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


Hi Marja,
Based on your recommendation, I got the Akiko Audio AC tuning stick. Am extremely happy with it. I haven't yet gotten around to buying the Universal stick. Between upgrading from the AC Tuning stick to the new AC Triple Enhancer stick or getting a Universal Tuning stick, which one would you recommend I get first?
Regards,
Premnath Rajagopalan

Hi Prem,
the jump up with the Triple makes it our first choice. Then there's the possibility to use the AC tuning stick as a sort of Universal. Just add some Velcro wraps and fix the stick to a cable. Yes, the AC connector would dangle about but the benefits should be noticeable.
/M&H
Srajan,
you are the first reviewer who nailed the differences in sound aesthetics between monopole and dipole speakers without judgment. Excellent work, many thanks for this! From my experiences running my Bastanis company, the biggest group of my customers are experienced audiophiles, some of whom have spent enormous sums during their search for their ideal sound without ever before being able to find a stereo where music can transport their soul. When the customer expectations match the sound-aesthetics of the open baffle speaker and the stereo chain is of the highest level, the inner trip can lead the listeners wherever they like to go. For me that's what hifi is all about. There is no right or wrong and there are some different possibilities to follow. The adverse selection of product quality for a couple of generations of audio software and hardware led nowhere. This is why vintage gear is highly sought after and has become rare. Today there is a selection of manufacturers offering products of real quality and with the ability to feed the human soul. Meanwhile there are some manufacturers offering a step up in absolute quality from the old originals. These modern products are still rare but their number has grown during the past decade as an antidote to the mainstream. This means a new perspective for stereo because music is given to humans by nature and the story continues with new energy for spiritual development.
Best regards,
Robert Bastani
Good afternoon, Srajan.
I was wondering if you could do an article about the Meridian MQA software. I have looked at the sketchy information on the net and the Meridian site but have some basic questions not yet answered. Specifically,
1. I assume this is not a new encode/decode software but an algorithm to reduce timing errors thus improving accuracy in playback.
2. It appears that a new ‘gadget’ is needed to take full advantage of the process.
3. Where in the chain would the gadget appear. For example does it contain a USB processor. Thus it would look like computer>gadget>DAC. I am using a bridge between my computer and antique DAC so would that still be necessary? Would my system look like computer>bridge>gadget>DAC, for example.
4. What will be the minimum requirements for the DAC. For example would you need 24/96 processing as a starting point whether you are using NOS or up sampling units.
Thanks in advance for the time to read my email and hopefully a post on your site will be forthcoming.
Regards, Richard

As you rightly pointed out, right now the intel on MQA is sketchy at best. I’m not sure it’s exactly what it’s cracked up to be. But as more information comes down the line, we’ll certainly share what we learn. How to package 24/192 data into a 16/44.1-size file without throwing away data is the big question. If it's a psychoacoustic algorithm (which is what MP3 is), it won't be lossless. If you research the latest patents Meridian secured, you'll see they're about how to decimate Redbook data density.
Srajan
Hi:
Love 6Moons. Bought a lot of music and equipment that was reviewed on your site (mostly by Paul Candy) that I would never have otherwise found. In western Canada it is very tough to find esoteric stuff to audition – and even if you find the component you are looking for, the store won’t have any of the other equipment & cables from the system you want to build. In any case, you reviewed the modified Jolida CDP many years ago. Any chance you will review Jolida’s new DAC with deck? Just curious.
Thanks! All the best over the holidays!
Joel Shapiro

We haven't been in touch with Jolida in very many years and I seem to recall some Chinese/American legal action involving the trade name. So I honestly haven't paid attention to what they're up to now, neither have they ever been in touch with us to request that we do. In short, nothing on the docket.
Srajan
What happened to the Supratek review with Ed Kramer?

It's been delayed because Joshua Givorsner who was to assess its phono stage performance had to pull out. He had major compatibility issues with the preamp and his Ypsilon amplifier. Edgar who had committed to reporting on the linestage performance is now shopping for another Aussie writer who can do the honours on the phono stage.
Srajan
Dear Srajan:
I assume you have heard about the new company started by the founders of Wadia—it is called Exogal. They are now selling a DAC called the Comet and will introduce next year a companion digital amplifier called the Ion (which I assume is in Class D).Please see  http://www.exogal.com/index.php/products. I was a big fan of Wadia during their peak so I suspect that this team is capable of some important innovations. I expect the DAC + amplifier combination with its proprietary link [Exonet] to be something special—especially at their suggested price points. I know this space is very crowded and competitive. It would be great to see a review in 6moons of the two products working together. I have absolutely no financial interest in Exogal nor have I ever had any financial interest in Wadia.
Kind regards,
Michael Molitor
Paris

You assumed half right. I'd seen that Jim Kinne is back in the engineering seat when news of Exogal first broke. But I hadn't paid attention to the Ion announcement so there you're ahead of me. We're easy to find so if these folks have any interest in a review from us, I expect they'll knock on our doors. I've seen an announcement for a pending Comet review with AudioStream so we should be seeing something on the DAC from Michael Lavorgna or one of his contributors shortly.
Srajan
Hi Srajan,
I'm considering buying the Coincident Statement line stage because of good reputation and reasonable price. On 6moons you said that you'd like to try a DHT pre for yourself but you've chosen to review the Amare Musica. Is there a reason other than reviewing a lesser known example? Or asked differently: do you know of something (negative) I should know before committing to the Coincident?
Thank you in advance.
Best,
Walter Staehli

I've owned a 101D preamp (Supratek Dual) and the bass was a bit soft though the top end was fabulously airy and pliant. And it's a very microphonic tube which needs to be managed. So I've done the 101D thing. The Amare interests me because EML makes very good current-production tubes and theirs are not microphonic like the Chinese 101D. Those are my personal reasons for this assignment which have nothing at all to do with the particular Coincident preamp.
Srajan
Hello,
I saw the pic for the ‘new’ November 2014 Essence power amplifier in the News Room. Their claim of "…not Hypex, not ICE, but our own…" got me thinking. Class D amplification is just staggeringly difficult to pull off. Very few people in the world have the wherewithal. I was impressed! But then looking at the picture, something looked very very familiar. So, I looked in all of all the places I could think of that looked similar to the cosmetics of the Essence amp. I remembered Class D Audio, who makes good affordable Class D, not digital amplifiers as Essence calls it on their page. Class D uses Texas Instruments and other modules. In fairness to Essence, these are very good power amplifiers. But calling it ‘our own’ because it’s not Hypex or ICE, well…  Then calling it a ‘Digital Power Amp’… If they don’t know it’s not digital, well that says something about them. If they know it’s not digital but still call it that, that says something else. The only difference I can see is the front panel screws are different color, the power indicator lights difference, and the front panel power switch. Here is the ClassDAudio.com link to what appears to be the identical amplifier being offered by Essence. And only $550 and completely assembled! Less if you want to buy the kit.
E.H.

Nice bit of detective work, Ed.
Srajan
Hi Srajan,
Athens hifi show was hideous ... tiny rooms in Ledra hotel ... too many people ... even A Capella + Einstein which sounded fab at Munich ... even Manolis Proestakis horns managed to sound blah with Lamm. Kostas Kekemenis had a large room & was showing a full array of Raidho with new Aavik amp (nice). Greek Lab12 had a warm sound on Chario (perfect for this time of the year) & an OTL HA that I will be checking out soon. I tried the LCD-XC at the expo = too restricting/heavy for Greek summers. I am considering a move from LCD-2 to Hifiman 560 or Sennheiser 800. You found the 800 = best for the Goldmund HD DAC (which may be in the distant future for me). Is the 560 far behind?  
Best, 
Giannis  

PS Once I watched a full blast thunder and lightning show from my window on Samos happening all below me! Has it happened to you yet on Mt Pelerin?  

Sounds like I didn't miss much not going to Athens. The HD800 is still more lit up than the HE-560 but for a planar, that HifiMan model comes closest and being a planar fan, I prefer it to the Sennheiser. The curious thing was simply how brilliant the Goldmund HD DAC made the Sennheisers sound which I usually find too bright. But the HE-560 would work very well too. As for light shows, New Year's fireworks happen right below our balcony for a true front-row seat; and very often in the fall and winter, there's a cloud cover over the lake which we're above of, with the mountains peaking above it. We've had the occasional lightning storm but not to the wicked extent we saw off the Cyprus coast in our beach house. There lightning could zig and zag full-width lateral as far as the eye could see far more violently than we've seen yet here. But this will be our first winter in Mont Pelerin so perhaps there are some surprises in store.
Srajan
Srajan,
I’ve always felt your speaker choices matched my tastes (Avantgarde Duo, Gallo Ref) in the past, and you provide a much better and more accurate description of the sound than I get from the other sources. I’m finally tired of my Duos and heard the much fabled Triton One.  I do have to admit, I expected it to be mostly hype but in all candor, even set up poorly at a local dealer, the soundstage was astonishing and not limited in height like the Gallos; nor a tiny sweet spot like the Avantgardes. They provided that live open sound as well as dynamics.  I know the audiophile world doesn’t need another review of these but honestly, all the others seem to be in love with Sandy Gross and spend half the article going on about him. I would like to hear your opinion on these speakers.
Sincerely,
Phil

I've had those on my radar but have seen extensive coverage on the brand to think I'd not really have anything useful to contribute. And nobody from their company ever contacted us either to make me think they probably are happy with the coverage they have. After all, we're very easy to find if someone means to. Unless something changes on that front, you'll probably have to live with the reviews that are out there already. Better yet, trust your own ears -:)
Srajan
Hi Srajan,
As you note in the preview of Amare Musica's DeForest preamp, "properly historied readers will have already made the connection of our preamp's name with Lee de Forest [1873-1961] who is most often credited with the invention of the triode." I read once that de Forest's friends, reflecting on the vacuum tube's having opened the door to the incursion of radio into the home, took to calling his invention "de Forest's prime evil."-:)
Pace, valve lovers and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow,
Marshall

That's how I feel about cell phones. They are the modern man's electronic leash and anytime/anywhere intrusion into his privacy. That's why I leave mine in the parked car -:)
Srajan
Hello Srajan,
Some time has gone by since our meeting at the Sounddeco stand in Warsaw First of all I, we would like to thank you for a lot of observations and advice which are now processing in our minds to be materialized. I read your feature about our Audio Show and found it truly comprehensive. Moreover, it was the first report from the show that I found on the internet. No questions like why do you have so many readers or how do you do it. We focused our attention to finish the details of the Sigma 4 and 2 I turned the tweeter down a bit without loosing a breadth of height and first finished products are going to be ready in several days. We already have a couple of customers who want to buy them Then some small upgrades are well-thought-out better tweeter, capacitors and terminals for an Alpha F3 MkII. I would like to thank you for your apt description at 6moons about Sounddeco's current stage. Your comments about a lack of international sales & marketing manager cannot be overestimated. Now more and more interesting people knock at our doors. There was a great positive whirl at Sounddeco after the show.
Best regards,
Grzegorz Matusiak

P.S. Let me please introduce a website of my business activity http://www.lprd.eu/ where Sounddeco is a foreground activity. This cooperation helps to learn from many smart people. I think the Sigma would not sound this way if I was not working on professional active speakers.
Hello Srajan,
I hope that you and your family have a very healthy and happy holiday season. I wanted to share with you that my review on the Pass Labs XA-60.8 mono blocks has just been posted on the website that I write for, hometheaterreview.com. My experience with these wonderful mono blocks is very similar to your take on the single chassis 30.8. They have many of the sonic virtues of the SIT amps—I also have the SIT 2 in for review—yet offer much more dynamics and a more solid foundation to the music. The XA-60.8 are also the most quiet big amps I have ever had in my system. I have owned XA-60.s for over six years and there is no doubt that the new generation of XA.8 amps is a significant improvement across the board over the last generation of amps. Nelson Pass is a remarkable genius who always strives to get us closer to the illusion of real music with his designs. I also believe that not only the performance and build quality of his amplifiers are at the top tier of what is on the market but what his company charges for their products is remarkably low compared to other offerings.
Thanks,
Terry London
Hello Srajan, 
Just writing to tell you that a few days ago on the Light Harmonic Geek Pulse/Geek Soul Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign webpage, I purchased GeekPerfect. In case you are not already aware, it is an application developed by Bit-Perfect and modified for Light Harmonic whose function is similar to that of Pure Music and Audirvana. But unlike those two, it improves the playback of iTunes itself by making sure that all the bits iTunes is sending to the DAC are indeed perfect (not sure I am explaining it accurately). It also allows native DSD playback by creating DSD-hybrid files which fool iTunes—which is not set up to play DSD files—into ''thinking'' that the file is actually a 16/44.1 PCM. It works too. In the iTunes library they are listed as 16/44.1 but when I am playing one of these hybrid files, my Vega displays either DSD64 or DSD128. Anyway, as it turns out, I prefer GeekPerfect to both PM and Audirvana. To give an example, I have some Dvorak violin quintets of which I have been trying to tame the highs (especially the violins which have been too hot and overpowering) for a long time. When I first downloaded them 2-3 years ago, I couldn't stand listening to them. Every time I do something to improve my system, I check them out and indeed, little by little, there has been improvement. The Spatial Hologram M2 speakers finally made them listenable to my ears. Now GeekPerfect has made them even more so. In fact, now I find them very listenable. And... one of the nicest things about it? It only costs $19.
Peter Borelli

Great tip, thx. I hadn't heard of GeekPerfect yet. How is the interface? I assume you're using iTunes to navigate and this app, like PM and AV, works in the background with perhaps a small window? I'll go check it out.
Srajan
Dear Srajan.
I am sorry to disturb you. But ever since I saw that you are reviewing the NAD M12, I've been checking 6moons to see if exactly that review had hit the website. Every day. So after this time, I thought I'd simply write and ask if you have an approximate sensation of when the review is ready for publishing. I hope you do not get a sensation that I want to rush you, I am simply asking this to relax my mind. Of course, if it is not in your interest to disclose anything, I completely understand.
All the best,
Jon Ram Bruun-Pedersen

I'd expressed review interest with NAD's global marketing manager who confirmed their interest and also suggested I look at the matching preamp. I agreed. Since then, I've heard nothing further nor received actual product. Perhaps they weren't really interested; or product wasn't ready to ship; or they had prior review commitments that needed handling first. Or perhaps we're suffering email gremlins. It's probably time I sent a follow-up email on status. I tend to let these things slide as the where and when and how already tells me something about a company.
Srajan

PS: After trying again today, I noticed in my junk-mail folder that my message to Greg Stidsen hadn't been delivered. NAD HQ confirm that I have the correct email. Based on the error messages I receive, I seem to have been blocked. And NAD do tell me that he is the guy to talk to. Hence my proposed review would seem to be on ice until he decides to contact me (or not). I'll give it a day or two, then take down the announcement if I get no reply.
Hello Srajan,
I recently moved to the F6 from a set of Primaluna monoblocks. My speakers are Tonian 8.1 with the 8" PHY-HP driver. It took me while for my ears to acclimate to the F6 but now when I put the tube amps back in the system, things seem way too sluggish and the F6 goes back relatively quickly. Anyways, I really like the F6 and I'm using the Primaluna Premium preamp. I heard you like the combination of DHTs and the Firstwatt amp but you seem to use the Esoteric or Nagra for the reviews. Can you give me a little insight on what preamp you like best with the F6?
Kory Odell

Welcome to my world. Whilst I do appreciate the occasional valve amp, it tends to leave me with exactly that feeling when I switch back to my transistor kit. For a bit of tubular fun, valves at linestage level now become the obvious option. I've not come across a DHT preamp yet that had all the desired features, was priced right and dead quiet to actually own one. So I might have reviewed them but then sent them back. The Polish Amare Musica unit based on the EML 30A I saw in Warsaw a week back looks very promising however. Of course it'll have 30dB of voltage gain too which is immense. Its impact on noise remains to be seen. If I use the Esoteric preamp, I can precede it with the Aqua Hifi La Scala II DAC to inject a bit of tube-derived tone density and colour saturation. Otherwise I use the Nagra Jazz to have tubes in the preamp. I bought the Nagra after canvassing the valve preamp sector quite intensely. Of all the units I reviewed during that period, it came out on top, hence I acquired it. What hardware combination I like best always depends on the speaker. With my soundkaos Wave 40 as my closest approximation of what you have, I run the Nagra into the FirstWatt F1 monos. Valve preamps from Octave Audio would be another very good option.
Srajan
Hiya Srajan:
I'm surprised to see no feature on Harry Pearson's passing in your pages. What gives?
Kalman

It's quite simple. My audiophile career began well after HP's golden years. The impressions I collected about him during my time, from manufacturers who had visited his digs or otherwise shared stories to reading the odd review, were quite in contrast to the legend. Ditto for his late comeback efforts at HPsoundings. As such he wasn't a writer I was influenced by directly. Hence I'd rather leave proper tributes to those who knew and loved him earlier.
Srajan
Hello Srajan,
I read your Vapor thing and first reader emails about it. Wow. It boggles the mind that they would contact you for a second review claiming to have overcome early growing pains only to behave exactly the same again. That seems the height of stupidity.
Norman King

I would agree but perhaps we should give this subject a rest now. There are many more folks out there who participated in the deleted AudiogoN thread who might feel compelled to come forward now and, in effect, start another one in these pages. I hereby discourage that or any other comments on the matter. There's enough here already to let readers come to their own conclusion. Anything more stands the risk of degrading into muck raking which is neither required nor desired; or into one of those ugly trainwreck bystander spectacles. Let's not, please!
Srajan
Hi Srajan,
I'm another victim of Ryan Scott. Let me know any time if you want info about what goes on at Vapor Audio. They have many frustrated customers and a handful or so of very unhappy customers. The only reason I still have my Cirrus is because they aren't really sellable and would have to be listed as a 5/10. I would lose about 75% of what I paid ($6k new). They arrived with damaged crossover-based stands, gouges, pit marks and bubbles in the speakers. The bubbles finally busted open with one of them about 2" square. It's huge! Of course Ryan blamed me and then UPS or whoever he could find to put the blame on for the defects.
If anyone ever asks you for info, you can send them my way if you want.
Best regards,
Paul Canady
Hi Srajan,
First of all, I would like to thank you for all of your excellent reviews at 6moons. They have helped me a lot in my decisions to buy audio gears. Following one of your reviews, I have purchased a new Burson Conductor based on the ESS Sabre DAC chip. I very much like its sounds but there is some information related to this DAC I like to share with you. As you have pointed out, it has issue working with Cambridge Audio docks. I believe it has a design problem in terms of jitter immunity which is one of the top factors to consider for a successful DAC. This DAC is unable to work with my Pioneer N-50 music network streamer via Toslink for PCM files of 192khz/24bits. I has a hard time to perform with the same setting via digital coax, even a very good coax. I have to switch off and on the DAC to make it work with 192/24 every time stream changes from low bit rate to 192/24. 

Let's assume my Pioneer N-50 is of high jitter (Alex from Burson blamed my Pioneer N50), I understand that the ESS Sabre9018 chip is good and has a built-in ASCR with jitter reduction; so it is expected that this DAC can handle high jitter input bit streams well as long as a good clock is used with it (such as some femto clock from Crystek) from my understanding. So what I can reckon is the oscillator used in the Conductor DAC board is not of good quality. I cannot tell what oscillator Burson is using for this Sabre DAC board. A couple of years ago, Burson provided its clock board for DIY which is considered good (http://www.partsconnexion.com/burson/clock.html) and claims it to be 5-10ps error (priced at $300 I guess). I need to ask Burson if they still have these in stock (this one is no longer listed at their web site). With this fact, I can think the clock they use for their DAC board is not bad (though this DAC board is about 350$).

I really don't know what they have done with this Conductor to have that bad jitter immunity though sound is really good for the DAC at the price. I have talked to Alex but I could not get enough information from him on this issue. Maybe I need to try to reach him again. They offered me to replace this DAC board with the TI BurrBrown PCM1793 board to get rid of the problem. Considering the advancement of Sabre, I think this is a downgrade. With this offer, I believe this is a design flaw which has not been reported in any forum. I have searched and could not find anybody reporting the same problem as mine. I am thinking of asking Burson if they can upgrade the clock within the Sabre DAC board for me and if the clock is the cause (I guess so because I cannot find any other reason). In the meantime I have ordered a Wyred4Sound Remedy Reclocker and wait for its coming, hoping to solve problem.  Again, thank you for your review on it which also influences my decision. I intended to go with Apogee Big Ben first because it is not based on ASCR but the price is quite high for solving the jitter problem. So I intended to go with Empirical Audio Synchro Mesh but I think it has quite the same design method as Remedy and costs more. I am more confident with Remedy after reading your review. Hope you can look into this Burson Conductor Sabre32 DAC board issue and update your review to reflect it so they work on it more seriously for the coming upgrade which benefits the community. Your voice has weigh to them. Much appreciated.
Best regards,
Tam 

My understanding is that the Sabre DAC has multiple tolerance settings re: jitter in its firmware and that, for sonic quality, Burson decided to fix it to the narrowest tolerance. The Cambridge Audio dock falls outside that tolerance window, hence the drop-outs. Your Pioneer N-50 apparently too. The PCM1793 would cure this I'm certain. I've used the Cambridge as a litmus test on many BB and Crystal DACs and never encountered an issue. The AURALiC Vega also based on Sabre allows a user to set this clock tolerance from coarse to very fine in its software menu to accommodate high-jitter sources. I wonder whether Burson could set yours to coarse with a firmware change. Just so you know, Toslink very rarely is capable of 24/192 transmission. In most applications, it is limited to 24/96. Michael Lavorgna of AudioStream has compared Burson's Sabre and BB/TI board to describe their respective sonic flavours. I don't think you'd consider it a downgrade. Perhaps you'll do a search on their site to read up on it. The Remedy should solve your issue too but as I clearly wrote in its review, it outputs at 24/96 to avoid a driver. You can input 24/192 data but they will be downsampled to 24/96 by the time they hit your Conductor. Lastly, I kind of agree that limiting a chip like the Sabre which is claimed to have extreme jitter-rejection abilities to actually reject high-jitter sources seems a bit of a design flaw. But, a/ Burson made this a deliberate decision to improve sound quality, b/ they have a solution in their optional BB1793 board. What obviously would help too is if they published components known to not work with the Sabre-fitted Conductor. Then buyers would know beforehand. One can't expect Burson to have tested all possible hardware mates but by now they know of at least two components which don't play nice. At least those two could be listed.
Srajan

Hi Srajan,
I have read your reply. Thank you very much for that. I have used coax all the time until it didn't work for 192/24, then I decided to test fully even with Toslink and USB. Agree that Toslink is not the way to go. Thanks for the information on firmware settings as well. I hope Burson listens when you listed this one with your reply and they might consider giving users more options in the future. I wish they could include a BB SCR chip and a femto clock like the Remedy reclocker in front of the Sabre chip to reclock a bit first before passing data to the Sabre. Also wish they could opt to use the functions of the Sabre to support DSD. Too many wishes.
Look forward to reading more reviews from you.
All the best!
Tam
In response to Alan Trahern's letter, assuming a 50Hz crossover between subwoofers and main speaker, we're looking at a 7 metres wavelength. Time alignment does not mean much at those frequencies. If the subwoofers are within 7 metres of the speakers, they're still in the same cycle. At higher frequencies, it does matter only because the wavelength is much much smaller.
Best regards,
Robert Gaboury
Any thoughts in terms of integrating the recently reviewed super tweet by you on my OBX?
Rodney Evely

I don't remember the OBX sensitivity but believe it's around 93dB, correct? If so, it should work fine with the Elac. If it's much beyond that, the setting of your amp attenuator will be too low (because your main speakers are more efficient than the super tweeter) and as a result, the output of the super tweeter will be too low to be of much use. EnigmAcoustics are working on a more efficient version of their monople ESL unit, for people with horns and such. So if for now Elac's existing model isn't efficient enough to make a good match with your Avatars, there will be something coming down the pike.
Srajan
Hi Srajan,
thank you for amending your Vapor Sound review with the new ending. I got the feeling that this didn't come easy to you given your actual experiences but very polite earlier ending. It's important to your readers to know how they will be treated, especially by someone with this type of track record. You're correct, most of us don't look on this page after each review to check whether people left important feedback. It was the right decision to put that together with the review!
Rainer Müller

Quite so. Everyone deserves a second chance. That's why I signed up in the first place for the Aurora job. But then everything went as it had the first time, with endless delays, weak excuses (emails disappeared in special folders, speakers stolen from a customer etc.) and in the end, no speakers again. AudiogoN may succumb to threats and make certain threads disappear. If Ryan wants to sue me for posting this feedback as he seems to threaten anyone else with who reports on poor customer service, he is certainly welcome. He should simply be advised that I'd chronicle such actions in detail to leave no doubt as to his peculiar strong-arm tactics. By all accounts, he has very good product on his hands. But that's only half of what a customer buys. He also buys trust that he'll be taken care of should things go wrong; and that promises made, on delivery dates and solutions, will in fact be kept. With too much evidence to the contrary, I'm forced to inform our readers just as you said. It doesn't seem that difficult for Ryan to fix his current situation. He needs a customer service employee who handles all communications in his stead; promptly informs people if time tables move; and handles all problem solving to leave Ryan to do what he seems to do very well - design very competitively priced loudspeakers. The real problem seems to be that Ryan hasn't acknowledged to himself yet that he does in fact have a problem. Simply squashing the evidence is not a long-term strategy.
Srajan
Dear Srajan,
I would like to thank you very much for your excellent report about the Warsaw Audio Show. It was the best promotion of all Polish brands we could imagine. I just talked with Divaldi's Waldemar Luczkoś. He is a designer better at transistors and wires than international contacts. He asked me to thank you in his name and in the name of all Polish manufacturers.
Best regards,
Jarek  
P.S. When did you write this report? Waiting for an airplane? It was work for two weeks, you wrote it in two days.

Yes, two days it was. The joys of self-employment include long hours as you yourself know well -:)
Srajan
Hello Srajan,
I'm a former Vapor customer who went out onto a limb years ago to give Ryan a chance to perform, given he fed me the same 'bump in the road' talk. He said everything was resolved, there would be no long waits and the quality issues were fixed. How far from the truth that was. My guaranteed 10-12 week delivery took about 22 weeks. Ryan is communicative and takes the time to explain in great detail his products up until he cashes the 50% deposit check. Then all your emails go into a black hole. His excuse is always 'it must have been lost' or 'I receive 200 emails a day about my products'. I would try and time my emails to when I actively saw him posting on forums, knowing he was at the computer. He still would not respond. This is a common theme well documented - that is, until he deletes the criticism or whines to the admins of other sites to do so.

When my speakers finally showed up, the build quality and fit'n'finish were high-school wood-shop level. Sadly many other customers at the time had worse problems than me and were getting nowhere with Ryan and his combative customer service. Since I was happy with the sound, I kept my mouth shut and let others fight the Vapor battle. After about 6 months I decided I could no longer look at the terrible finish and quietly listed them for sale. Ryan saw my ad and admitted they looked bad when he shipped them to me. He offered to fix all issues with them at no charge because 'he just wants to make his customers happy'. I agreed and thought this was a nice gesture. Then I casually mentioned that I'd already put down a deposit with Daedalus for new speakers and would sell the Vapor when they were returned to me in selling condition. Ryan went into a rage! He said there was no way he was going to spend time fixing speakers for free (which he agreed should not have been shipped in the first place) if I was buying from his competitor. He also went on to slam Daedalus and said I would not be happy with Lou's falsely advertised specs. For the record, I thought the Daedalus sounded better than the Cirrus.

Because I probably couldn't sell them in the condition they were in, I agreed to spend even more money with him to fix all his mistakes. I was told this could be done in 3 days. In the end it took about 2 months. I never saw the speakers again as I sold them to a friend while they were still in Ryan's possession. He shipped them directly to the new owner. Ryan did not know I and the buyer were friends. When the speakers showed up to the buyer, he got them in mismatched boxes, one being so big the speaker was rolling around inside. The speakers ended up having bashed-in Raal screens. Ryan told my buddy that UPS must have opened the box and did the damage, then told me the speakers arrived that way from me. There's so much more to my saga, it's almost hard to believe. As many have found out (you included), dealing with Vapor is nothing but a web of lies and missed promises. Ryan is a master manipulator and will spin everything to make you look like the bad guy. Cross him and you will be the target of all his anger. As your other reader wrote you, I was one of the people whom Ryan threatened to sue and 'ruin my life' for doing nothing other than tell the truth about my buying experience. I heard from other buyers that Ryan won't resolve issues unless you sign a legal document saying you won't mention the issues on the web. I've never once said anything bad about the performance of his speakers and actually enjoyed listening to them. It's just not worth it with so many other small vendors out there like Daedalus or dc10audio who do a much better job and are a pleasure to deal with.

Let's not forget the time Ryan was posting under a fake name on audiogon trying to drum up enthusiasm for his own products. Looks like he forgot to switch back to the Vapor username before he started representing the company in the same thread. Now that was slimy and hilarious. He quickly had the post deleted but not before another customer of his grabbed a screenshot of it.
D.

This being the third unsolicited reader email about the very same topic, with the same complaints and the same mentions of being threatened by Ryan, I've now added a postscript to my preview so potential buyers are properly informed. Thank you for coming forward despite all the unpleasantness.
Srajan


Thank you. I don't like when someone threatens to ruin my life as I have done nothing wrong. I was actually very understanding with Ryan during my whole process and never said a word even though there were so many issues along the way. Even after selling them I kept my mouth shut until I saw other prospective customers falling for the same set of lies I fell for. There's just so much more to my story, one could make a made for TV movie about it.
D.
Now that’s what I call some show coverage. Pictures galore coupled with a "…just the facts, maam…" sentence or two telling us what we’re lookin’ at. So many brands I’ve never heard of. How do they all make it in the market place (if, indeed, they do)? While paging through the report, a question that has often gnawed at my audiophile sensibilities raised its ugly head again while languishing on the pic of the Steinway room. May I ask, if time alignment is such a worthwhile pursuit in speaker design, how is it that monitors jutting out into the room can coexist with big subs pushed several feet behind them back in the corners? If the sound is really good, this tells me that too much is made of this. Somewhat similar to the concept of ruler-flat frequency response, are some of these "holy grail of music reproduction" ideas a little bloated and overstated? I would value your input.
Alan Trahern

I still have to read up on details of that system but believe that very advanced DSP was involved to account for phase/time and other corrections.
Srajan
Hello Srajan,
Sorry we all have to experience the personality of Ryan from Vapor Audio in regards to your canceled review of his speakers which is on the Vapor Audiocircle forum. I had considered doing business with Ryan and spoke to him on several occasions but he always dropped the ball and would come up with many excuses and questionable details when we would finally make contact again. I decided to start a thread on Audiogon asking for Vapor owner opinions and it received several unhappy Vapor customer responses due to their frustrations from dealing  directly with Ryan. To my surprise and outrage, Audiogon deleted my thread due to I believe Ryan complaining of 'manufacturer bashing' to them. 

I have been told he threatens unhappy customers with legal actions if they consider posting any negative opinions and warnings on any audio sites so several of them also sent me private messages to share those experiences. I actually spoke many times to some of his customers to come to a conclusion. We even exchanged phone numbers and talk directly to each other. There is a network of unhappy Vapor customers out there who have all communicated with each other to share their disappointing experiences with Ryan and to try to get the word out. Poor quality finishes and receiving speakers shipped with cabinet damage being most of the issues that Ryan often refuses to address and resolve to any satisfaction. I cannot thank those people enough for saving me from his tactics and all the grief I would have been subjected to if I had sent a deposit and all did not go well. I also wanted to let you know that I appreciate the great job of reviewing that you provide the hobby with and look forward to all your future work. As for myself there are plenty of good people out there with great products and I am sure I will find the right choice as my quest for the right speakers continues.
Keep up the good work.
Regards,
Len 

Another reader with this type of feedback had it published here a few days ago but then asked me to take it down because he's getting a slew of threatening emails from Ryan whilst also promising that a 6-months old damage claim will finally be settled. So clearly you're not alone and people should know that things can get hostile quickly when it comes to delivery times and the solving of product-related issues.
Srajan
Srajan,
I have Odyssey mono amps, Halide DAC B&W monitors, a subwoofer and currently an old Rotel receiver. I feel that a preamp is the best way to go. Job? Have also considered Blue Circle and LKV for their direct shipping but are a bit pricey at $3K+. Thank you and great writing/reviews! I am eagerly awaiting your completion of the Amphion speakers.
Todd

I'm not familiar with your Rotel receiver to have a sense about whether you'd get much of an upgrade migrating to an external preamp. The Job pre is a squeaky-clean performer just as you'd expect from its spec sheet. Will it be a sensible investment based on audible returns? I'm sorry to say that I really couldn't predict that. What I will say by way of trying to be more helpful than that is that, in my experience, speakers make far bigger differences (since they literally play the room and besides that suffer the highest distortion) followed by the amplifier that drives them. It's never a good idea to just spend money for money's sake if you don't also have a very clear game plan. You must be very specific on what you would like to improve. That will help narrow down on what component/s might create that improvement. But often there are also setup things in the room that can make quite pronounced differences. Have you explored all of those which are sensible and doable in your circumstance? Short wall vs. long wall; nearfield vs. farfield; toe-in, toe-out, straight; closer to the front wall, farther out in the room and the whole lot of options?
Srajan

Excellent feedback. Thank you for slowing me down and offering some perspective to make a plan.
Todd
Dear Mr. Ebaen!
Congratulations on your review of the XA30.8-power amplifier from Pass Labs. Your report is rather lively, witty and informative - it made it really fun to read. The most obvious difference to other reports is that it contains several pics about the test object, not only from its outsides but also of its innards. As a freak of Pass Labs I collect every pic I can get from their amps. And knowing that only the most significant pics are usually published in a review, I assume you have made several other ones. Therefore I want to ask you if you could be so kind as to send me all the other pics about this XA30.8.
Thank you!
Best regards
Julia Cob

Whatever photos I don't publish I delete immediately since I have no use for them and don't want to clog up my computer's memory, sorry.
Srajan
Damn, I was really looking forward to that Vapor Aurora review particularly since there a rumors of price increases. If you'd found them to be as good as they read on paper, I was really set to get a pair. Now I read your PS but it still makes no sense. What happened?
Matt Drake

Exactly what I wrote. After 12 years of letting a minority of ad supporters carry the bag so a majority of their competitors would get free reviews, I instigated a policy change to level the field. Now non-advertisers are required to take out a minimum 1-month token ad to compensate us for our time since—obvious to us but apparently not them—I can't work for free and our writers are now getting paid too. I had notified Vapor Sound of this change which took effect after they'd solicited us but before the very much delayed product was delivered. I was then told that a/, they didn't agree with the policy, b/ couldn't afford it. Given the timing of things; and given that they'd committed to a custom-painted loaner pair to show off their paint-booth chops; I'd then offered to grandfather them under the old pay-nothing policy. That's when I was told that they no longer trusted to get a fair review; that they couldn't afford to take that risk; and wanted to cancel. Since I'd never gotten the product, that was easily accommodated. Like you I had looked forward to this review. Some things aren't meant to be.
Srajan
Vapor Sound... the name says it all!  
Giannis Bouc
Vaporware again? Guess the announcement of the review was all the advertising he needed. Shame. The product looks interesting. 
Glen Wagenknecht (who waited in vain for the first Vapor Sound review loaner)

Quite so.
Srajan
Hey Srajan,
brilliant report on the Pass amp. I really got a very clear sense how it compares to the various First Watt amps and what type speaker might prefer one or the other. Awesome review!
Danny Calker
Hello Srajan:
Hefty show coverage on TAVES and RMAF this month. Kudos to your very busy crew. That said, I felt that in his report Steve Marsh came across a bit the curmudgeon. He doesn't review a lot but instead seems to use notoriously unreliable show conditions to, once a year, show us all what a critical listener he is. That turned me off a bit. If you want to act the golden-eared judge, you really ought to do it in a controlled environment. Just thought you should know.
Mark Behringer
Well, keeping in mind 12 years of poetry and prose, your finest hour may have arrived with "even saints have arse holes". Love it.
Frederic Crane

All the talk of soul and Seligkeit made me do it, your honour -:)
Srajan
Hello Srajan:
I just came from ETM where Ron Nagle had published a short world's first review on the Pass Labs XA30.8 for their November issue. Then I saw yours. If ever there was an example why your reviews have become so distinctive, this would have to be it. No comparison!
Neal Wheatley

In our early years, we too had "world exclusive" type tags because when you're new, you're looking for opportunities to distinguish yourself. But even with careful canvassing, it really is impossible to make "world's first" type statements given how many review media there are today in many different languages. And what if, as seems to have happened in this instance, two reviews publish just a few short days apart? And what if a reader stumbles over the 'later' one first? Now such statements look just a bit embarassing and uninformed. That's why many years ago I gave up on our tags. It's of no consequence whether one is first, second or fifth. The important thing is to create a fair and comprehensive review that covers the subject in full. It would seem you agree.
Srajan
Dear Srajan,
I enjoyed the Puls review. I know the speaker, like all of Joachim's, will find its audience. For me it brought to bear that to some extent we can have it all (whether or not we want it). In digital, that can mean something like my Rockna/MSB experience of late; completely natural and all there. The same can be said for Boenicke's forays where there is tone and everything else. I'm seeing this more and more across the entire spectrum of equipment. Basically, soul is on offer with delineation in serving sizes heretofore unheard of. Most recently a famous analog writer penned that the top cartridges are now far more the alike than different. Of cours, there is still plenty of room for personalities. You'd have no issue sussing out Rethm from soundkaos from Voxativ from Albedo from Trenner & Friedl etc.etc etc.. But they can all give you an elevated experience that seems to lack little when properly paired.
Best,
Fred Crane
So Vinnie Rossi has changed the design of his components like you/I change our socks over the years. Why now go modular? I`m intrigued as to why the change in direction.
Rodney Evely

I'm not sure I follow your sock example. He came up with a new better platform and decided to sell exclusively direct. And he wants to give his customers the very best value. Now he liberates them even more from buying stuff and features they don't need so they can tailor a component exactly to their requirements and change it a few times in the future to morph to whatever they alter in their systems. I for one find the new direction perfectly self-explanatory. For more you probably should email the man himself. I don't want to speak for him.
Srajan
Hello Srajan,
I have been enjoying your website for some time and in particular, lately the enthusiastic reviews on the ‘Job’ amplifier combination. You extensively tested them with a variety of speakers but no panel types. As an owner of Quad’ and looking seriously at purchasing the Eminent Technology ET-8b, how would you expect the Jobs to perform with these speakers?
Regards,
Gary Marinko

I don’t own panel speakers, hence their absence in my reviews. The Job 225’s power supply isn’t very big. If tasked to power very low-impedance speakers with wicked phase angles aka power soakers, I’d consider it less ideal. Magnepans are notorious for lusting after power. I imagine the ET-8b, being terribly inefficient, is another such design. I’d hesitate to recommend the Job 225 without knowing from first-hand experience that it’d be equal to the task. I’d expect that the forthcoming Job monos (ca 300 watts) would be more appropriate but also about twice the money -:)
Cheers.
Srajan
Hello Srajan,
having followed you for years, I wanted to compliment you in particular on your fairaudio syndications. As a German, I very much appreciate how you really nail these translations yet still instill into them your own voice and personality. I've also noted how certain writers which in German are somewhat of a hard read suddenly have become far easier to follow. I don't see any other magazine do this so congrats on yet another area of distinction for 6moons.
Rainer Müller

A proper translator of course wouldn't dare inject his or her own personality. That would be complete anathema to the task. But merely generating a carbon copy, albeit in another language, I'd find terribly boring and bureaucratic. I thus use translating in a way that becomes a co-creative endeavour. Original meaning has to be captured precisely. Yet if there are three or five different ways of expressing the same thing with the same weighting the author gave, I pick the one I feel closest to. That injects the personal colour you commented on and none of the German writers seem unhappy about it. As to ease of consumption, if I can make three sentences out of one really long one, that's what I go for. Certain sentence structures in the original can get so complex or ambiguous that by the time you've arrived at the end, you're no longer sure how it started. Whilst my approach works, it's important to distinguish that a professional translator—someone properly trained in the art—would (have to) do it differently. But then we're not translating a United Nations keynote address -:)
Srajan
It was interesting to read about Nagra's development of an HD1000 amp! Thanks for the great info and photos. I noticed that their listening room had much Nagra gear in it but no VPA amps. Do you know if the VPAs are being phased out,or being updated in a new version?
Best,
Chris Osler

Nagra's room would seem to contain whatever they're working on at the moment. Since the new project is a high-power Mosfet platform, that's what was there during my visit. As to future projects, I believe it's a fair assumption to predict that the 'HD1000' platform will be scaled up and down to hit various power and price points in mono and stereo casings. About new or revised tube amps, I've been told that Nagra's Chinese distributor has been asking for something beyond the VPA. Whether and when that might come to fruition I have no idea. I've not been told anything about the VPA going away and in fact they showed with it at the just concluded RMAF show in Denver. That would rather suggest that the VPA is here to stay..
Srajan
Your upcoming review of the Suesskind Puls speakers put me in mind of these: http://www.tonepublications.com/review/blumenstein-audio-thrashers-speakers/. Also, congratulations on your discovery and investigation of the very-hot-in-high-end-studio monitoring Amphion speakers. Great timing. Similarly worth investigating because of their sound, progeny and price (outstanding, Indian and cheap) are the newly released Sonodyne SRP 800s and SRP400s at a shockingly low price. Both are generously bi-amped,but the 400 has an analog (line level) crossover while the 800 uses an internal AD/DA with DSP including amplitude response correction for better linearity and crossover duties being handled in the digital domain. Both 400 and 800 go lower than they should for their respective sizes. One last hot item from the pro world which you may already be aware of is the Crown Audio XLS Drivecore Series amplifiers, all but the model 1000. The 1500, 2000 and 2500 models are creating quite the buzz. Nothing like clean plentiful dirt cheap power!
http://www.crownaudio.com/usa/amplifiers/xls-drivecore.html.
Cheers,
Russell Dawkins

Great tips, Russell. Thanks. Smart-money shoppers indeed do (or should) pay close attention to what's going on in pro today.
Srajan
Coaxial consigliori, enjoyable Sunday morning reading of your most excellent Pass and Suesskind Puls previews. And, maybe you could see your way to giving (real) Tannoys an informal audition?
Keep up the lord's work.
Michele from Rome

Well, er, cough... I'm not sure whether most the current Tannoys qualify as 'real' -:)
And the Japan-specific vintage models which in this context are the real deal get rather large and heavy. Despite my new elevator, I still gotta manhandle speakers up three flights of outdoors stairs to get into the building's hallway. That limits size and weight of what I can accept. But it's a thought and I'll look through their present catalogue to see what might be doable...
Srajan

i've been through 15" pro monitors, rubber surround and cloth surround 12-inchers both Tulip and Pepperpot Alnico and am currently living with the 15" latest-but-one version Canterburys. In my experience, the newer cloth-surround Alnicos will whup ass on every vintage cone in their old boxes. Do try one. Mark Sammut was the one who told me the FirstWatt F5 would be the best match for them. I only wish they wouldn't call them Prestige models. They'll be naming them after Port vintages next.
Have a nice Sunday.
Michele
As a 'Wigwam' reader, I've been following a guy called Simon who's an expert woodworker. He's made a couple of Klipsch copies and moved on to big Tannoys. Now he's making them to order. Here's a link. One day I'll go visit...
Chris Skelton
Vinnie Rossi. Ok, where do I place my order? I have been looking around for something like Lio for over 6 months but there was always something missing. Either I could get the phono but not a DAC, or a DAC but no phono; or more often than not it was not modular and future proof (which on a DAC is insane to be locked in forever). Or it had compromised preamp functionality or a compromised amp; or way too much power and damping for my Ocellias. I hope Vinnie is not going after a market of just me but he has me. And the front is Corian made by DuPont - now how much better can it get? Do you think he could license a SIT2 module from Nelson and stick it in there? -:)
Frederic Beudot

Agreed. This looks like very smart product. I like everything about it and I haven't even heard it yet. (And for those who don't know, Frederic works at DuPoint, hence that line.)
Srajan
Just read one of the letters in the feedback area and your response to that. As we mentioned before, the new wide layout for texts is not our favorite. So we had to figure out an option to wrap the long text lines around and thus reduce or even eliminate any additional head movement to read the text.Here's our solution for Firefox which we run on both Windows and OSX
platforms: make sure the Menu Bar is visible by not using full screen mode (F11) and have the Menu Bar checked when right-clicking the top of the browser window. Then under VIEW select ZOOM and then Zoom Text Only. Omitting this step (in other words using the default setting) enlarges the text but loses focus on the page—it falls over the edge—and lines will not get wrapped around. Now go the a 6Moons page and adjust the text size to your liking by CTRL- or CTRL+. Nice free side effect is that you can put your reading glasses away and lean far back from the screen when really going for extreme magnification.
M+H
By the way, I read your WTF article and I liked it a lot. This Chinese mentality really kills small companies. It's a tough world... :-)
Regards ,
Konstantinos Papachristou, Black Pearls Audio

It's quasi expected from one certain Chinese mentality based on sufficient case evidence though it doesn't excuse it or make it any better. Nor does it say that all Chinese companies operate that way. Many clearly do not and take the same pride in original design and engineering as their Western counterparts. But when a German company signs on to exploit the same mentality and excuses it with a "what do you want" reparté - then we're in trouble I think and allowed to wonder, WTF. That's why I had to say something.
Srajan
Hello Srajan,
I read with disbelief the blatant copying of Amphion's designs. I last spoke to Anssi at Bristol this year and he works very hard to produce excellent products and be out there in the marketplace. I wish I could post your article on Facebook to alert people to the poor business decisions of many Chinese companies. Is there a way we can do this?
Best Regards,
Bryan Taylor
The Gramophone Inc

I don't do social media because I value my privacy. Hence no experience with or tips on how to flow my article into Facebook. But it should be relatively easy to embed a link, no?
Srajan
Hi, Srajan,
I too was having some "eye" problems with the new format, having to toggle my split 1/2 screen image left and right (on my 24-inch Samsung). Then I remembered the little 'open square' icon in my browser at the very upper right next to the 'X'.  I clicked on it and voilà, 6moons opened up filling the entire screen. Ahhhh - .what a relief it is, and the new format is now far more enjoyable. An old school fix. -:)
Alan Kafton

To fill your screen up more, try 'CTRL' and '+'. Eventually of course you'll lose resolution with images but you should be able to do it once or twice without noticeable ill effects. And of course the opposite ('CTRL' and '-') works to shrink things. That'll be more for younger eyes who want a smaller font. That's why I enlarged the general font. You can narrow the site at least once and end up with closer to what it was before.
Srajan
Srajan,
first let me preface my comments with the important stuff: I've been an avid reader of your site since its inception and an even longer fan of your writing since pre-6moons days. I've felt for quite a while that you do a better job, hands down, than anyone else in the industry both in describing and characterizing the item under review and in placing it in an appropriate context within the industry. You've also set a new, almost unheard of, bar for professionalism in your field, through your behaviour towards those in the industry with whom you must deal and, perhaps more importantly, through your expectations and demands that those in the industry reciprocate with similarly professional and responsible behaviour. This sense of shared respect and professionalism has been sadly missing in many though certainly not all areas of the audio industry vis-à-vis audio journalism. I can only wish you well and continued success, for selfish reasons (I get to keep reading you and your team's reviews!), for many years to come. I can't help but think burnout is a very real and ever-present danger in your line of work.

But, to the immediate reason for my note: I have to respectfully disagree with the apparently strongly favourable majority opinion on the new layout, based on previous published comments. While I would agree that the overall appearance of the new layout is attractive, fresh, and clean, the extremely wide single-column format is disastrous for me. Though my aging eyes may be partly to blame, my corrected vision is quite good and I've never had a problem previously with your layouts. But as someone who routinely reads your site from several different platforms--large, wide-screen monitor, as you appear to use, plus iPad and even (horror of horrors) printed copy--I find the new layout almost unreadable from the latter two formats. The problem is not only one of font size, though a larger font would help to a certain degree. On the monitor, of course, it's trivial to enlarge anything sufficiently. The problem with the other two formats is two-fold:

1) The extra-wide single column format means that, for such devices as an iPad or hard copy, enlarging is no longer feasible. One can take an online page with a narrow column of content and expand it in a variety of ways for easy reading and/or printing. But the new layout leaves me almost no options: I can no longer enlarge the iPad page because it immediately becomes a "shift-right, shift-left" for every line. So I'm faced of necessity with fitting the entire extra-wide single column on the screen in a font size truly too small for comfortable reading. Expanding the font size is no longer an option. For hard copy (I know, an archaic distinctly non-green practice), I must resort either to print landscape or copy everything into Word and then print at a reasonable size. Even a large monitor is less than ideal since the line width is 'hard-wired': if one enlarges the page, the margins quickly drop off the left and right sides of the screen rather than wrapping properly, so one is back to scrolling right, then left to read a line.
2) Many, many years ago, when I was doing some professional writing in earlier careers, there was a generally acknowledged view that overly wide columns just made for difficult reading for a variety of reasons. Whether that's still the view or not, I personally find it extremely difficult to read something that stretches across the width of my screen from side-to-side, regardless of whether it's on my laptop, my 24" wide-screen monitor, or a landscape-aspect piece of paper.

If I'm in the apparently distinct minority, so be it, I'll have to live with it. But I at least wanted to cast my lone opinion out there, for what it is worth. Again, please keep up the outstanding example of responsible, conscientious and intelligent writing and reviewing that you've introduced, to my mind, into the audio world. I'm a true fan.
Best,
Jerry Powell

Hello Jerry:
Appreciate both the sugar and the vinegar! I admit that the revamp addresses PC/MAC users with standard to mega monitors, not the 'narrow-guy' smartphone and iPad readers. For the latter, the 700-pixel width was ideal. For the former, it left far too much redundant screen space on either side. I had to decide which way to go. Modern content-management software has rescaling functions within certain limits but they affect layout. And because I'm a neat freak who wants the thing to look the way I laid it out, I stuck with the static DreamWeaver software rather than WordPress or similar. I deliberately enlarged the font for the content pages (industry features, news, music reviews and, coming up, the audioreviews for which we're working on the new javacript this morning) to make reading easier for aging eyes (mine, too!). It also insures that if one does hit CTRL and the minus sign to shrink site width, one can still read it. Plus, the new width makes for shorter main content pages (the news page will always be a scroller) and allows the use of significantly larger photos.

And to be honest, I haven't heard of too many folks who print out reviews to read them. Then the best solution would be a PDF-formatted delivery like Tone Audio do. For now I'm afraid that where you're concerned, I'm committed to the new thing. Apologies if that doesn't really serve you.
Srajan
Hey Srajan,
love the new look but what's up with the narrow reviews?
Jonathan Meyer

I'm awaiting revised javascripts for banner rotation in the new layout before I can start to format our reviews in the wider size. This also requires larger photos so previews started in the old format will still publish in it. Once the new script has arrived and been perfected for actual use, I'll begin to publish reviews in the new wider format. It'll be a gradual rather than sudden transition however.
Srajan
Hello Srajan,
Here’s to the new look! Overall, it’s easier on these old eyes, involves less scrolling and presents larger images on the ‘News Room’ page. Quite nice. One can see everything at a glance and negotiating content is much faster. Is this the author's version of a new and improved circuit board? I can only imagine what kind of amp or speaker you’d design :-)
All the best,
Tim Patchett

A crap amp and an even crappier speaker is what. I'd best stick to what I know - but I'm glad you agree it's a nice improvement -:)
Srajan
Hey Srajan,
I wanted to just drop you a note to let you know (A) I found your piece about the state of affairs as concerns reviewing/ads/etc to be good reading and hope that the new approach is bearing fruit and (B), to let you know that I really like the new look of the site. There’s a sense of positive abundance about it and a good vibe, to boot - high coolness factor. Congrats!
Chris Sommovigo
Hello Srajan,
Just read your review of the Aurender ms and had a good cackle at the wifi undertone! As a parent who has pulled my children (7+10yr) from school this year as the school swapped over to "paperless" - I feel more than a little isolated when pointing out the errors of the radiation trend to a phone-absorbed population! When a typical classroom is measured (25 children), it reads higher than the base of a cell tower! btw, where the Aurender kit is made ranks as number 1 for internet/wifi use. A place to avoid :-)

Please keep reporting on the wifi madness, perhaps even measure kit for RF leakage, certainly a point as upsampling and digital seems to be the norm now. If it is a stated parameter there will be no option but to consider proper shielding in a design. Keep the makers on their game!!
Take care,
Graz


Hello Graz,
like you I feel a bit like a voice in the wilderness when it comes to this topic. But I'll certainly remain vocal about it since I'm very sensitive to its effects which keep reminding me just how troublesome this entire trend has become. It's precisely what led to the subsequent aria ms assignment whose manufacturer appreciated my concerns and went the extra mile to custom configure a review sample to run with a wired remote control solution.
Srajan
Hi Srajan,
I really enjoy your thorough reviews which are probably the most informative there is. I would appreciate your insight on what move I should do to improve my system. I have a Wadia 781i, an Esoteric A-100 and a pair of Verity Audio Parsifal (first generation) with Nordost Valhalla cables. I listen mostly to rock music (CD and SACD) at low to moderate volume in my dedicated 13 x 20 room. I have been appreciating this system for many years but I have the itch to try something new. My hopes would be to increase the dynamics in the bass and add more “air” around the instruments.
What do you think?
Sincerely,
Gaetan

Good timing. On one of your two wish list items, I do have a very solid idea. I had Matthieu Latour and Philippe the HD DAC's chief architect from Nagra over yesterday. We listened together to the Elac 4pi Plus.2 omni ribbon super tweeters I just reviewed since I had them set up and they were both curious about these Teutonic mushrooms. Matthieu initially was a bit skeptical about the raw concept of adding a super tweeter to a modern ceramic tweeter which by itself already extends higher than we can hear... but both of them agreed that it improved the sound in noticeable ways. Philippe had brought a St. Matthews Passion recording he traditionally uses for tests as it is a very challenging recording. It was gratifying to have two very keen listeners confirm the efficacy of this device. It's in the currently active review gallery. Take a look to learn what it does, specifically.

To increase bass dynamics usually requires bigger or more woofers to move more air. A subwoofer would be a logical avenue to pursue but with speakers like yours which in your room should act full-range already, proper integration would be very challenging. You'd probably not want any assist above 30Hz or so, hence require a massively steep low-pass on the sub. From experience I can say that a standard 4th-order filter even at 10Hz leaks far too much to be useful in such an application. You'd need a sub that uses a DSP crossover and allows the programming of far steeper filters. Then that'd be something to pursue. I believe that the new soundkaos isobarically loaded subs with outboard amplification and built-in miniDSP module could suit and allow for exactly that. Inquire with Martin Gateley through his website. Those would be my two ideas which keep what you have (which is of very high quality) but add some assist at the very edges of the audible range. Of the two, the Elac strikes me as a no-brainer with no integration issues. Sub integration with your speakers would be more challenging.
Cheers.
Srajan
Wow, I just saw the site changes. Looks much much more impressive. I like it!
Sasa Cokic
Hello Marja,
Really enjoyed your review on these Polish Sounddeco speakers! Don't recall any mention in review or on their website about  availability in the USA? Would you have any thoughts on this after speaking with key company figures? Thanking you in advance, 
Steve

PS: I enjoyed the photos in your article, it looks like you have not one,but three different systems to choose from, two of which are horn-base. Lucky you! Any thoughts on new Avantgarde Zero1 active hornspeakers?

Hi Steve,
we forwarded your mail to Greg in Poland. He will get back to you. You’re right, we are in the lucky position to have three systems ready for use in one room. In fact, there is a fourth one as well with the planar Podiumsound speakers but that system needs rewiring to fire it up.We are still waiting for a promised pair of Zero’s for review…
/M&H
Dear Sir,
I have been following your reviews on the Vibex devices with much interest. I note that you likened the combination of the Granada + Alhambra to salt and sugar and its effect on one's system to depend very much on where the system's existing sonic balance lies. May I know then if in your opinion, the Granada + Alhambra taken together is in anyway similar to the Vibex Three 11rR as I note that the 11R works on both AC and DC filtering. Thank you very much for your time and attention to my query. And thanks for the excellent work on your reviews!
Kind Regards
Andrew

Since I own the Three 11R, I feel confident saying that the G/A combo is demonstrably superior. Just the Granada alone is more effective than the Three 11R. That was unexpected but a sign that the designer hasn't rested on his laurels and really advanced his craft.
Srajan
Dear Srajan,
I have very much enjoyed reading your headphone-related reviews. I wanted to recommend that you try putting Mr. Speakers' Alpha Pads on the Beyerdynamic T1. With them on, the T1 sounds more similar to the LCD-2 and makes for a really engaging listen.
http://mrspeakers.com/product/alpha-pads-genuine-lamb-leather/
Best wishes,
Haidar

Interesting. I replaced ear pads on two HifiMans with those that come stock with the HF-560. That made a nice difference. And I've always said that Dan Clark's pads are the most comfortable I've come across. Didn't know that they'll fit the T1 though. Cool top, thank you!
Srajan

The alpha pads transformed my T1. Before they were lacking in (sub) bass but now they are full and rich and far less sibilant. I think it will change your opinion of the T1. It certainly did mine. Also, they fit fine.
Haidar
Hello Stephæn,
My name is Lalle and I live way up in the mountains in the north of Sweden. Abisko is the name of the village I've lived in since 1981. Check it out on the Internet! For some years I've read many reviews on amps, CD players, loudspeakers, cables... and now on the Black Pearls phono stage. Thank you! It's an amazing review. Almost more like a very good novel. The way it's written, the words, the feeling in it, the realizations... everything. To me it's very good literature. Makes me just want to grab the telephone and phone this Greek guy to order one. I've known about Black Pearl for some time and was really waiting for this review to come. In 1-4 years I will probably update my whole music equipment. What I have now is from the early 1990s. I'm waiting for the reviews on their pre and power amplifiers that I hope you will review some time in September/October this year. But if they get words like this, the way I feel today, I will probably really think about getting a whole Black Pearls system. I'm far from an audiophile. I just love sounds. Maybe in a special way. And from what I've read, it seems that Black Pearls deliver it.
Thank you once again.
Lalle

Lalle,
Thank you for the very kind words. I did look up Abisko and the latest census shows you are among only 85 inhabitants. I have no doubt that you love sounds in a special way. Since your location is 195km north of the Arctic Circle, I also suspect you know a thing or two about natural beauty, especially when it comes to viewing the aurora borealis. And I'd imagine a great sound system would come in handy during the nights of the midnight sun!
æ
A good friend has the Job 225 and is getting the Boenicke W5se for a secondary system (must be nice, huh). I’m looking forward to the pairing and am curious about the sound. I suspect it will be to my liking. Right now, I’m going Vega to EAR 868 to J2 to Strada2. Very much a warm lit-from-within sorta presentation although most wouldn’t ever suspect that as the outcome. Very good dynamics in a nearfield setup.

Sonically, I think my tastes might be maturing. I used to be all about lightning-quick transients, now it’s all about a meaty energized presentation. Meaty and energized rarely go together. And there’s the rub. That’s what I find interesting about the Job/Boenicke combo. You’re the only reviewer who does the unlikely pairings and mixes and matches things wildly. Thanks for that. I find it much more fun to discover an unlikely pairing than to only mate reference-level gear. Too bad Crayon doesn’t offer the amp section of their integrated in an amp-only configuration.
Best,
Joe Eagleeye

Therein lies the rub indeed. We're fully agreed -:)
Srajan
Hi Srajan,
I saw on your site that you're gonna review the Chiara. When I was at the Munich High-End show, I heard them and was very impressed. The Kawero Classic was very special but so is their price. I read your review about the Zu Audio Submission subwoofer and can tell that you loved it. It made me look into its small brother the Undertone (space-wise it makes more sense for me) but I still haven't decided whether I should add a subwoofer to a stand-mounted speaker or go for a floorstander.

Are you going to review the Chiara together with the Submission?  It will be very interesting to see how well they are integrated together and maybe also will be an alternative to more expensive floorstanders like the Kawero Classic? Do you have an estimate when you will get the review pair?
Cheers,
Guy

For most, the Undertone indeed is more sensible - half the size, half the price and the same driver and electronics. I personally lean to monitor + sub over floorstander if the monitor is bass-extended enough to only require <40Hz fill. I tend to get the most linear performance from that. I also find it far more cost-effective. The last 20 cycles are the most expensive to get from a passive speaker. But then they're fixed, not adjustable. And yes, I will try the Chiara with the Zu. It may not need it however. Or, the 4th-order low-pass of the Zu may not be steep enough even at 10Hz and bleed through where it's not needed. We'll see. I'm not certain on ETA. It'll be in person because Kaiser have another delivery and setup to a Swiss dealer. August tends to be vacation month in Europe so I'd expect we're looking at September.
Srajan
Hi,
it has been many years that I've read your reviews and I thank you for all the work you have put in over all this time. You are an absolute reference for hifi. I am writing because I live on an island where there are no hifi stores and where it is difficult to get components to evaluate. I'd like to know what you think of my system and what you would recommend to improve it. My system is composed of the Ayon Audio CD3sx which I also use as pre; a Burmester 956Mk2 amp; and Raidho C1.1 speakers all wired with Cableless Cruiser. The system sounds very good and every day gets better. The CD player has only 80 hours on it and the more I use it, the better it sounds.

What I can do to improve without losing the good already accomplished? Replace the Burmester amplifier with an Ayon? I particularly like the sound of Ayon. It is very open and lively. Or better, add a dedicated preamplifier first? The one in the CD3 is good but a Polaris 3 is something out of this world although so is the price. Maybe I could buy a smaller Ayon model? I've only tried the Polaris and don't know if the smaller model is worth it. The Raidho speakers sound really good but they are difficult to drive and I don't know if a tube amp will get the best of them. So if I were to upgrade the speakers, would you recommend staying with Raidho and maybe go with the C2.1 or D2; or to try something else? I've heard good things about Ayon speakers. They should be easy to drive but I've never had the occasion to listen to them. I've listen to Ayon with the Martin Logan Montis and they sounded very good.
I thank you in advance for your consideration.
Kind regards,
Thomas

You're a very sick man, Thomas. I say this as a fellow addict. You've only got 80 hours on your CD player and already you worry about the next upgrade. You love your speakers yet are ready to change them for another brand. And like all addicts, you haven't diagnosed your condition. Before you can improve anything, you must determine what is wrong. No diagnosis, no cure. I appreciate that your island location limits you but given that you describe your system as sounding very good and getting better every day, it seems you've done very well for yourself. Don't you think that perhaps you should take a break from your upgrade addiction and just enjoy things as they are?

Of course telling an addict to stop is impossible. I understand that. I simply couldn't begin to assist you. Things aren't as you imagine them to be. Simply listing gear which you own doesn't tell anyone else what it will sound like in your room. If you had very specific items you didn't like; and very specific qualities you meant to keep; and some understanding what component was causing what... then you'd have the beginnings of a game plan. Personally I think a much better plan for now would be to live with your system as is for a few months to half a year to really get to know it before you even contemplate any changes -:)
Srajan

Thank you Srajan, for your reply to my letter. You are definitely right!
Greetings,
Thomas
Srajan,
Thanks for the excellent Munich show wrap. I attended the show as well and purchased a pair of Sven's amazing Boenicke W5 on the spot. By the time I had given Sven my details you had left the room so here I am asking for your advice.My goals is to build a high-quality desktop sound system around the W5. As source I was thinking of the Astell&Kern 120 where I would upload my HD music files and also use it as a streamer for Qobuz (not sure if I need to purchase A&K USB cradle to do that). Alternatively I could use my Mac as source with a Halide USB bridge I already own. Which DAC/amp solution would you recommend to drive the W5? My instincts would favour a one-box solution like the Gato 250 but keen t> hear your thoughts. I noted that you own a Red Wine modified A&K100. What's the benefit of the RW mod? Which 'travel-friendly' headphones would you recommend? And finally, should I go for the A&W a a source, which cable would you recommend to connect it to the DAC/amp?
Thank you
Vincenzo Picone

Travel-friendly headphones: Aedle VK-1 is what I own and use.
Travel-friendly hi-rez source that doubles as a desktop source: A&K 100MkII as USB or Toslink 'streamer'. All-in-one desktop amp/DAC/the works: April Music Aura Note Version 2 (even adds killer headphone output, tuner and CD player) is what I use -:)
Srajan

Srajan,
3 more questions for you:
• the April Aura Note 2 is not imported in the UK and the only models I can find are 120V. Is it possible/EASY to switch voltage?
• in your latest review of the Aptica I saw a pictures of your W5se on your desk. How are they supported/attached (would love to set mine up in the same way!)
• Following an extensive demo in Munich and your review, I am buying the Enigma M1 + Sopranino. Will the Devialet 250 which I own be a good match?
Vincenzo

Sieveking Sound in Germany distributes the Aura and will be able to help with a proper 230V unit. I ordered a pair of taller stands from Sven so the W5se would float above my glass table top for more room and a tidier setup. The Devialet should be brilliant on the M1 + Sopranino combo. Lovely choices you're making all around!
Srajan
Srajan,
I enjoy your reviews immensely. Based upon your opinions, I happily own a FirstWatt J2. I have been following the JOB Pre2 review with great interest and am curious about its exact voltage gain specifications, which remain unstated. Surely with the JOB 225 featuring a massive 35dB of gain, the Pre2 must be almost passive in order to make the duo useable. And if so, does this leave the Pre2 slightly down in jump factor as with other truly passive preamps (even the ones with 6dB on tap like Music First, Django etc)? Are you able to confirm? Appreciated.
Sincerely,
Tony Wainhouse

I don’t have the voltage gain spec. But that isn’t the relevant thing relative to the Job 225’s gain. The relevant thing is the PGA of the preamp which parses attenuation in 0.5dB steps rather than apply a log taper like conventional pots do. No matter how much gain a circuit has, if you offer attenuation down to full mute in 0.5dB steps, you’ll be able to match it to anything. My Esoteric C-03 can be set to zero gain. So can my Nagra. But zero gain doesn’t equal passive. You’ve still got active voltage rails; and buffered impedance-compensated outputs. That’s different from the true passives. So no, I don’t hear reduced jump factor with the Pre2. To me that argument is one of those audiophile theoretical ideas which doesn’t add up in reality -:)
Srajan

Srajan,
Many thanks for your prompt and thoughtful insights on this. I hear what you are saying when you make the point that a nil-gain preamp does not denote a passive preamp. And thanks for highlighting the JOB’s rather unique volume control system on the Pre2. I had completely overlooked this aspect. As I understand from your comments, the volume increments are so small that the Pre2 potentially makes preamp power amp gain mismatches, at least as far as sufficient usable volume control increments are concerned, a thing of the past. Interestingly, after reading about your many escapades with TVC preamps, I have recently inserted a Django preamp into my system of FirstWatt J2, Blumenstein Orca/Dungeness (active) and the results are simply breathtaking but also quite contradictory.

Firstly, with the Django and J2 in service, this is perhaps the finest sound I have ever achieved. However, when the music gets very heavy or complex, it is as if the J2 now runs out of steam. That is to say that during particularly demanding material, the J2 now appears to now have insufficient power to maintain the excellent dynamics heard in simpler music. The sound seems to harden and vocals sound a bit 'pinched' and shut in. If I didn’t know better, I would assume that this result was symptomatic of insufficient amplifier power to drive the 90dB loudspeakers with their solid 8-ohm impedance, single driver, no crossover and active subs during complex and demanding material. But this is not the case when my other two active preamps—one solid state and one tubed—are feeding the J2 in the exact same system. (Admittedly, the overall sound was less good than with the Django).

As you will know, the Django has a switch to introduce 6dB of gain but this does nothing to resolve the dynamics problem during heavy or complex music material. So as you have rightly identified, this problem is not a gain issue. As a cross reference, I recently stayed with the Django preamp and switched out the J2 in favour of my 150w/30dB gain Holfi Power 150 power amp, a wonderful, zero-feedback solid state amp from Denmark. With the big Dane providing the juice, the dynamic problems during complex or heavy material completely disappeared but the Holfi could not quite match the J2 for sheer articulation and realism during less demanding music. As a result, the J2 went straight back into duty. But the test proved to me that a Django-based system could indeed deliver full force dynamic, within the context of the right power amp/loudspeaker partnership.

So I simply cannot explain why the J2 drives my speakers perfectly well with an active preamp but not with a passive preamp?  All avenues suggest that this is a passive versus active preamp issue. Perhaps the ever-so-slight additional drive that an active preamp contributes gives the J2 a small but critical boost and just makes the difference in my system?  If so, the active JOB Pre2 could eliminate the current dynamics problem in my system?  I suspect that the Pre2 could potentially lose some of the precision and purity of the Django at the same time. I may have this wrong. Perhaps there is nothing wrong with the drive delivered via the Django in combination with the ultra-transparent J2?  Maybe the superior resolution of the combo is simply exposing the (typically) large amounts of compression that get applied to highly dynamic recordings?I simply don’t know. I guess that’s why we love this infinitely mind-bending hobby that we share? I’ll just keep listening. Hopefully this lot makes sense. I expect that you receive thousands of emails so thanks again for making yourself available to comment, Srajan. Appreciated.
Tony

The Django’s 6dB of gain are passive and generated with a step-up transformer function built into the attenuating transformers. So even then it’s not active regardless of voltage gain. The FirstWatt M2 generates its gain passively in the same fashion except more than 6dB. But that's an active circuit. With my Esoteric’s switchable gain (0, 12, 24dB), I have a quasi analogue ‘tone’ control. Zero gain sounds fastest and leanest, max gain sounds warmest and bassiest. That’s despite the fact that with max gain, the volume control setting obviously is way down whilst with zero gain it is far more open. 

On the amp/speaker interface, you’ve got current delivery and output impedance as factors which influence apparent drive and control over the speaker. And you’ve also got output impedance of a preamp as a factor on how well it will drive an amplifier. That’s where passives can fall below actives. And usually whilst producing more grip, bass and mass, actives give up transparency, speed, lucidity and micro detail compared to passives. So it tends to demand a well-chosen set of compromises between both approaches.

There’s an intermediate option of the ‘activated passive’. That’s how Wyred4Sound does it. Until unity gain they apply no gain so their device works like a passive. Above unity gain they kick in active gain. Once the volume control setting stops attenuating the source voltage, the device urns into a conventional active. But in passive mode you’ve still got active voltage rails, impedance-compensated outputs and such to not operate like a conventional passive on those counts. The mPre is a sub $1’000 piece that impressed me a lot when I reviewed it. No idea though how I’d feel about it compared to the Pre2 since I never heard them side by side.

The Job Pre2 is a wide bandwidth design like all of Goldmund’s stuff so it doesn’t suffer a time lag between low and high frequencies. This makes for a very articulate lit-up energetic precise sound. I’ll find out how much voltage gain it produces before I wrap the review. How it’d work versus the Django into your J2 and speakers I couldn’t predict of course. Thankfully the Pre2 isn’t too costly where, perhaps, it’s a gamble that you could justify either way? What I can nearly predict is simply that any active preamp in the sane money realm will subtract some of the transparency and openness of your TVC. You might have to prioritize based on what type of music you listen to most.
Srajan