spanning 183 countries and buy your latest music directly from the performers...
January 2013 - Charisma Audio's new showroom - With the steady demise of traditional high-end audio shops, one growing counter trend are distributors who either deal direct or in some instances open up a brick-and-mortar location of their own. Bernard Li of Canadian distribution house Charisma Audio recently opened a by-appointment-only showroom in busy Richmond Hill just north of Toronto. As there isn’t a Charisma Audio dealer in the area, Bernard’s showroom doubles as retail location where he also carries products not distributed by Charisma plus a growing selection of recordings predominantly on vinyl some of which I understand aren’t available elsewhere in southern Ontario. Further on the vinyl subject, Bernard intends to focus heavily on analog gear as this...