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Dear Marja and Henk,

I am very surprised about your review of the EERA DL2. I heard the machine briefly last year in France where I also talked to Mr. De Luca and I own a DL1 for more than 2 years now (it replaced a Sony Playstation).

Are you sure your DL2 did not have any technical problems? I am asking this because none of the EERA (nor HELIOS) players I auditioned ever sounded laid back in the least. On the contrary, they are about the most energetic, rhythmic and enthusiastic sounding players I know. The DL1 even gained a 2006 product of the year award in HIFI+ for these very qualities.

I think you should have your DL2 checked from EERA. From what I (and many others) have heard, I am pretty certain that there is something wrong with your review sample.

Kind regards,
Steffen

Hi Steffen,

thank you for your reply. To start with your last remark, the DL2 is not ours, it is the review sample of the Dutch importer. Next, we can assure you the player was in perfect condition.

Now we get to the next part. Our conclusion is that the DL2 is more laid back than other players we know. As you can read in the review, the player is not one of those that directly drag you into the music. This quality is not at all negative. There are many reasons why one would not like a very attention-craving player in his or her listening environment. It is just a matter of taste. That is also the reason the reason why all reviewers have their 'environment' published with each review. Next when you read various reviews by the same reviewers, you get a sense of what they like. That is equipment and most of all, the music played. Some like classical more than flamenco or gypsy, however all like music.

A similar thing can be found for favorite concert hall spots. Some like to be more front row than others. And how about loudspeakers? We personal like forward speakers with lightning speed. Think of our Avantgardes, our liking of the Quad ESL, now the new PodiumSound planars and of course the boxed speakers that feature the same qualities.

We feel the DL2 is an excellent player, however we personally like a quality in a player that is more forward. Mr. De Luca voiced his DL2 to his likings and there are many people that share his vision. It appears you're one of them.

Regards,
Marja & Henk
Dear Mr. Ebaen:

I'm a delighted reader of your splendid reviews over the years and I have to say forget all the other mags/reviewers --- you "got it right". Have you considered or investigated any products by Vlad Bazelkov' company Audio Mirror, 15718 Falling Creek Dr, Houston TX 77068?

I just got a nifty little preamp, the PP1 - and this unit really sings. It's his full function pre and he does offer a more sexy looking line stage, the T-61. For its price of a mere $900, it could a contender for a future review of a no nonsense tube preamp, hand built - and I would venture to say sinks all the Chinese "crap" that seems to be creeping into this industry!

I hope this is not a outrageous request on my part (avid consumer) but I have traveled with many a preamp over the years and this product brings the fun factor back to the table.

Best regards,
Ron Romano

This is in response to Paul Candy re: his review of the JAS Audio Array 2.1. At the end of the first paragraph of the review of that piece of equipment he says: "Other than the Cary CAD805 monos, I'm not aware of another amp that uses a 300B to drive a large power triode like the 805". I wanted to point out one other 300B/805 amplifier - the new Ming Da MC 3008-A monoblocks, which at $1650 for the pair might be worthy of a review. I've attached a photo.

Cellerino Bernardino

Hi Srajan,

Can you inform Craig who recently wrote that his tinnitus was aggravated by his new headphone system, that there are a couple of really cool and effective things to try in Sound Therapy. One is a cd based system from Germany called Samonas (Google it) that treats tinnitus quite effectively by self-use in a lot of people with a good headphone system. It also has other great effects by actually changing the physiology of listening to music for the better, with a different appreciation of the high frequency part of music, as well as provide better mental alertness and energy.

Also, out of Australia is the equally effective and different Joudry Sound Therapy, using more inconveniently but justified on metal-based cassette tapes that can be worn several hours throughout the day( or while waking up in bed) on a Walkman with at least 22 to 24,000Hz frequency response. Both seem to be equally effective for tinnitus and the other benefits I mentioned. They are both to be listened to at the lowest audible volume you can barely hear: the Samonas sounds like extremely finely detailed classical music, spaced with several tracks of highly filtered music, while the Joudry is classical music that sounds alternatingly hissing and tinny, but oddly one begins to crave the sound after listening to it for many hours.

They are based on the work of French physician and scientist Alfred Tomatis, who uses Clasical music or Gregorian chant. The tapes/CDs are not cheap ($50-60 USD each) but are well worth trying. They work by uniquely stimulating the brain through high-frequency sound and by stimulating and 'exercising' the extremely tiny muscles (the tensor tympani and the stapedeus) that control the minute bones (ossicles) in the middle ear: the stapes, malleus and incus. These muscles are also involved in the response to loud sounds, thereby reducing the sounds to the inner ear called the 'acoustic reflex'.

There are Samons trained therapists for those who wish to work further or treat other conditions such as ADD, using more technically advanced CDs unavailable for purchase by the public. The Joudry system is entirely based on self treatment. I believe that as an audiophile, Sound Therapy helps maintain and protect my hearing into old age (I also am not ashamed to put my fingers in my ears when subways approach or wear earplugs at loud concerts). I highly recommend giving one or both a try...sounds like something to put Marja and Henk on to as well.

With appreciarion for your fine website,
Steven Rayle, M.D.
Hi Srajan,

As a recording engineer myself I enjoyed your story "From Armenia with Love" very much. Very special to pick up the music together with the sounds of nature. I almost finished a nice DVD recording from a special event of the Rockopera Barcelona. We are preparing an open air-tour on Sicily in the amfi-theatres.

Keep you informed.
Best regards,
Cor Dekker
Eurogram int.
Holland
Hi Jeff:

To make a comparison between various Playstation 1 models, I was finally able to track down Model SCPH-1001 at a video game store in Redwood City. I plugged it into my system, and whoa! Immediately, I could sense something different between this model and the other two: Models SCPH-5501 and SCPH-9001. Now this time, I was able to use some higher end RCA interconnect cables using the SCPH-1001's built-in RCA audio jacks. I allowed the unit to warm up for a few days before doing any critical listening. When I sat down to audition Model SCPH-1001, I was treated to greater frequency extension, a wider and deeper soundstage and increased detail. I played a little bit with the Sony AV Multi Out cable, but I have been enjoying using my higher quality interconnect cable with the RCA jacks, so I haven't really compared the two outputs, besides it wouldn't be an ideal comparison until I make a decent AV Multi Out cable.

A few days later, and a new PS Audio xStream Power Punch power cord was delivered. This power cord has the polarized IEC female C7 connector that works with the Playstation's polarized IEC C8 AC connector. After replacing the stock power cord, the dynamic range significantly improved along with greater weight at the frequency extremes. I have some high end aftermarket cords on my other equipment, but I have never heard such a noticeable improvement in sound quality as this. Granted, the Sony stock cord is pretty cheap, but I didn't expect the dramatic improvements with the $50 PS Audio power cord. The PS Audio cord's 12 gauge OFC wiring and shielding probably make a huge difference. Anyway, everything is just more resolved. The best part is that pace, rhythm and timing are very on point. The interplay between musicians is better conveyed. I also heard a slight improvement after cleaning all the contacts with MG Chemicals Electrosolve Contact Cleaner (no residue).

As I mentioned before, I still have yet to roll a better interconnect cable using a Sony AV Multi Out cable connector. This would allow me to do an apples-to-apples comparison between Models SCPH-1001 and SCPH-5501 using the AV Multi Out port only. Also, I will be able to better compare the sound from the RCA jacks versus the sound from the AV Multi Out port.

At this point, I agree with your recommendation of Model SCPH-1001 for music lovers who just want a great CD player to connect to their systems using their existing interconnects. I would highly recommend the PS Audio xStream Power Punch C7 power cord as a stock power cord replacement. Cardas makes a shielded power cord with a polarized C7 connector too. Furutech offers a C7 connector power cord too, but their C7 connector isn't of the polarized type. A continuity checker could be used for identifying polarity though. Once this is done, a mark can be placed on one side for correct orientation. If I hadn't already ordered the PS Audio cord, I would have purchased the Furutech cord.

For anyone searching for a Playstation 1 Model SCPH-1001, no one should pay any more than $30. Avoid the eBay hype. Besides, some of the sellers appear a little suspicious to me. I recommend contacting any local game stores that accept used game consoles for trade-ins. Many bargains are still available and the machine can be tested on site to insure proper operation.

One last thing, there are some Sony-brand PS2 DVD Remote Controls available through eBay that work with the Playstation 1 as long as it is used with the appropriate IR receiver that plugs into the controller port. To operate the playback functions, you still must use the game control buttons rather than the DVD playback buttons, but at least it looks less like a game controller and they're available for less than $15 including shipping.

Richard Hing
Berkeley, CA
Srajan,

you have lead me into unexpected, unfamiliar territory. I bought Audio Technica ATH-W1000 headphones and the Yamamoto HA-02 and have been astonished at the quality of sound. This combination does many things better than any stereo I've heard (and all of those things are musically relevant). But the headphones have the unfortunate effect of aggravating my pre-existing tinnitus (from listening to music while mowing the lawn high on marijuana in my teens? too many rock concerts way back when? ototoxic medications for my rheumatoid arthritis? I don't know). So I've been experimenting with my father-in-law's 92.5 decibel, 4-way Pioneer speakers from the 70s. The HA-02 maintains many of its beguiling traits over these speakers. The palpability, the transparency, the spatial wizardry and the tonal colors are still there to the extent that these speakers are capable of reproducing them. And the sound is plenty loud for my taste. However, the amp seems to accentuate the speakers' harshness in the lower treble. I'm wondering whether or not this is a sign that the amp is struggling too hard and would be ameliorated by switching to an easier load like the Zu Druid. Have you ever tried the HA-02 on speakers? In any case, thank you for publishing the best audio magazine around.

Sincerely,
Craig Morton

I must confess to never having taken the HA-02's speaker drive functionality serious. In my mind, it equates to desk top near-field applications plus efficient speakers which, essentially, is an oxymoron and not something I'm interested in nor have appropriate speakers for. The Zu Druid sensitivity and 12-ohm impedance suggests a reasonable match even though I still remain suspicious that the small power supply of the HA-02 would be sufficient for the bass. The 'big' Yamamoto A-08S does work splendidly as would the 300B 8wpc version. Zu owns the 45 version I have and can confirm the match. Lastly, because the Druid's treble is subdued compared to current hifi standards, it would appear to match your requirements - as much as such a thing can be predicted by one who doesn't suffer your condition.

Srajan

Hi Jeff:

After reading several forum posts about the various versions of the Playstation One, I picked up Model SCPH-5501, which is basically an improved version of Model SCPH-1001:
  • Repositioned laser assembly further away from power supply to reduce exposure to reduce noise and heat
  • Changed SMPS to a unit that generates much less heat that can cause tracking problems
  • Removed separate left and right RCA audio output jacks in favor of an A/V Multiport with breakout cable
  • Cleaned up motherboard layout

This model still uses the same AK4309AVM DAC and sound circuit topology. Like Model SCPH-1001, the A/V Multiport connector signal path does not include the OP amp buffers like the RCA outs that most modders bypass. So what does it sound like? It sounds significantly better than Model SCPH-9001. Your description of Model SCPH-1001 in your Music Lovers series article seems to nail down the sound of Model SCPH-5501 as well: very musical and can convey tonal textures very well. I will let you know what upgraded cables can do for this model when I have a chance.

Regards,
Richard Hing

Srajan,

A s a reader of both Stereophile and The Absolute Sound, I would like to complement you on your online magazine. You and your reviewers seem genuinely free of advertising bias.

When will we ever see full reviews for the Ocellia, Stereolab Angellus, and Rethm Saadhana speakers? It seems to me that a comparison would be beneficial for your reading audience.

Jim Davis

My wife's unexpected heart surgery two months ago in Germany interrupted my review schedule a bit. The visit to Ocellia had to be rescheduled for October, Jacob George of Rethm managed to sell my review pair rather than have it languish in Cyprus customs limbo for 4 weeks and is building me a new pair right now and the Stereolab Angelus pair was recalled for defects so I'm awaiting a replacement.

Srajan

Dear Jeff,

here is a link of my newest tweak, the Kokomo kit bronze/ceramic bearing for the Garrard 301! It fixes the problems with the worn-out thrust bearings.

http://www.analogtubeaudio.de/index.php?article_id=128

Best regards,
Robert Graetke
It is with a bit of trepidation that I publish the following. While I have indeed seen the online feedback the writer references, I do not know whether there is some extenuating unknown circumstance that might at least explain the goings-on at Welborne Labs. Still and at the end of the day, taking money and not delivering product and failing to communicate are, in business, things customers must be warned about. Hence the below letter publishes. Should Welborne Labs contact us, we will be pleased to publish their comments. As it turns out, there was a circumstance.

Srajan

During the past few months we have endured multiple family emergencies with the most recent one ending in the untimely loss of a family member. These events have prevented us from providing the level of service you have enjoyed over the years from Welborne Labs and for this I do humbly apologize. We will be closed through July 2 for the funeral however, once we return, I promise to respond to your inquiry in a timely manner.

Thanks for your patience and understanding.

Ron Welborne

Editor,

I write to call your attention, and the attention of your readers, to a problem which seems to be developing with a fairly well known member of the industry. Based on the reports of several customers, myself included, Welborne Labs, a retailer of audio kits and components, has had difficulty satisfying orders since at least the beginning of 2007. I include a link to one of the most recent threads discussing this issue at the Audio Asylum.

http://www.audioasylum.com/cgi/t.mpl?f=general&m=483681

Although internet forums are often not the best source of reliable information, and can be decidedly one-sided on these types of issues, the above thread (and similar threads which can be found by searching the SET, Tweaker's and Tube/DIY Asylums) at least provide anecdotal evidence that something is amiss at the House of Welborne. Again, I cannot personally vouch for the credibility of all of these reports, but I can say that my story as it appears in the above thread is as it is stated. I will spare you the details as they can be read through the above link, but will advise you and your readers that I ordered and was charged for a Star Chief amplifier kit (approximately $1850) in late September of 2006. To date I have received neither the kit nor a refund. My multiple inquiries, while not wholly unanswered, have gone largely ignored and Welborne Labs did not respond to a complaint which I made through the Denver Better Business Bureau. A search of the BBB's website will reveal that 6 complaints against Welborne Labs have been made in the past 36 months.

http://data.denver.bbb.org/commonreport.html?bid=90007851

Despite my experience, I was hesitant to write this letter. My purpose in doing so is not to punish or spite Welborne Labs (although I cannot deny that it is a rather therapeutic side benefit). In the end, however, I decided that one of the functions of publications such as yours is to inform the consumer. I feel that it is proper to praise dealers and manufacturers when they exceed expectations. The corollary of that would be to advise the public when they fail to meet expectations.

This is an industry in which a reasonable consumer will question the value of many products. While the infamous "reasonable people" can disagree and debate the merits of certain power or speaker cables, I think we can all agree on this principle: If you pay money for a product you have a right to expect something. Something physical. Something to have, hold and, hopefully, enjoy. It appears as though Welborne Labs is currently having some difficulty achieving this standard.

I would be more than happy to update you should my situation change. I will not, however, publish a retraction of my many recent mean and nasty thoughts regarding the issue.

Best regards,
Kevin Deuschle

Hi Srajan,

As an alternative viewpoint to a recent correspondent, I have nothing but praise for Welborne Labs.

I ordered an external PSU upgrade for a Squeezebox from them earlier this year (admittedly, even as their most expensive variant, a much lower value item than that which your correspondent ordered. Then again, I'm on another continent and require a 240V/50Hzunit, both of which always tempers such 'leaps in the dark' with a certain degree of trepidation). Original order was placed on Mar 29th. On 14th April, I received this message:

Due to the popularity of the power supply upgrades we are running behind on the delivery of assembled units. It looks like your order is scheduled to ship on Wednesday of next week. Thanks for your patience and understanding.

I received confirmation of shipping on April 19th.

'Sod's Law' then intervened, and after paying the import duty online it took longer to get from Perth to Dundee Scotland (approx 23 miles) than it did to get from Colorado to the UK!

Additionally, I should state I'm delighted with the product; connected via Stereovox HDV-X digital cable to the digital input of my Resolution Audio Opus 21 (and augmented by a Lavardin mains cable/Shakti Stone), the SB3 gets frighteningly close to the performance of the Opus 21 as a CD player (via Lavardin IT/Lavardin cable loom/Living Voice OBX-R2s).

I understand it's the nature of the beast that dissatisfied customers are more voluble on online forums than those who are entirely satisfied. My own experience earlier this year with another apparently well-regarded/reviewed (inc 6moons) manufacturer was far from positive. No quibble with the product itself, but the buying experience would make me reluctant to make a repeat purchase.

Anyway, more importantly, I know this hasn't been the easiest of years for you personally, which kind of puts all such things into perspective. Hope everything is going well for you and your family.

Regards,
Miles Cruickshank
Hi Jeff:

I just want to thank you for providing some insight into the world of affordable hifi when you wrote about the Sony PS1 Model SCPH-1001. Some friends had purchased a PS1 for me as a Father's Day gift. Not knowing which model to purchase, they bought a Model SCPH-9001 off eBay. I figured I would at least try it out on my system since they bought it for me. After playing this gaming console for three days, I have to say that I am very impressed with the music coming from this bargain wonder. I have a Onix XCD-88, which is virtually identical to the Music Hall CD-25 (version 1) CD player. In comparison to the Onix player, the PS1 is slightly rolled off at the frequency extremes. However, the midrange is very sweet and musical. In fact, this player may even sound a bit more "analog" than my Onix player. I still love my Onix player and will not replace it with the PS1, but I will keep the PS1 to take with me to audiophile gatherings for shock factor.

It's very difficult for me to find information about the DAC and circuitry used in Model SCPH-9001, but I believe that the A/V multiport jack is not connected to any op amps inside the PS1. The output is lower than my Onix player, but the sound quality is very rich and very clear. Additionally, this model uses a SMPS power supply that doesn't heat the chassis to the point of distorting the plastic case due to thermal expansion. I also understand that Sony used more reliable transports in the latter models. Perhaps, others have tried this particular model too. I would be interested in their observations. To improve the audio, I will make a modified A/V cable using Belden shielded coax cable and some RCA connectors like WBT's. I'll also buy either an IEC/C-7 power plug adapter or get a power cord from PS Audio or Cardas that already has the C-7 polarized plug on the component end. I have to believe that the sound would improve. I'll also have to investigate some chassis damping and vibration control tweaks. In all, I am very surprised at what this little gaming console can deliver. Thanks again for taking the courage to expose us to this little wonder.

Richard Hing
Berkeley, CA
Hi Jeff,

My Harbeth HL5 have arrived, I am running them with the CEC TL51 XR CD player and Leben Hi Fi CS 600, they sound incredible especially when you consider the size of the speakers in my large listening room. I have a picture for you of them quickly set up in front of my Avantgarde Duo Omega speakers.

Second picture of my new Parmenter Fat Boy system.

Cheers,
Jason
www.parmentersound.com
Hello Srajan,

Your toolbox (and rigging) paper is very interesting - as always. It's a common fact that Monet had problems with his vision. Looking at a Monet painting at arm's length, you just can't "see" what the painting is about. A collection of color blotches. How could he ever know exactly where to put that perticular and perfect pink blotch?

From 20 ft away, it becomes clear, precise with incredible resolution. It's obvious he didn't and couldn't paint with a 20 ft long brush. We can only assume that he saw the blue-pink-yellow blotches as the perfect Terre de Sienne hue, because he couldn't tell the blotches apart. Perhaps he just knew, perhaps he saw through the blotches.

A close friend of mine is a jazz violonist. She insists on using a guitar pickup during recording sessions (instead of using microphones), insists on analog recording and when she listen to the final cuts, she leaves the studio and listens through a boombox at home because she can't evaluate the takes on the studio monitors.

Could it be that she hears through the boombox? Could it be that the obvious (and known - as a reference) limitations and handicap of the boombox brings her to the essence of her sound? Or could it be that the perfection of the monitors is just slightly off, making it impossible to discern important details?

As for the reviewer, would it be possible that the perticular and perfect combination of cables, interconnects, amplifiers, room-treatment, source, power regulators, preamplifier, Eq, outboard power supplies, outboard Xovers, demagnitized CDs, cryo'd plugs, tuned equipment rack, maple/walnut composite amp platform and ceramic cable risers, yields to the perfect Steinway Boston GP156 piano sound?

We shall never know.

Best,
Robert Gaboury
Gemme Audio
Dear Srajan,

After I decided to buy a pair of the WLM Grand Viola Sig. Monitor speakers (active), I was looking for matching amps and received feedback that the Almarro 318 will work great with these speakers.

Since there are different designs of the amp, I would like to ask for your opinion. I am planing to buy one stereo amp for the Super PAC tweeters and a pair of monos for the mid/bass. From one person I heard that the A318A will work best with the Super PACs because of its NFB design, another told me to go for the A318B for high-frequency resolution. Both said the 318B in mono mode will be perfectly suited for the mid/bass units but that it would be worth waiting for the reference monos.

I would apriciate if you could let me know your point of view.
Kind regards
Ozan Kapsal

The WLM/Almarro combination is highly synergistic indeed based on what I'm hearing with the Diva/A318B setup. I have not heard the A318A nor made any plans to procure a unit for review. I will, however, get the floorstanding version of your monitor speakers for review shortly, at which time the A318B review loaner will see duty on the Grand Viola Signature MkII full-range (passive) and as tweeter amp (compared to my Yamamoto A-08S and Melody I2A3). For now, I would say that the A318B is indeed very lit up in the treble but on both my Zus and WLMs, without drawbacks. It's in fact the best-sounding amp I currently have in house for the type of WLM/Zu speakers I favor. How it'll do on the Super PAC compared to the A318A I won't know but I do know that Hannes Frick at WLM has an A version of the amp on order so he should be able to tell you.

Srajan

Srajan:

Thought I'd give you an update on my adventures with Ocellia. As you may recall, I ordered a pair of their Calliope speakers from Samuel Furon nearthe end of January and about five weeks later received only one speaker and its PHY driver was damaged. The other speaker was lost by UPS. Ocellia began making another speaker to replace the lost one and just about the time of shipment. the lost one turned up and was delivered in perfect condition. Another three weeks and I received the replacement PHY driver which I just installed and now have both speakers up and going.

As I write there are only a few hours of listening and I am very, very pleased with the sound. These things sound like real music and I haven't fiddled with placement, spikes or removing one of the rear wood panels to see the effects of those variables. And, of course, not even broken in. I hope you will be able to get to France to visit Ocellia and PHY. I think it would be a worthwhile effort. I trust your wife is doing well with her recovery from open heart surgery. Someday I'll share the story of a young patient I had in med school who had open heart surgery in the infant days of that procedure. Thanks again for your previous replies, and continued good luck with 6moons.

Bob Meegan
Overland Park, Kansas

PS: My current system:
Sony XA7ES CD player as a transport
Aquos DAC (German)
Shindo Monbrison preamp
Melody 2A3 monoblocks
PHY interconnects and speaker cable

Dear Jeff,

I recently read your article on your Harbeth/Sony system. My source has been a Proceed CD1. This Sony Playstation absolutely trounces it. I am still in shock. I paid $15! Also, could you review a pair French Highland Audio Model Angiel 3203 which I love? I like your website best.

Yours truly,
Nigel Marsh

Dear John,

Excellent review of the Hyperion speakers! Btw, I finally got a chance to go hear the Lamhorn 1.8s and they were everything you said they were. As far as dynamic transient ability and fidelity, they are probably the best I have ever heard (this I was not expecting). Extremely transparent and immediate. Not shouty. However, they can live right on the "knife edge", where great recordings take you to heaven,and bad recordings shred you to pieces. Mr. Vu allowed me to bring my own amps and preamp to play with the Lamhorns. They worked beautifully together. At the end of the day, the Lamhorn AER 1.8s are one of the finest speakers I have ever experienced.

Mr. Vu was an absolute delight to meet and spend the afternoon with. While I was there, he introduced me to his Gingko component vibration damping products. He even sent me on my way with a single set of the "mini clouds" to try under my preamp and or CD player. I have enjoyed these three little bouncy balls so much that I decided to buy the set. Regarding the Lamhorns, as much as I enjoyed them and when considering their cost... my wife asked me to "hold off" for now and continue saving my pennies. I have decided to take advantage of this time (i.e. to save money), by continuing to investigate the loudspeaker landscape. Right now, the Lamhorns are one of the few speakers at the top of the list and I have your review and correspondence to thank for it. Thanks for your time and shared thoughts there.

David
I've decided that reading 6moons is bad for ones health/head! Especially when thinking about Absolute (whatever that is) equipment. Reading about Tom Evans equipment and folks' reaction to it, (especially as I use Avantgarde Duos) makes me very tempted (and Tom works not too far from my house, -Bristol, U.K.-so I could take him to lunch, being a Vegetarian café owner! Get in touch Tom, if you read this with any preferences!). Comments about 'taking sounds to the next level' loosen my tight grip on my pension fund!.

But then, I remember that I'm already using one of the nicest amp setups around. DNM six-pack preamp plus Gem power amp and associated DNM connects, which has been quietly pleasing cognoscenti for the best part of 20 years.

So, can you soothe my itchiness to change and get someone to review some/all DNM stuff soon? A few "best purveyor of the depth of music's soul" comments might help to keep my pension for my dotage, which is what I was thinking about the Tom Evans stuff to assist too!

Then there's that great review of the Tron amp... and it matches the Duos..arrgh!

PS: No sooner had I posted my "plea for DNM review" e-mail than I see it's coming soon in the "to be reviewed" section! Now that's service! One of these days I should start writing stuff for you (what? more you think?). How about the effect of having equipment in a different room on sound? I notice that often folks have so much stuff piled up between the speakers. All that potential interaction. Remember the Linn concept that even having a phone in the room affected the sound?

See you next time I visit Cyprus (have a friend building a house on the 'wrong' side...)

Chris Skelton

Another reader fond of DNM kit suggested we review it, heard I was amenable, contacted DNM with the suggestion and within days, the company contacted me and we're indeed on for a bash with their new preamp. Synchronicity? As regards right and wrong sides, of Cyprus and audio, it's all relative, isn't it? In Northern Cyprus, it seems to be a matter of getting a legit title on the property. The trouble with reviews of course is that any number of components you might be interested in will be reviewed by different writers with different systems, rooms and tastes. Triangulating all that for a clear homing beacon is nearly impossible so I guess that, at day's end, publishers like me really are in the drug trade. We pass it around for a remote hit and contact high, then you have to do all the hard work yourself by demoing and tracking down legit opportunities...

Srajan

Hi Srajan,

I just read the most recent letter from Dr. Abrams. Myself, personally, other than the little Chinese radio, I wouldn't touch their stuff with a 10-foot pole no matter how good the reviews come in - unless possibly I lived in China. In general I find Chinese hardware to be sub-standard and then there's the language barrier and then the hassle of returning damaged goods. We have enough problems with customer service in the USA...and I'm dealing with onr right now. My old Levinson amp, I thought it would never die as I've seen much lesser amps go serious distance. My son owns it now and apparently there were some bad Phillips caps that seem to crap out prematurely. We are hoping that although the amp is now 10 years old, that Levinson will make good on the parts as it apparently has been quite an issue with the 224 and similar models. It's now at a repair center in Texas (Levinson approved) after sitting at Commercial Electronics in Vancouver for 2 months with no tech support from Levinson. My son also was having some skipping issues with my old Sonic Frontier SFCD 1. He was tempted to purchase one of the Chinese players you highly recommended but in the end after speaking with Chris Johnson, decided to have him make a repair and some update mods on the old unit. It may not be in quite the same league as the newer Chinese units but at least you can call Chris even 10 years later and listen to his opinion with his older design and if need be send it to him.

I'd better stop rambling and get onto some quotations for a paying job so I can afford to buy non-Asian products! Send my regards to Ivette, hoping that each week she's more robust.

Ed
David-

Thanks for your very refreshing approach and review of the Quinpu amp. I enjoyed the way you keep things grounded so to speak - the dollar per watt matrix was a clever idea indeed - based on what you presented this seems like a really good amp for the money or basically just a really good amp period.

I think what is going to get really interesting in the future is we will not look to China as the low cost builder or cheap mass market products but also one that is innovative and who builds products with style and good design, less for the mass market and more for a niche market... then again, I could be wrong.

On another country note, I did get to demo a Rogue Audio Atlas amp/preamp this weekend - very industrial looking, heavy, sturdy build quality, not so refined made in USA rock solid quality look about it. Oh yeah, and it sounded really really tube sweet and at prices that would make China blush. It seems if you work it out and you can do things right, good things can come from everywhere.

Thanks again!

Frank

PS: Great bio - loved the light bulbs to candles Phillips ad. I cannot remember where I saw it first but I've always liked it.

Frank,

You are absolutely right. China does not have a monopopy on designing and making quality audio products at low costs. The Americans can strike back anytime! We should also watch closely Chinese QC. There are still a few black sheep in the herd with serious safety problems. I know one well-established brand has to have "safety upgrades" carried out in Canada before their products are sold!

I just came back from a Shanghai/HongKong trip and I have met two great tube amp designers in HongKong, Mr. Lau of Audio Space and Mr. Wong of Dignity Audio. Once I get my life back on track, I'll write up the interviews. Audio Space just won an award from Absolute Sound for their flagship preamp - a first for Chinese-made tube preamp I believe. Dignity Audio has been kept under low profile for too long but is the one to watch. Their strength in transformer know-how really sets them apart.

Best,
David

Something to bear in mind! AudiogoN, the world's premier audio re-sell and second-hand market place, it's great, isn't it? You can buy and sell with ease yesterday's model. Try new stuff, see dealers' wares and check out the great prices! Have you ever read the members' feedback, all upstanding glowing accounts of great deals. What a boon to the audio comunity. Éxcept maybe for the faithful and accountable brick and morter dealers. Aren't we audiophiles lucky!

However, have you ever studied the neutral feedback or God forbid, the negative feedback of the members? There is not too many to be seen. Must be because it is such an upstanding bunch of guys conducting their business on the site! Or is it that AudiogoN's feedback system is so convoluted and policed by the faceless site administrators that you cannot leave anything negative about another member who sold you his broken amp or twisted stylus? After all it wouldn't look good if AudiogoN had the same pirates as eBay would it?

Maybe I am totally out of line but if you are reading this and some of it rings true- "welcome to the Matrix Neo".

Robin Wyatt
Mr. Ebean,

Appended is a rather long and involved, but complete, documentation of a three-way correspondence between Quest For Sound in the person of Stephen Monte, John Potis and myself. Since it is difficult to navigate the various emails and responses because of the incorporation of copies of the referenced emails in replies, I will briefly summarize.

About two weeks ago I ordered a R601P radio from Quest for Sound, on the basis an extremely positive review by Mr. Potis. I received the unit last week (Wednesday). I was initially quite pleased by its appearance, but disturbed by a very severe FM drift over the first 10 minutes of operation. I emailed Mr. Monte, who instructed me to re seat the vacuum tubes and things should improve. He also said I needed a better antenna. I did as instructed, with no improvement. The unit was already attached to an external antenna. I also tried a 39 year old KLH model 21 FM radio in place of the R601. There was no drift, and the KLH actually exceeded the FM performance of the Chinese unit.

Upon informing Mr. Monte of the lack of improvement, he told me that "all units were like this". That evening, I tried using my AKG 701's on the headphone outlet. As noted in the emails, it nearly burst my eardrums, and may have damaged the 701's. Apparently the headphone outlet is improperly wired. Whereas inserting the headphones cut off the speaker, it shunts the entire output of the amplifier to he cans without benefit of any type of attenuation. That is, the volume control does not operate.

In an effort to resolve the situation, I sent an email to Mr. Potis, who quickly and very courteously responded to me. He told me that his unit does not drift at all, and that his headphone outlet works as it should. Thus, not "all units are like this." He also told me, quite correctly, that the the headphone problem alone was reason enough to return the unit.

I wrote an email to Mr. Monte, stating that I wished to return the obviously twice defective unit for refund. I also made every effort to conceal, apparently successfully, the identity of my "other user" (Mr. Potis). His reply, as you can see, indicates that he apparently does not read the emails sent to him, and stated that I should send the unit shipping prepaid to him for repair. He will not pay shipping and there are no returns apparently, even though this is technically a DOB problem.

At this point, I am not sure what I will do. Shipping this unit back to Quest for Sound (NAT Distributors) will cost in excess of $80 both ways for a unit that, based upon the apparent lack of quality control, is likely also to have faults. I have nothing but praise for Mr. Potis' prompt and honest response in this affair. He has been very helpful, and I intend to keep him out of my dispute with Mr. Monte, et. al.

Quest for Sound, Mr. Monte, and his alter ego, NAT Distribution, need to be, at the very least, censured. You, and your site, review a great many of his products, and perhaps you have some influence in pointing out to him that this is not very laudable business practice.

Arnold R. Abrams, M.D.
Hi Srajan,

In response to Arnold Abrams' letter and his purchase of the Chinese radio from S. Monte at Quest For Sound...

I also made a radio purchase from Monte several months back when the units were discounted by him with a contribution towards the Terry Cain Fund. The model I ordered was the R601S (stereo) to replace my old transistor Grundig from 1972. My initial reaction was that the "tuning eye" was a far cry from the sensitivity of the eye in a Magnum Dynalab 108 tuner. Trying to dial in a station's best signal sure won't be done with the Chinese eye! Also the corresponding station does not actually match the indicated dial. I also had a bit of a drift issue or loss of strength especially when moving away from the radio after tuning it. I'm a better antenna than I realized. I was tempted to install the supplied antenna wire but remembered I also had a used Magnum Dynalab ST-2 (omni-directional whip antenna) that was not being used. I installed the ST-2 to the stock of a tall plant in our kitchen eating area (basically out of sight now) with a short run of cable to the radio...and voila...great reception and never a drift or signal problem again. The sound is quite adequate, reception/signal strength better than I could have imagined as I pick up a NPR station that only the better tuners can dream of - with a whip antenna from the distant broadcast site.

Sincerely,
Ed King

Mr. Ebean,

I would like to thank Mr. King for his response to your posting of my letter. I certainly agree that the "tuning eye" is worthless as a tuning indicator. With regard to the drift and other problems exhibited by my unit, I would like to point out four facts.

Firstly, my 601P was already attached to an external antenna, and that antenna worked quite well with the KLH Model 21, with no evidence of any drift.

Secondly, what Mr. King experienced was not drift. It was, as he correctly surmised, his body acting as an auxiliary antenna. When he was near the radio, or even better, touching it, his body acted as an auxiliary antenna increasing signal strength. As he moved away, his body acted as a reflecting antenna causing alternating augmentation and interference of the signal. The effect is multi-path related, and is similar to FM signal fluctuation often observed in a slowly moving automobile. Drift is the inability of the tuning device to hold onto a specific tuned frequency. Turning the tuning dial will restore the ability to listen to the station, but of course the station will soon drift away again, requiring another re-tuning, etc. Drift may be caused by, among other things, unstable voltages in the tuning section of the radio, and by thermal instability of the tuning section (which should never occur these days with the availability of thermal compensation)..

Thirdly, the unit operates with minimal drift after 10 minutes or so. If the unit is turned off, but otherwise left untouched for several hours, then turned on again, the originally tuned station is nowhere to be heard. The dial must be re-tuned significantly in order to find it. Over the next several minutes the station will disappear again, requiring another re-tune. After 10 minutes the problem stabilizes until the unit is turned off again (there is a reason for this, but the explanation is too complex to go into here). These problems tend to get worse over the months, until ultimately the unit will not be tunable at all.)

The ancient KLH exhibits no such problem attached to the same antenna in the same location. Subsequently, I have tried the radio on a roof top FM specific multi-element Yagi antenna. There is no improvement in the problem!

Fourthly, the issue of the improperly wired headphone outlet is serious, unacceptable, and raises the question of other wiring errors which the apparently non-existent quality control did not detect. As Mr. Potis pointed out, this issue alone is clear reason to return the unit.

This is not a warranty issue. It is a case of an item delivered faulty out of the box, which was purchased in good faith from what I assumed was a reputable dealer. It is the dealer's responsibility to make good at his, or the manufacturer's, expense.

If Mr. Monte feels that this is a warranty issue, and that the user assumes all risk once the unit leave the premises, he does not deserve to be in business, and his "warranty" is worthless, as it costs almost as much to implement as the price of the item in question. Furthermore, if his quality control cannot even detect two blatantly obvious issues in a new unit, how can one trust him, or his offshore manufacturer to make good?

We are dealing with principle here, not with a large amount of money. In fact, we are dealing with about 35 or 30 dollars which is the cost of returning the unit. Mr Monte is then the "Decider" (apologies to Mr. Bush). He then decides if the failure, which has been well documented by several observors, is real enough to warrant a refund. If not, or if he elects to "repair" the unit, he will send the unit back at my expense, adding another $25 -30, for a total of $75-80 (including the original shipping cost already paid), and many weeks time, on a $314 radio.

As the good colonel on Mash often said, "Horse feathers!"

Arnold R. Abrams, M.D.

Hi Srajan,

In response to Mr. Arnold Abrams' about our quality control and our polices at Quest For Sound: I have told Mr. Abrams twice to please send the radio back and we will either repair, replace or refund him .. whatever he prefers. I did explain to him that all radios work better with antennas but he seems to ignore this .We have no access to having his radio picked up ... and under warranty it is really the customer's responsibility to get the unit to us ... and it is also stated on our website http://www.questforsound.com/policies.htm - but again I told him we would either repair, replace or refund him .. whatever he prefers. But he still will not send it in to us?

We have sod over 150 of the radios and yes, we have a couple that were bad and replaced them right away when a customer sent it back - but we cannot evaluate it without it coming back to us so again I publicly say, we will either repair, replace or refund him .. whatever he prefers.

Good listening
Stephen Monte
Quest For Sound
Mr. Lavorgna,

Fantastic write up on HE2007. Not so much your observations about the equipment, but on everything else.

Bravo!

Cheers,
Joseph Pagán
Michael -

Thanks for your review on the Rogue Cronus. Really liked how you picked out what you liked as best matching speakers with the amp - I think that part of a review is really important and it makes a lot of sense how you presented in the write-up.

Due to your review I did seek out and was able to audition the Rogue Atlas amp and matching preamp - really really great sounding stuff. The shop I was at were trying out some tiny little ERA 3's (if you have not seen them, they are only about 7 inches high maybe 3 wide) of course they had a sub, but holy cow, truly amazing what they could throw out for such a small enclosure. Very nice sound stage too.

I bet the DeVores and that amp really sounds great together. Good for John too, he looks like he has a really good thing going with those speakers of his!

Anyway, thanks again, was a good informative read and good to know there are some very competitively priced American product out there and good quality as well.

Frank Mercurio

I want to take a moment first to say I hope your wife is doing well and back to fully enjoying life on your beautiful island. Now to the subject at hand. The WLM speakers systems are amazing, why, they have thought of everything. Or have they?

What do BAT, Modwright, the Nova Physics DAC and a host of other pre-amps and controls have that I am absolutely flabbergasted is not available on all the very involved controls of the WLM systems? Have you guessed?

A phase inversion control on of course not only the base unit but even more important for convenience of use, on the remote control too. More and more companies are recognizing the value of this flexibility, so it is astounding that a company that prides itself on the very idea of flexibility has left it off their equipment.

For what it is worth, here is a little "amateur" review of the New York Audio show. The Lamm amps are the most natural sound, with the only criticism being that they are just a touch light on body. I enjoyed the top of the line Hyperion speakers. They have a Carbon fiber midrange driver and I have this notion in my mind that Carbon fiber drivers create less stress in the listener. The Nova Physics Memory Player does work, and digital is much more bearable.

Unfortunately, for any Nova Physics contentions, there was a demonstration in another room of a SACD cello concerto, followed immediately by the exact same performance on an analogue vinyl record. No contest, for analogue being more musical and more moving to the soul. There was a much deeper connection to the music!

When I spoke to Bill Gaw of Enjoy The Music, he said he still believes that the Allen Wright Vacuum State Differential Amps are the best, even better than SET amps! So I would greatly enjoy seeing a review of this highly acclaimed amp technology from you in the future.

Thank you for considering my thoughts,
All the best,

Doglet
Hi, Jeff.

I first came across one of your reviews on 6moons when I was researching a Magnum Dynalab tuner. Then as I was reading the latest Music Lovers system piece I realized you'd written that one too. I looked back at another piece about a Naim/Harbeth system and low and behold, you'd written that one too.

I'm new to the whole audio thing, but as I've read your reviews and bio we seem to share some philosophies. I don't like to fuss with hi-fi, upgrade-i-tus, tweaks, etc.- I want to listen to music. I do my listening at low volumes (my Nait 5i amp's volume nob is rarely about the 9 o-clock position). I like a more full-range sound and prefer it on the warm side of neutral. I don't get caught up in the the quest for more and more detail and resolution, but prefer my system to get the essence and emotion of the music right. And it all shouldn't cost a ton.

I really enjoyed the Leben/Harbeth Music Lovers piece and am wondering if you plan to do another one featuring a more affordable system? My current system is nice, but I haven't quite found the sound I'm looking for. I have a Nait 5i, Naim CD5, Naca 5 speaker cable, and Spendor s5e speakers. The sound is too thin and forward for my taste. Turning up the volume helps a bit because the sound becomes more full range, but -- as you describe in your bio -- the louder volume brings along a certain anxiety, especially in long listening sessions.

Do you have any advice for a newby?

Thank you,
Kort

Hi Kort,

Thanks for the kind words - appreciated. I'm not familiar with your speakers, but I have had Spendors before - the SP1/2 - and had a similar issue to what you are describing. I have combined Naim & Harbeth loudspeakers with very musical results. I would keep your electronics and try demoing some Harbeths in a price range you are comfortable with and see what you think. I think that might do the trick for you.

Best,
Jeff

Following your excellent review and other internet reviews I decided to purchase two Trends 10.1 digital amps to use in a biamp configuration in my system which presently comprises of Tannoy 15DMT speakers and Mcintosh cd player feeding a Benchmark dac into a Gamut preamp. I also have several other digital amps including Super T, Teac and NuForce.

The Trend amps were purchased through an Ebay dealer. I have only had the Trend amps for a couple of days therefore have not had a chance to fully run them in as yet but I can say at present in their biamp configuration they sound awesome and live up to all my expectations and your recommendations. They have an excellent soundstage with good depth and tremendous extension both in the bass and treble ends, voice is full with plenty of detail. I have just been listening to a CD The Gift by John Zorn (highly recommended disc not too avant garde) and was so taken with the sound of the system using the Trend amps that I couldn't stop listening to this cd several times through.

Of the design I particularly like the ability to adjust the offset voltage at the outputs which I think is probably a first for such an amp, I also like the feature that you can use the amps as a power amp or integrated amp by simply removing or replacing small links. As the amp is so small the connections on the back plate of the casing is fairly congested but it does have proper loudspeaker banana or bare wire type connections and rca input connectors.

To finish up I can thoroughly recommend these little amps provided the speakers you use are reasonably efficient preferably above 90/93dB.

By the way thanks for a great online HiFi mag.

Regards, Mike Bearne
Hello,

I am an avid reader of your magazine which I think is fantastic, I can almost hear what you are talking about....

I have a question about the WLM speakers and specifically about the system control, would the preamp make a difference with this control feature, fore instance could you tell the difference between a Supratek or a Blueberry preamp or the mighty M77 or does this marvel of electronics save us all a ton of cash?

Thanks,
Alain Belleau

I haven't yet heard the full-on System Control but will shortly. Until then, I'd say this based on my take with the control boxes I own - going the active crossover route is a major boost in linearity and lowering of distortion. And, if you use the master gain function of the WLM circuits instead of an active preamp, you'd have to have a nice preamp to improve upon it. The Supratek I own and use definitely goes beyond hence it stays in my setup. But the Wyetech Labs Jade (which is a very neutral, somewhat buttoned-up, non-flavored tube pre) makes a far smaller difference being inserted behind those boxes so I'd say, your general slant is correct but that as you go to the dearer preamps out there (price not always being an arbiter of quality), they will by no means become superfluous.

Srajan

Hi Srajan,

MAC has a very exciting cable - MAC Palladium Sound Pipe (IC). It has been getting great reviews, postings in the forums and comments posted to the MAC website. These cables are giving everyone a run for their money!

It would be fantastic if you or someone on your staff would take the time to lend your ears to these cables. They are in a unique area structurally as well as price point. (attached picture)

Please give these cables consideration. I know you're booked tight, but they really are worth a shot!

Regards,
Steve Hallick
A note about the Merrill Zigmahornet kit that was recently reviewed on 6moons. I ordered a kit and paid $52.50 by paypal. I did not receive any confirmation from Dave Merrill ([email protected]) that the money had been received. I again e-mailed Dave for confirmation, and still got no reply. Wiil I ever get the kit, or my money back? I don't know. I think people should know that ordering the kit seems to be an act of faith.

In regard to my previous letter about not getting confirmation from Dave Merrill about my Zigmahornet order, it turns out there was a problem with my e-mail address, and Dave did ship the kit out promptly. He seems to be swamped with inquiries and orders due to the rave review.

My apologies to Dave.

He is a good guy to deal with, and certainly isn't making much profit on the kits.

Jack Rule

Srajan,

I realize that you're not a huge fan of high powered, solid state amplifiers, but I would urge you or one of your staff to review the Ayre MX-R monoblocks if the opportunity arises. In well over 30 years of listening, these stand out as the 'jaw droppers' of anything that I have owned or heard. Here's a link to a review that I posted on Audio Asylum and on Audiogon:

Love the magazine. Keep up the great work!

Kindest regards,
Mike Currie

Definitely a suggestion of merit, Mike. It'll depend on, first and foremost, whether Charles Hansen will want to work with us or not. He's never contacted us yet and may be content with the magazine coverages he has been pursuing all along. But we can certainly ask and see what happens.

Srajan

Hi Jeff -

I very much enjoyed your piece on the Merrills -just as I enjoyed your Garrard series.Thanks for all your work.

Question: what is that table, with what appears to be an "A" on the wooden base? It looks familiar, but...

Say "hi" to Stephaen for me, please - and Paul W. if you see him.

Regards,
Bill

Hi Bill,

Thanks for the kind words amigo - appreciated. The turntable is the Paschetto 208. Here's a link with a little more info. My next review will be the Paschetto 208, so your timing is perfect. It's one sweet table and I like it a lot, but you'll have to wait a couple of weeks for the full scoop.

Best,
Jeff
Hi Jeff

I am now the NZ distributor for Harbeth Loudspeakers and have my first pair of Super HL5 on order. I have used a picture from your review on the Harbeth HL5 review on my product page to promote Harbeth Loudspeakers on my website, I hope this is alright with you.

I have been looking for a very good integrated amplifier when I came across your review on the Leben amplifier, I would like ask you if the Leben CS600 worked with the Avantgardes as well as the Harbeth speakers.

Thank you.
Best regards
Jason
www.parmentersound.com

Hi Jason,

The pic is fine by me - no worries. The Harbeths are really nice speakers, a good choice to add to your product line. I've never tried the Leben with the Duos, one of these days I'll have to. The Leben is an amazingly good amp, very self-effacing, but a wonderful match with the Harbeths.
>
Best,
Jeff

Dear Steve,

I really enjoyed your last piece on Empirical Audio, it was really refreshing to read a review that thoughtfully presented both positive and negative experiences, and that importantly also reports A/B comparisons of relevant equipment. So few professional audio reviews do that nowadays, really get to the heart of the questions that an audiophile is really asking about the equipment. I have looked through your list of reviews in 6moons, and only wish that you would get the chance to review more expensive or higher-end equipment, since that is the range in which I'm looking, and also because it is more expensive or exotic equipment that people tend to 'glorify' or 'idealize', and which need to be critically and fairly assessed for real-world application.

6moons continues to be one of the best hifi publications out there for that small niche market of audiophiles who put sound as #1, please keep up the good work, and I support the notion that writing negative experiences about equipment is not 'being negative' in the least, in fact, it provides the most positive, highest service to consumers who need honest and critical appraisals in order to help us reach our system goals.

Brandon Lau
Srajan,

I hope all is well with your wife's rehab and that you two are getting along away from home for so long. This note is to bring you up to date on my experience with the AMR products. My wife and I traveled to Chicago this weekend to listen to both the CD player and amplifier and unfortunately couldn't give the demo a real work-out. The dealer in Chicago could not get the amplifier working, as it was giving an error message regarding voltage out of range - I believe in your review of the CD player, you experienced that at first and switched from US to EU voltage to get it working. I suggested that he try plugging the amp into the wall rather than using the IsoClean equipment but he wasn't comfortable doing that.

As for the CD player, it was having a hard time recognizing discs when they changed. The transport door had to be open and shut many times and sometimes the CD player had to be rebooted in order to recognize and read a new disc. Something was awry with the door mechanism. Also, it was skipping on several tracks on different CDs.

So, I was a bit disappointed that those issues weren't resolved since I traveled to listen to them. However, when we did get the CD player going, it was quite amazing. It was played through different amplification (the amp never worked), but was better than anything I heard the following day when I visited the Chicago Naim dealer. Also, the use of the USB input was quite an experience. The dealer was supposed to hook up a PC but again did not have that prepared. So I grabbed my laptop, which was handy from my travels, and quickly ripped a CD into a basic Windows utility. Then I double-clicked on a track and it played - extremely full, smooth, detailed sound. I had used a full quality (192K) download and again the sound was just about as good as anything I've heard (except the actual AMR transport when that was working). Also, the selection of sampling modes was impressive and clearly showed different sound tradeoffs, even when using the USB input.

So overall, I'm a little confused. This experience didn't do anything to make me comfortable with the "new company, new product" situation. But the small part of the demo that did happen showed great promise for their products. I was not impressed with the preparedness of the dealer that the US distributor has chosen in Chicago. Granted, the issues with the units were not his fault but sometime between Wednesday when he received them and Friday evening, he could have alerted me to postpone my travel. One promising sign was the dealer's ability to get Thorsten on the line for troubleshooting at what must have been a very late hour Friday night in the U.K. It was roughly 5:00 p.m. in Chicago - so perhaps 6 or 7 hours later Greenwich time.

I also understand that these pre-production demo units have been shipped around quite a bit and need a few updates that the production models will enjoy. So, right now I'm doing nothing in terms of a purchase decision and have contacted the U.S. distributor. Hopefully I'll receive a return call and we'll see if we can get an audition some other way.

Again, I wish the best for you and your wife as you start your journey back home in a couple of weeks and thanks again for the detailed advice that you provided. As promised, I wanted to make sure that you had my initial experience.

Jim Schneck
Hi Michael,

Would you mind discussing the break-in you experienced for the Solovox? I heard them and they had limited hrs on them, but the magic of what they did blew me away. My only hesitation was not so much lack of deep bass, that doesn't bother me, but the lack of impact such as with kick drums etc and air movement giving a sense of space. However, I've been around the block enough times to hear through early limitations of a new driver, and assume with time they will loosen up. I'm coming from the Living Voice IBX, an extraordinary transducer, that does have a bit of impact albeit not earth shaking. Amp is Shindo Cortese and pre is Vosne Romanee. Anyway, I was impressed enough with what I heard that I ordered the Solovox, with the hopes they will loosen up and move a bit more air with more impact. At less than 100 hrs on the ones I heard, I am sure they get boatloads better, particularly in the low end. I'd appreciate your relating your break-in experience.

Best regards, and ephemerally jealous,
Mark

Hi Mark,

All your assumptions are spot on in my experience – the SoloVox will certainly improve with time and open up significantly. The pair I reviewed and purchased had a lot of hours on them already so I can't be very specific about actual break-in time. I did hear a brand new pair and the differences are not subtle - somewhat constricted and a bit closed in. But I agree with you completely in that I heard enough magic to know they were worth much more of my time. Since we share a similar system, I'd say you are in for a very real treat. The Cortese is a wonderful mate for the SoloVox and the combination is breathtakingly musical (even after 6 months or so).

I'd be very curious to hear what you think once things get settled in.

Michael
suffering from a mild case of Vosne jealousy

Thanks Michael, appreciate the feedback. I've been through the 400lb nearly 6 figure speakers etc and there is something ineffably real about the Shindo/Solovox combination, even with the limited break-in of the ones I heard, that other systems I've had just don't approximate.

Best,
Mark
Hi Michael,

What a thoughtful, valuable article: a comparison review of DeVore Fidelity's line of speakers (Part I and your upcoming Part II of RoadTour Exit 11). Thanks.

When you've finished this one, how about doing the same thing with Lous Chochos' Omega Speakers with their new hemp drivers? That line is more diverse, having more speakers (I think), each with more diverse features and a more clustered range of prices overall than ohn DeVore's, and is consequently harder to sort out for a prospective buyer.

Best,
Marshall Taylor

Marshall,

Thanks for the vote of confidence! I think Part II will be a blast and I'm very much looking forward to meeting some more DeVore owners and hearing their systems.

This "serial" idea is interesting and something I can see exploring. For the Road Tours, the emphasis is as much on the systems and owners as it is on components. That said, tying a few Tours together with a common manufacturer may make for some interesting results. We shall see.

I'll give the Omega suggestion some real thought. While the Tours aren't reviews per se, I can see how they lend themselves to this type of comparison.

Thanks again for the note and for reading 6moons.

Michael
Hello John,

Thank you for the wonderful report on the JPS 3s. I read in amazement as you conveyed what you were hearing, as I experienced identical results when implanting the Super 2 interconnects and speaker cables. In my opinion, if JPS cables were actually listened to by audiophiles, Joe would have a difficult time keeping up with demand for his product. I have never dealt with more of a gentleman than he.

Keep following your ears.

Sincerely,
Lyle Akins

Jeff,

I jus tread you article on these speakers, and ff if this does not fit into the too good to be true category, I am not sure what does. I have been looking for an affordable speaker that I could drive with a tube integrated, and at this price... well if it does not work out, no big deal. Great article, and thank you for posting it.

Chad Novak

Hi Chad,

The Ziggies are the real deal. One thing I would suggest is wiring them internally with the WM cord that I used for the speaker cables and interconnect - it's really nice stuff. The Ziggies, WM cord, T-Amp, and PS1 combo are ridiculously good. It will not impress the snobs who equate high cost with performance, but for people who really know what music sounds like ... well, they will be blown away with the result.

Happy exploring!
Jeff
Jeff,

I am in the process of comparing the Walmart cable you mentioned with my Auditorium 23. First off, the Auditorium is much more forceful and tighter. The Auditorium is probably a bit darker and and more extended. However, I am not sure that the cheaper cable is not inherently more musical, specifically because of its open, relaxed, golden tone. I suspect some would prefer it in my rig.

Joe
Hi Srajan,

I'm very interested in both of your reports on the new Ocellia and Rethm. I almost bought the old Kedros. They were alive, in the most wonderful sense with both vocals and classical music. But I backed out at the very end because the bottom 2 octaves were incredibly colored. So colored I knew I couldn't live with them for any length of time. So my curiosity is peaked as to whether the new ones have overcome this immense (to me) problem.

As to the Rethms, I spent 3 of the most enjoyable hours ever listening to the 3s (I found the 2s a bit unbalanced in the tone). I was able to ignore the lack of deep bass because midbass, etc, had auch great dynamics and tonal purity. True they had almost conquered the shout but there was still enough of one to push me away.

Haven't heard the Hornings yet but iId sure love to as it seems, at least on paper, as good a compromise as I've seen. Coleman's review surely peaked my interest..

Anyway, I'm really looking forward to anything new you discover about these speaker brands.

Thanks,
Stan Zeavin
Hello,

Remember me from Soliloquy? I've been a rep in the North Florida market since that time and have been pretty succesful. I enjoy 6moons very much and just wanted to say hello. Very nice work on the site. It is my favorite place for honest, intelligent high-end information. Good show!

Meridian G08
Modded SI Super-T Amp
Reference 3A Dulcet

Any of this stuff sound familiar?

Thanks agin for the great work.

Woody Compton
Srajan:

Just a note to say how much I enjoy your writing on 6moons. I find your articles penetrating, insightful and entertaining. Don't know how much positive feedback you get, but count me as a fan. As an audiophile/music lover for 30 years, I've seen and heard a lot. Your balance and tone while opining on this somewhat insane hobby we are afflicted with is refreshing. Keep up the good work.

Julian

Hi Srajan,

So following your advice, I ordered and finally received my Cardas XLR to RCA adapters for the Esoteric X-03SE and you were absolutely right, the improvement is nothing short of spectacular. It becomes sweeter, without a hint of glare, even erring slightly on the warm side, with an immense soundstage and a much better relationship between all performers. Better in every respect and in a major way. It's to such an extent that I think Esoteric should get rid of the unbalanced output and supply the player with a pair of XLR/RCA adapters.

All the best,
Jean-Baptiste

Hello there,

I just thought maybe you'd like to know that we are not all copycatters and that copycat has pissed quite a few of us off as well. As well, they are also the force behind that Murano Class D amp operation. All they did was installing the ICEPower module, Lundahl transformer and the connectors into an aluminum casing, nothing else.

DiyZone is an asshole and they know it. Their operation of pre-orders of all kind of stuff is unsustainable, and there's a rumor of an collapse coming soon as well.

Thanks.
David Wei

To be sure, I did not mean to lump all Pacific Rim audio products into the copycat bag. Otherwise we'd not review as many Chinese-made components as we do. So your point is well taken and I appreciate it.

Srajan

Hi Srajan,

Reading your flirtations with the Lowther drivers, even if they were confined to the excellent cabinets made by George Jacob of Rethm, has been an absolute pleasure. I'll like here to point you to the solutions offered by Australian Martin Seddon. Martin has been producing fibreglass front horns in very limited quantities for sale for several years, though not in the form of a serious business, as evidenced by his inertia to put up a website. The good news for DIYers is that they can now see on Martin's brand-new website www.azurahorn.com his offerings and enjoy a little of his journey of how he got started.

Martin is a true joy to correspond with. He is a highly resourceful man whom DIYers will identify with. He is also totally magnanimous as he makes his painstakingly designed cabinet plans available for free. I completed his push pull horns for a single Lowther PM2A driver in December 2005 at a cost no greater than the going price of the PM2A driver. Here's a picture of that imposing compound horn. According to Martin, there's no getting around the size to give a single Lowther driver the glimmer of a chance to succeed. I doubt many will differ.

Warm regards,
K K Teo
writing from Singapore
Aloha Srajan,

I very much enjoyed reading your review of the Micropure Kotaro speakers this morning. I love the photos and layout, especially the dynamic combo pix of tweeter/cabinet and that lead shot with Fukuda-san and the small legion of Kotaru shells behind him. In the text, you describe the character of the speaker's sound -- its delicacy and sweetness and sophistication -- in ways that are not only vivid but thorough, pointedly contrasting it to Class D sound.

It's also (vainly speaking) gratifying to me your listening impressions square with what I myself heard at CES. I asked to hear the Kotaru with a difficult piece --Mozart's "Mass in C Minor," performed by Le Concert d' Astree -- which has not only a choir, but a period-style orchestra, and two soprano soloists. The source was the new dCS P8i, amp a Triode Corp. P/P integrated EL34, and wires were Acoustic Zen. What you say about the Kotaru producing soprano tonal color as opposed to "whiteness" on the Berlioz is what I heard with both choir and soloists on the Mozart piece, but couldn't express as pointedly. Your statement that "the treble gets sweeter and more golden" is not only remarkable, but also accurate (to my ears) and useful to a potential buyer.

Anyway, congratulations and thanks for the buoyant and descriptively acute review of these speakers.

Mahalo,
Garrett Hongo
Oops Frederic, I also forgot Headphile. Larry at Headphile sells balanced HD650 cables as well. I was trying to scrap my brains for more balanced amplifiers, there will be a balanced version of the Eddie Current Zana Deux called the Odin which is a transformer-coupled tube amp. A balanced version of the Kevin Gilmore Dynahi design is also a very highly regarded amp and by many considered the reference solid-state balanced amp. Headamp markets the GS-X which is basically a balanced Dynalo (may have its own Mosfet modules now as well.) Other than the Gilmore Designs in the DIY community, it is possible to build either an AMB Lboratories M-cubed (opamp) or Beta-22(discrete) in a balanced configuration. If I can think of anything else, I'll let you know.

Cheers,
Bernie Koch
Hello Frederic,

I would also add apuresound.com to the list. Alex makes wonderful balanced cables and he will balance any headphone you throw at him.. 6ft cost 220.00. Includes shipping. My balanced SA5000 sound wonderful through my DAC1.

Best regards,
Mike
Hi Frederic,

First of all I salute you for doing a story on balanced headphones. I am a major headphone audiophile (Akathriel @ head-fi) and I have invested well over 9-10K into my headphone rig. I truly think that headphones can get you the performance of speakers at 3 times their cost if done right. Right now my rig looks like Consonance Audio Turandot-> Custom Singlepower Extreme XLR->Modified Grado PS-1s (headphile woodies and XLR cable)/Sony Qualia MDR-010 (Moon Blue Dragon XLR). Since you asked for some suggetions, here are two balanced cable manufacturers you missed:

Zu Audio
Revelation Audio Labs

but I do find it kind of funny that you missed one of the biggest giants in balanced headphone amps: Singlepower Audio of Colorado. Singlepower is (or I guess was, until recently from Rudistor) the only company that has produced truly reference caliber sota balanced headphone amps. The top of the line tube amplifier, the SDS-XLR, is a fully balanced 2 box unit that can be configured anywhere from 8-15K. It uses 6SN7s but with Singlepower's adapter can be configured to use all kinds of tubes including 5687, 6DJ8, 12AT7, 6BL7 and now 2C51. The reference Singlepower solid-state SS-1 will hopefully be revealed later this year, also a balanced design. Even the Singlepower ES-1 is the first electrostatic headphone amp to be truly balanced! I don't blame you for missing it as the website has not be in updated in 3 years and you could easily miss Singlepower's existence if you weren't aware of them through headfi already, but since you asked for reccomendations, the top of the line Singlepower products are truly on a whole nuther level over anything Headroom or RSA has to offer (haven't spent enough time with Rudistor products so I'll reserve comment on that). Anyways hope you can put this info to good use and I'm in no ways being critical. In fact, I have the highest respect for you doing an article and detailed review of balanced headphones. It has been my inpression that audio reviewers haven't got a clue what to look for in headphones and headphone amps and I'm hoping you'll rectify that.

Best of luck to ya,
Bernie Koch

David,

Excellent comments on these little gems. For an introduction I am the Eastern USA reseller for Trends Audio and I have had multiple sales of these great little amps. I am a very good friend of one of your associates - Les Turoczi. I have been trying to get hold of him to try one of the TA-10.1s on his Zu Definitions. I had a few folks from New York come over who heard the TA-10.1 on the Zu Def/Druids. They just could not believe it. They bought a whole bunch of them. I then took my demo pair and modified it (electronic/computer engineering is my background). It is now my favorite little amp. Amazing. Attached is a picture of the mod and by the way - the DNM cables you see are a match made in heaven for these amps. Great review, David.

Koby Koranteng
www.hifilogic.com

Hi David,

I read your review of the Trends Audio TA-10 with great interest. I, too, seem to have an affection for small things that are, sort of, well built. I noticed, however , that you did not mention any negative aspects of the sound of the amplifier itself.

Now, that is well in line with your comments on music compared to HiFi and I understand that since I'm also in this for the software, not the hardware. I would appreciate if you could give me some advice on the merits of the TA-10, since in the real world there are many alternative routes to take, even in search of music.

I am on the long road of upgrading my originally all-Linn combination of LP-12, Linn Intek integrated amp. and floorstanding speakers. Although not in the Krell/Mark Levinson league, the total cost of my equipment is about 13000 USD and rising, since I want to change the amplifier, speaker cables and speakers before I consider myself finished. When I read your comments n the TA-10, I saw before me, on one hand a combination of two TA-10s in mono-amplifier mode together with a decent tube preamplifier, on the other hand a bi-amping setup.

I should tell you, that my plan in rough outline, was to buy a tube amplifier like the Cayin A-88T or a PrimaLuna pre-power amplifier combination. Am I in the wild in thinking that the TA-10 in any of the above setups would give me music to a degree that would satisfy me?

Or, are they really just a fine alternative for a music lover's first setup, or a thing to play with for your second rig. I don't mean that you should give specific advice, but since I'm currently n upgrading mode, and the amplifier is next in line, I got curious and wondered if this is the road to go.

Best Regards,
Ulf Nilsson

Hi Ulf,

Thank you for your message, much appreciated. I'm probably the worst reviewer for you to seek advice or even just to chat to, in the sense that unlike my colleagues, I don't have a firm belief in anything as far as hifi is concerned. My taste is so eclectic that I embrace anything that comes across my path. I see positives and neglect negatives, as long as the music or the hifi has a character of its own. In other words, my ears are too soft if you see what I mean. That's why I now have 5 rooms with over 10 systems, ranging from solid state to tube, from high ticket item (Symphonic Line pre and power amp) to $120 Trends Audio, from high-resolution (Nu Force partnering with Mark & Daniel speakers) to musicality (Dared 2A3C). I like them all and I can't say which one I like best.

Going back to your point of discussion: the Cayin and the Prima Luna are excellent choices. Will that help you settle down for a while? Will the TA-10 with a decent preamp be a better option? I am not trying to be evasive but that really depends on yourself. My own feeling is that tube amps can be restrictive some times in pairing up speakers, which then restricts the music repertoire. Digital amps, if you can accept the rational approach as opposed to the emotional approach of tube amps, are more flexible. When I first listened to NuForce driving Mark & Daniel, a new horizon seemed to open up. I've never heard so much details, so much energy and yet be so musically involving. But some of my friends do not like that at all. Judging from your Linn background, that will definitely be a big jump for you but I'd still encourage you to try to audition that if possible. It's another world.

In a way, the T-amp is close to Nu Force, only on a smaller scale (much smaller output, much smaller damping factor). The way that I set them up with bi-amp and D'Appolito stackedspeakers gives me all the freedom in choosing my repertoire. But the humble price might make it hard to be accepted by your peers and yourself as the "main" rig. Adding a decent tube preamp certainly helps, sonically and socially.

Best regards,
David

Hi Mr. Kan,

I really love your review of the Trends TA-10, and I have decided to buy one. I see in your review that you enjoyed using this little amp with battery power, and I would really appreciate it if you could answer a few questions about that and some other things for this novice.

First, I am wondering what kind of cable you used to successfully connect the Powerpack to the amp. I do not want to fry mine, so I would like to make sure I know exactly what to get. What do I need to look for when shopping for the cable to go between the battery and the amp?

Also, I see a similar Powerpack 400 model on amazon.com, and I was wondering if you could let me know if it would be too strong for the Trends amp, or if it would be fine and capable of delivering a nice 12 volt signal to the amp.

Also, you mentioned that the polarity was reversed on this amp. Could I easily fix this by reversing the speaker wire from the "standard" way, meaning I would go "+" to "-" instead of the regular old "+" to "+"?

Also, I see a dealer that sells units that have been modified by Michael Mardis. Are these modified TA-10.1s going to sound much better than the factory Ta-10.1?

And finally, do you feel that using a preamp with these is always preferable? Hope you can find the time to answer, and thanks again for such cool review of such a new and innovative piece of gear.

Sincerely,
Michael Baker

Hi Mike,

Thank you for your support. We all love the little T-gem, don't we? Depends on your battery, the cable I use on mine was home-made and has a car cigarette lighter plug on one end and a mini coaxial plug on the other end, just like the plug from the stock AC/DC adapter that goes into the back of the amp. My battery comes with a DC charging cable with cigarette lighter plugs on both ends. I had to buy the mini coaxial plugs from Radio Shack to solder it onto one end.

Use a multimeter to meassure the output voltage of your battery first and make sure the reading is within the safety range and the output polarity is correct on the coaxial plug (inside contact is positive, outside contact is negative). The battery powered T-amp has better soundstage for sure.

I've checked the specs of the Powerpack 400 you mentioned and it seems very similar to my Powerpack 300EP. Still, you must measure the voltage after the battery is fully charged. The tricky thing is to keep the voltage within 10.5 to 14.0 volt. It doesn't matter what the battery label says, only trust your multimeter! The voltage keeps dropping as you run your amp. You have to keep measuring if your battery does not have a low voltage alarm or cut off.

If you're bothered by inverted phase, yes, reversing the speaker cables' Red to Black and Black to Red is the way to put things right. But try and compare for yourself. A lot of people cannot tell the difference. I couldn't all the time. It's just one or two CDs. BTW never reverse (by re-soldering) the connections inside the amp - you'll ground through positive and fry the chip.

Haven't tried Mardis. Cannot comment. But the guy knows his stuff. Theoretically, that should improve the sonic quality.

Depends on what you want. A preamp lets you fine-tune the sonic palette and adds more gain and thus headroom so you don't have to run your T-amp at high power - you get less distortion and noise. Tube preamp is even more fun!

Hope this helps.
Cheers,
David
Hello David,

First off, awesome review of the Trends Audio amp. I was really glad to see that you gave this product such a thorough review given its small price tag. I ordered one immediately and now question my whole setup. I've been a Naim guy for 10 years or so with ventures into Blue Circleand McCormack amps, always coming back to my Naim gear. I now find myself listening to music more with this little Trends amp, though Icould use just a little more power at times. It's hard to compare them directly as they have a different approach to music presentation.

At any rate, my question is (and I haven't found it directly addressed in forums or reviews) how does this little amp compare directly to thelikes of the PS Audio, BelCanto, Channel Islands digital amps? Is it just more power and features or do you move to another level of performance (or less for that matter) assuming the cost is not the issue in comparison.

Do you have any experience with those products or could you direct me tosomeone who might be able to make direct comparisons. Thanks very much for your time and I look forward to your future reviews,

Murray Hutchins
Seattle

Hi Murray,

Thanks for your support. Any innovative product deserves our serious attention disregarding its price tag. Having said that, I've seen very simple reviews on very expensive items too. I guess some writers prefer to keep it simple. I'm just hopelessly obsessed with details and experiments.

I'm afraid I cannot offer a satifactory answer to your question as I do not have a chance to make direct comparison of the amps you mentioned, nor do I know anyone who has or willing to share such experience. The only other digital amp I am using now are the NuForce Reference 9 and 9 SE. But they are totally different and I use them to drive my Dynaudio and Mark & Daniel low-efficieny speakers.

As you said, different equipment has a different approach to music presentation. I like everything I hear as long as the music presentation is involving and convincing in its own right. A famous guitarist (I think it was Pepe Romero) once said that there is no point in comparing musical interpretations because it's like trying to find out whose soul is more beautiful. Audio equipment is about musical interpretations. I am in the early process of reviewing another Class-T digital amp (Kingrex of Taiwan) that uses the Tripath T-2020 chip (20 watts x 2). It's different from the Trends Audio TA-10 yet they are both beautiful.

Recently I found immediate A/B comparison very unreliable because the human ear is like the human eye. Changing from a dark to bright environment takes time for the pupil to adapt. The human ear I believe is just as sensitive and stubbornly slow in re-adapting itself. I'm not sure if your direct comparison refers to immediate A/B comparison. But if you do have a chance to compare, don't rush. Live with one system, find the best synergy for it and give yourself time to discover its true musical potential and characteristic. Then move on to the next.

Even if someone tells you A is better than B, it's only his personal experience. I know you're just interested to know what other people think and might not be using their opinion as a buying guide. Just my usual long-winded way of saying sorry I don't know.

David

I bought Druids based on your review despite its controversial feedback. It has given us sonic bliss ever since.

I am thinking of buying a Yamaoto A-08 or Korneff 45 for my Druids based on your review of compatibility between Yamamoto and Druids. Where I live I am unable to audition both before purchase. However AA postings indicate DRD45 may not have enough power for Druids. Could this be due to Yamamoto's design topology which bring out its synergy with Druids even though it is 45 amp?

Thanks.
Calvin Yap

Sean & Adam at Zu own the 45 Yamamoto to be able to advise you whether, based on your room size, it would be sufficient for the Druid. On my Definitions, the Yammy only drives the fronts, with the bass handled by high-power transistors. Plus I've got an ultra-high gain preamp so I'm very well padded on the gain front. I suspect that without a sub, the Yammy on the Druids could be too soft in the bass but again, Zu should be able to advise you honestly. In the Definitions, the widebanders are sealed, in the Druid, it's a quasi ported alignment, hence a different job for the amp despite equivalent sensitivity.

Srajan

Hello Mr Ebaen,

This is from Jeffrey in Trinidad, How are you? I wish you could hear my Zus in Teak Wood finish with the Gallo bass amp (we upgraded the input with Black Gate caps on the power supply). Won't say more yet except that we love to read your reviews. The CD-128 is a very good CD player.

See the attached.

Jeffrey La Fond
Hallo Srajan,

after reading your review of the Melody 2A3I, I was inspired and could not hold back and buy a pair of the Melody 2A3 monos. They are really quiet into my 116dB compression horns . Amazing! You mentioned that they are voiced for the stock tubes but nevertheless I would be curious if you have tried other tubes and how they compare. There are so many different tubes there nowadays , which is great - but I don't want to try them all so if would be able to tell me what character some of the brands have that would be more than helpful. What other 6SN7 would you recommend ?

Vielen Dank,
Malcolm Born

I arc'd out one of my Sovtek power tubes and since I couldn't find a local source, I contacted the Greek Melody guy who recommended the 40-watt JJ Tesla 2A3. I ordered 6, four to play, two for backup, and they just arrived on Cyprus and I should be able to pick 'em up Monday or Tuesday. If they make a big difference, I'll write a brief follow-up. Otherwise, I haven't experimented at all yet - I was happy with the way the amp sounded -:)

Srajan

Hello Srajan,

I recently purchased a Red Wine Signature 30. Your great review of it really hit the nail on the head regarding its sonics! This is the best SS amp that I have ever heard and is much better than any other Class D that I tried. I am using it to power my DeVore Super 8s and this is a marvelous combo! I see you are reviewing the DeVore Nines soon and I can't wait to read it as I love the Super 8s so much that I am highly considering getting the Nines and would love to hear your impressions of the Sig 30 + Nines combo. Do you have the Sig 30 anymore? I hope you can try them together in your upcoming review. I'd love to read your impressions.

Thank you for all your great reviews and for all your great work with 6moons,

Nate

While the Sig 30 stayed in Cyprus after its review, it's not with me. A friend of mine bought it from Vinnie and has since taken it to a second residence off the island so I'm afraid I won't be able to do that particular comparison. However, there'll be all manner of good amps to leash to the Nines once they arrive, not to worry.

Srajan

Hi there,

I've re-written this far too many times already, attempting to keep in mind that: -
a) You're a busy person, so could probably do without long unsolicited e-mails
b) Identifying points, and sticking to them, is usually the best option!

So, firstly, a colossal 'thank you' to you and all the people involved with 6moons for running such an enthralling and important site. If ever there was evidence needed to show how wrong the pulp printed HiFi media is, you provide it with the merest mouse click.

As a paid member of the HiFi Pimping business, 6moons brings me joy and pain in (un)equal measure. Pain, because you throw into glaring relief how out of touch, bloated and obsolete my industry is; Joy because you show me the briefest glimmer of how it could and should be, if only we were brave and our customers weren't afraid of being ridiculed by their 'friends' for not going for the safe and boring option.

But I live in England so there's little chance of that...

I'm often reminded of the old Punk slogan "... No More Beatles No More Stones...". Should it be re-worked to "... No More Wilson No More Krell..."? (Add HiFi Dinosaur brands at will; it's kind of fun)

Secondly, the main reason for this e-mail was to ask you if you've ever considered doing a piece on DNM? A company that has a long and maverick history, producing items of strange beauty that are unique in many ways.

Their equipment also looks great, which helps (especially when lit from behind)! The fact that they actively 'recycle' older products to produce an entry level range is in itself somewhat special. And no, I don't sell them, or have any connection, financial or otherwise with the company! Unless being a fan of their products counts...

I'll leave you alone now!

Kind regards
Martin
One last mail, Jeff. I wanted to show how my PlayStation looks today. The other photo I had on the hard drive. I had to place it on the floor to avoid stupid reflections. Instead it became somewhat blurry. Well...

As I said, I want people to know about the PlayStation and what can be done. The clear top solves one issue with the PlayStation - feedback. You otherwise don't see if the CD is loaded or not. As for the black thing, I had to make room for some mods. And the PlayStation, just as the T-amp, is thankful to be modified by people who don't know their way around electronics. It won't kill them financially if they screw up.

I find it ironic, though, when people mod high-end gear, even more so that whatever they do results in instant sonic improvement. Regardless if you are a fan of what the likes of Krell and Linn do, they know what they do. The PlayStation, on the other hand, has muting transistors and for a perfectly good reason - to save the cheap speakers used in TV sets.

I did see the Stereophile Yamamoto review. It also shows the difference between 6moons and Stereophile. You make the readers want to have the Yamamoto amp. I don't mean that in terms of crass sales pitch. I'm talking about the way a backpack travel documentary from some exotic place makes you want to go there. It's about conveying experience. The Stereophile review couldn't even hold my interest. I blame 6moons. It's not that Stereophile is good or bad. It's just not for me. If it was I probably wouldn't have been using a PlayStation as CD player.

Keep up whatever you are doing. It works for me -:)

Peter
Hi Jeff -

thanks for the heads up re: remote. Never playing video games, I am a bit lost in this world. Picked up a "used" 3rd party wireless control for a PS2 for $20 and it is working great. It is a "kid's" model, which means it is smaller than normal, which is great by me, it is sleek and black, perfect.

PS1 is 4 days into burn in (ie. power on all the time), it is getting better and better. Can't believe how much better it is than when I first plugged in. Hearing stuff I have never heard before on my CDs, without the digital "hash" and its not like I have been using sh*t CD players before. This is amazing.

Regards.
Ron Patrickson
Dear Jeff,

Your article on the Music Lovers Series was fantastic. I have read it several times I liked it so much. I have acquired a Sony Playstation and wanted to know if the Logitech mouse you ordered worked with it?

What model did you order? Look forward to hearing from you. Thanks very much.

Regards,
Donald W. Clementin

Hi Don,

Thanks for the kind words - appreciated. I bought a Logitech 'Cordless Action Controller' for the Playstation 2 (works with the PS1 too) at Amazon for $30 and it works great:

Kind regards,
Jeff

Dear Jeff,

Thanks very much for the link. This Sony Playstation 1 may be the greatest bargain in high end audio we know of. Also I just came across your Pitch Perfect tour. Another excellent piece youv'e done. The thing that pulled most at my heartstrings was the beautiful location of Matt Rotunda's loft. Although I now live in Boston, my home is the Bay Area and I worked over 20 years in Sanfrancisco often walking through the very district where his loft is located.

The photography in your series is phenomenal! When I print the articles out at work they are as crisp and clean with beautiful color rendition as any magazine on the racks. Do you do your own photography for your articles?

Do you plan to sum up the Garrard series with the review on the SME 3012? Perhaps the loss of Terry Cain may have taken the steam out of your groups effort. My condolences on the lost of your friend. Hope at some point ithe series will resume. It was this series that motivated me to purchase a Garrard 301 from a guy in the UK on ebay. It was shipped from his place to Loricraft for a thorough going over. In the meantime I am having a Lenco mounted to a Plinth being built by Bill Martinelli of Martinelli Horns. He custom builds horn speakers and has done some beautiful work designing plinths for Thorens. It will be fitted with an SME 3009 MK II.

Again thanks for the response. I am ordering the Logitech today.

Kind regards,
Don

I'm very excited to see that you will be reviewing the Gibbon 9s. They are on my very short list along with the Zu Definitions. I hope you find a comparison between the two worthwile in your forthcoming review. Currently I'm running HornShoppe Horns and loving them in the small scale but finding them wanting for larger scale and louder applications. My next speaker needs to be able to recreate the illusion of real musicians playing live in the room with all the dynamcis and spl that this entails. It sounds like the Zus will do the trick. I guess we will find out about the Gibbon 9s. Can't wait!

BTW, your site has quickly and impressively rocketed to the number 1 audio review site in my view with a fantasitc combination of great writing, fabulous pictures and tons of new copy so that there is always something new in every visit to the site. Keep up the great work!

Brad Morris
Dear Michael

I would like to thank you for sharing and explaining your feelings when auditioning the Solovox. I keep getting back to your struggles to find the right words in context and finding an inter subjective way of getting the message through to someone who has no real clue what you are talking about. I think you succeeded. Bravado!

Greetings
Hans

"...he stripped down, aware of her body bumping against his own as they exchanged articles of clothing. He felt the residual warmth of her as he pulled on her trousers, smelled again the lemon and tobacco as he put on her shirt. her shoes fit him perfectly" - Body and Soul, Frank Conroy

Srajan,
She's young and new and has all the promise of Spring. Just put the Trends 10.1 into break-in mode. Haven't hooked up the battery power supply yet. Initial impressions...enjoying the additional headroom vis-a-vie my 2A3 amps so they're a tad better match for my 94dB speakers. The detail is excellent, better up to about 3/4 volume and feeling a bit mushy louder, probably due to the speakers and the room more than the amp. We've been on for a total of 30 minutes.

To that limit, the sound is scarily good. I'm receiving a pair of AER/Oris Horns with EV bass cabs next week so I'll be up to around 106dB sensitivity and plan on using the Trends on the 99dB efficient bass cabs and my 2A3s on top. Though let's face it I'll have to try a Trends on both just to see what happens - loving the detail at present. The source and amplification I'm running at this second has a total cost of $170...$130 for the Trends and $40 for the Playstation with remote. Speakers were an additional $230, a used pair of Loth-X monitors. From aloft the Cat Bird Seat, all is right with the world. The king is laughing, drinking burgundy, and wanting for nothing.

Thanks to 6moons and you.
Fred Crane
Dear Srajan,

After having had my first listening to the WLM Diva Monitors, which by the way was WOW, I decided to look for reviews! One of the few reviews I found was your excellent one!

I have scheduled a real listening session in a couple of weeks because the dealer is moving to new locations. However, to my question: I really like the minimalist approach of the pre/passive control but how good of a preamp is it? In what comparable 'class' is it? As I'm an old Naim type of guy (though I have moved on) I know the importance of a good preamp. Do you know if it can be configured for balanced in/out signals?

Thanks in advance and keep up the great work with 6moons!

Best regards,
Mikael Lindstam

That demure li'l WLM box is far better than appearances or price might suggest. Yes, my $8,000 Supratek goes beyond but if you were playing in the $2-3K preamp range, I'd say the WLM PRe/Passive is competitive. I think this is partially because the crossover functions are handled actively. Those advantages seem to make up for what a conventional active preamp would offer over a passive - and the WLM is passive. If you had 3600 Euros to spend on a separate preamp, I'd categorically say put that money into a Duo 12 sub and go far beyond what that snazzy active preamp would have brought to the table over the WLM unit. Not sure on the balanced i/o issue though - better ask WLM whether that's a possible custom option.

Srajan

Dear Jeff,

This is the first time I write to a reviewer or a news paper. I was very interested in your last review in the music lovers series because I am on a parallel road to yours. My system is composed of: EMT 930 turntable with EMT arm and Denon 103 cartridge, Auditorium 23 transformer, Audionet G2 CD player with separate power supply, Jadis JP 80 preamp (NOS valves from Amperex and Telefunken), Leben 660 amp with real KT 66 GEC made in England on Finite Elemente stand and Tannoy Kensington speakers

I have found lately that mixing a Shindo interconnect on the CD player with a Cardas Golden Reference between pre and amp was more easy on the ear and more musical. I had the Auditorium 23 speaker cable which I recently changed for Acoustic Revive Speak + : more music ( cable off the floor with cable towers). You should try different Acoustic Revive accessories (not the interconnect).I shall try soon my son's Playstation 1 (ref 1002) that I found in the attic! it might be fun.

Let's keep in touch, we have the same goal: appreciate music
throught a simple system that we can forget about and relax to.

Sincerely,
Doctor Serge Taube
(cardiologist in Paris)
It's your fault Srajan that I had to spend a lot of money on new speakers! My wife thinks I'm nuts and the kids are pissed over the menu of water and bread. ;-)

No it's not that bad, I was just kidding. But your reviews on WLM opened up my eyes because I had simply forgotten about them. Last Thursday I recived my brand-new Aura active and Duo 18 and I'm the happiest Swede there is :-)

Best Regards,
Johan
Jeff -

thanks for your recent article on a Music Lovers system. Found it to be very enjoyable. I found the most amazing portion of the article to be the inclusion of a Playstation. I ran out and found a couple for $10 each. I will be damn if the things don't sound great. Maybe not as freakily detailed as other players I have heard but they have a warmth and intimacy that was shocking. Some vocals have sounded the best I could remember.

Could you please note any upgrades or additions that make the Playstation more user friendly (ie. finding a remote that works with it, if a better power cable makes a difference). Had trouble finding anything on the Internet, anywhere I should look?

So I now have the sleeper/Zen system: Playstation 1 as digital source, AMP-1, Proac Response 1sc, Harmonic Technologies interconnects and speaker cables. 15 years of goofing around just to strip it to the bare essentials. None of the audio people can now flat-out believe that sound is coming from the Proacs and tiny little amp. It is a very intimate se up andthe Playstation was the missing piece.

Regards,
Ron Patrickson
Ken,

Nice, honest, not over verbose description of this beauiful Oracle 1500 player. Finally, a reviewer who claims not to be able afford a favored review product. Nice job.

Lance A.

Hi Jeff,

I wanted to thank you for your review of the ASA Baby Monitor loudspeaker on 6 Moons. I have been looking to upgrade my Usher CP6310 speakers (which are good themselves), and your review of the strengths of the ASA speakers really emphasized what I was looking for - a very detailed, but musical presentation. I am getting a much more detailed and coherent presentation from the ASA Baby Monitors than I ever was able to get from the Ushers. And while the Ushers plumbed the depths in the bass to a greater extent, the ASA speakers are very full bodied with pretty good extension - enough to be satisfying on most of the jazz I listen to.

My Halcro MC20 amp seems to be a great match - it too provides detail, but in a very engaging, musical fashion.

So thanks again for your thoughts on this great little speaker. I thought your review really layed out the qualities of this speaker very accurately, and it was helpful to read your comparison of the ASA to the Harbeth speakers, of which I have some familiarity. Without your review, it is safe to say that I never would have placed a call to Fidelis (Walter's comments on the speaker were very helpful as well)!

Regards,
Tom Haleas
Jeff,

I was very happy to find in your February 2007 reviews on 6moons that you appreciated the Sony Playstation as a source. I've been using this little box for quite some time now as a CD player and I am very happy with it. I have tried to spread the news in some forums but I did not have too much success. Many people don't want to try the playstation or just discuss its capability - right from the start they decline the possiblity to use the PS1 as an audio source. Most probably this is due to fears that this cheap little thingie may outperform their expensive (and socially approved) gear.

I am writing this email to you in order to turn your attention to this website. It contains a number of articles on the PS1 as audio source. In particular you find articles to raise its performance significantly over the stock version. You may replace the output stage (which in the stock version contains an opamp and some questionable electrolytics) with a simple high-pass filter and/or you may replace the switch-mode power supply with a good linear supply in an external case. Both modifications are simple and straightforward but lead to audible improvements and the latter also addresses the problem of overheating. There are also some additional articles concerning laser alignment, adding remote control etc.

Enjoy!
Best regards,
Mick
Mr. Ebaen,

I have for many years enjoyed a wide variety of audio equipment, and reading of audio reviews. From humble beginnings with Julian Hirsch and Larry Klein at Stereo Review, which lead to my first 'hi fidelity' audio purchase -- a pair of Klipsch Forte speakers -- I have had many wonderful hours of enjoyment and many enchanting audio discoveries.

I can't tell you how pleased I was to stumble upon 6moons several years ago. I have enjoyed numerous reviews put together by your staff. From an early review of the Birdland Odeon, to a very recent review of the Gallo Acoustics Reference 3.1, I have enjoyed them all. I must say that I do favor the reviews done by yourself and John Potis, for what it's worth. In fact, your own review (along with a second supporting review of the same product by Marc Mickelson, I have to admit) of the Bel Canto DAC-2 lead me to yet another delightful purchase.

Having said that, I'm always left wondering whether I am perceiving the true intent of the reviewer when they write about 'bite' or 'warmth' or ' One man's euphonic glow might be syrupy and slow to another... one man's energy and detail might be harsh and biting to the next. How does the reader truly understand what the reviewer is describing? Especially if the reader is not familiar with the reviewers tastes, expectations, and equipment. I know that I've come to rely upon a number of reviewers who I have developed a one-sided 'relationship' with over the years... but how does that equate with what I read from others?

I guess the real reason I'm writing is to as whether you, or anyone else you are aware of, has ever attempted to develop a standardized dictionary or list of reviewing terminology? After reading your very appropriate and very detailed summation of how and why 6moons reviews equipment, and the process utilized in doing so, this question came to mind.

Also, one additional question... were you once affiliated with Soliloqy? If so, then I believe I pestered you once or twice about speakers some years ago.

I would also like to commend you and your staff on the wonderful job you have done with your web site. I very much appreciate the layout, and the fact that you provide easy access to reviews by year, alphabetically, and by reviewer. I also appreciate the annual listings of 'Blue Moon' award winners. It's rare to find information on some sites, and you make it easy on the reader. I thank you.

Please do keep up your high standards, and your good work. Both are becoming harder to find in today's society.

Kind Regards,

John Mannix
Spokane, WA


It's a fair question, John. Consider our terminology for visual color for a moment, its different hues. It would require every writer talking about colors to be in the same room, to systematically go through a showing of each color and come to an agreement on what, exactly, is to be called seafoam green and where it becomes sage and where turquoise and where saffron. See what I mean? Hyazinth, lavender, violet, lilac - to a painter, these are discrete colors, to a non-painter, they could all be more or less the same. Never mind that our color tone perceptions will be calibrated differently without being actually color-blind. I dare say audio reviewing is more subjective than agreeing on what paint color is called what tone. In the absence of a common office in which reviewers meet and work and conduct joint listening sessions in each other's company -- we're on the web and "all over the place", geographically -- a standardized terminology seems impossible to generate with any degree of accuracy.

That being the case or at least my view on it, I have concluded that the only way to write meaninful reviews is with a lot of personality where the writer doesn't try to extricate himself from the process as though it were objective but invests himself fully into it to be as subjective as possible. Only then, and over time, can you learn about his biases, blind spots, hot spots and preferences and determine how all those relate to your own. That's why all my writers are encouraged, as much as they're able and comfortable, to put themselves into their reviews so you get a sense of who they are and what they're listening for. And yes, I did work at Soliloquy for a few years while Bernie Byers owned it.

Srajan

Jeff,

Well I just can't seem to find the original PS1 (in the Niagara Ont area) that you rave about, plenty of units without the RCAs, however, but....

As a matter of fact most of the local game stores will not take in as trade any of the original PS 1 because of the overheating factor, having something to do with bearings getting locked up after overheating and never working without skipping afterwards. I am eager to find one, I did find a used baritone sax at a pawn shop that I wish would have been there 2 years ago. Could have saved someone some real money.

Thanks for the informative article and a reason to go dumpster diving again.

Chuck Lee

Dear Jeff,

really quite incredibly nice sounding, that little ugly gaming console, isn't it ? It was my main source component for 2 years, bettering all I had so far and by a large margin. The main difference was not that it did something I missed before, but that it did not do many of the things that disturbed me when listening to other players.

Still, 2 years ago today, I came across another player that bettered it in almost all respects. It has too has that organic fluidity rarely found in digital but added much more resolution, space and slam, especially down low. This player costs 2600 €, so it is quite a bit cheaper than the 6000 $ you believed necessary. I've continued comparing this player against all kinds of new ones and was unable to find something better up to its price. In the meantime, it has garnered a component of the year 2006 award in HIFI+. I'm talking about the french EERA DL1. The person behind EERA formerly made the HELIOS players, a name you might have heard.

Kind regards,
Steffen
Jeff,

Okay, I added a PlayStation1 to the system. I could not find one with RCA output so I had to purchase one with RCA-to-DIN cables. My system: Omega Max Hemp speakers, Skylan stands, Rega P3, Dynavector phono stage, Fi X with EML 45 output tubes and a Bendix 5Y3 rectifier or Leben 300x with Mullard EL84 output tubes and NOS Sylvania black plate 5751 driver tubes. My dealer, Don Better, is burning in my Auditorium speaker cables. Presently, I am running DNM speaker cable. I think I am dumping the P3. Cannot find enough new vinyl that is not mastered digitally that I really want.

Now, how on earth did I end up with pretty much the same system as you put together? The amazing thing is this, how much the PS1 sounds like the Rega Saturn player I once owned. $25 vs. $2500 and the former plays video games. Now, one could buy a Fi X for $1500, Omega Max Hemps with Skylan stands for $2700 and add DNM cable for $120 and a PS1 for $25 and have a system that probably tops 99% available at any price in terms of musicality (digital). How about adding the PS1 to a newly revised Trend audio amp and Omega Hemp XRS speakers and put together the ultimate sub $1000 system?

Cheers,
Joe

Thank you very much for publishing a wonderful and insightful review of the Trends TA-10 Class T integrated amplifier. I thoroughly enjoyed David Kan's experience in exploring the many applications for the budget-priced amplifier. Another audio buddy and I were wondering when David's finished review article would be released and we actually suspected that the long delay might be due to pressures from the industry, in whole, and your many advertisers who charge significantly more for their products. I might be wrong, but it just wouldn't be fitting for a little Hong Kong based outfit to be shelling out big bucks to advertise their little $100 wonder. Well, as you have demonstrated in the past, 6moons still carries the banner for audiophile journal excellence and integrity in broadcasting news, opinions and insight into products and technologies that seem to get cold-shouldered by the mainstream audiophile media. Based on David Kan's preview, my audio friend and others purchased the Trends Audio amp and the Internet is buzzing with positive feedback on this little amplifier with big sound. I applaud 6moons and its writers for exploring the alternatives such as single driver speakers, single ended triode amplification and high value, globally manufactured products. Perhaps that's why I don't subscribe to the mainstream published media anymore.

In good 6moons fashion, David thoroughly explored possibilities with the Trends amplifier and various high-efficiency speaker systems and setup configurations. I really enjoyed reading how one could unplug from audiophilia and plug into the music performance. As with most 6moons reviews, I also enjoy the education in music and recordings that don't get a lot of exposure elsewhere. After all, it's the music and performance that give us reason to participate in this whacky hobby, correct?

Richard Hing
David,

Just a quick note to tell you I really appreciate your full Trends TA-10/10.1 review. However, I am concerned that you may have inadvertantly encouraged your readers to exceed the recommended supply voltage for the TA2024 chip bye the following statement in your review: "The Tripath T-2024 chip has an absolute working parameter of 8.5 to 16 volts DC - either too much or not enough is bad for the chip. (Ricky of Trends Audio actually recommended 10.5 to 14.0 volts to keep the TA-10 in top fighting form.)"

I am not sure what the "absolute working parameter" means, but Tripath recommends a maximum of 13.2V for this chip. While I have used a highly regulated 13.8V linear power supply with no ill effect, I do so with my fingers crossed (In fact my power supply is currently with Michael Mardis who will dial the thing down to 13.0V just to be safe.) Maybe Trends Audio gooses the voltage to 16.0V with a stiffly regulated supply without blowing the thing up, but I fear that Tripath noobs who read your review will pick up some unregulated 13.8 - 16.0V powersupply and send their cute little TA-10 to audio heaven.

Bye the way, I googled the Elekit site and could only find a pricing for kits. Did you get your Tu-875 directly from them and, if so, do they sell fully assembled units?

Also, I would be interested in finding out what your tech did to reduce the gain on your Dared preamp, other than change tube types. With respect to tubes, the 12AX7 has more gain than a 12AT7 so it is counter intuitive to me that a switch from the latter to the former would help reduce the gain of your preamp, but maybe I am missing something.

Sorry to pepper you with questions and I apologize it it is annoying. You have been very generous in answering your readers questions and truly do appreciate that. Again, congratuations on a very good and comprehensive review and keep up the good work.

David Dye

Thank you, Mr. Dye. Your advice is well taken. It's always better to be safe
than sorry. According to Tripath TA-2024 Technical Information Revision 4.1 January 2006: "Absolute Maximum Ratings: Supply voltage is rated at 16 volt - that "indicates the limit beyond which damage to the device may occur."Operating Conditions: Supply voltage is recommended at 8.5 volt minimum, 12 volt typical and 13.2 volt maximum - that "indicate conditions at which the device is functional."

David Kan
Hi Srajan,

I read your on-line magazine every week and I enjoy it very much. I wanted to let you know of the Marantz SA-7S1 CD player that I just received. It is by far the best digital unit I have owned and I am not saying that because I own it. I love LPs and CDs and they both sound good to me, LPs due to their being cut when the master tape was new, not the 20 - 50 years later as CDs have to use for their main source. To me this is the key reason why LPs at times sound better and I think it is the quality of the source, fresh tape, compared to old used master tape. Just makes sense.

I must also say I have LPs that sound just awful too.

I work for a major electronics company that shall remain nameless but I have owned many CD players, most Sony top of the line ES but also Accuphase DP85, Linn CD12, Esoteric-X03 and X01SE and the Cary 306 SACD (the most unreliable CD player I have ever owned and I had 5 of them and all had problems).

The Marantz SA-7S1 is by far the best sounding of all the CD players I have owned and while its SACD reproduction is just superb, it is the red-book reproduction that has floored me. CDs sound almost as good as SACD on well-recorded samples.

This player is transparent, has the best depth and soundstaging I have ever heard from a CD player and it is right up there with my turntable rig (Sota Cosmos) as far as the above goes and surpasses its tone, detail, dynamics and stable imaging and pitch.

I do not know if you have ever reviewed a Marantz CD player of the caliber but you owe it to your readers and yourself to do so. To me it is a benchmark of CD design. The only other player that made such an impact on me was the Linn CD12 and that was 20K in its day.

I just wanted to bring this unit to your attention.

Thanks!
Phil Baatz
I was rather shocked by your review of the Bent Audio-Music First remote controlled 'Taps' preamp. The whole thrust of your very lengthy review was to praise the role of Bent Audio and minimise that of Stephens and Billington...upon whose work the very existance of this product depends. You appear to set-out to portray Music First as little more than box stuffers pushing an overpriced and 'largely empty' box..the original tva preamp. Nothing could be more biased or further from the truth. The original Music First preamp created a new market...a market based on the design excellence and engineering integrity of Jonathon Billington of Billington Transformers. That 'box' may look pretty minimalist but just look at the quality of parts and the complexity of hand soldered wiring....you can call it a 'rats nest'; I would suggest it is a classic example of top quality hand made product of a type all too rare in today's hifi.

You go on to say that the new 'Taps' remote controlled device was a co-operative development from the start. but then claim that Bent Audio are really the people behind the device. At every point in the revierw you lean over backwards to praise Bent Audio...a firm which has spent most of its existence selling diy parts through the internet....while subtly denigrating Music First, a firm with at least 30 years of serious involvement in high end audio (you wouldn't believe the hi end firms which use their transformers.) What is more, far from simply putting parts in a crude box, Stephens and Billington has obsessively researched the design and sound quality of their product...which is why they won awards from reviewers all round the world. As for the new, remote controlled, Taps being the equal of the TVA for sound quality....not to my ears! It uses a far less purist design, especially in the volume control, and suffers accordingly. Don't get me wrong. it is still an excellent design,one I would be happy to own. But the real purist will probably find the original preamp...still on sale..the ultimately better product. And while views on construction and appearance can be just as subjective as for sound quality, I would suggest that the strength and non resonant quality of the original will make it far longer lasting than yet another complex circuit in an (easily scratched)plastic and metal case.

One final point, do you really think that outside purchasers get the same transformers as those available to the actual manufacturer? I rather think not..S and B are always upgrading their transformers (there are at least three entirely different iteration in the MF products) and which products do you think will benefit from this first? Bent Audio are no doubt a fine firm, but to attempt to cast Billington as the junior partner is wrong and unfair. They are the 'real thing' in an audio world which has far too few firms of such history and design integrity.

Peter Skinner (from the United Kingdom)

Seeing that I previously reviewed and then purchased the Passive Magnetic which I own to this day, I'm hardly denigrating its maker. By the same token, having both units to compare, I couldn't tell them apart sonically which suggests to me that the much enhanced functionality which you malign came at zero audiophile cost. As far as chassis quality of the Passive Magnetic goes, its case rings whereas the Tap's doesn't. The highly favorable review of the Passive Magnetic was on it, the review of the Tap was on the Tap. With the former, Music First Audio was profiled, with the latter, mostly Bent Audio since, except for providing the raw parts, it really is Mr. Chapman's creation. But you're most certainly welcome to disagree vehemently and look at the facts from a different angle. That's what this hobby is all about after all. I for one applaud the Tap as being the far more universally compelling component with its remote, added outputs and additional attenuation steps - and for costing close to the same as the bare-boned predecessor.

Srajan

As much as I love Sushi and Thai and Indian food, a single week of back-to-back meals in any of those cuisines would get old real fast. I'd long for time out with a simple fruit juice and sandwich. Variety really is the spice of life. Why do we so stubbornly persist that it should be different for audio?

I love this article! Thinking outside the box again. You are doing what a reviewer *should* be doing....experimenting, comparing, listening and reporting. And not the same-old, same-old.
Your experience reminds me of a very profound parable...."A mind is like a parachute. It works best when open."

Unfortunately, a too-rare achievement in our hobby, but for our benefit it seems to occur regularly in Cyprus. :-)

Alan Kafton

Srajan,

Excellent article on Headphonia. I'm reminded of my early forays into high-end audio. I was in high-school, and a buddy turned me on to high end audio magazines, and a new world opened before my eyes. I knew you could spend a couple of grand on speakers at Circuit City, but I had no idea you could spend $100,000 on a set Wilsons!!! Anyways, good ideas can be cheap. My first pair (and still to this day my only pair!) of decent speakers was the Paradigm Atoms. For a little over $200 they're hard to beat. I'll never forget when a few years ago a friend came over and we were watching a movie, and he commented how "good my surround system sounded." I said, "I don't have surround sound, you're just hearing a decent set of speakers for the first time!" Anyways, I've still got my 10-year old Grado SR-60s that I cherish. And these things cost what, $60 a pair? I was in an Apple store the other day, and struck by how much audio gear they sell for their iPods. Most of it was non-apple branded, and most of it complete crap. I wonder how well a grado or a paradigm would do if they could manage to get into those stores.

Anyways, keep up the good work.
John Phillippe

Hello Srajan:

Thank you for taking the time to review this message.

To date your reviews have led me to two pieces of superb electronics, the Melody I2a3 and Audio Zone Amp 1. What a great combination to shuffle in-and-out of my system. I am a die-hard Klipsch Heritage fan, Belles and Cornwalls, and my little mid-fi rig is about where I want it, in other words I really think I have finished "the search" for a while. But only after quality interconnects between the CD and integrateds. Something that "fleshes" out the sometimes lean Belles. A little more body, a pinch more bass and crystal but not brittle his to bring out the best of the Melody. Something under $500 so I am researching Silverfi Shaman, Wireworld Equinox Gold or Polaris, Mapleshade Clearview Excalibur, Soundstring, Maple Ambiance, Zu Varial or Gede. Am I on the right path for the traits I am hoping to bring to my system? All suggestions are more than welcome and thank you again for insightful reviews and opinions.

Best regards,
Rich Breneman

Of the cables I've heard, cross off the Zu and Mapleshade from your list since they don't go in the direction you're looking for. Truth be told, I've focused for a while now on very neutral cables to let me hear the components coming in for review so I'm behind the curve ball on "colored" cables and being able to give specific advice in that regard, sorry.


Srajan
I just wanted to tell you that I really enjoyed reading your reviews on 6moons website. I really like your system and would like to get some feedback on the Zu speakers. I checked out their website, and it looks as though the speakers are active, based on the IEC socket in the back. I am also thinking about upgrading with the Zanden DAC, along with building a single-end system for vinyl only. I have read rave reviews on the Yamamoto amps.

My current system utilizes the Vac Renaissance 30/30 amp and a Vac pre-amp, Cary 308t cd player, along with home-made speakers with out board cross overs. I also bought a costume-made Gainclone amp, which seems to be a better match for my home-made speakers. I had a pair of Spendor SP12e, which made beautiful music with the Vac gear. I sold them along with my CEC 5500 transport and Classe Dac 1. I sold them prior to moving out to Hawaii. Big mistake!!!!

You can see I am wanting to retrieve the glorious musical sound that I once had. I would also like to get your feedback on cabling? As an obsessive audio junky, I have tried many different cables in different systems, and my experience is that the same cable seem to sound different in different systems.

Thanks again,
Aloha, Mike

It sounds to me you already know exactly what you like. The VAC 30/30 is a great amp and the Yamamotos all are far lower power so unless you've got a very hi-eff speaker, stick with the VAC. For cables on the sane end of the stick, I really like the Zu Audio cables - very fairly priced, very neutral, very resolving meaning they let thru more signal at really low volumes.


Srajan
It looks like SMC has spun off a new digital integration company by the name of Digital Plumbers, who are working with PMC to offer a loudspeaker pair fitted with the Sonos ZP-80 wireless music networking box and controller or Apple's Airport system. An announcement was made at the website http://freespeakers.co.uk.

Peter Cooke
Hi Srajan,

Just wanted to alert you to our CD review site, "CD Reviews by C60Crew" at http://c60crew.blogspot.com.

I think our tagline says it all. Hoping your readers might be interested in the link as news.

All best,
Mike Johnston

Good review on the Druids. You really hit the nail on the head.

Jeff Lalonde