Your space to participate, comment and critique. Email srajan @ to submit your entry.

Voxativ integrated amplifier T-211... review disappered or what?
Jari Valli

Delivery has been delayed so until I have a sample on hand, I've removed the preview.

Okay, thanks a lot, planning to buy one but wanted to hear your review first. Currently using Bakoon AMP-12R to Avantgarde Duo XD.
Hello Srajan,
the announced Boenicke W11 review is not listed on the 6moons billboard any more. Is it coming later this year or, for whatever reason, cancelled?
Thanks and greetings,

Sven no longer can source one of the drivers he needs for the design. Unless his supplier steps up or he redesigns to use a different transducer, the product is currently in limbo, hence I've pulled the preview. If/when a loaner becomes available because formal production of a replacement version has commenced, I'll resurrect it. It's a bit of a rerun of the W5 where Vifa discontinued the mid/woofer, leading to the eventual W5se replacement. It's really too bad - Sven is a brilliant designer who makes very good loudspeakers. But if product can't ship and loaners are stalled, having a preview up month after month serves nobody.
Hello Srajan,
It has 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 the Bakoon but have not yet found the perfect speaker partner. The rest of the family prefer a speaker with a small footprint. But speakers with high sensitivity that can work with the 10 watts from 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. It's a wonderful single driver speaker with a warm character that has lovely tone that work very well with acoustic instruments and small ensembles. But a 3-inch driver in a 20sqm 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 that 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 low-power quality watts. I understand that 10 watts from the Bakoon is not sufficient but do you think that any of the First Watt amplifiers could work well?
Best regards,
Christer Lagvik

Absolutely. With my current room 5 times the size of yours, the FirstWatt F6 or F7 on the Aptica still work swell. I'd pick the F7. Another killer match is the Crayon CFA1.2 integrated-:)
Hello Srajan,
I have been made aware fairly recently of a speaker I think to be of real significance and one you should know about, if you don't already. I think it is possible you have not heard, because Yamaha seems not to be making much of the imminent release—at least not in the English language press. This is a rethink of the iconic NS-1000. I just bought a pair of NS-1000M to use as studio monitors, after musing on the notion for around 20 years, the last 10 in particular, and this has made me hyper-aware of the significance of the NS-5000. The original NS-1000 cost around $795 in 1974, which was enough to keep triflers (like myself—a poor speaker designer/builder) at bay at the time. Nevertheless, they sold a ton, considering the price. They are available relatively cheaply (only double the new price!) at the moment largely, I believe, because the owners never bothered to acquire a 'proper' amp, so never did hear what they were capable of. Eight year ago I had an interesting exchange with a recording/mixing/mastering engineer working in London since the early 70s where he described an experience with a client then which made a lasting impression on him:

"I came across NS-1000 through the American engineer/producer Keith Olsen, in what was probably actually 1976, not 1977. Keith heard the Lockwood (with Tannoy) monitors we had and said "these are terrible - get something decent or I pull the booking ( which was 4 weeks) . We asked him what he would like and he said "Braun Tri-amplified or Yamaha NS-1000". We bought a pair that day. When I started using them myself after Keith's booking had finished, I mixed a project and took it to CBS mastering in London to be cut for vinyl. The mastering engineer was Tim Young (a friend of mine since we both used to work for Trident, and still mastering today at Metropolis in London). Tim said "Well, you've got it right at last..." and cut the project  flat. This was my first mix on NS-1000 and the very first time anything I'd ever mixed had been cut flat. You can imagine I was now hooked. What I think the bottom line is this: personally I would buy the  NS-1000 and a ver, very good used power amp to drive them. I can't say otherwise because I used them for 30 years in a variety of studio situations and was invariably pleased with the results."

He says much more in other emails but you get the gist. He is similarly convincing about the Yamaha B-1 amplifier also from the same era, which some consider about the best amp ever sold. Not cheap, then or now (£2000 not uncommon). Anyway, the thing is, the new NS-5000 is basically the same size and configuration with updated materials (which couldn't have been easy as the NS-1000 had a 3.5" beryllium dome mid and 1.2" beryllium dome tweeter). It is an apparent homage to the NS-1000. It also has some internal acoustic devices which are well worth pondering and are utterly unique to my knowledge:
I thought you should know. This is to my mind a box taken to the limits, but without cosmetic frippery.
Russell Dawkins

Interesting. Thanks, Russell!
Hey Srajan,
do you have any updates on the Apple buys Tidal news I've seen reported on at Stereophile, Audiostream and DAR?
Kevin Hunt

I haven't seen any reports whatsoever, only idle rumours which some in the press have commented upon with speculations of their own. Whilst speculating about rumours makes for copy, it's not anything by way of hard news. Until I have hard news—and not having any "deeply placed sources" inside Apple of my own, I doubt we'd be first or last to be told—I have nothing useful to add to this (anti?) matter.
Great to see you got to experience Granada, one of my favourite places in my life's travels. You can see why the Moors thought they'd found paradise on earth? Dry and parched though it gets in June to Sept! Glad you also saw Alhambra at night, a magical trip I did about 15 years back in an almost unpopulated visit! Thanks for the references to the Morente/Metheny film; I really must explore Youtube more. The Morente CD that has Metheny on it is a favourite of mine (the last Morente album, I think, before he died?). As it's called Sueña la Alhambra, maybe you should have picked that to listen to - it's very atmospheric! I'm getting the itch to return to Andalucia again - thanks!
Chris Skelton

PS: You should have picked up Spanish/Castilian whilst you were in Taos!
Hello Mr. Ebaen,
I'm an audiophile from China and also a loyal reader of your reviews. Your articles have given me a lot of inspiration and help, thank you very much! And I have a question I want to ask. I think you must the best person for it. My current main speaker are the Vivid Giya G1 but I always have the greatest interest in genius-designed speakers which are crystallizations of wisdom and art. I'd like to buy one or two pairs of compact speakers in the future. Based on my intuition, I noticed two products, the soundkaos Wave 40 and the Apertura Audio Kalya. I think you might be able to sense my taste. They seem extraordinary but I have no opportunity to hear them. I think you are the only person who has a deep experience of both these speakers so could you help me?
Thank you very much again and hope for a reply!
Best regards!
Ruping Zhu

Wanting to own a piece of hifi art that expresses a particular designer's very unique vision is truly a valid reason for a purchase. That's how I understand your inquiry since based on the speakers you already own, there would be no other reason to look elsewhere. That said, the Wave 40 in particular embodies some very specific ideas manifested in a very artistic fashion. To sonically deliver, they require somewhat different electronics than you use for the G1. Particularly the amplifiers should be matched. And it will be a very different presentation, with different strong and weak points compared to the Vivid. My review said what I had to say about the soundkaos. To recap, their focus is on tone density and projection power whereas I'd characterize the Vivid as a combination of hornspeaker dynamics and speed plus supreme precision. So it'll be a very different flavour or gestalt. I can't predict whether you'd like it based on your choice of Giya 1. That epitomizes a different sonic school. But if your curiosity is really based on wanting something quite different in sound which also is truly built like a fine musical instrument... then the soundkaos in particular would be a special most worthwhile target.

For another small speaker that is extraordinary and different from both the Wave 40 and Giya 1, consider the Kaiser Acoustics Chiara. I've reviewed it as well and my thoughts on it scan be found in our archives.
Hi Srajan,
Just a quick mail to welcome you to Ireland. I hope you and your wife are made very welcome in your new home and community. I've enjoyed browsing through your site ever since I discovered it a few years ago when I was researching some equipment, I think at the time I was researching a DAC by North Star Design. I hope our Irish summer doesn't send you packing before you get your settled in.

Au contraire, Mike. Just came back from Spain where it was hot, dry, desert-like and already brown in early June. I'd rather have it lush and green and moderate. And that means rain and lots of it. So all is perfectly splendid indeed -:)
As you may remember , I'm on my fourth pair of Tannoy dualcons now and the way you describe their sound in the widebander review without actually having heard them is uncanny; though detail is quite available using the room-matching controls and choosing the right amps. Beaming is sometimes a problem but is easily cured by proper placement. Also, please keep on commenting on packaging. I's an essential part of the big speaker experience.
Best, as ever
Michele from Rome

I'd rather expect a dual-concentric's embedded tweeter to go farther than a whizzer'd Fostex - but I'm happy to hear that my hunch (of the Evolution being similar to a 12" Tannoy) seems to have been right on.
Hi Srajan,
Been a follower of 6moons and your reviews for a long while. Extremely informative and enjoyable. I have a pair of Wavelength Cardinals, a Doge 8 preamp and a highly modified Lenco 70 turntable in a plinth that I designed and built out of slate and aircraft grade aluminium (it weighs 120lbs). Have been researching SET amps and read an article from 2005 in 6moons on various SET amps. I am very very interested in the Don Allen amps and the VT-52 amp but cannot find out any contact information. As I am in my mid 70s, I have heard a lot of really good set ups. Been doing this since early 1960. Thanks for your insightful reviews.
Joe Jennings

I'm sorry to say that I can't help out with a contact for Don Allen. You might try Audio Asylum's SET forum?
Hi Srajan, greetings from Canada.
Hope you are well and 2016 is turning out to be a great year. I'm sitting here listening to an HDTracks 24/96 Madman Across the Water (Sir Elton John) on my Audeze LCD-2 and Burson HA-160d and loving it. In fact, I've thanked you in private many times over the years for introducing me to this wonderful sounding combo. At the same time in the last few months, I've started thinking about having the capability to play higher-resolution files, beyond the 160d's reach. I've been reading about MQA. I thought it would be great to test a headphone/DAC capable of playing higher resolution files and if it could do MQA as well, what a bonus. That old saying "be careful what you wish for" is so wonderful when pointed in the right direction. A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to borrow and audition the Meridian Prime headphone amp/DAC as well as the outboard power supply. I'm so happy to have a supportive dealer nearby. We haven't had this for years. I was able to play with them for just over a week.

Being like a kid in a candy store, I had to try MQA right away. Still in the early days, there is little content. I purchased a couple of albums from Nordic 2L: an album of Mozart Violin Concertos by Marianne Thorsen, which is absolutely lovely, and a solo piano recording of Carl Nielson's works that have the power and glory and can certainly demand your attention. Listening to these pieces through Audirvana on my iMac through the Prime to my LCD-2, well I thought this was the best digital I'd ever heard. Nordic 2L has a web page called Test Bench in which they have a nice cross section of their recordings presented with samples in multiple formats. I got to listen to more tracks through the test bench and it further convinced me that MQA has great potential. I then thought it would be great to transfer these tracks to my Macbook Pro and listen to the MQA tracks through my main system. I disconnected my main preamp from my Atmasphere amps and plugged in the Prime preamp. It worked great on all of the files except for MQA. It simply would not process and play them as MQA through my Macbook. I have been in touch with Meridian on more than a few occasions and we still have not figured out what was going on.

I first thought that perhaps it was because my Macbook was an older model. Yet it would play 24/192 files of much larger size without issues. Then I thought that perhaps because we were transferring files from one computer to another, perhaps there was an MQA copy protection in place. To date, Meridian has not responded about what is going on but I would think they will need to get this fixed before MQA hits the ground running. Coming back to the Prime headphone amp, I went back to my iMac and started listening to other music selections - some higher resolution tracks above the Burson's range and some lower tracks that I had enjoyed repeatedly through the Burson and knew the sound of. My impression of the Prime was that it sounded pretty good on these tracks, but in many cases also sounded a little processed - just not as organic as the Burson and we know how nice that can be. Based on this and the compatibility issues with my Macbook, I decided to give back the Prime amp and power supply which retail for over $3,000 CDN. In their place, I thought I would pick up the Explorer 2 to have a nice little portable DAC/headphone amp with MQA capability.

How disappointed was I to find that because the Explorer 2 needs USB power from its host computer, neither my Ipad nor Iphone would power it successfully. To make matters worse, just like the Prime, it will not play MQA files from my Macbook. In other words, if I was looking for the Explorer 2 to be a mobile aid, it pretty well failed on all fronts. I have contacted Meridian again and I'm afraid that if they don't have any answers, I might have to send the Explorer back. In the meantime, I thought it would be great if Burson had an upgrade path and were going to support the MQA format. While some companies have agreed to support the MQA format, we have not seen this from Burson yet. Even though I had not heard of an upgrade program, I decided to contact Burson nevertheless. I received a reply from Alex and he introduced me to their new Conductor V2+. My sense is that Burson are intent on maintaining their discrete circuit configuration with a new level of refinement increasing the microdynamic nuances within the music we are playing. I haven't heard this unit but Alex made me such a great upgrade offer, I said yes. I'm happy to report back on my findings but sure am excited with my upgrade. I've been thrilled with the 160D and if the new unit can take my little system to the next level, this small investment will have been of great value.
Thank you for all you do for our audio community Srajan. Best wishes.
Ashley Gray 

I haven't paid attention to MQA because of the absence of music I'm interested in. I completely sat out the DVD-A and SACD craze as well. Back to MQA, as a proprietary encode/decode process, I'm wondering whether Audirvana as you have it perhaps interferes with your files? Since you have word in with Meridian, hopefully they'll be able to sort it for you. And it's good to hear that Burson can upgrade your older unit to incorporate lessons they've learnt since. That makes your investment in the brand doubly solid and bodes well for the future, too. If you get a handle on the sonic advantages of MQA—you seem to enjoy comparing files in various formats—I'd love to hear back on what you think! The same goes for your conversion of the 160D to Conductor V2+ status.
By the way, the Job INT is the most transparent amp I've ever had. I'm surprised it hasn't been reviewed elsewhere but my guess is, Job are happy with sales as they are, thanks to you.
A. Levas
Interesting little tidbit in your relocation article about the ownership of things. "Ownership" in general is just an idea... and perhaps you have also concluded that the "owner" is equally just an idea. From the viewpoint here I find that when this notion arises, my enjoyment and appreciation of music greatly increases. Somehow I am nearer the performance. And it doesn't require new investment!
Always enjoy your writing
Hi Srajan,
As the leading authority on these amps (and being very familiar with Zu speakers) I was wondering spill a little ink here on a very brief note regarding your thoughts on how the SIT-2 and J2 would sound with a pair of Zu speakers.  I'm undecided on the model yet, going between the Druid and Soul Supreme - both have the same driver compliment, so I assume will be more same than different.  I will be augmenting them with a powered sub, so authority down low is not a concern. I'm a long time Wilson Audio owner, so that's where I'm coming from.  Never heard Zu before, taking a little leap of faith here based on what I've read on your site and elsewhere online. The other option is an Atma-Sphere S30, which I owned previously, though I'm not sure I want to fuss with tubes again. Looking for fast, dynamic, detailed presentation with large stage.  I enjoy some meat in the mids, but not to the point of slow and thick sounding.   Any inputs would be much appreciated.
Thanks much, and thanks for the amazing work you've done at 6moons... fantastic site and your reviews are some of the best available.
Scott Rosenberg

Sean Casey of Zu himself has exhibited with the SIT1 monos at various shows and I think owns a pair so that's a direct endorsement for the combination. I've noted however that his speakers do like just a bit more power than the specs alone let on. I'd thus be inclined to consider the F7 which is sonically close to the SIT but has more power. Coming from Wilson, you're making a big leap here. If I were you, I'd try to hear a Zu demo at a show or in the Utah headquarters just to be sure that review descriptions and your own expectations overlap. I obviously enjoy the Zu perspective very much but wouldn't say the same about most (though not all) WIlson demos I've heard. Hence my suggestion to organize some kind of a demo first. These really are different sonic ideals.
Hi Srajan,
Firstly I would just like to say that I always enjoy reading your reviews.... even if sometimes I don't quite understand what you are talking about, haha.  You were the one that led me to this larrikin genius Peter@Phasure. Peter and I have become friends over the years. I have dived deep into his philosophies and have slowly purchased most of his gear. Thank you! Long story short, I am after a suitable high- quality dedicated tweeter amplifier! The amp is for dedicated Lansche plasma tweeters (6kHz>150kHz). Hopefully something which won't break the bank. Power is not so important. I was looking to get a Job 225 and pair it with a quality LDR passive or maybe even a Job PRE2. These are high in my considerations! Then I came across Crayon amps and read your reviews comparing Crayon to Jon and other amps. I have also read a couple of other reviews on the little brother Crayon CIA which is also of interest especially being cheaper than the CFA, particularly the 1.2 model. Crayon got me interested as I would quite like a one box solution which takes care of the HF by itself. Although no way essential. As I said Job 225 with good matching pre is high on my agenda. Any other amp recommendation is more than welcome! Preferably no tubes unless there is a stand out.

Criteria would be a amp that excels at transients and such things as wide bandwidth, inner detail, speed, delicacy, shimmer, articulation, airiness,  decay, and nuance. Maybe just ultimate limitless top end transparency/blackness.  An amp that offers a hint of sweetness in the top end would also be welcome. I have very good hearing and I used to be a drummer. I like cymbals to sound real, natural and delicious. An amp that has top-end attack is important but also the delicious decay of a cymbal's harmonic trailing off into space is just as important, maybe even more so. I think you know what I am trying to convey. My source and main speaker is the very capable 768kHz Phasure DAC/XXHighEnd and Phasure 118dB Orelo active open baffle horns (mid and bass)
Thank you, Srajan, I look forward to your reply.

That's an unusual and very specialized inquiry. I've not before reduced an amp to just tweeter duty to have a secret list of "tweeter amps". That said, I think your idea of a smaller Crayon could be spot on. I've not heard the CIA but I'd be shocked if its sonics weren't in the same vein as the unit I own and reviewed. With its attenuator, you have total control over the tweeter output in one box and Crayon's reproduction of the high frequencies, on my EnigmAcoustics M1 monitors with Sopranino super tweeter, ticks off all the boxes you mentioned. So I think you've got your target in sight already. I looked at Lansche's specs (5.6-6.4Ω impedance, 98dB sensitivity) and there's nothing there to suggest that the Crayon wouldn't be great.
Dear Srajan,
I'm sure that you get may inquiries from neurotic audiophiles (like myself) asking you to compare one audio component against another. Sadly this is another such inquiry -:) While I noticed that you went to great lengths to describe the sound of the relatively new First Watt F7 vs. the F5, I was wondering if you might be able to share a few sentences on your perception of the differences between the F6 and F7. I got the sense that both are slight more refined than the F5 however, I'd be curious if you could comment on how the F6 may differ from the F7. I noticed that you rated the F7 as both your most favorite and most balanced between competing qualities. I'm wondering if the F6 would fit between the F5 and F7 with regard to the former being more detailed and resolving and the latter having more of a SET-like sound with richer tonal color. Any information on this comparison would be greatly appreciated if you care able to comment.
Warmest regards,
Patrick Burek
P.S. Love your publication!

I think that the main difference between these amps is one of drive wherein the F7 behaves more powerful, making it a bit more universal. Sonically I find them to be quite close and would concur with your hunch that the F6 would slot between F7 and F5 to neatly follow the nomenclature. It's precisely because the 6 and 7 sit quite close together that I picked the F5 in the comparisons to have more to say -:)
I just listened to a two channel audio system in a private apartment in which the owner claims he has invested more than €250'000. The system included two very large floorstanding speakers with horns, transistor monoblock amps on the floor (on their special platforms), a tube preamp, cables the size of a baby’s arms (which collectively cost much more than my entire system) and the only product I recognized was a Zanden CD player. Let me say that in terms of musicality and rhythm, the system was fantastic. It produced a lot of what was once described as the “Linn-Naim sound”.  I was not, however, very impressed as there was very little in terms of a well-defined soundstage nor precise pinpoint imaging. It sounded a bit muddy in this respect.

My reason for telling you this story is the ongoing debate about DSD being a waste of time and that well-recorded Redbook CD are everything anyone really needs. I completely agree that a well-recorded CD or computer file will sound much better than a poorly recorded SACD/DSD file. Where I part company with the anti-DSD crowd is that there are people (and we may be in the minority) who strongly prefer a super well-defined soundstage and pinpoint imaging to the toe-tapping musicality and rhythm that comes from much of what is now defined by the High End. I also take comfort in the fact that many of the top-end DACs (e.g. Nagra) now offer native DSD decoding even in light of the paucity of native DSD music offerings. Even Zanden is working on a DSD DAC (Model 500).

People in my camp like electrostatic speakers, speakers with ribbon tweeters and even the recently revived Heil Air Motion transformer speakers.  We strongly prefer transistors over tubes and, in this regard, we love the sound of well-recorded SACD/DSD music. My system includes an Acoustic Plan Drivemaster CD transport, an OPPO BluRay player, an Audio Aero Prima SE DAC, a Wyred4Sound STP-SE preamp, a Spectral DMA-100S amp and Piega standmount speakers.  Note that I use the Bel Canto uLink USB converter to connect my computer to the Audio Aero using the Bel Canto’s ST glass output.

After your excellent review of the Fore Audio DAISy 1 DAC and the fact it seems to match my listening preferences, I will audition it soon with the idea to replace the Audio Aero Prima SE DAC. I will admit that it is a generalization to say that DSD is sharper than PCM but, in terms of the music I listen to, this appears to be the case. 

My assessment on this topic is actually that DSD tends to be softer than PCM. Just to muddy these water a bit more -:)
Dear Srajan:
Not sure whether you noted the recent thread on AA where your site's policy is being discussed? Perhaps you ought to take a look.
Holger Scharmacher

I just did. It's nothing new. 'Pay to play' insinuates that it's wrong to get paid to work. The fact is, everyone in the ad-based publishing world must create revenue to stay in business. The only difference is that either a certain number of advertisers carry the load whilst reviews get a free pass to appear (to appear) on a separate page; or that everyone being reviewed must chip in. Given how invariably advertisers get/want reviews too, it's an arbitrary distinction. Do advertisers even exist who don't get reviews? So the question becomes, should the ad supporters who also get their reviews carry the many who get reviews but never pay a dime? Or should all reviews be treated the same by asking each to compensate magazine and writer for their time and effort? After more than ten years of doing it the first way, I decided that it was unfair to have small companies like Vinnie Rossi support us whilst big companies like Sonus faber expect and get our work for nothing. Now I'm being accused of 'pay to play'. So be it. Seeing how we've made our policy public, everyone is free to decide whether to continue to read us; or whether we've sold out and become corrupt. With our extensive archives, they can compare our reviews pre and post policy change to determine whether anything has really changed. Here I'll add that the vast majority of manufacturers approaching us for reviews understand that we can't work for free and don't expect us to; and find our minimum fee of a 1-month ad (whose fee is split between writer and publisher) perfectly fair. Is it possible that some people are simply upset that we continue to be successful with our new policy? I also note that the thread starts with a reference to an article by a salaried writer. I'm sure Art Dudley enjoys being paid; and not having to worry about where that money comes from. If people write for a living or at least for compensation, they must get paid. In publishing, those funds either come from ads; from subscriptions; or both. In Art's case, it's the latter combination. 6moons too continues to work inside the ad-based model just as we have from the very beginning. We just don't have a separate revenue stream from subscriptions. And, we've altered the ad revenue system to level the playing field for reviews. Online, the Audio Critic is one of the very few to pursue reader subscription revenues exclusively. I decided against that model. That's it; nothing new.
Hey Srajan:
I was very pleased to read just how well the Lio did against the wildly costlier Japanese preamp you just reviewed. In fact, using it single-ended, you said the Lio was preferable by a small margin. At 25% of the cost, that's really incredible, isn't it?

Quite. In many ways, this particular model is a complete overkill proposition. It's balanced all the way so really wants to be used that way. Unless you have true balanced ancillaries which get sonically handicapped in single-ended mode (or can't even be operated that way); and unless you needed that many inputs... you'd really be better served by the Vinnie Rossi. The Preda TBSP starts to roar when the signal path is balanced front to back. How much better it is than the half-priced standard Preda I of course couldn't say.
Hi Srajan
I noticed today that the upcoming second-part review of the Devialet 200 by Peter Familari has disappeared from your queue. Is that just a website quirk? I am quite looking forward to the review.
All best,
Michael Fanning

Peter has been diagnosed with a serious form of chronic fatigue syndrome which, until cured, prevents him from reviewing so all his assignments have been cancelled. Sorry for that.
Hi Srajan,
I read your review about the Crayon CFA1. The most striking aspect of that review was your "connective tissue" analogy when you mentioned the similarity of Crayon with the Yamamoto. I have come across this phenomena whenever I have compared an SET to a push-pull amp (both tube and SS). SETs have that inherent connectivity among instruments which push-pull amps miss out, I do not know why. When I discovered this phenomena in SETs and the lack of in push-pull amp I wondered why this aspect has not been widely discussed or written about. Even tube amp designers do not explicitly highlight this aspect. But it was amazing that you brought it out in exactly the same way I thought about it. Crayon is not an SET design yet if it does that aspect so well there must be something special going on inside it. I am planning to order the CIA-1 amplifier from them. According to Roland Krammer the CIA-1 is his latest design and it does sound more "fresh" than the CFA 1.2. My only question is, do you recommend to use a tube preamp with the Crayon in order to get that balance of emotion and transparency? Or is it good enough on its own? Just to add, I normally find your reviews quite spot on. I loved the F6 when I heard them and so did you. On the other hand, I did not quite like the Octave V80 SE. I would rather go with a good solid state than something like an Octave. I hope the Crayon is more like the F6 than Octave?

For my tastes, it's plenty good enough on its own though I've also run it through the Nagra Jazz valve preamplifier which added a bit more density and layering. The Crayon is its own thing but yes, it'd be more in the vein of an F6 than Octave. I've not heard the CIA-1 yet so you may have to tell me what that sounds like -:)
Hi Srajan,
How's it going? From what I've read thus far, everything is good in your new place. Those Voxativ bass modules you wrote about a while ago? Damn, now I understand. And it's a pity you weren't in Munich. Though I keep my fingers crossed that we'll see each other in Warsaw. That new listening room looks awesome btw.

Yes, dipole bass has a different quality and texture than usual box bass. It also integrates more easily into a room.
Hi again! You may recall I got in touch regarding a great review you did on the Tap X from Bent Audio. I seem to recall you stating that, if one became available, to jump on it! I'm currently in the position to get one locally, but the price is of some concern budget wise. It's the fully loaded 6 input fully balanced option 4 Slagle-loaded beast with slanted cabinet (factory assembled) and proper remote (the proper metal Lio unit). So the asking price is essentially $USD2k. I know these never come up and I'm looking at other possibilities. I'll be driving StereoKnight m-100 tube monoblocks into Osborn Epitome speakers. So is this unit, given your writing and experiences, still worth it!?
Many thanks again,

A Lio configured as the equivalent unit in an arguably prettier box would cost you more and isn't even available with balanced i/o. StereoKnight had something but without remote. So from where I sit, if you want to go passive with proper transformers/autoformers and full-function remote, the TAP X at that price is the unit to beat. But of course if you're hesitant to spend the money, I can't be the oracle to convince you otherwise.

Mr. Ebaen:
Thanks for the complete review of the First Watt F4 which I believe you had done earlier at 6 moons, and for your use of it here. My budget for a line stage or preamp (less a phono stage) to drive the F4 is $3.5K max, so something like 300B SE mono blocks (integrated?) to drive the F4 are not an option. My speakers are at least 94db sensitive, my room is 16 ft x 14 and my ears can’t tolerate average SPLs much beyond ~ 60db-at least not much above the lower midrange band (i.e. allowing for the Fletcher-Munson effect). My midwoofers are cut off below 70Hz where my pair of Rythmik 12" sealed powered subs take over. Except for the subwoofers, my speaker system is a clone of Gary Dahl’s Azurahorn 425/Radian 745 Neo Be/GPA Altec 416 system. Is it true what I’ve read that the F4 is transparent enough where it largely sounds like whatever’s driving it? There are some well known DIY preamps that have been used to drive the F4, such as the Aikido, the Impasse and Nelson Pass’s own BA-3. But which of those and/or other commercial models sounds would be most inclined to drive the F4 for my speakers and within my budget? And why would you choose that particular model (s) for the F4?
Please advise, if possible.
Best Regards,
Greg Battaglia

Being essentially a pure current buffer with no voltage gain, yes, the F4 is exceptionally transparent/responsive to the sonic signature of whatever drives it (another amp or a preamp or a variable-output source). Given your speaker's sensitivity and desired SPL, you don't need additional voltage gain so using the F4 as an amp follower is unnecessary. Now it's down to a preamp. I have no experience with any of the preamps you mention though I've heard of them. To my mind, the F4 would be an ideal candidate to experiment with a DHT preamp which, admittedly, are rare beasts. Basically, the sound of the F4 will be what precedes it. I would go after an active circuit not because you need the gain but because the F4, if I remember correctly, has a very relaxed character. If preceded by a passive to rely exclusively on source output voltage (sufficient in your case), I'd expect too mellow a sonic presentation.
Hi Srajan
I saw via 6moons the audio room in your new home in Ireland. Looks swell. I read that you are you using Franck Tchang's resonators. I visited Franck in Paris last year and picked up some ASI cables for my Devialet 200. I might have gone for something a little less resolving, given the audio signature of the Devialet, but they sound pleasant to my ears right now. One day I will travel back to my adopted homeland and call you for a drink at The Tavern, Staunton's Pub or McGing's Bar, of course with Croagh Patrick at our backs! Congratulations on the move!
Michael Fanning

You know the 'hood well. The (pink) tavern has developed into quite the eatery, being listed in the Michelin Guide of Pubs that serve food. They now got 3 to 5-course fine dining upstairs and downstairs has just recently been expanded to accommodate more seats. I love the chowder and seafood pie there. And of course Friday night is Curry Night -:)
Hi Srajan,
I wish you a great experience in Ireland! Here is a little virtual present for you: do you know of Franz Xavier Mozart? Enter Tidal = Mozart Ravinia (the Divox recording).
Just a small word to wish you an even better stay and experience in the new home than the past Swiss one. Glad the cat made it with no trouble and Ivette & you. I was more worried about the cat to be honest -:)
Well, wish you the best and waiting to read more news on 6moons.
Mickele from Belgium

Us, too. We'd never traveled with Blondie. We didn't know what to expect. As it happened, she slept through most of it. The B&Bs we used en route didn't mind her, either. French customs didn't like her travel papers (our vet had made a small mistake with one date) but we got that sorted by a French vet who hates bureaucray as much as we do and did his bit to fix the red tape. It only cost us an hour and 30 euros and we were on the next train to Blighty. Thanks for the good wishes. I have a feeling they'll come true in no time -:)
"Listening to old voices with a new ear."  - John Hiatt. New room? You need big horns? Would connect sound physically with the space so well. Actually, biased? Moi? My Ocellia Calliope would do well in the space. You'll probably recall Samuel's French house was big? The Ocellias aren't restricted by their boxes as they release the sound easily, giving an unrestricted energy. A visitor described the sound as 'huge headphones' which was meant as a compliment. Though you'd need a sub in your space. I certainly agree that big rooms add scale to sound, gravitas even? My own listening seat is somewhat restricted in movement by being suspended from the ceiling - but in the 'sweet spot'!
Christopher Skelton
I'm having a new electric system put in (with a dedicated 10-amp line!) and I am suffering the pains of in-house moving hell. Reading about your adventures gave me a sense of proportion though. Beautiful house, is it your missus who does the decorating? Real taste there, please give her my congrats. What about reflections however?
All the best
Michele Surdi

Ivette and I decorate the shared rooms together. Our respective work areas we do by ourselves. The paintings of course are all hers. With these big walls, those now really speak as they're supposed to. It's all the same things we had before, just arranged differently to suit the new layout. And yes, there are reflections but you do need some of those for a live properly reverberant sound. Too dry an acoustics sucks some life out of tone and energy. It's always a question of balance of course.
I think this may be the best move you’ve made. I’d settle for half the space just for those pastoral views (perfect therapy for my retirement). May the wind be at your back, bringing some wonderful reviews with it.
All the best,
Tim Patchett

The missus and cat would agree. It's very green all around and this house is filled with light due to how cleverly it is oriented - definitely pastoral or bucolic. And, wind aplenty coming in from the Atlantic. Reviews not so much yet until the first new assignments show up though Frederic just sent in something a few minutes ago that'll go up later today.
Your new sound room is a beautiful large space. And from what I can see through the windows, also beautiful environment. Well done. Looks like it may be a reverberant room with a fairly live acoustic. Most likely a concrete slab (or at least tiles over timber) which is great. You’ve got plenty of stuff and the large rug will tame it all down. Enjoy!

It's stone tile over concrete and yes, the size makes for a slightly more reverberant acoustics than the typically drier hifi norm but hanging the curtains alone adjusted some of that already.
Wow, you have good taste in listening rooms!
Tim Smith

Listening being my business, a good sound room is priority #1 when we pick a new home. As our 10th move since I launched the site, we have a bit of experience by now. This one turned out especially sweet - pure luck and fortuitous timing as we only had 5 days to lock something down when we came to County Mayo in February this year..
Hi Srajan,
I hope that you may be able to answer a quick query. I own a pair of 16-ohm Zu Soul Superfly speakers and really enjoy them, listening to mainly digital sources via a Rega DAC and using valve amplifiers both old and new. Some of the older SS receivers handle the 16 ohm load and sound pretty good too. I have the opportunity to purchase a used Peachtree iNova and was wondering if you thought it would be a good match. I read with interest your revew of the iNova where you thought the 12-ohm Zu Essence speakers formed a very good combination as would the Omen speakers. I hope you don’t mind me emailing with a question and apologise if I’m out of line.
Thanks and regards,
Ian Rodger

I'm guessing that it would make a fine match. 40 watts into your load should be plenty and if one fine day you came across an amp you liked even better, you could always convert the iNova in to a DAC/pre.
Hi there!  Thanks for you interesting passive pre article. Very useful! If you had time, I'd love to ask a question or two! I've recently purchased a lovely used pair of StereoKnight valve m-100 100w monoblocks. They're by the same guy who supplied your AM Audio passive for review. That got me thinking. I'd love to pair these (fully balanced) monos to a passive if I could.  To be more specific, I have the opportunity to go for either a new AM Audio such as the one you had vs another you compared, the Bent Audio Tap-X (a fully loaded job with remote and a multitude of balanced and unbalanced ins and outs! In your article you suggest that each unit, in your test, sounded essentially identical. The build of the AM was awesome yet the functionality of the Bent was winner. Given I can get the Bent (used of course) for about $2'800 Aussie and the AM new for the same (no remote), I'd love to hear your thoughts!
Many thanks,
Mat Faulkner

Seeing how I view remote control on a preamp as mandatory, I'd go with the Bent any day of the week. And a balance control can be a fine thing to have as well. But that's just me -:)

Hi Srajan,
I realize you are likely in the thick of your move, so I am not sure if this is on your radar. I managed to snag the last of the Super Early bird Vita music servers last week for $699 and I think it has the potential to be a real gem, although it is always a gamble in this sort of situation. It will be replacing a Logitech Squeezebox Touch which seems to have become more problematic than its worth. I’m thinking the Vita may be a good match for the rave reviewed Chord Mojo, unless you can think of a better sounding, relatively inexpensive DAC than can play pretty much any hi-rez format. Value added, I can then also use the DAC for mobile applications. The USB output on the Vita is 2.0. I wonder if the Mojo uses this protocol? If not, the only downside would be that I could not play DSD 256 files since the Vita S/PDIF output only streams up to DSD 128. I suppose this is all academic musing since I have never even listened to a DSD file of any format and perhaps, like yourself, I may find it underwhelming. I am also not certain if the Mojo can be used while charging. (I have cc’d Edgar Kramer as well so perhaps he may have some insight into the suitability of the Mojo for the Vita). I did consider picking up the Native Wave as well but I feel like this is already a gamble. Perhaps you’ll end up reviewing it and I’ll regret my hesitation upon you findings!

On another note, I have been following your website for so long now, I feel like I’m part of the family, hahaha. You helped me build a very nice core system consisting of Zu Druid MkIV and Melody 2A3 amp which I’ve used for 8 years now with rare itches for upgraditis (except when I look at pictures of the Boenicke speakers! lust…). Instead, I have been tweaking it with tube rolling, cable changes and supports and the odd modification. Lately, I have added the Taket Batpure super tweeters (CDN $80 shipped!) that Marja and Henk were impressed with and I am a little shocked by its effficay with the Druid. My initial thoughts are that it seems to lure the Druid out of the shadows and create a more saturated and focused midrange as well as a more voluptuous soundstage. Overall, I would say this positively highlights the Druid’s tendency towards a 'live' sound. I unhooked them for a few days to do some cleaning and was surprised by the loss of life in the music. I look forward to doing some more on/off comparisons of these remarkable little drivers. Now, if I could just afford one of those Zu Submission subs.

Anyways, I hope your move goes well and I look forward to further dispatches from the Emerald Isle!
Kind regards,
James Hulsebosch

In effect, USB 2.0 just means better than 24/96 (and drivers for Windows). I've not personally heard the Mojo but would trust Edgar's assessment implicitly. Unless he specifically said USB 1.0, I'd assume that the Mojo does 2.0 no sweat. For money and size, that seems the DAC to beat. I'd gotten a note by the Vita people requesting news coverage but since we don't do crowd-funded items, not published it. So now you will be my inside man to report back how this project shakes out. And yes, a good super tweeter can have unsuspected benefits that mess just a bit with the head. With the pennies TakeT charge, theirs is a good entry into the genre. Happy to hear it works so well on the Druids.

We've landed last Friday and are 90% unpacked. Another week and we'll be fully up and back to business as usual. Though with the views, I'd hardly count it 'as usual'. Haven't made any sound yet but later this week I'll flip the switch and see what needs doing...
Maybe even the electricity will be more green in Ireland too? The air will be more damp, the house made of different materials. Will be interesting to hear how it all 'sounds' once your metabolism settles after the changes. Savour it all! I plan to follow your example but deciding 'where?' is tricky, mainly because current house meets many requirements already.
Chris Skelton
Well, Srajan, I stand corrected. I sent you an email expressing my concern about the Job INTegrated being "on par" as you said, with the Metrum Hex, passive preamp, Job 225 and those "damn expensive"  interconnects between them. I finally pulled the trigger on an INT, burned it in for a whil, and have been enjoying the hell out of it ever since. To be honest, when the evaluation began, I tried listening for inferiority vs the separates. However, track after track I was left shaking my head in disbelief. The INT leaves me wanting nothing. Thank you.
Luka Kostrencic

You made a good choice. Thank yourself -:)
You have reviewed many famous and expensive cables. Any reason for keeping a complete loom of Zu Event now?  Is expensive cable another myth? Or simply does the extra money not justify the improvements? I have the top models from Stealth, Kubala Sosan and Sablon. Really curious about your view on high-end cables.
Yu Bai

I wouldn't call expensive cables a myth per se. Some can be very good but so can their cost be truly heart stopping. Considering that I need multiple 6-metres runs, 6-metre long power cords, despise thick unflexible snakes that airlift lighter gear and can't justify expense out of all proportion with the actual ingredients... the Zu Event has emerged as my go-to loom. Other cables may have been a bit better here or there but overall, I've never been disappointed going back to the Zu. Since I own a complete loom with all the lengths I need, it's never occurred to me to replace it all with something new. And I don't need cables which colour the sound according to some designer's notion on "more beautiful". From that perspective, yes, a lot of expensive cables can be a myth in that their delta of better often is mostly different or, if better, smaller than I consider reasonable. Finally, I have no use for monstrously big connectors, chrome-plated cylinders, cable power supplies, embroidered silk sleeves and the rest of it. Cables as status symbol aren't my thing.
I was pleased to see your review. I purchased Sunil's NY Audio Show demo Bastanis Mandala Solos and have been working to dial them in. Sunil, btw, is a great guy with a tremendous work ethic! I happen to use a Border patrol amp.  Not a SET like you reviewed before; rather a P21 EXD push/pull. I like the pairing with a quad set of EML 300B even though I understand that the P21 might not be able to get the best from the Bastanis; and the Mandala might not be the best at showing the amp's full prowess. I tried Dayton 1000s and a pair of Bel Canto class D amps and settled on BenchMark AHB2s in bridged mono for the subwoofers.  A DEQX HDP-5 serves as a crossover and does room correction duties. I have to agree: in my limited experience, the speakers do some amazing things. It has been quite a paradigm shift for me, having moved my Merlin Black Magic VSMs into my downstairs solid-state system. I am using metal spikes under the speakers now and may try other types of footers at Robert's suggestion. I am also experimenting with items between the subwoofer cabinet and upper portion, the current favorites being Agora Acoustics Magic Hexa feet. Have you experimented in footers at either location? Another tweak I am trying out on the speakers are RSP901EXs from SPEC.  It's too soon to tell their true abilities, but they show promise.
Best regards,
Dave Derrick
Btw, recently a famous Chinese audio reviewer compared the Aqua La Scala MKII, Chord Dave and Prism 8XR converters. He clearly chose the Aqua as the best :-) 
Yu Bai
Hi Srajan,
Last November I strongly considered buying a Mandala kit. By the way, I live in northern California. Mr. Bastanis has two representatives in North America. One in Canada and one in New York. Both are very distant and one across a border. For that reason they would not be able to offer me any auditions or setup service. And without that, all their involvement did was increase the cost by nearly 100%. After some extended back and forth with Mr. Bastanis by email explaining to him that for me, his North American reps were pretty much worthless, he agreed to sell to me directly. Mind you, I still needed to find a local cabinet builder, source my preferred materials and figure out a way to power the 'sub' and configure it in the system. The cabinet making and materials I was able to do without too much trouble, although I won't count the time devoted, even though time spent does have a monetary value. I did this mainly because I felt the 'dealers' did nothing more than take a middleman cut, raising my out-of-pocket cost significantly, while my choice to take time to do the legwork myself was voluntary and 'free'.

I undertook this purely based on reviews of Bastanis speakers(particularly on 6moons). Unfortunately there was simply no way to audition them in California. I was seeking an open baffle design that successfully dealt with the standard known OB issue, and was of sufficiently high efficiency to work with low-power SET. To me that was a key element of the benefit of open baffle. Remember, all this without an actual in-person audition. I felt enough trust in the reviews (and reviewers) that I could make this leap of faith and it would work out as hoped. Whether the Mandala would set up well in my 4m x 6m room and appeal to me and work well with the other components I already owned was a big question that could only be answered by actually doing all this and paying the cost and finding out after fully making both the time and money investment.

Bastanis are fairly unique as far as I know. Most widebanders are 6 to 8-inch drivers in backloaded horns. Who makes a high efficiency flat response 12" widebander in an open baffle with a dipole super tweeter with a crossover consisting of a single capacitor? And then creates a sub design to complete the bass but leaves the particulars of that undone? It was the powering and configuring of the sub that undid me. If one is seeking the purity of a SET and no power-sucking crossover and real music bass as this design attempts to do, then one does not want class D plate amps or very expensive solid-state power amps or active digital crossovers or have to try to figure it out anyway. Attempting to do this was an exercise in frustration at nearly every step. The dealer markups were ridiculous, adding zero value, the suitable options to achieve the overall goal of compelling OB bass that blended perfectly with the other 90% of the musical spectrum was extremely difficult to figure out as a music loving end user without a team of experts on hand.

All Mr. Bastanis needs is to get a solid class AB plate amp (not class D) with simple controls (to dial it in situ) and sufficient power as so many other high-efficiency designers have built into their full-range designs. The need is not for dealers building the kits for you. All that does is increase the cost and take away the kit option. The need is for a complete kit. To read that he is seeking to take away direct sales in favour of a very small number of mandated middleman dealers is enormously frustrating as it essentially doubles the cost of the same performance quality for those who can build or have built the cabinet/baffles themselves.
Best Regards,
Ned Hoey

I would fully agree on the need for a complete approach and/or kit. Voxativ have a high-efficiency powered subwoofer, so do Rethm. Apparently that's coming from Bastanis too, either by way of a vetted recommendation or by branding their own bass amp/xover. Your bass frustration mirrors that of our reviewer and explains why his writeup was as delayed as it was. He did, however, end up with a workable combination he found to sound very good. It's all back to an unusual approach which, presently, hovers somewhere between DIY and small specialty dealer network. As you see, our next emailer Fareed made pretty much exactly the same point.

I did read the letter from Ned Hoey in reference to his experience with a New York dealer (me at Beauty Of Sound) and the Canadian dealer that we are "worthless". He must not understand the nature of distributorship and the need for a certain percentage of markup to cover expenses such as show costs, import duties, taxes and shipping costs. He never heard a demo of the speakers and all I did was give him hours of service over the phone. I feel this letter is damaging to my business and I would like it if you would remove it. Thank you for this consideration.
Bill Demars
Beauty Of Sound

We don't delete letters as this would equate to censure. However, your view point is expressed as well now by having been added. I consider his opinion valid given that he lives in California whereas you do business out of New York -:)
Hey Srajan,
strange detours those were, by your contributor Steve, to get the bass to work properly on the Bastanis. I would have thought such a situation would categorically preclude an award? I felt that the product was incomplete. It was left up to your man to make it work. Isn't that well outside common protocol?

Bastanis are different. They're essentially kit speakers. As Steve reported, later this year the current dealer/distributor network is required to have their own wood shop solutions. This will offer a turnkey product including a properly vetted bass amp/crossover. Given Steve's breadth of experience across four Bastanis models, I'm perfectly comfortable with his decision to single out the Mandala for an award. It's the results which count. In this case, his accounting should save fellow travelers a lot of detours until the official Bastanis bass amp/xover recommendation emerges. When it comes to awards, it's the writer who actually heard the product who gets to say so. If I didn't trust my writers with that decision, I wouldn't have them on staff. It would have been strange to withhold an award until Bastanis issue a formal sub amp recommendation which we already know is coming. Steve ended up with a combination whose performance impressed him as much as he described. And... I agree with you that this was an unusual scenario. Preferably we'd have come in after everything was fully finalized from the manufacturer's side.