Your space to participate, comment and critique. Email srajan @ 6moons.com to submit your entry.


Hi Srajan:
I am enjoying all the current reviews. Thanks. I’m sure there are a kazillion reasons you don’t give advice but I’m buying the April Aura Note v2 + Gallo Strada 2 for a desktop system (you see why I am writing you). My Gallo dealer recommends Wireworld speaker cables (convenient / a road more-travelled). I also loved your reviews of Nanotec SP #79 & 777 cables (cool / exotic / great story). Do you think one would be a better match for the April/Gallo system – or have you found another far better match for that gear? I will probably also buy an AC cable from whomever I buy the speaker cables.I am asking you because, having done the reviews, you know the equipment well, and it is also impossible to find & test most cables in Calgary.
Hugely appreciated!!!
Joel Shapiro

PS: the April/Gallo system will replace another system of equipment all reviewed on 6 Moons: modified Unico, modified Jolida CDP, MIT Shotgun cable loom, and modified Peachtree iDac (all mods by Underwood Hifi). I built my main system around the Audiomat Opera Reference, reviewed by Paul Candy.

Killer li’l system, Joel. Thing is, I’ve never heard/reviewed any Wireworld or Nanotec cable. Those reviews were done by my contributors, not me. I’d probably listen to your dealer on that count. What you should try regardless of the cables you end up with is, swap the polarity on the amp side’s speaker cables. Try both red-to-red/black-to-black and red-to-black/black-to-red (obviously the same for both speakers). The Gallos are so revealing, they’ll sound distinctly better in one of these hookups (true for any speaker but many are too opaque to actually tell). Which way will be better is impossible to predict but you’ll be able to hear it. After you’ve decided which you prefer, leave it alone and stop reading reviews -:)
Srajan
Liked the fallen soldiers bit. It used to be things, were made to break after a period of time. Now we're such well-trained consumers, it can work forever or not,  we'll toss it just the same. What sounds good, sounds good.  Synergy is far more important than vintage. To the lost...

However, just like an addict, once I hear a 'little better', it stays with me.
Fred Crane
Hi Srajan:
In his recent letter to you, Louis Motek of LessLoss Audio wrote this about the S.A. Lab Lilt DAC/Preamp: “…He's been taking it to shows and hooking it up directly to high-efficiency horns. Straight from high current DAC to loud horn. No amp, no preamp, just the output transformer on multiple taps for volume!  Awesome little piece of machinery… 3-watt output!” Can this DAC/preamp really be used as an amplifier too?  With its 4P1L tubes and output transformers, it seems plausible. There are no binding posts, so how would one use it as an amplifier?  Does it require a special version?  Inquiring minds would like to know! Thanks.
Gerry E.

P.S. Just to add to your list of DHT preamps, there are the Bottlehead BeePre (300B) and Smash (4P1L) units.  These are high-quality kits and one of the least expensive ways to join the exclusive club.  I use a BeePre myself.  With WE 300Bs of course!     

Louis was talking about just the discrete DAC which he heard in a different unit from the designer of that module. I have no idea how that component is configured. With the Lilt, you're correct - there are no speaker-level outputs, just RCA (fixed and variable) so it wouldn't apply unless one specifically requested a modification from the Russian builder. You could certainly contact him through his website.
Srajan
Lovely review by Edgar, on the Kharma two-ways. But wasn't using them right between his Wilsons a bit of a compromise?
Andreas Schuster

Probably. But moving behemoths like his—which were additionally dialed down to the millimeter by the local dealer—is nearly asking too much. And where would he put 'em for the duration? So yes, in my own reviews, I always only have one pair of speakers set up. But that's possible only because I insist that whatever I own, I can readily move; and that it be small enough to store in the entry or our landing. You might say that my personal mandate is its own compromise.
Srajan
Actually, the Audio Technology Nagra cubes remind me very much of Schlup's folly, the 100-watt Nagra Kudelski Pyramid stereo amp which I briefly owned and just as rapidly disowned. Same power supply, same specs, cheaper casing. Makes you wonder.
Keep up the Lord's work.
Michele from Rome

Interesting that you can tell all that from the rendering of the guts!
Srajan

Hell no, I only opened my MPA once. Still, it's the logical ancestor of the cube.
End of debate, bye.
Michele
How's going, Mr. Srajan?
Wow! is all I can say with the Kaiser/Goldmund reviews so far!!!
Best Regards, 
Bob Visintainer
Rhapsody Music & Cinema 
Hi Srajan,
I was shocked by the last sentence of the Telos preview. How can a company sell a solid-state device for $40K and offer only a three-year warranty? Is this common even in this price range? I'm especially surprised coming from such an established high-end player. This also made me think of the question of reliability of hifi kit in general. When I started buying modest 'hi-end' components not that long ago, I assumed anything selling for over $1'000 must be of tremendous quality and would last a very long time indeed. Many will knowingly laugh at that. Perhaps a good reality check is that the first CD player I owned, a very cheap Sony model, still works. That Sony player booked a lot more hours in my youth than any of the later players that I've used daily. I run a modest system and can't imagine ever considering a purchase like the Telos. But, if I won the lottery*, the salesperson would have a hard time explaining this warranty.
Dave Rosenblum

* Not that I'd run out and buy a $40K amp if I did win the lottery.

Companies like Bryston in Canada warranty their amplifiers for 20 years. But I've seen anything from 1-5 years depending on maker and component category. It certainly should be a consideration flowing into any purchase decision. When we bought our used replacement car last December, we got a 10-year/150'000km warranty on it. It was three years old but with less than 10'000km on the clock. A very good price plus that peace-of-mind warranty combined to sell the deal for us. So I can fully appreciate your reaction.
Srajan
Srajan,
I was reading your article on the SEOS™ waveguide and hORNS company and wanted to give you a quick history of that waveguide that might have been missed. It was originally designed on the AVS audio forum here. A decent number of people helped with the design and shape. One of the forum members that spearheaded the project looked for a company to help build the prototypes. They used Autotech for the prototype work because they had experience building horns. After Autotech made all the prototypes, they decided to sell the SEOS to other people. The FP was also designed by AVS forum members and then (as mentioned in your article) Autotech decided not to sell the front panel to the DIY guys in America that actually designed them. I don't think hORNS mentioned that the SEOS™ waveguide is registered in the USA and owned by the guy that did the heavy lifting to get the project completed. With a large group effort, he also had a few different sizes of the waveguide produced in plastic to keep costs down. Later, speaker designers worked up some nice speaker kits for the DIY community to enjoy the work they did on the project. They're listed on the DIY Sound Group site. Hopefully some credit will eventually go to those people that came up with the design, not just the company that was hired to do the original prototype.
Brian Jacobs

Thanks for the added intel. This documents the gap between DIY and formal production and reviewers like us who cover the latter, not former. We're often not hip to DIY history and rely on information provided to us by either a manufacturer or, if our writer works with a regional distributor or dealer, their sales agents. In this instance, Joël mentioned getting very little from Autotech which frustrated him some. He wanted to do a good job on the history of the review products. I believe most of what he got came from his regional importer. He very likely didn't know about the AVS connection..
Srajan
Srajan,
you weren't kidding when you wrote that the Goldmund Telos 360 is mostly empty inside. For €40k the pair! That made me appreciate even more how a pair of Job 250 goes for $3'400. Their power rating would seem to be about half but the difference in price is still shocking, particularly when Job is built in Switzerland too and the company can still make a workable profit. This really made we wonder about those Goldmund margins.
Jerôme Anderes

When one accepts an expensive assignment—which I knowingly did though I didn't have the actual figure then—it's unfair to berate a company for their positioning in the market afterwards. Goldmund have pursued luxury branding from the very beginning. The number of Switch watch brands which do the same is obvious legion. I'm told that in Asia Goldmund enjoy the #1 ranking for exotic hifi. Whilst that may not be the sector I'm comfortable shopping in doesn't mean I'm not curious about it. With this assignment, I'm also satisfying that personal curiosity -:)
Srajan
Good DAC you have there in the S.A.Lab Lilt. I know it well from Audio ALT directly. Andrejs Staltmanis, the Latvian living in Germany, introduced us a couple years ago. He's been taking it to shows and hooking it up directly to high-efficiency horns. Straight from high currect DAC to loud horn. No amp, no preamp, just the output transformer on multiple taps for volume! Awesome little piece of machinery. There's only one in North America which I sold to an audio buddy in Denver. Puts DAC chips to shame on dynamic clarity. 3-watt output! Redefines the PCM position with regards to digital format wars.
Louis Motek
Hello Srajan:
I have some older Denon gear, one integrated, one tuner, which I bought whilst living in Canada. Now that I live in Lausanne, I need 230V. Is there a way to make that happen?
Philippe

Hello Philippe:
Here is a Swiss-sold unit that should do the job. It plugs into your typical Swiss power outlet and offers you two US-style power outlets on the other side whilst stepping down our 230 volts to the 115 volts which your US/Canadian-spec Denon gear wants to see. The power rating of this transformer should exceed your load to work without issues. Go here.
Srajan
Hi Srajan,
I thought I'd follow up on our conversation regarding the passive attenuator scheme. I just received a product which I believe may allow a listener to move their digitally managed volume control up into the "lossless" range we'd all like to enjoy: http://www.sescom.com/product.asp?item=SES-MULTI-PAD. I'll be in touch shortly as I believe these little guys will need some break-in. But just a quick pic to show you the device and the range of adjustability. The manufacture assures me that all but two of the resistors utilized internally are of the 1% metal film variety. Out of the package and at only 5dB cut, the sound quality and directness are suffering but soundstage width and depth have improved. Odd comprise. We'll see what a few more hours of use can reveal. 
More to follow.  
Steve Miller

Thanks for sharing your adventures with these inline solutions. This certainly looks to be a very flexible product. I'll be curious to learn how you get on with it after a few weeks of use!
Srajan
Hi Srajan,
I just wanted to thank 6moons for past reviews of ASI LiveLine cables as they led me to a delightful meeting with Franch Tchang in Paris and a subsequent purchase of power cord, speaker, coax, AES/EBU and USB cables. I recently installed the power cord, coax and speaker cables in my Devialet 200/Atohm GT1 system, with a BlueNode streamer and a FiiO X3 hi-res portable providing the content. In a word, wow! It is as if a window has opened on my music. I know the cables need to burn in but they are already transforming my system. I am stunned by certain sounds and the overall cohesiveness of the music. I know it will get better but it's damned good now! Attached is a photo I took of Franck as he played his electric guitar for me and another guest. Plus one more of the two of us. What a nice and interesting guy. Hats off to 6moons for tipping me off!
All best,
Michael Fanning
... "an embarrassment of riches" you called today's converter choices. Just yesterday you posted the Cyenne DAC review. Today I see a preview on the DAISy 1. How the hell do you do that? I discover more new brands on 6moons than anywhere else. Keep it coming!
Josh

I really don't do anything. I just catch balls thrown at us. Remember, these news brand solicit us. Being unfamiliar with them, I wouldn't even know to contact them. So we'd have to ask them why they keep coming. I simply think that it's because we have demonstrated interest, openness and fairness in covering new companies. Since we're global, we don't have minimum dealer requirements which can eliminate companies at their very start. And because we're online, our reviews can be read anywhere as long as it's in English. That makes it attractive for companies operating outside certain 'hifi hotspots'. Next week I'll get my first review product from Russia. As long as manufacturers like what we do, I don't see why we wouldn't keep it coming.
Srajan
Hello Srajan,
You have made a digital convert out of me. Selling off my analogue. Having to admit the convenience/breadth of digital and the narrowing gap in performance has me selling off my vinyl. Too much frustration with worrying about the setup and having to constantly make adjustments. Would really like to get your take on the Devialet Phantom setup in stereo and how they compare to a more traditional setup (Gallo Strada, sub and something like the mINT or Job 225 and DAC). For €4'000 to have everything (DAC, amplifier, speaker) in one small package (no wires) seems too good to be true. Any chance there could be a review in the future?
All the best,
Joshua

That will depend on Devialet. Since our reviews on their gear many years ago, they've not been in touch. Presumably the baton has passed to other publications. The Phantom does look like an engineering tour de force. The only aspect which concerns me is their inherent brute force approach. To get that type of SPL and bass from a small sealed enclosure relies on high power, corrective DSP whilst generating intense internal pressures. Hence I wonder whether all that effort also translates sonically over an easy-does-it recipe like Strada + sub or such. It's certainly a very intriguing and different product and if we don't get one to review, I'll be very curious to read what colleagues elsewhere have to say about it.
Srajan
Hi Srajan.
For many years now, I have valued your writing and opinions. From my various Wyred4Sound products, to Modwright items, to Zu Audio, I have trusted your ears and interpretations to guide my path through the dense underbrush of products on my way to better sound...on a budget . A sincere thank you for your efforts and admirable work at 6moons in all aspects of this endeavor. Most recently I have found myself the lucky auditioner of DAC's Desktop Maraschino amps. As a result of your findings and comparison (the latter being the most helpful in context), I couldn't resist. These amps are truly astounding.  And although I didn't try the 48V supplies, Tommy agreed I would proceed straight to the 60V versions.  he result in my system is better than anything I have experienced in any other setting I have encountered. At any price. Subjective yes, but happy for me nonetheless.

My concern for writing you at this time is to inquire on a technical opinion. In my setup, I am using the Wyred4Sound Dac2DSD direct into the Maraschinos via XLR. I'd like to get the volume opened up a little further on the Dac, which sits at about 40 (of 70 ) as indicated on display. If you remember, I believe this puts the DAC into digital decimation. So can you comment on any of the XLR attenuators that claim to drop signal by 5, 10, 20 or more dB? In theory it's just 1 resistor in the signal path, allowing for the DAC volume to be opened up more. I believe you had to employ these during the Liederman/EmeraldPhysics bi-amp/active DSP mission. Any insight or experience you might share would be helpful. DAC direct and eliminating the pr-amp gives way to more sizzle, more emotion. Driving the Maraschinos this way in my system is addictively transparent and communicative. Never thin, white or light. Hence, a fixed reduction in overall output, allowing the DAC to run with less internal attenuation, is my goal.  
Looking forward to any thoughts you may have.
Kind Regards,
Steve Miller

Happy to hear you've found your Cherry!
I've not compared different inline attenuators but clearly remember the scenario you recall. Versus the steep digital attenuation during that assignment which they used to gain-match their drivers, the inline solution supplied later was far superior. Now we could get all geeky and fret over performance differences between company A's inline adaptor vs. company B's but I believe that would be a 0.05% issue versus the 5% issue it solves either way. You should contact EJ Sarmento at Wyred to learn whether his display references directly to 1dB steps or 0.5dB or something more arbitrary. Then you should listen to a very hot Pop recording with no dynamic range (which will have you use maximum attenuation) and a classical Adagio which begins with some pianissimo string ostinato before all hell breaks loose. That'll show you lower attention. You'll want your inline solution to be somewhere between those two values and closer to the latter as otherwise, your system won't play loud enough on that type music. Once you know what that figure on the display equates to in actual dB, you'll have the value to go after with your XLR inline attenuators. I think it's a very good very cost-efficient idea that'll accomplish the same for a lot less and even better than a quality passive preamp. Good thinking!
Srajan

I am thinking I'd like to keep a little headroom to be able to rock out on those rare occasions when no one else is home. The big Zu Messages can really boogie when asked to. What I have located is a switchable device with 3 discrete settings of 10, 20 and 30dB attenuation in one slick package. I'm ordering a pair up and we shall experiment more in a few days. 30dB will put the onboard volume basically wide open for normal listening while 10-20dB cut will allow a little extra drive for friskier sessions
Steve
Hi Srajan,
I read your review about the Pass Labs XA30.8. You mentioned that the FirstWatt F6 was ultimately sweeter and more airy. However you gave a couple of examples for how dynamic range and transient response together can make the sound more real and alive. There were especially two examples you mentioned which caught my attention:
1. The force and physicality of the left hand of the Piano keys - you mentioned that the XA30.8 is conveyed it with better dynamic contrast and more force.
2. When a metal vessel falls on a concrete ground, the sound is very scary and it is this scary-ness which is absent when a plastic vessel falls on the ground.
Would you say the XA30.8 did both these acts better than the F6 on a speaker like the soundkaos?
Regards,
Abhijit

Yes it did/does, but... a speaker like the Wave 40 which is intrinsically heavier and denser like the XA30.8 is ultimately better served by an F6/SIT1-type amplifier at least to my ears. And that's how all of hifi is a tradeoff.
Srajan

The soundkaos is darker, heavier and denser than which speaker? I have heard the ASI Tango (which you also have I guess). Is the soundkaos noticeably darker than the Tango?
Regards,
Abhijit

All the speakers I currently own are listed in the review's intro. Those which I compared on the Pass amp are listed in the review itself. Which speakers did better on the F6 than XA30.8 is spelled out as well. A bit of reading is all that's required to figure that out, no guess work needed!
Srajan
Hi Srajan,
How are you? Have you ever heard the Pass Labs Aleph 0 or Aleph 2 mono amps? Their specs look amazing on paper but since they are old designs of Mr. Pass, I wonder if they would hold their own in terms of transparency and resolution compared to good amps of the current day. What do you think about these amps?
Regards
Pani

Hello Pani:
Never heard them. When those amps came out, I was still in audio retail then sales & marketing and had a very modest personal system. Those amps and others like them were way out of reach for me then and I never had opportunity to cross their paths.
Srajan
I have been listening to the TOTL Forza cable on my LCD2 for a month, then went back to the stock cable and had a shock. The recordings sounded broken! So I paid up for the Forza. It transforms the LCD2 into something really magical  (probably does the same for all Audeze, which for me do not have great differences in sound).  
Giannis Bouc
Hello,
A quick question: what are the accessoires you put on several power amps?
Regards,
Ce Bauer

Those are mass dampers plus RF traps from the Spanish Artesania Audio company which makes my Exoteryc equipment rack. Six of them are part of any shipment of a double-wide three-tier rack. That's how I got them. But they are available separately as well. For a cheap DIY version of a mass damper, put some steel shot in a big ziploc bag.
Srajan
Dear Srajan,
I now have a pair of Voxativ Ampeggios at home. Your analogy with Turner paintings is - luminous.
Cheers,
Johan-Frédérik Hel Guedj

Congratulations. That's my favourite Voxativ model!
Srajan
Hello Srajan:
Did you really say it? Not really. I read Wojciech's review of the Wow Audio Labs components where he makes reference to your earlier review. He says that their casings reminded you of Boulder. That seemed very strange. So naturally I read your review as well. You mention Jeff Rowland for the finish, not Boulder. And Avalon for the enclosure facets. Don't you just love it when people misquote you?
Tom

It happens. I recall John Atkinson repeatedly wishing that people would actually read before commenting on their reviews when so often, comments make it clear that people didn't read (or at least, not very well). But c'est la vie. Writers write. What readers chose to do with our product—skim it, skip larger swaths, only read the conclusion, speed read to get the general gist, pour over every word—isn't up to us. Hence what they get out of it isn't up to us either. With a professional colleague one might expect better but we all make mistakes. I'm lucky in that our readers often point out ours so I get to fix them before they grow too old -:)
Srajan
Hello Srajan,
I’ve been on a long hunt for interesting preamps that aren’t too hard on the wallet. I’d like to collect three or four and change them out to add different tastes to my system. So far I’ve gotten one of the better ones from Hegel and now I just ordered this one: http://www.transcendentsound.com/Transcendent/Masterpiece.html It’s quite new, it’s different, it’s cheap so I thought I'd let you know.
Best
Walter Staehli

I was aware of Bruce's various Grounded Grid models but not of this one. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. And, have fun putting together your preamp spice rack. That thinking falls right in line with my own. Instead of spending all one's money on one super-posh component (whatever that means according to a personal budget), break it down into smaller bits and allocate those to multiple examples in the same category. It's the best way to learn; and it forestalls the inevitable boredom with sameness no matter how brilliant its level. As human beings, we get bored by lack of variety. Why keep selling and buying and selling and buying when there's clearly no end to it. Why not buy cheaper stuff you can afford to keep; and by keeping it, have more flavours to pursue that keep things interesting. Good man!
Srajan
Hi Srajan:
Being interested in the latest Metrum DAC, I'd found the first Pavane review through their Facebook page. Now I found your preview of it. I must say that I learned far more from you about how it works and on NOS DACs in general than from the entire René van Es review. What gives? No matter, you're surely one hard-working bloke. Keep it up!
Chris Nathing

What gives is, I think, a different focus. Each publication has its own. Such a focus includes product mix, narrative style and even word count. With a clearly communicated focus (or one established by simple consistency), an audience understands what to expect. Now they can flock to one publication because of it or avoid it because the focus/style doesn't match their own. With our tag line being "for music lovers and audiophiles who love to read", our focus has been clear since day one. Extra information is always available. In most cases, it just means a question or two to the designer. One simply must want to know to go beyond the basics. But it does make for longer reading. And some publications prefer a tighter more condensed style with less tech talk, figuring the latter can be chased down by those who really want to know. With today's search engines, that's a valid assumption to make. That's the beauty of variety, choice and competition. We all get to map out our own approach and the reader has more options because of it.
Srajan
Hello Srajan,
Thanks for your thorough review of the Cygnus open-baffle (well, the subwoofer is OB) speakers.  It is encouraging that 1) your always thorough reviews judge with the ear and an open inquisitive mind, sans some of the typical biases of old-school reviewers and 2) you have knowingly or unknowingly given greater exposure on several occasions to one of the great legendary audio minds, Siegfried Linkwitz. Just off the top of my head, in addition to the Cygnus, I recall you have reviewed the Bastani OB speaker and the Emerald Physic OB speaker, and I'm sure others.  Linkwitz' pioneering efforts and research first gave us the Linkwitz-Riley passive crossover network many years ago. Interestingly he has all but abandoned passive crossovers as "a waste of time..." if accuracy is the goal http://linkwitzlab.com/crossovers.htm.  

Linkwitz has nearly single-handedly advanced the knowledge base and scientific validation for the benefits of pistonic dipoles specifically, and dipoles generally. In the last 10-15 years his analysis, measurement and designs of so-called open-baffle (OB) or dipole loudspeakers has benefited many designers, the DIY community and advanced the state of the art in OB/dipole design, whether or not he receives credit. His measurement and analysis illustrating the ability of a dipole to effectively deal with room acoustics, enclosure resonance and uniform power response at all frequencies documents scientifically what most people hear when they listen to a dipole - an accurate natural sound. Linkwitz is quick to point out that an OB design does so many things fundamentally more correctly than a sealed or ported enclosure that it is difficult to design a bad sounding OB/dipole speaker. High output levels of deep bass in OB does become somewhat more of a challenge to the designer but Linkwitz designs have helped to effectively, if not inexpensively, address this. The reward of jumping through that design hoop is increased bass articulation as you verified in the Cygnus review. Magnepans, Quads, Soundlabs and other full-range dipole/OB, though not the pistonic variety of which Linkwitz is a proponent, are additional examples of dipole/OB attributes.

Linkwitz's life's work contradicts some of the errant yet foundational beliefs of large segments of the (flat-earthers) audiophile community. At over 77 years old, he appears to be in a hurry to openly share his research so that his findings do not perish with him. He has stated just this point. His site LinkwitzLab.com is a wealth of information and true education, free of antiquated voodoo, audiophile myth and legend. The entire contents of his site are available for a charge for those who would like for further research and education. Though he was head of research at Hewlett Packard for many years, he attempts to make his research as accessible as possible for those not necessarily mathematically inclined. One 'correction' to the Cygnus review. The Cygnus principal says his subwoofer is an iteration of the Linkwitz 'H' frame. It is not. It is a Linkwitz 'W' frame. I believe you included the example below in one of your previous reviews, showing both the W and H frames.

As always, an admirer of your writing and analytic skills. Keep up the good work. 
Best,
Ed
Have you ever seen a review of a Bakoon AMP-12R & the EQA-12R together? I can’t find anything about the Satri circuit but the company blurbs.
Steve Ericson

I haven’t, no. But seeing how I don’t do vinyl, I haven’t necessarily paid attention to it either. As far as the Satri circuit goes, my coarse impression is that it's essentially a high-gain op-amp executed fully discrete. And yes, details on it are sketchy for the obvious reasons. It's a very small company with a few decades worth of R&D and IP to protect. Plus I doubt that the average reviewer looking at the circuit could reverse-engineer or understand it enough to add anything salient to the discussion. That's why there is no meaningful 3rd-party data on Satri.
Srajan
Hi Srajan,
I am your faithful reader for many years. If I say that I bought a Burson 160, then Conductor, then Stello U3 and Job 225, you know I am your audiophile follower.  I greatly appreciate your last article about transports. I wonder if you could think about the comparison of: your Apple, a Windows 8 machine with Jplay and the Auralic Aries. I trust your ears, even more than mine. I use Jplay (I believe it is better than JRiver20) but would love to hear whether you hear difference with Apple/Audirvana or Aries, a very interesting product that's a bit different than those servers and it does not cost as much.
Best regards,
Bob

Our household segregates church and state, OSX and Windows. I use a Win 64/7 machine for work and the iMac for music. The iMac isn't partitioned so I don't run Windows on it. And on my work machine I had Jplay but didn't like how it worked when I switched between Youtube, Qobuz, Spotify+ and other programs. And, I never really got on with the JRiver interface either. In short, I'm afraid that on this count, you will have to trust your own ears more than mine -:)
Srajan

Hi, thanks for the immediate response. There are plenty of Windows 8.1 machines around so I hope you can borrow one for comparison. I am afraid, forgetting my ears, that my system is not as transparent as yours. Plus, you have an enormous amount of gear that you could use for comparison. I like your articles as I was never disappointed by your guidance. I am looking forward to reading about your Hugo listening experience.
Bob

In the end it is still your ears which you must please and your system which must do the pleasing. I'm afraid to say, I'm not going to borrow a Windows 8.1 machine to conduct this particular comparison. If you're curious about it, you will have to do it yourself. Which will be the most meaningful exercise anyhow as no matter what somebody else may hear or claim, if you can't hear it—because of your ears or your system's lack of transparency—there's no good reason at all to worry about any of it! -:)
Srajan
I really enjoyed the MAC/CD appraisal. Still, this bona fide audiophile codger uses his unpopular Nagra CDC as a main source and keeps no end of Flac files on a USB pendrive, with a battery-run Mac Air, Audirvana and Audioquest Dragonfly plus an Audioquest Evergreen cable as a perfectly creditable secondary. Some thoughts on the theoretical nasties stemming from the iMac's power supply?
Best,
Michele from Rome

Given that PureMusic buffers all music in solid-state memory and literally spins down the hard drive—to awaken it, I get the 'wheel of death' and have to wait until the machine awakens from slumber mode—I'm not sure how much damage the SMPS can inflict. It might, indirectly, by dumping infrasonic noise into the power line and infecting other gear. But that's addressed with my Vibex power filter. I'm well aware of many theoretical reasons not to use computers as transports. But there's theory and then there's listening. Like other audiophiles, I go by what my ears tell me.

Here's a nice example of how theory is trumped by experience. Is battery drive plus super caps better than an RF-filtered highly regulated traditional supply? Surely it must be. Well, Chord no longer think so. They're on record saying that if they designed the Hugo TT now rather than last year, it'd not get the current batteries or super caps. That's because they've since learnt how to match that battery power supply performance another way. I applaud their engineer's fortitude to say so -:)

Back to using a computer as transport, I'm well aware that it puts me in the 'deaf reject' category. I'm a bad bad audiophile. But hey, if it saves me very serious dosh of having to go after some silly-priced audiophile server that still needs a computer to buy music and can only be operated with WiFi, I laugh a very loud final laugh all the way to the bank. And I've got a far bigger display to work with, too.
Srajan
Hi Srajan,
I enjoyed your review of the Aqua La Diva. My own findings of the computer vs. transport vs. server conversation (not as a reviewer, but as a biased and soul-less retailer) aren't entirely in line with you findings/perceptions, but I don't doubt the merit of your view. I'd always hoped for a clear cut, and exacting answer, but it turns out there are as many parameters involved in the choice, as one might make in the choice of an analog set up.  (table, drive mechanism, arm, cart, cable, controller, add some salt and pepper, onions and cheddar and you have an Analog omelet.) Like you, I've found certain standards (USB, S/PDIF, i2s, AES/EBU, Ethernet) sound better on certain combos. I've also found certain software to work better with certain combos, and tend to prefer those where a good software has been purpose written. I have my leanings to be sure but won't share them here because they won't apply to many readers systems and I would be giving poor counsel as a result.

The sub culture I've found for transports is simple. People who like to grab their discs from their shelf, and play them...they don't want to down load them all, they don't want to send them off to a service to have them downloaded, and they don't want a computer around when they listen to music. The largest chunk of our population was born when a 'computer', was someone who worked on an adding machine. I think it's great that there is a true high fidelity option for those folks, or anyone who feels similarly, regardless of their birthday. It's not quite like spinning a record but it can be darned close. (and you can skip that one song you don't like on the album from your listening chair.)
All the best,
Fred Crane

I'm familiar with many of the arguments against computer transports of course, hence I've dipped toes into the server waters from time to time. As any audiophile does, I use my ears (and then my wallet) if and when something becomes a must have. So far I remain committed to the iMac - which isn't to say that I might not come across something better next month. But with my allergy against WiFi, it would have to solve the GUI issue in a novel wired way which thus far has proven elusive.
Srajan
Dear Srajan,
I bought a Class D Amp (Gato 250). I listened to it intensely for several weeks. Then I sold it. Besides a impressive listening experience, something else happened. I found myself more and more running around the room whilst listening to the music. After some days, I felt like my nervous system was overwrought and I had Ohrensausen. I switched back to my old Yamaha amp. I was able to sit in my chair and enjoy music again. I read—not totally understood—a review that mentioned the problem of pulse-width modulation (PWM), a carrier frequency above the audio band. I wonder if this is the context of my "nervous breakdown". Because I like the Class D Concept (energy efficient, affordable) and would like to give it a second try, I like to ask: should I give a different Class D Concept (NCore, ICE?) a try; or should I better skip the idea of purchasing a Peachtree or Wyred4Sound?
Thanks a lot for your thoughts and insights.
Kind regards,
Alexander

Very fair question but impossible to answer with certainty. I happen to hate WiFi. It makes me feel tense, "under bombardment" and plain yucky. Most people I know handle it just fine. A few months ago a friend and I listened to his Berning Siegfried 300B amplifier which also uses an RF-style carrier frequency to modulate the impedance. A third person in the room (and manufacturer of a competing 300B amp) claimed he couldn't listen to it without instant headaches. He begged us to turn it off. We weren't sure whether he was kidding or manipulating the comparison. In hindsight, I wondered whether he simply was hyper sensitive to said carrier wave frequency like I feel WiFi.

Electro smog is a phenomenon only marginally being acknowledged. I remember when I first moved from a 21" to a 27" iMac. There was so much radiation coming off its screen; and I was sitting within 2 meters from it whilst listening; that I thought I'd not be able to keep it. Only after installing some mysterious devices a friend of ours sells under the Tachyon brand did my sensitivity to that radiation diminish sufficiently to no longer veto that bigger iMac.

I've also had good results with so-called Schumann resonance devices. I believe sensitivity to electro smog is very real but until there's a bigger body of scientific work investigating it, our sort is on its own acknowledging it and making the relevant adjustments. I can't predict that another class D amp wouldn't put you on edge too. Nor can I predict that the 'voodoo' devices we use would work for you. All I can say is, trust your body and make your own well being more important than having scientific explanations or writing off your reactions as imaginary. Imaginary my ass!
Srajan
Shipping woes. I very much enjoyed your feature on shipping. in 1970, I  taped an amplifier to my torso under a bulky sweater whilst traveling from Istanbul to the US. I should have just paid for the customs and shipping. Trust me.
Frederic Crane

Some of the things we run into on this count beggar belief. So it was overdue to cover some basics and save ourselves and some of the other guys certain easily avoidable issues.
Srajan
Hi Srajan, 
the iFi Micro iDSD is so insanely great  that I feel your Hugo review will not be quite 100% if u do not compare them ...  just my 2 cents ...  
Giannis Bouc

My plan is to compare the TT against the standard Hugo since that's a key 'concern' for fence sitters who find the TT's price far too high vis-à-vis the Hugo which has gotten sterling reviews. Then I'll frame the TT against DACs I own (COS Engineering D1, AURALiC Vega, Metrum Hex) and against directly competing 3-in-1s like my Eximus DP1 to chime in on the headfi function. The iFi however isn't in the crib or on a review list...
Srajan
Hello! I have enjoyed your articles for years. Thanks for all the thought and effort you put into them - and for your helpful direct comparisons with other components, which are so often lacking in audio reviews. I have Avantgarde Uno Nano speakers and want to get a solid-state amplifier for them. I recently borrowed a Pass Labs XA30.5 from a friend and was knocked out by its performance. However, I'd like to see if I can find a cheaper FirstWatt amplifier (my big money is spent on tube amps) that is very similar. I need very little power so I'm thinking that one of the FW amps might give me similar dynamics, bass and detail for less cost. Which FW amp would you say is most similar to the XA30.5?Thank you very much!
Arthur Ball

I've never heard the XA30.5 but I reviewed and then bought the XA30.8. If the two X amps are similar, the review of the .8 does include comparisons with the FirstWatt F6 and SIT1. You might reference that review in our archives to get an idea on how these two brands compare sonically. The FW aesthetic is different. They're not just less powerful Pass Labs versions.
Srajan
Thank you for years of excellent writing. If you actually receive this through your spam filter, I'm proud to say I send out almost no fan mail. Your contribution to my audio pursuits warrants this effort because when someone does you a solid, you just have to try to make it be known that you noticed. You're a damn good writer writing about something very difficult to understand. Tough job well done!
Thank you.
John D Gerndt
Hi Srajan,
Some months back I contacted you about the suspicious nature of the Hypex marketing with continual deferment of your review due to manufacturing problems. Well, I have been able to do some interesting comparisons. I have run for the last 6 months a Pascal S Pro (Gato 250) module. The amp is very very good, like a Bakoon 12R on steroids. Must be run in balanced mode only, it's far better. The next test was Anaview's new module. This was good but nowhere near as open as the Pascal and a bit dry. Next came the NAD with the new nCore version. This was similar to the Anaview but a little more open. Next was the DIY version of the nCore. This came closer to the Pascal but did not better it. Finally the Mola Mola. That was the winner. It had the openness of the Pascal but added amazing grip over the speakers. When putting it into the system, my Trenner&Friedl Ra never sounded as good. Sounds like your new Pass Labs 30 watter in your comparisons. The amps run extremely hot (also the DIY version) but the local distributor said that the new cases were now vented. It looks like in the end, if you want the best, you have to pay for it. The Mola Mola are $15'000. One wonders how the other versions of the similar kitted amps compare. In the end, I am extremely happy with my S Pro Pascal. When run in balanced mode, it is a bargain. Always love your reviews. Keep up the good work.
B.
Dear Srajan,
I trust that you are well – and I love what "you’ve done" with 6moons, policy wise and on interaction and the reading experience.
Michael Hollesen, Klutz Design
Just saw your additional page for the GigaWatt review. Good thing you revisited the subject then. And as you wrote below, you'll benefit too going forward.
Jerry Haskins

Quite so. Adam knew his stuff and identified an improper combination of his own gear. And having determined that even on my usual Vibex conditioner there was a subtler but audible degradation with the PF-2 in the chain, I've now removed and replaced it with my new Zu power cables. So making that mistake netted a useful insight.
Srajan
On that R2R speaker, it's $50'000 and they use MDF?
Charly Beagrie

Dear Charly,
Thanks a lot for your question. During the development of this system we've made a good number of enclosures with many different materials. The comparative analysis of obtained measurements and test results as well as results of subjective examination and audition have shown that special MDF with high density is one of the best materials for this particular system. Many other materials and finishes are available for you for the same price.
Regards,
Artur 
PS. Sound first!
"...freshly minted Vegatarian?" Made me wince/grin!  :-)
Noel Prellwitz

That was the idea. I've been trying to connect poncified and Ponzi scheme and work it into a narrative but thus far failed miserably. Still working on it though. Where there is a will, there is a whammy -:)
Srajan

Hmmm...
Poncified - blown out, adding a few pounds, bloated, overdressed
Ponzi - fraud based upon payout of investor capital rather than profits There is certainly a lot of bloat in high-end audio but not a lot of Ponzi type fraud. The Internet has greatly helped consumers keep manufacturers somewhat transparent and honest. You may need to expand your narrative to whammy those two together.
Noel
Srajan:
What happened to the SVS Prime review?
Chris

Our writer already had the loaners and put in significant time to take them through their paces but then SVS and their PR firm opted to recall them and cancel the assignment. What I can tell you is that he was impressed by what he heard and felt they were punching above their weight.
Srajan
Hello Srajan,
I was just about to fire off a peppery question on what happened to the GigaWatt review. Then I saw it back in the preview area. Kudos for holding your conclusion and experimenting more given the manufacturer's suggestions. I really enjoy the transparency with which you operate your site. I always feel that the spirit of exploration and curiosity overrides any concerns over propriety. Good man!
Jerry Haskins

Making mistakes is one way we learn. The trouble with hifi is, unless there's obvious distortion or a dead channel, mistakes aren't necessarily obvious. Adam Schubert's comments opened up an opportunity to check out something I'd not considered. And if he's right, I'll benefit too since I'll then change this part of my setup. Talk about a win/win. Finally, being online affords us the flexibility to revisit things where needed and stick fixes or additions into the original page. It'd be silly not to exploit that option.
Srajan