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By repeat inquiry, here is the owner's manual of the Garrard 301 vintage turntable [856KB PDF] whose rebuild Jeff Day described in his series of articles.

Dear Srajan,

I recently bought the Ampino amp. It is really a very nice little amp.  I too have noticed (on my B&W 685) its light character of the bass. However when I drive it through the USB DAC of Trends UD 10, the bass gain more authority so that even that minor complain disappeared. Thank you for suggesting it.

Theodore Simos

PS: I was wondering if you can use Ampino as a power amp and drive it with an active preamp (like Kingrex for example). 

You certainly can. The Ampino is an amplifier+pot integrated rather than an active line stage with power buffer. Simply bypass its own volume control by opening it fully, then turn your external preamp into the master control. I tried it. It works like a charm and improves the amp's already very impressive performance even more.



I'm very interested in seeing when a good reviewer finds a computer-based setup that they find truly musically satisfying.  My impression from reading your reviews is that when you really want to enjoy the  way a music piece sounds you still have to pull out the CD (transport-Yamamto).  Will keep reading to see when/if that changes.


Bryan Kestenbaum

You and I both, Bryan. The Esoteric SA-50 would have been my solution with its digital i/o ports but I didn't have the scratch to buy it so back it went to Japan. Going in USB, going out S/PDIF into the Yamamoto was the ticket. The new WLM Gamma DAC will be based on the Weiss Minerva (they OEM the boards from Weiss) so that might be another possibility, particularly if Sasa Cokic of Trafomatic does something trick with the output stage. I'll also experiment with iTunes/Mac vs. J. River/Windows XP over my MacBook Pro where I run Windows. Frederic's recent review has me curious about the J. River software and for $50 for the license, it seems like a no-brainer.


Hi Srajan,
I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for recommending the Gallo Reference 3.1 when I asked you for your choice between them and 2 other speakers.
They were brand new when I got them and I believe they are finally broken in.  I put a resistor across the bottom binding posts as the reviewer in 10audio said he did and the bass is really well integrated as well as very resolved.
This week, I listened to the Beatles Love CD on a rig that had B & W Nautilus (top of the line although I don't know how old they are) and it was very, very nice.  I came home and bought the CD and listened on the Gallos and I really do like my speakers better, although it could be electronics, but I don't believe that is the case.
So, once again thank you for being the most honest reviewer in the business IMHO.
Take care,
Millard Jones
Dear Sir, 

I recently read your review of the Weiss Minerva on 6 moons and your mention of Amarra. I would like to take this opportunity to reply and ask a few questions. We have had many favorable responses to Amarra including a recent review in positive-feedback Link to veview where the Minerva and Amarra were favorably reviewed. This also matches many of our customers comments, including Daniel Weiss for that matter. From the tenor of your words it seems as if you did not really try Amarra or listen to how it sounds in comparison to iTunes or perhaps you do not prefer an Apple Macintosh computer.  I would refer you to the Computer Symposium held in Berkeley CA in June where this was done in front of 100+ people over two days.  In those listening tests it was shown that a properly configured Macintosh does indeed sound superior to a PC.  I would ask what tests you performed with Amarra to come to the conclusion you did? What file formats and what was the system configuration?  In hundreds of demos most people have noticed and preferred the sound of Amarra. While there are those who did not notice a dramatic improvement their comments were civil at least. 

Jon Reichbach

Hi Jon,

Thanks for the opportunity to dialog and I certainly was not expecting you to be as impressed by my reviewing abilities as you would be by Positive Feedback's. I do have the habit of speaking my mind and Srajan is kind enough to let me do so without interfering. That said, I will be the first one to admit when I am wrong. I have been wrong before and will be again, that's one of the rare things I know for sure.

If you want to send a copy of Amarra along for comparison purposes, I will give it an honest evaluation and publish the findings even if that means eating my hat on what I have written so far. Similarly, if it reinforces my current feeling, it will be published in the same fashion.

Now, there a couple things I need to clarify. I have no doubt that Amarra improves on iTunes. To start with, iTunes can't take advantage of a Minerva and your program enables this capacity so there is no doubt in my mind that Amarra brings value to a Maconly solution. I am just wondering why you are not selling a PC version for $1000 if it brings so much value to the audiophile. It may have something to do with having a completely captive market with no alternative on one side vs. a flurry of solutions on the other. But I am willing to be proven wrong.

The second point I want to make is that the comparison I would make is not against iTunes alone or PC playback but against what I consider the true market alternative - which is running J. River on a Windows partition on a Mac.
It costs $250 to set up, has no limitation whatsoever and takes advantage of the superior hardware of the Mac.

So, I am not anti-Mac. Actually, I am going back and loving it except for music playback so far and it has to do with software (iTunes) or cost of implementation. If you think an Amarra-enabled iTunes solution can demonstrate enough sonic advantage over the J. River solution run on a Vista partition (using Wasapi) to justify a 4 x cost level, then I am your man to run the comparison.

Best regards,

Thank you so much for your articles, sharing your thoughts and enjoyment of music (as played through hifi). I appreciate your taking time to share...

In your most recent article on the Weiss Minerva, you mentioned something about which I am confused - and continue to see conflicting information in various other venues. You mentioned that USB is limited to 24/96 as far as high resoltion goes. I've read elsewhere that it is not limited to that and can do 24/192 and higher (reference the Positive Feedback article on computer audio, Issue 41, where Gordon Rankin says that USB 2.0 is not limited at the end of the article). I've seen conflicting information in multiple other venues (just providing one example). I also see that Wavelength sells the Crimson and Cosecant with the 32-bit Sabre DAC, but that could be just the DAC running 24-bit downsampled from the computer (like Macs do).

Is there any way to get some resolution to this issue? It seems like it should have a technical answer, not something like analogue playback is superior to digital, or a Shindo is better than a First Watt.

Thanks for your time!
(Name withheld by request.)

I am confused as well but let me tell you what I have found from a computer designer on a French forum. He made some bandwidth calculations that showed that theoretically, USB2 can handle 24/192 data flows but that in practice when you remove the bandwidth necessary for the communication protocol and plug & play, you end up with a useable bandwidth slightly below 24/192 and so to operate safely with enough headroom for other hardwarethat would be connected on the same serial port, designers have used 24/96 as the practical limit for USB2.

I can't vouch for his calculations or explanations but so far all the USB DACs have proven him right. Now, one surprising item is the new NAIM DAC which claims 24/768 support through USB. I initially thought it was a slick marketing way to talk about a 24/96 input followed by 8 x oversampling but their literature talks about a 24/768 USB input and 24/192 SPDIF input so it would seem, at least superficially, that they may have found a way around the practical limitation of USB. We'll see as they release more data and info on it.

Again, I am no expert on the issue, just sharing what I found out over the past weeks. Thanks again for reading 6moons!

Hello Frederic,

Having spent many hours reading a wide variety of computer audio materials, I commend you on an excellent overview of this subject and a fine review.  It’s my hope to purchase a relatively high end system soon and begin ripping my entire 1,000 CD collection.  You’ve given me significantly more food for thought as I venture down this path.  Let me start by saying I don’t own a Mac and I’ve been a long time Apple hater for a variety of reasons.  However, I am strongly considering one as a dedicated music server, primarily because of its “out of the box” compatibility with audio output.  I don’t relish the quirks of a PC and the problems you discuss.  All this lead to a reference below and my question.  You say: "Back to playback software, let’s start with the most famous and probably most crippled of them all, iTunes. iTunes’ first sin is that it does not allow bit-perfect playback with the Minerva, meaning that the data being eventually transferred to the DAC may or may not be the same as what is in the file depending on what processing your computer may apply.  [omit strong criticism of Windows] On a MAC it is harder to predict and will depend on where the volume setting sits or whether you have picked the correct sampling frequency for the file. Speaking of sampling frequency, iTunes does not enable changing the sampling rate on the Minerva automatically and, up/down sampling will take place any time the current setup does not match the resolution of the file being played.

"Another of iTunes’ sins is that it won’t play back FLAC or WMA files which are becoming the standard for high-resolution downloads on the internet (and the only choices from sites like 2L or Linn Records where Apple Lossless is not an option). There is a way around this issue on a MAC at least for FLAC files using Fluke but FLAC files have to be manually tagged to play in iTunes. That’s a major pain and does not address the issue for WMA files or for people running iTunes on a PC.

As a result of this, you suggest running a Mac and partitioning the drive to run in Windows.  For me, a non-computer guy, this seems much worse than fixing two out of three sins you correctly note in iTunes.  First, it’s very easy to set the iTunes volume at 100%, which I understand cures your first concern.  Second, most people’s music remains 16/44.1 which is the standard setting for iTunes in the midi settings.  For higher resolution music, it seems fairly simple, even without Amarra, to change the setting to match the music.  Am I wrong on either of these points and if not, does it change the harsh criticism of iTunes?

Now your third point which is larger in my mind – iTunes' lack of support for FLAC (I’ll ignore WMA as this conversion would be easy).  In addition to Fluke, I understand but I haven’t tried, that both dbpoweramp and max can do the conversion to AIF and maintain tags. Have you tested this?
Would very much appreciate your views on these points.
Thanks in advance and thanks again for great info.

Raymond Hepper

Hi Raymond and thanks for the kind words. When it comes to the limitations of iTunes vs. bit-perfect playback, I have read too many conflicting info to have a good handle on what it takes to get bit-perfect playback in this software. I have seen as much advice to run with the volume at 50% as I have seen to run it at 100% to have any clue which is the right answer.

Now you are correct, for a 16/44 collection iTunes' limitations are far less of an issue and worth considering. I still think it is a little naked when it comes to convenience features vs. other software but I can see that for an MP3 and 16/44 collectio, n it can be an option.
I just always struggle to find the right way to get anything accomplished in iTunes besides the most basic functions, a problem I never have in J. River, perhaps because of using PCs exclusively for the past 10 years. I found that running a PC system on a Mac for music and the Mac for everything else met my needs and offered the best of both worlds. I am sure depending on preferences, people will find this solution cumbersome or not. One thing though, Bootcamp is really easy to use. All you have to decide is what size to give your Windows partition (I run half and half), everything else is automatic. But to run a hi-rez music server, I had to either spend $1000 on Amarra or spend $250 to set up a Vista partition with J. River. I picked the cheaper solution.

I have not tried other solutions to run FLAC into iTunes besides Fluke so can't comment on those.

Dear Srajan

I learn very much from your and other excellent reviews in 6moons. They enable me to imagine being immersed in the music. I've noticed, too, that the reviews make things happen in the audio world. I think your discovery of Trafomatic in Serbia for example indirectly kick-started the entire Austrian WLM range of amplifiers for which Trafomatic is designer and OEM supplier. My interest in Trafomatic was in the firm's two integrated SET amplifiers and your reviews of them and of other integrated valve amplifiers such as Almarro have been very enlightening.

But I'd like to offer one comment as a potential customer for a high-quality integrated valve or solid-tsate amplifier. It's this. The reason I'm gravitating toward an integrated amplifier is two-fold. First, the quality of some models that I've heard, for example the Sugden A21 Series 2 and though I haven't heard it yet, I think I can add the Blue Circle FtTH (from what I've read), has become so good that it's getting harder to make the for case separates. Second, I'm not a gear-head, so I don't want a lot of metal boxes to connect or a lot of cabling in a finely furnished room. As someone who enjoys listening to music rather than analyzing sound, I'm not going to build a basement dungeon and fill it with gear, but I understand the hobby of those who do.

So when I read a review of an integrated amplifier that extols its virtues but then, even if only to "cover the bases," adds that it sounds so much better if coupled with a pre-amplifer, I think, oh, this is the case for separates again. It's quite frustrating. The purpose of the integrated amplifier maker surely is to say, we believe that we can do this in one box. So I think the products need to be evaluated on that basis, which your reviews do, but they also tend to try to make a stronger case for separates at the same time. The integrateds, I think, need to stand or fall on the merit of their own design and performance, unassisted.

Or, should integrated amplifiers market their products as "integrated or power amplifier"? Perhaps my thinking is too inflexible.

I'd also like to make a point about valve separates. It's maintenance costs over the life of the products. Having owned and experienced the nirvana of Audio Research power and preamplifiers driving Kappa 8 Infinity speakers, but also having had to have them serviced from time to time and pay for new valves, I think that reviewers could very helpfully state not only the capital cost of  the products they write about, but also provide, say, a range of the likely cost of maintenance for the life of the product, say a low and a high guesstimate depending on listening hours. When the cost of valves can vary from $400 to $45, say in the case of some 300Bs and some 6C33Cs, then clearly maintenance costs can be as important as capital cost.   

Best wishes
Bruce Roscoe

There are 'real' integrateds with active linestages built in and there are power amps with passive pots. It tends to be the latter that sound better still with an outboard preamplifier. Mentioning that is no underhanded ploy to sell separates. It's simply a statement about ultimate performance potential. Re: maintenance costs for valve gear, that is intrinsic to ownership of course but guesses on longevity are nearly impossible to render. There are too many variables, including soft-start circuitry built in, how hot a maker runs the tubes, how well they were tested, how the owner listenes etc. Plus, we do have to leave some kind of due diligence for prospective owners to do, no? -.)

I seriously enjoyed your review of the Wyred preamp.  I have a question or two: Have you had the chance to hear the Nuforce P9? If you have which did you prefer? Anything else you can provide in regards both?


A friend of mine, David Kimmell, mentioned he'd contacted you in the past reference the Esoteric pre and Wyred pre. Keep up the great work.

Mark Lee

I never did hear the Nuforce preamp. re: the Wyred, a few readers have reported in with their own feedback on it and moon man Frederic bought one while still having the Esoteric C-03 on loan which he was saving up to keep. While not exactly the same, both those machines operate on the same sonic level to my ear. The killer feature of the Esoteric is its 0/12/24dB gain option which really changes the sound and makes it super adaptive for different amplifiers. Is that worth the $8,000 difference? Very good question. For a reviewer, it's nearly priceless. For a 'civilian', I seriously question it.

I enjoyed your review of the Weiss Minerva DAC and I quite agree with your assessment of the quality possible from hi-resolution audio files. One frustration I do find is that so far there are no standalone hi-res multi-channel DACs on the market? Hence the need for SACD (or  Blu-ray like 2L) physical mediums. As you have experienced the jump in quality from Redbook to SACD, I  believe there is another jump in the level from 2-channel hi-res to  multi-channel on well recorded/engineered material.

Any idea or thoughts on how to expand your Weiss Minerva experience  out to multi-channels?


For people with very deep pockets, an Esoteric P05 and 3 D05 connected  via i-link will do the trick but that's not really for everybody is it? Although Weiss is very discrete about it, the fact that the Minerva  can be daisy-chained through firewire indicates to me that it might be  able to handle processing multi-channel hi-def files, but again that's  a lot of money. Three Weiss DAC2 is getting to be more reasonable  (somewhat). If you want to explore that option you should get in touch with Daniel  Weiss directly as I have not discussed this option with him and there  may be limitations or it may not be ready to operate that way yet, I  don't know, just venturing a guess here. Otherwise I believe there are a few multichannel 24/192 sound cards  for computer available in the market.



Dear Frederic,

Firstly, thank you for a most enjoyable review of the Weiss Minerva DAC.  I always find your reviews interesting, informative and thoroughly unbiased.  I particularly like the fact that you prefer an active pre-amp in your system because that is my preference as well. The reason for my email is to ask a simple question regarding the Minerva. I currently use a Sony XA777ES which is an integrated CD/SACD player as a digital front end.  I find SACD much superior to CD but cannot find enough new material on SACD for my tastes that tend to rock and indie music.  If I could, I would just buy all my new material on SACD and not bother changing the Sony.

So my question is – if I were to rip a CD using a lossless protocol as you have described in your review and convert the signal to analog using the Minerva via a Firewire connection, would it sound as good a SACD?  For instance, I own Pink Floyd’s Dark side of the Moon on both CD and SACD.  Would that ripped CD going through the Minerva via Firewire sound as good as the SACD played on my Sony?  Both the Sony and the Minerva would have to be connected to my pre-amp via unbalanced interconnects so that would be a constant in both configurations. The rest of my system is Audio Research LS 25 Mk 2 preamp and Bryston 4B ST Power amp driving Martin Logan Ascent I speakers. 

I hope to hear from you soon. After discovering the 6 moons site I have purchased the Audio Revive grounding conditioner, Audio Revive Schumann Resonator and the entire Wireworld cable loom as reviewed by Paul Candy.  It appears from your review that you know Paul well.  I need to write and thank him for that review – the power cords, interconnects and speaker cables have made a huge difference to my system. As have the other items I have mentioned.  I also purchased a PS Audio Power Plant Premier based on another review (not on 6moons) and that made a huge difference as well.  Other than these upgrades, the rest of my system has remained the same for 6 years or so.  I hence do not upgrade lightly and that is why I am asking for this clarification.

Kind regards,
Vilosh Brito

Thank you Vilosh for the kind words. To answer your question in general, I would say no, not quite. Although I find CD ripped to PC better in general than CD from a player, SACD still has an edge but reduced. I believe SACD has more low level info and better soundstaging, better ambiance recovery. Bu it is getting to be a close match.

I know you will read in many places that such and such very expensive CD player makes SACD irrelevant or that memory playback of CDs is as good as SACD. In my experience the gap has reduced significantly but SACD keeps an edge. Now whether that edge is sufficient to justify keeping SACD is hard for me to answer for you as it will depend on your listening priorities. In my case, I am keeping SACD around, so that will tell you where I lean.

I am starting a server based system for hi resolution downloads going forward, not to get rid of my sacd collection.

Best regards,
Dear Frederic and Srajan,

Thank you very much for the Weiss Minerva review. It is the best Computer Audio Source (CAS) article that I have ever read because it contains not only a detailed review on Minerva but also covers a lot of basic concepts, principles and useful hints on using/optimizing CAS.  This is a must read for CAS audiophiles!

I would like to inform you that Weiss is also selling a DAC2 in their professional equipment line: Its internal circuit is identical to Minerva. The only difference is a less robust and less beautiful chassis.  However, the net price is only 50-60% of the Minerva!  If Minerva gets a Blue Moon Award, this Weiss DAC2 deserves a Very Blue Moon Award!

Best Wishes,
Hello Srajan,

I noticed you have another Entreq review coming up.  I bought a Konstantain USB after reading your first review.  I've been happy with it.  At the time I was attracted to the reasonable price for a long length and not interested in spending much more on the Ridge Street or Locus without a shoot-out comparison; plus the quality looked great and PO seemed to know his stuff.

I did encounter one issue with the Entreq (with my Red Wine Isabella). With the ground wire connected, my DAC would fault after 10-30 minutes and I'd have to close iTunes and restart it. The Isabella is very sensitive compared to other DACs I've used; Vinnie has notes in his manual about how to connect the USB and he's made a slight mod to newer versions to fight static.  Anyway, PO said the ground was part of the shield and not actually part of the wire ground. Vinnie still didn't like the idea and said it was entirely contrary to the USB standard.  The ground didn't do much for my sound, so not being able to use it wasn't a big deal to me.


Hello Srajan,

My local ASI dealer dropped off sets of Liveline spkr, power and ic cables for me to audition.  I had to postpone the audition due to home remodeling until now. Overall I found the ASI Liveline cables to be excellent... sound is clean, focused, not fuzzy and open. Compare to my Synergistic Apex speaker cable, I found the Apex has more body, ambiance, bass - more natural sounding. I prefer my SR.  On the power cord compare to my ESP Reference, the ASI was clearer but seems to limit current. Music flow more at ease and more information with the ESP.

I could easily live with either but the differences are not worth changing. XLR connections in my system are much superior to RCA and the dealer only has RCA ICs for the Liveline so comparison was tough.  Overall I prefer my Zu Varial XLR to the ASI Liveline RCA in my system but (big but) I could tell that the ASI are superior. The ASI was less congested, cleaner, less fuzzy. I would like to audition a XLR ASI Liveline in the future and possibly replace my Varials. Also plan to audition SR Apex XLR IC in very near future.

Like every component, it's always system dependent :-)

K Ng
Dear Srajan,

I read with interest your review of the Yamamoto DAC.  I was  wondering whether you have found any good way of connecting this DAC to a  computer so that it sounds even close to a real CD  transport  (Bel Canto USB link, Empirical Audio Offramp, M-Audio  firewire to SPDIF, anything)?  From your description, this does not  seem like a DAC that is going to do much to clean up a junky  (computer) signal. Could you let 6moons readers know when and if  anything comes along to allow the laptop to Yamamoto connection to  happen?

Thanks very much.  Sincerely,
Bryan Kestenbaum

As you mentioned, there are a number of USB/S-PDIF converters on the market, including a new cheap one by April Music coming out any day which would do the trick. However, I have no experience with them and by only having a single digital input on both Yamamoto DACs (transistor and tube), you'd have to physically swap cables if you wanted to run both a PC and conventional CD transport. It would appear to be a somewhat cludgy solution and my preference would be for a built-in USB port but, alas, Yamamoto presently does not offer one and I'm not appraised of whether such a beast is forthcoming and if so, when - not that I don't have my fingers crossed for very selfish reasons...


Knowing now your predilection for small and cheap (and hopefully good!) here's another one, the Musical Paradise MP-301 for $199. It has me seriously thinking I should. There are a few threads on two forums about this that are quite positive although sparse. It would cost exactly the same, with shipping, as the Miniwatt and offers better parts, build quality and more power. Speaking of the MW. If you are following the thread on AC, is is very unusual and a pleasure to observe how quickly "they" have responded and even to the extent of taking constructive suggestions seriously enough to actually instigate some part changes to improve things. There should be a newer version shortly to reflect this (worth a "part two" on 6moons?). The lure of tubes.I thought I was cured years ago when a Lux amp went ballistic on me for reasons I didn't bother to explore. You're never too old to be foolish!


Hi Srajan,

While I have you, I guess I have to put myself in the league of illiterates:. Several times now, I have been unable to initially figure out what the product was.  The preview of the Yamamoto SoundCraft YDA-01B is perhaps not the best example - the first sentence references the YDA-01 as a DAC.  But there have been other reviews (I'm too lazy to go back and search at the moment) where I didn't know what the product was until I hit the second page.

Would it be possible to add 'Product Type' header, alongside Reviewer, Financial Interests etc.?Just a friendly request.


If you hover your mouse over the click-thru graphics on the audioreviews page (and if your browser supports that feature), you'll see a small window pop up with the description of the item under review.


Happy September and bravo for the terrific article on the HeartSong, along with all the other info regarding the differing construction parameters. Another interesting "construct" is Jacob's modular architectural designs, of which I know you're aware.  A very nice design, and one I'll take a listen to at RMAF next month.

An unfortunate name "racks" (which sounds more like some torture contraption from the Dark Ages), but I think it was born out of the bolt-on equipment racks used in commercial studios.  What we see today is light years away from those very practical but inelegant metal supports.  Stillpoints uses the term "equipment stand", a touch more elegant but few would want to chew and spit out "architectural constructs" or "modular support systems", although those descriptions are more befitting of all the offerings you mentioned.

I have no doubt that after experiencing Franck's creation, your Ikea goodies will find a new home elsewhere, and quickly.  It will also be interesting to find out if your corner damping materials will require adjustment and/or relocation because of the Heartsong's sonic interaction with your listening acoustic.  Don't overlook that possibility, for as you know, everything affects everything.

And speaking of you know if Marja and Henk are coming to Denver?

Alan Kafton

I don't believe M&H are planning any travels anytime soon. They just moved house, from Rotterdam to the country side in what was one massive undertaking. They're still reeling from getting out from under 100s of boxes. I'd be surprised to see them take to the air and across the Atlantic for an audio show just now ...

Marja & Henk,

I'm very much looking forward to your review of the Transport and DAC as I've been reading about it with great interest for 18 months. I'm particularly interested in the DAC's ability - once the forthcoming Bridge is released - to act as a music server when combined with a Hard Drive. The best digital source I have ever heard is the Modright platinum level Transporter. What would be very interesting to me and many others is how the Perfect Wave kit compares to the Modwright Transporter. So, can I ask, do you have access to one, or even a standard Transporter, to allow such a comparison?


Hi Ian,

we suffer from the same limitations that other reviewers do. Even though we would love to compare the PWT/PWD head on with other solutions, it is just not possible logistically. Getting review gear in time from one supplier is already hard, let alone from multiple makers. That would take months organizing and any change in accessability would screw up other reviews that were planned and delivered in time.


Additionally and on this particular request, we have already reviewed the ModWrighted Transporter and couldn't in good conscience requisition Dan Wright to dispatch another unit just to accommodate a comparison against a competitor. If and when our reviewers happen to have simultaneous access to comparators—because they own them or because review arrivals overlap, by chance or semi planned—such comparisons are indeed mandatory. But as M&H wrote, organizing them deliberately with any one particular reviewer often isn't possible. Such a unit could be assigned to another writer, have already been reviewed and so on. It's not that the idea is bad. Far from it. It's making it happen that's often the issue.
Hi Srajan,

I love the reviews on your site. It really lets me know what the product sounds like. I just purchased the Zu Essence loudspeakers - amazing. I was originally going to get the new Gallo 3.5s when they become available in mid-November, but after auditioning the Gallo 3.1s and he Zu Essence, it wasn't even close that the Essence were superior. So now I need new pre/power amps.

I'm 29 years old, I live in Rochester NY and this will be my first hi-fi audio system. I'm going to have 4 x 18" subwoofers as well, so if I get an integrated amplifier I would need at least one pre-out. Also, my music source will be mostly mp3 files from a music server. After all of the reviews I've read, sites visited, and phone calls and emails to manufacturers and dealers, I've whittled it down to about six systems but among these it's very difficult to pick a clear winner, since I've never heard any of them (except the F3 amp) and they all seem terrific.

"The more equally attractive two alternatives seem, the harder it can be to choose between them -- no matter that, to the same degree, the choice can only matter less." - Paradox, Edward Fredkin's

I've listened to the Zu Essence with a First Watt F3 amplifier at the dealers and I loved it.  It was jaw dropping.  From my limited listening experience with hi-fi audio equipment, I definitely prefer transistor amps over valve amps, as the former appear to sonically enhance the music while the latter sound too laid back, dulled, and less dynamic (for my tastes and music preferences). I won't be able to listen to any of these systems before I make a purchase, and I have a max of $7k to spend on pre/power amps, but preferably a lot less.

Do you have any sense of how the below systems would compare/differ with each other when driving the Zu Essence loudspeakers (97dbl sensitivity)? The Crayon CFA-1 and Luxman L-550 AII integrated amps were on the list until I found out that they do not have any pre-outs, which would preclude the use of a separate subwoofer channel (or two in my case) within a stereo set-up, as I would be unable to connect the line level signal from the preamp to each of the two subwoofer amps.

My first choice right now is probably the Pass Labs INT-30A, but the Wyred 4 Sound & First Watt J2 pre/power combo seems outstanding as well.  The F3 was a power JFET just like the J2, so I imagine that I will like that one a lot, as I did the F3.

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Andy Philips

With what I have personal experience with (this excludes the Brystons), the no-brainer combo would seem to be the W4S preamp in SE guise with either an F3 or J2. While I have not yet heard the latter (it is inbound for review within a month or so), I have lived with and loved the F3 and I reckon the J2 will be very similar and possibly, even better. That's where I'd put my money. And, save your music files to uncompressed.

Hello Srajan,
I would like to confirm that we have drawn a winner for our giveaway. He is Moysin Slava of Russia. Many thanks for running our news item. We had a fantastic response

So…I install them, let them charge for 15 minutes as per the instructions in the wooden box, then come back and sit down… 

What the……? What was that; never heard that before. Wow, where did all this micro detail come from?  How could this possibly be from simply replacing a set of cables.Then I went away to answer the phone, got caught up in a few things,and an hour later sat back down.  Even more detail, yet even more natural music…like these things are some sort of laser beam, some sort of music-transfer device that doesn’t go through a physical cable, doesn’t deal with rolled off this or bloated that.  They don’t create in the mind a list of things they do right or things you wish they could do better. They just connect music to my room.  Kinda perfectly really, almost laughably better than I’ve heard.

At the end of one simple session I was convinced I had found the equipment to take me to the next leve, .forget new amps or new room treatments (I have enough anyway). I need to buy these cable. Cables? Cables did all this? Doesn’t make sense. 

Srajan,  the notes above were excerpts from my sublime evening of listening to Franck Tchang’s Liveline XLRs for the first time (already broken-in demo pair). Never before have I experienced a game-changing “accessory” like this; these 1M balanced instruments are as important to my signal path as any $12k+ set of amps I’ve owned, etc.  I’m done, found my cables!!  Thanks for the help and support; now I understand. 

Guess I gotta listen to his power cords.  Argh!

Ted Brady

Hi Srajan, 

I want to thank you for your 6moons reviews on the Zu Presence, Red Wine Audio amps, Pre/Dac  and the Liveline wire. I have the Presence, RWA 70.2, Isabella + Dac and the Liveline IC. The amps are sitting on Sistrum SP-101 Platforms and the transport is a Mac Mini. Your reviews are spot on with the gear I have bought. The Liveline seems to work very good with the RWA gear, much better than the JPS Aluminata IC although the JPS Aluminata SC does better than any other wire I have tried.

Keep up the good work. 

Gary Anderson

Good morning Srajan,
Regarding the Liveline cable's 'phase inversion', I mean acoustic phase rather than electrical phase. Of course everything is linked, we can also invert the electrical phase to correct acoustical phase with a Schuko plug but with non-EU power plugs, it is not possible to invert polarity on the wall outlet or  the power conditioner so the Liveline can easily fix this matter. When we hear notes that are too sharp or suffer no extension, it's time to try another direction on the cable.

Franck Tchang
Hi Srajan - hope you're well.

Just thought I'd share something I find a little odd, but it's all in  the fun of the hobby.  I have two tubed pieces (Modwright Transporter,  and the RWA Isabella), and amongst the whole system all Franck's  Liveline series - interconnects, speaker cables, power cables.   Anyway, I've check with both Dan and Vinnie and neither of the output  stages are phase inverting.  Yet, I find that using regular (blue to  red) direction from Transporter to Isabella, but then inverted  direction from the Isabella to my (monoblock Spectron class D)  amplifiers, to be the best combination.  One of those esoteric, system  dependent things I guess.  Based on instructions, I'd think it  wouldn't work this way.  I guess the only point is that it's nice to  have the flexibility built in to try different things.  Anyway just a  light note - feel free to delete!  :)

I see your team has the new P.S. Audio stuff teed up.  That's going to  be interesting.

Jim Schneck

'Phase inversion' vs. directionality of the LiveLine cables isn't to be taken literal I think. It's Franck's way of saying that reversing his cables has a sonic effect similar to phase inversion, hence it makes a wonderful tuning feature. I view it similar to experimenting with impedance taps on a tube amp. 8-ohm speakers = 8-ohm taps isn't always the best-sounding combination even though on paper, it should be. So trust your ears as to what sounds best to you and to hell with 'rational' explanations I say. I in fact remember Franck saying that reversing his cables' directionality often was applicable for tube gear even if the latter did not invert polarity.

Hi Srajan,

Thanks for the inspiration I am going on vacation later this week and part of it will now include putting together a system for my new realsization project. To start, some original PSB Alpha speakers [circa 1992] which I had used in my first Home Theater setup and which I had long since stashed away in the closet. Just didn't have the heart to sell them. These wonderful speakers will now be resurrected and put to good use again. Here is Stereophile's PSB Alpha review:

Sidebar 1: Specifications - price: $199/pair (1992); Description: two-way reflex-loaded minimonitor with 6½" midrange/woofer and ½" ferrofluid-cooled dome tweeter. Crossover point 3kHz. Nominal impedance 8 ohms. Sensitvity: 92dB/2.93V/m. Bookshelf placement. Since the PSBs were designed to be located in this manner, according to the specs, these old Alphas should be a perfect match to lash to the most recent great buy in audio, the $299 Miniwatt tube amp. Thank you for finding and reviewing this little treasure. I had been eyeballing a used Almarro a205a mkii integrated @ $600 and last but not least will be the Blue Circle USB Thingee D/A converter at $189 ( a simple USB connection from computer to amp) for what should be an outstanding home PC, musical, audio streaming setup.  I'm really glad I decided to hang on to my old Alphas. This new setup should rock!  At $687, I suspect that my setup when completed may well out glow the Glow Audio Amp One and its speakers. Any recommendations/suggestions for some speaker cable in order to lash this together at a bargain realsization price? The Alphas have those little alligator type, spring loaded clip-in connectors for bare speaker wire.

Thanks again for your inspiration.
Jim Kelly

Edgar Kramer's review of Bruce Brisson's DIY Giant Killer cables is just about to hit. That could point you in the right direction.


Hi Srajan,

Regular reader here, and from New Zealand too, so thought I should contact you to ask to go in the draw for the Ancient Kauri weight. On another topic, I recently purchased an extraordinary piece of high end audio gear. Extraordinary because of what it did to my system—I had clearly never heard my CDP properly before—and because of what it cost, just a few hundred dollars. I refer to the LightSpeed Attenuator, which uses opticouplers (LDRs) instead of pots or stepped attenuators (wipers then) to control volume. The most astounding passive I have ever heard, by a country mile. Beats all the actives Ive heard for that matter too. You really need to hear it and get someone to review it. Hundreds of others at DIYaudio have had a similar experience. Perhaps you already have heard it, but Im sure others would like to read an objective review of what this little wonder can do. No remote and only one input, sadly, but for the money I can totally overlook both.

If you want more info on the device or the maker's email, feel free to contact me here. By the by, I neither know George (the guy who designed it and makes it) nor have any financial or other interests in his little enterprise. Cheers from a 6moons fan.

Peter Louisson

Dear Srajan,

First of all, I hope you are by now happily settled in Switzerland, in that lovely place you made your recent move to. Next, hats off to you for publishing "How easy it is to be a reviewer". By now I have learned quite well how important a mature, broad, open view is to everything audiophile, and was struck down to have dealt with an online magazine (not yours) in which the publisher does in fact, hand-on-heart (!), believe to have the best system, best sound, and best understanding in the world. When I could finally collect my jaw bone from the floor, and found that my pulse had returned to an organic state capable supporting vitality, I found myself in the precarious position, in the most delicate manner, of suggesting that one not be so rigid, especially, I would assume, someone who plans to write more articles in the future (alas, who knows what that holds - even for our own views?). Guess what happened? I was provided with many second-party email copies supporting the claims that I am dealing with the Holder of Audio Truth, and again my jaw found itself somewhere between my shoe laces. I didn't know my eyes could roll that far upwards.

Sorry for wasting your time with this, but I just wanted to say to you: thank you for being continuously honest with yourself, a trait which shines through all of your published material and makes your publication the quality source that it has grown into. It has true character, and that's not a goal in and of itself, which makes it good character. As much as you repeatedly bring up the fascinating and always so colorful tie between the personalities behind the making of the gear and the inevitable outcome of both the gear's sound and appearance, so I would like to say that this holds true of you and 6moons as well.

So, this is my improvised mini review of your reviewing - it stands out because you are being yourself. I specifically applaud your philosophical angle, something which enriches the angles that each reader will have of his own. Only somebody who has consciously tread a path in your philosophical direction can authentically report on reflections and echoes which call to mind the inspired ideas you see. We need this human aspect because all gear is made by humans, which plays music made by humans, listened to by humans.

I cannot tell you how boring it is when a reviewer says something is the best in the world one month and then changes his mind the next. No, now this! Now this! Now this!

I applaud your seeing over these hills and valleys - a viewpoint that all of us audiophiles need to contemplate. See any forum for the usual terrain. For example, Audiogon deletes 80% of all uploaded traffic before it ever makes it to the server, and even with this precautionary measure, the hills and valleys remain clearly in obstructed view. Thank you for your satellite view of the day-to-day weather. It is no coincidence that your home is now in high altitude.

Best regards,
Louis Motek

Actually - our home is at merely 750-or-so meters above sea level. But we're surrounded by mountains which until about July still had snowy peaks. I'm not a formally trained but self-made writer and my ability is limited to writing how I think. So how I think about things and how I write are one and the same. I've encouraged all on my staff to practice the same and—rather than pretend at some abstract 'objective' stance whereby their personality gets removed from the process as though they were machines spitting out test scores—to really invest themself with their full personalities into the writing. I figure the more of the writer's personality and corks the reader can be privy to, the more he or she can relate - for better or worse doesn't matter as disagreeing or agreeing are equally valuable. As long as you know clearly where the writer stands and how you stand in relationship to him, you can walk away with something useful and feel served..


Hallo Srajan!

Today the two parcels from you arrived. Thanks first for taking all the hassle about shipment. I think that Chinese company should be renamed “heaven of loose screws!”. The first inspection showed the following faults:

Power amp: Complete chassis bent so power switch defective (easy to change!) – one solid core wire broken from input to potentiometer. Otherwise the amp is operating. Power output a bit below 20 watts into 4 ohms, THD and noise around –50dB. Some amount of hum existing due to poor PSU construction. But I think with that amp I can make somebody happy!

CD player: The lid mechanism should operate via a small metal bar tripping a micro switch when the lid is closed. The adjusting screw of that lid was loose so the metal bar could't operate the switch. Due to bad quality, that bar was also stuck a bit. After that the player changed from “open” to “CD read” when the lid was closed. But the CD didn't spin. After some closer inspection I could see that the servo board of the drive was only held by two screws. These were loose so the servo board touched the metal beneath it to short the motor drive stage (smoke traces on PCB) …no chance to get that working again without a new servo board. Next step will be to see if the D/A converter is any good.

Best regards,
Stephan Götze

The above relates to the two Miu Audio pieces of my Non-Review thereof. Ivan at Miu couldn't afford to pay for return shipping to China so instead of junking the pieces, I gave them to reader Stephan whose day job in electronics suggested he could fix them as a little side project and if successful, pass them on to a cash-strapped audiophile. It seems one out of two will get resurrected so the exercise was worth the effort. Thanks very much to Stephan for turning this misadventure around. - Srajan

Dear Sir,
here is a 6moons reader’s letters feedback on theDussun V8i reviewed by Mr. Wayne Zufall. I request you as the editor of 6moons post this reader’s comment after Mr. Zufall’s review of Dussun V8i. It is only fair to let your readers see this comment. I do not think that it has any value to keep Mr. Zufall’s review of Dussun V8i at 6moons’ site, thought it is not my business at all.By the way, I tried to contact Mr. Zufall with no success. I do not know this reader at all, do not know what TG stand for.
Ping Gong


I just read Mr Wayne Zufall's review of the Dussun V8i. I bought one of these amps and in my system (Spendor S5e, Consonance 120 CD player), it sounds nothing like he describes - and that's from someone who just switched from a tube integrated (Cayin TA-30). I believe from my experience and others from what I read that 100 hours break-in is far too little for this amp (mine is a year old). Also, the metal jumpers that come with the amp don't help the sound at all. The other reviews of this amp state that the preamp is the weakest part and the amp is better. Mr Zufall says the opposite. So why does this bother me? It's just that if I had read this review before my purchase, I might have passed on buying it and missed what I (and a lot of other people) find to be an excellent piece of equipment. I believe Mr. Zufall missed the boat on this one.

It doesn't take special requests by a distributor to have us publish letters that disagree with review findings on his product. On the other hand, just because a reader and buyer disagrees doesn't mean the review is rendered invalid and will be removed from our site. All it would take then is for a manufacturer or importer to solicit such reader letters from a few owners or manufacturer them himself and presto - a review whose opinion one disagrees with has been pulled. Not only is the entire premise behind that suggestion faulty, it also fails to respect the work the reviewer had put into the review. Just because you don't like it doesn't mean it should be destroyed. I also seem to recall that I already published TG's comment a long time ago after the review in question posted. Anyway, here it is again.

Hi Srajan. 

I emailed you before about my experiences with the MiniWatt.  Originally I found it to be a good amp but close to the opposite of your impression. Something has changed.  The amp is now more lit, more present, more alive than before and recently killed my $1500 2A3 amp in a shootout. Sounded better in everything but the high treble where I still find the Mini rolled off.  Nuts for $269. I also had the opportunity to borrow a Virtue 1 recently.  Nice amp with vivid presentation. Not the most "real" sounding but great for the price.  Nice to see the price of admission for high end keeps dropping.  Thanks for the reviews.

Bruce McDougall
Dear Editor,

I have been an avid follower of 6moons for some time now. To be honest I had problems with your volumptuous prose in the beginning. In fact I sometimes wondered if I was reading a future version of the English language. Either you have gotten leaner and meaner or I have finally gotten my brain around the style. In any event I enjoy and am instructed. I am reminded of my first encounters with The Absolute Sound and Harry Pearson who had to create a totally new way to describe his audio experience. In truth you are a true follower of that tradition! Specifically and to the point, I have recently had the pleasure of dealing with Cullen Circuits (Wyred4Sound), having sent an ICE amp to be upgraded. It's worth saying how small firms like theirs (who are no doubt struggling in a very competitive and difficult market) give superlative service and feedback, of a quality far exceeding the small returns they can expect from single customers. Theirs is not an isolated example and in an age of crass and fast, this is to be applauded and given recognition. Respectfully,

Shep Strudwick

Haha. After 7 years of constant practice, I think I've managed to get a bit leaner and meaner. I certainly try. And perhaps you're meeting me halfway in the middle from the other direction now. If it's working, excellent. Pleased to also hear about your experience at Cullen Circuits. My experiences with them were top drawer and it's gratifying to hear this wasn't special press treatment but standard MO - treat customers with courtesy, respect and consideration. Very good. It's how it should be but often is not. You're right, exceptions deserve to be recognized. EJ Sarmento, go -.)


I read your "non-review" the other day and just wanted to send a brief message and thank you for it. It takes a man with integrity, honesty and balls of steel... You seem to be that kind of a man. You also seemed to have been patient with this guy, offered some constructive criticism, help and suggestions. To him, all a waste of your breath, not hearing a word you said, completely missing the opportunity. You put him in his place. Good and I loved it. 

Please don't let this change your focus. The "little guy" is still well worth your attention and mine as a consumer. 

Good job!

Dragan Z.

I do feel bad when this kind of thing happens. But this crossed the line and demanded consumer protection. Thankfully it's been a very rare occurence and hopefully, will stay that way.


Hi there,
Just read your review of the Hiraga pig skin TT mat, in which you state "...a material heretofore seen in a turntable mat only by Acoustic Solid..." Well, being a typically objectionable Englishman, I beg to differ!

47 Laboratory have been offering TT mats in pig skin and deer skin for a couple of years; and cheaper, too. The pig skin version is €50, the deer skin is €90. The pig skin version looks identical to the Hiraga version but is black rather than green/brown.

Great article by the way.

Hi Martin,

thanks for the feedback. It proves once again howthe audio market has more nooks and crannies than one suspects. The prices you mention are indeed more real world. However, a quick run to the cobbler's might start a great DIY project!

Dear Sir:

While I have nothing but respect for you and your publication, I happened upon this statement from a reviewer you’ve just put on staff: “I would specify that my attraction for 'balanced' gear is also due to the fact that I am listening to various kinds of music.”

This statement would be embarrassing coming from a novice audiophile... but from an audio reviewer, it's just plain inexcusably stupid. It also demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of the nature of both balanced and unbalanced circuitry. Moreover, I know that you know better than this. My question to you is as follows: How could you allow this sort of crapulence to appear on your esteemed website? I’m appalled.

Yours sincerely,
Jason Li

I think we've got a case of lost in translation here. 'Balanced' here refers to 'balance' as in, an even scale, not dual-differential fully balanced circuitry. That's also why the word balanced in the quote was put in hyphens. If gear is well balanced and not voiced to an extreme, it will accommodate all kinds of music and not be too specialized to favor one over the other. Makes sense? At least that's how I understood the meaning and that's why I didn't edit the statement.

Dear Srajan,

I am currently using a Music First passive from a Modwright modified player to a Spectron amp on to Magnepan 3.6s. I really enjoy the see-through quality and easy flow, but wonder if I am missing something, and how these two would compare. I always have a few clicks left on the MFs volume at my listening levels, and wonder if the Wyred would just be attenuating here and loose any advantage it might otherwise have. I also wonder how the Modwright would fit into the picture.
Best regards, and thanks for your time.

Poul Eriksson, San Francisco

There is a fundamental misunderstanding here about assigning similarity between your Music First passive and the W4S preamp. Like Esoteric's C-03, the Wyred is an active preamp with a buffer circuit for impedance stabilization and high voltage supply rails to insure current drive. These preamps don't care at what volume level they operate just because they have no active gain at certain settings. The FirstWatt F4 too has no voltage gain whatsoever and is an amplifier with just a current buffer. No gain = passive is the erroneous conclusion. So to wonder "if the Wyred would just be attenuating to lose any advantage it might otherwise have" is immaterial. You will listen below unity gain just as with the MFA - but unlike with the MFA, you'll have real drive and it should be immediately audible. I too have a Passive Magnetic and there is no comparison.


Dear Sir, just a silly little question but it bothers for a long time. In your reviews you state all the equipment used while this is nice.....however, it is always a pain to find out what you are actually testing. Take the test of the Audia flight phono.

Is it an amp? A preamp? A phono amp? Or an amp with integrated phono preamp? Sometimes even after reading the whole article I still don't know what the machine tested is actually for. Now I understand that I may not be the smartest of men but please take in account that there will be plenty of other daily readers who will have the same problem. So could you please tell at the beginning of the article what the actual tested machine is for?
Greetings from the Netherlands, Joop van Gemert

I might be in the minority in publishing to say that I continue to trust in the intelligence of our readership but I do and see no reason to suddenly assume they've gone daft. The header of the review in question says "Flight Phono". The photos show no volume control, no speaker binding posts. Anyone who can read the two words of the title and looks at the photos for more than one second needn't read a single other word to understand that the component under review must be a phono preamp and couldn't possibly be a preamp or integrated. Then there's the photo of the loading bay. Which power amp do you know that has impedance adjustments by jumpers? Sir, I fail to see any potential for confusion. What's more, the reviewer clearly states at the onset that he is about to embark on a series of reviews on phono stages. Are you quite certain that you actually read things word for word rather than skim over the page? I'm afraid that anything more would be fit for kindergarten and that's decidely not who we write for. A bit of thinking on the part of our readers is required and shall continue to remain necessary. But then you yourself called it a silly little question so we'll leave it at that...


Hi Srajan, 

Like many other people, I read every single audio review published by 6moons. Yesterday evening I was reading the Albedo review. Before reading the review I had some mixed feelings: although the shape is distinctly Italian and elegant, it seemed too stylish to sound good. After reading your review, I was really impressed. They (the designers) seem to have done almost everything right. According to your review, this speaker seems to be designed to cope with my taste. I listen mainly to classical music so the space resolution for large ensembles is really important and it is very difficult to find in reasonably priced speakers. 

I was so enthusiastic that I started considering buying a pair of Albedos. But arriving at the end of the review I just noticed something was missing. And that something was a Blue Moon Award. So I read the review once more, trying to find the small bit of text that cast the shadow and hid the moon. But I could not really find it; at least not for sure.

Is it the price? Some issue with the sound balance? Any thoughts?

Thanks in advance,
Xavier Pintado
Begnins - Switzerland

A few things. First, it shouldn't be an award which bends the final decision. It purely should be the greatest overlap of qualities matching your personal requirements, at a price you can afford and a look you can live with. Awards are a means to distinguish and differentiate particular products from the incredible number of options, many of which are very fine specimens without real flaws (though always specific limitations inherent in concept and price). In this instant, €5.5K for a small two-way isn't a supreme value when for the same money, you can buy a Zu Essence without the ultimate SPL or LF extension limitations of the Albedo. That said, the Albedo uses expensive drivers, a nightmare-to-make enclosure, quality hardware in the plinth, exceptional finish etc. Given the usual conventions, the price is fair. But in this economy, it would take a greater value proposition to have me reach for the award seal.

Incidentally, Massimo Costa as I learned from the e-mail below has extensive exposure to what the market offers. Like Jean Hiraga who now launched his own loudspeaker, Albedo relies on first-hand knowledge of competing designs to a far greater extent than most designers. This might explain why Costa's design crosses off so many items so successfully. He's formally reviewed many many speakers over his career.


Dear Srajan,
I want to congratulate you on the review of my Albedo HL2.2. Maybe you don't know that I was for several years (ten, more?) editor and then editor-in-chief of Italian hifi paper magazines so I appreciated the high reliability of your review. And I don't say this because the review is very positive but because what you wrote is what I really think about these loudspeakers - with their values and lacks because no loudspeaker can be perfect at everything. A really really well done review.
Massimo Costa
Albedo Loudspeakers
Thank you Srajan for directing a bit of light on Jean Hiraga. Some of his early speaker designs were the stuff of legend. Perhaps the opportunity will arise for you to hear his new 604 implementation fully dressed (the speaker, not you - and should you be undressed during any of your evaluations, please let Ivette and Suki retain their distinction as sole witnesses...of course upstairs, after a bit of Bikram, occasionally I'll pour some music over the peace so no judgment implied.)

On another note, I would love to know a bit more about the crossover.  I've heard tell of first and fourth order crossovers on that driver and am curious to hear his approach.

Best Regards,
Fred Crane

I'm afraid we didn't get cross and over so for specifics, you'll have to contact Jean directly through his site. I imagine he'll be less than forthcoming on it all as that part is likely "the big secret".


Hi Srajan

Just a note to say how much I enjoyed the reverse road tour with Jean Hiraga stepping over your hallowed threshold. One thing did intrigue me, half way down page 2 the picture of Jean in  the listening chair looking positively relaxed with puss cat at his feet seemingly enjoying a "Metallica"  moment with ears laid back. What was actually playing at that point ? ;)

Best wishes

Nick Brown

Certainly no Metallica. Not sure about the moment but we went through Renaud Garcia Fons, Vassilis Tsabropolous, Hüsnü Senlendiriçi, Miguel Poveda, Sevara Nazarkhan, Angelo Debarre with Ludovic Beier, some Mussorgsky transcriptions, Bebo y Cigala and things of that sort.



Thank you for your story on Jean Hiraga. Hiraga's biggest fault is not  being American. Let me explain. 30 years ago, the best audio magazine  was not American nor British but French: La Nouvelle Revue du Son.  Hiraga was the only audio journalist to write about exotic JBL and  Altec-based systems. He wrote fascinating stories on Iwata, Onken,  Mahul and other brilliant minds. I found his style academic, stiff and très français - but he had a clear understanding of sound and music.

At that time, StereoReview and an underground Absolute Sound were almost  exclusively writing about Kloss and Villchur acoustic suspension  speakers and SAE amplifiers. Hiraga and La Revue du Son were reporting  on big horn-based systems, low-power amplifiers, true high-resolution  public adress systems (discos!), Japanese enthusiasts, .... I still  have his "Le Haut-Parleur" book and was truly inspired by his passion.

I find it sad that Hiraga's influence was limited to the smallish  French market. If he had been American, the North American audio  landscape would probably have been different. Thank you for opening a  window on this legend.

Robert Gaboury
Montréal, Canada

Hi Srajan,

The site is looking great and the content is as good as ever.  Plus I believe you are getting on the right track when you comment on the pricing excesses.

One questions...  The font size has changed to a smaller one and the look is more narrow.   Does it have to be that way?  Its harder on the eyes to read the text.  Can you set the font size a larger (back to where it was)?

Thanks for such great work over the years

Peter Breuninger

Adobe GoLive 6.0, my HTML program, finally refused to launch, apparently incompatible with the latest XP or Mozilla upgrades. Ditto for 7 - 9 which I installed. I had to embrace Dreamweaver, the present version. This adds functionality, hence a slightly revised appearance. But the font size remains Arial 10 at it's always been and the text width of the site is still 700 pixels. Nothing has changed there. What has changed is right-margin justification for text. This stretches or compacts the spacing of words per line to insert irregularities. In the end, you can easily change the font size in your browser to whatever works best with your vision.


Hi Srajan!

I just want to thank you for the lovely article and review on the iNNOSound Piccolo speakers. I was very intrigued by the design and I quickly contacted the distributor and arranged for a sample!

I will admit that at first the speakers didn't sound all that great, just above average, but after just a few hours the sound just opened up. The soundstage was amazingly deep and wide, I actually have these set up next to my regular speakers and it sounded like music was coming from the outer speakers!

Long story short, I will be offering these speakers on my website and my dealers will also be stocking them. I hope to make these speakers more easily available to music lovers outside of Australia -:)

International -
Australia -
New Zealand -

Cheers, John
Hello, I have looked on various websites and not found a review of the Decware interconnects.  I have just starting using them and find them balanced, natural, revealing and very reasonably priced.
Not knowing how many other cables sound, I can't make a relative comparison but all I can say is that I will now be looking to upgrade other parts of my system because I have found the cable that works for me.
Dan Bare
Srajan I love your website and in particular the reviews you write because they're written with the ear and heart of a musician, not those from a hifi reviewer (and you avoid the sin of many hifi magazine, who have lost all credibility with me by calling almost every new product they review fabulous, a revelation, "a new reference at its price point.")
I'm currently in the process of upgrading my headphone amp/headphone combo (Grado RA1/Grado RS2). I love the sound of the RS2 but the RA1 has been a bit of a disappointment (it's not bad, it just does not add much relative to a decent headphone socket in a decent amp). I'm thinking Trafomatic/Sennheiser HD800 or Trafomatic/Grado GS000 or PS1000 as two possibilities.
I also want to upgrade my speakers (Thiel CS2.3). They are great value for money, I love their transparent sound, their imaging and their disappearing act,but I would like to go to the next level ($5000-$8000) and have those qualities plus a more tangible sound with deeper, more saturated tones (without falling into the trap of the artificially cozy but clogged and wooly sound).

Any advice would be greatly appreciated (the rest of my system consists of a NAD M5 Master Series SACD player and an NAD M3 Dual Mono Integrated Amp, both of which give me great pleasure.

PS: Love your show reports like Munich, wish you could index the manufacturers' pages so that one would not have to open many pages to get to, say, Zu Audio.

Jacques Alain Miniane

It might make sense to remain within the Thiel line seeing you enjoy the CS2.3. If you went outside, I'd stay with 1st-order designs and would look at the top Green Mountain Audio. For headphones, the Trafomatic Experience Head One is fantastic and a very good value.


A wonderful gesture to pass on the two Trafomatic products. If I was in Switzerland rather than Australia, I would be knocking on your door. I go to your site so much, I owe you thanks for all of your thoughts, writings and the efforts of others you support.

Best Wishes
Ian Lobb

Thanks, Ian. I occasionally struggle with being in the biz of "toys for rich boys". In the big scheme of things, it seems pretty meaningless. But when I focus on the number of people that get something out of this site -- readers finding stuff they like, manufacturers and distributors and dealers benefiting from sales which help keep their doors open and their employees paid and eating -- then it seems okay. And finding things like the MiniWatt and Ampino and Glow amps, the Piccolo computer speakers and such also broadens the "rich boys" element to include "not so rich at all" folks. It's another equalizer that does make it all very worthwhile after all.



Wow, your latest Wyred4Sound preamp review is quite eye-opening. I haven’t bought the Esoteric C-03 yet (still demoing, dealer is redoing his room so I got to keep it for extended  period ). As you know I own the LS 36.5 dual mono 2 box (and a Bent TAP and Audio Valve Elkipse, both are going to be put up for sale asap).  Is the STP worth the demo (i.e in the same league?). Wyred has a 30 day return, with 15% restock…which is reasonable given their direct pricing model.  What likely will miss from the Esoteric?  Thx

Ted Brady

Definitely same league with the Esoteric and ModWright. What you give up over the Esoteric is the latter's 3-stage gain switching which builds in 'analog signal processing' options to tailor the sound to the amp. For a reviewer, it's heaven-sent. For a civilian, it could be unnecessary. The Esoteric's enclosure is far more substantial and the remote a metal wand. But the Wyred gives you 15 steps of balance (the C-03 only 3dB) and remote polarity inversion. So if you're shopping for expensive preamps, the STP ought to be part of that audition - if only to show that if you like something else better, it likely will be a tight race and cost you a lot more -.)


Hi Srajan.  I picked up a MiniWatt per your review and wanted to give you some feedback. I agree that the amp is fast and punchy, with outstanding dynamics.  However, in my system, Cornwalls, Totem Staff, some 93dB homebuilts, the amp is fat, rich, chocalaty, rolled on top, not too transparent, full, spiderwebs wafting Indian breeze evenings, romantic, and generally big sounding.  Kind of like the Almarro which I have owned, although it kicks the snot out of the Almarro in every way. I have also borrowed a Glow Amp One, which was clean, precise, super extended on top, far more transparent but with no bass or dynamics. I much prefer the MiniWatt especially at the price. Of course we are dealing with single- ended amps, so our individual speaker choices will affect the sound to a great degree. I guess I am letting you know that I got almost the opposite result that you experienced but am still happy.  The super dynamic punchy rich combination I am getting is actually kind of hard to achieve,and my readers will probably cotton up to it as well.  I am going to modify my Cornwall crossovers from first to second order soon and this change can sometimes give a zippier more extended sound.  Anyway thanks for the review and hope you are well. 

Bruce McDougall

Thanks for the note, Bruce. First reader responses have mostly duplicated 'my' sonic flavor but it's important to stress that SETs and speakers can interact in unpredictable ways. Your experience showcases that. I am glad however that regardless, you're happy with the acquisition. Phew, close call -:)


Good evening.

Somehow I found your very detailed report about the HIGHEND 2009 in Munich and following the 6moons. Great to see the passion, thank you very much. I was a little bit surprised that there was no report about Silbersand, in my experience the world's best loudspeaker. Mr. Müller, the head of the company, is the Müller from Backes and Müller and scientiest behind all their developments. Have a look at and if you want to experience something special, make a visit.

Have a good day


Guilty as charged, I did miss the Silbersand exhibit -:)


Hi Srajan:

Well I'm back sniffing around higher efficiency speakers again in order to try and find something which will partner with my Aria 2A3 amp and Modwright ModWright SWLP 9.0 SE pre-amp better than my Reference 3A De Cappo i's. This combo with a Vitrial Dynamics Master wiring loom has tone to die for, but I just wish it had a a little more of  "Peter Gabriel's hammer" in the bass department. Ergo my quest for some higher efficiency speakers.

Which brings me to your review of the Zu Essence. Just a minor quibble and I know that you're citing Stereophile's John Atkinson but my Melody 2A3 monos are 18wpc.  Even your own review of the Melody integrated stated that the 2A3 push/pull integrateds had "a useful 18 watts of Class A/B" I assume then that the "10W" figure in this article was just a typo:

..."Stereophile's John Atkinson: "As my readers will know, I am not generally a fan of designs where sensitivity/efficiency is given preference as a design goal over low coloration. But driven by a Melody 2A3-based push-pull amplifier offering all of 10W, the Essence sounded surprisingly clean and relatively neutral, as well as superbly dynamic."

However, my dilema is this, I now have a wonderful 2A3 SET amp but I can't find any information about its maker or its specs. I think its 5 wpc but aren't certain (see sale description below). I bought it to try out a 2A3 SET as opposed to
my Melody 2A3 push/pull  monos. I'm glad I did but now I would like to partner it with some speakers which will do the amp justice. Have you ever heard about this amp and/or do you have any suggestions about which speakers might really shine with it?  I was eye-balling the Zu Essence but it sounds like they need at least 18 wpc plus in order to really get up and boggie, " Alas, the Essence likes more power than its membership in Club Hi-Eff would suggest".
Is it even possible to approach something like your description of the Essence speakers "for any spirited jam sessions,
this speaker is Peter Gabriel's hammer. Forget subwoofers. They're not needed." when using a 2A3 SET 5 wpc amp?

Thanks for any info or tips which you can provide in my quest.

Jim Kelly

Current amps on hand:
Sim Audio W-3  (125 wpc - SS), Blue Circle BC6 (25wpc class A), Melody 2A3 push/pull monos (18 wpc) and Aria 2A3 SET (5wpc)

Never heard of your amp so I can't be certain but 4 watts tend to be what a single-ended 2A3 will produce. Re: the quote, I didn't correct it since for a published rather than informal e-mail quote that's taboo but yes, the push/pull Melody is 18wpc. Re: the Essence, the second (full production) pair I bought didn't have the minor reticence of the pre-production first pair to come on song with flea power. I've run it successfully off my Yamamoto 45 amp (2wpc) and the insane $229 MiniWatt (2.5wpc) as the latter's review details. In fact that was/is a fabulous combo that looks impossible on paper but works brilliantly in the real world of experience. All of the amps in your digs will work just fine on the Essence you're curious about.



What a joy to watch your web site grow-up and flower over the past seven years.  You always had a great nose for finding good audio and your prose has always been a pleasure to read. I still enjoy a Bel Canto Evo amp married to a tube pre-amp after having been tippd off to Class D by your early writings in support of the technology.  I wonder if other readers of your site have found that their listening habits have noticably changed over the past seven years?   I now enjoy listening to a wide range of live audience recordings traded online. That is another digital revolution that has been going on which has not been widely covered, the amazing quality and miniturization of recording equipment.  I now enjoy listening to old favorites from Jazz to Rock, but also new field recordings of Indian Ragas and other artists .

Now I'm surveying your site for new ideas as I need to replace my digital source. I'm thinking of giving up on CD players for a computer-based type solution because of my enjoyment of live recordings.  The live spark is a joy to listen to, such that having to stop and swap out discs frustrates the flow when listening to an entire show.  Listening to live recordings of entire shows is probably the biggest motivating factor for my next selection: more control of 'extended'listening experiences coupled with better sound. It has surprised me how long it has taken for good computer-based solutions ( USB/DAC and music servers ) to appear.  I would have thought there would be more of them by now. Have any of your reviewers built their own computer-based systems? Would be interesting to hear about their experiences.

Kevin Teixeira

Stephaen is a "PC convert" running a Wavelength USB DAC, his friend Jeff Day and former moons scribe as well and I have made experiments in that direction with a MacBook Pro and certain USB DACs that came thru on review but haven't settled on anything conclusive yet (Esoteric's SA-50 currently in for review could be a head turner - 32-bit conversion with selectable synchronous upsampling, no pre-ringing filter and option to even go DSD, all applicable to USB). Happy to hear your musical consumption habits have expanded. Bravo.


I wanted to let you know Nuforce has some new cables out using a new technology called "FocusedField Technology". On paper it looks like a promising design but that doesn't tell us how it sounds.


Hi Srajan,

just a quick update on the MiniWatt trial. I tried a few different combinations with it, and I found the combination with the KingRex Preamp the most satisfying (MiniWatt wide open; KingRex for volume adjustment). The KingRex seems to add just the slightest hint of support in the lowest frequencies and enlarges the soundstage by a fairly well discernable margin. I'm also assuming that the diamond buffer in the KingRex adds a touch of dynamic expansion – a bit more punch (for lack of a better term). In this combination, the MiniWatt remains the Lotus Elise of amps and the KingRex just adds the leather seats – it feels like everything is just exactly right. This is a very tight and nimble package and every time I sit down to listen to it I go: come on – you got to be kidding. Somebody is cheating here!

All the best -

regards, Markus

CD Player: Shenda Music Van (no op amp, all tube output) | Pre amp: KingRex Preamp | Amp: MiniWatt | Speakers: ProAc Response 1 SC | Cables: Blue Jeans Cable (all)


If there's one thing I don't like it's someone squeezing onto my turf.  It's an old New Orleans thing.  Neighborhoods are sacred as are schemes. It was just last week I told a sweet young thing about my tenure at 'The Moons'...need I say more.  Money in the Bank; free audio equipment and scantily clad women.

Johnny B. Bad.

Fred Crane
Hi Srajan,
I enjoy your articles immensely. Based on your comments about the MiniWatt amp, I ordered and installed one in my system. Below is the comment I just sent to the MiniWatt team. Keep it up - I appreciate very much what 6moons does!
Best regards, Markus Rufer 

Hi there,

I have received the MiniWatt today and did some listening after  just a one-hour warm up. Here is my advice to potential buyers: Enjoy looking at the MiniWatt - or, enjoy listening to it. Do not do both at the same time because your brain can not reconcile the two! The quality of signal reproduction is absolutely astounding. For a unit this size and price, it is downright unbelievable. My speakers are not very efficient (86db) and I get them to play plenty loud at 11. Below is my system before inserting the MiniWatt - now the MiniWatt will stay! A true high-fidelity component for a price that most audiophiles pay for a pair of interconnect cables. I cannot stop smiling!

Markus Rufer  CD Shenda Music Van | Pre amp KingRex | Amp Trends Audio TA-01.1 Michael Mardis mods V2.0 | Speakers ProAc Response 1 SC | All cables Blue Jeans Cable

Hello Srajan,

Firstly, I must say I enjoy your writing about audio and the way you present the English language. I know you tread a fine line between serving the reader as well as the manufacturers and you do it very well. I have been in contact with Richard Krol about becoming a dealer for Hexateq in North America. We have made this contact because of your preview - of course we have not yet heard the monos but I sense your review is heading in a positive direction. I am wondering when the final review will see the light of day.

We import Marten into Canada but primarily we are retailers in Alberta Canada and we are in the process of building our new store. Details of our construction can be seen on the Naim Audio forum under the thread 'A store is Born'.

Kind Regards and Happy Listening,
Bryan Taylor
The Gramophone Inc
Edmonton Canada


I am thoroughly enjoying my demo time with a loaner EsotericC-03 from a US dealer I know.  I will most undoubtedly buy it once I sell its replacement. Great piece!  Question: I am hearing nice changes that occur when I move from 0dB gain to +12dB gain and vice versa.  My question is about individual input gain trims.  Is -6B trimmed on an input (in +12 db gain mode) the same as +6db on that input in db gain mode?  They obviously put out equivalent SPLs but I feel like I’m hearing a slight change that is generally associated with the overall global setting (i.e a little more transient energy in 0db, a little more dynamics and bass in 12db).  


Ted Brady

I agree with your finding that the master gain setting is what determines the 'flavor'. The newest software version includes a 24dB option which, I think can be retro-fitted in the software to get older 0/12 machines to 0/12/24. It's an amazingly useful feature to have. 24dB adds more warmth and wallop but the incisive transients also soften more. (What follows is Esoteric's response to Ted which Tim copied me on.)


Dear Ted,

You are hearing exactly what you suspected. Our engineers in Japan were very pleased to read your comments because the sound character you describe is what they were attempting.  They wrote me and said: "Thank your customer for his comment about the C-03 as "Great piece"! Regarding input gain control, both (individual gain and total gain) will be added. For example, if individual gain is set to -6db and total gain set at +12db, output gain will be +6db. Regarding sound character of total gain 0db and +12db, most of our other customers mention the same feeling as he did.   It is our intention to give such sound character difference to offer the customer choices."

Now I translated this from the broken English that emails arrive from Japan with so I hope I captured his intent.

Best regards,

Esoteric Support

Hi Srajan,

I was approached by someone named Jonny Park who wanted to review my modifications to Magnepan speakers (Magnestand). He wrote me early in the year and told me he could review them for his old publication or for 6 Moons, whom he'd soon be reviewing for. I had little free time this spring so did not get the chance to get a demo pair made for him. I planned to do so this autumn and have written him 3 times but have not gotten a reply.  Does he indeed write for you (I don't see mention on your website) and if so has anything happened to him? It's odd that he should vanish like he did as he always responded quickly in the past. If you could shed any light on this it would be appreciated, and thanks very much for your time.

John Kruczek

He does not write for me nor do I know him.


Hi Srajan,

I hope this finds you and 6moons doing well. I just wanted to say thanks for running the article on the SMc Audio revised DAC. I realize this falls well outside of the usual path of article submission, so I was pleased to see that you chose to run it. Beyond its publicity value for me (which is much appreciated, of course), I felt that Mr. Baumli made some useful observations and had some interesting things to say. I hope your readers agree.

Best regards,

Steve McCormack

Hello Srajan,

I am really very happy to got one F5 amp before all sold out. As you said, it's quiet - dead quiet. I also thought the amp didn't work the first time I switched it on:-) nothing goes missing in a recording. But what impresses me the most is that the amp has minimal traces of mechanical/electronic artifacts and an unforced rhythm that draws the listener into the music at the first note...  

 A "Chef -d'oeuvre". The master Nelson knows how to cook!  

Kind regards,
Franck Tchang
Hi Srajan,

Brief: Essence & CFA-1, to quote a Ft. Lauderdale friend, "slick as sh*t!"

Play by play: Peter Steinfadt of Frankfurter Hörgeselleschaft was at my home today with a brand new Crayon CFA-1. Peter said your trial amp had roughly 500 hours already on it. My friend Moritz (Offenes Ohr Berlin) scolds me when I 'jump' to conclusions (he's the only person I know who can simultaneously translate Latin into German and vice-versa ~ golden ears compared to my brass ones), however, I'm getting too old to doubt my first impressions, conversely, I understand my gut feeling better today than than say, twenty years ago.

The Crayon CFA-1 is 'better' than my Gryphon Tabu Century. Mind you, I only A/B'd about 15 minutes ('get the car fixed and he came an hour later as planned but cool). Revolver Norwegian Wood and Cash's Unchained Rowboat in MWI 9100ES to micromega Duo.Pro DAC, Zu Varial & Libtec, Michell banana adapters. Paul's bass was clear-cut, steel guitar 'floated' into nether; build a coffin for an O.K. Corral shootout, CFA-1 is the new gunslinger "Billy." Seriously, I can live without the CFA-1 but like the Klinger-Favre (at almost twice as much money and no phono or remote...), either of these amps are the 'first' I have heard where I admit there is a 'betterness' involved notwithstanding my preference for tone and warmth...

Excellent amp - your ears are fine!


Hey Srajan,

Congrats on 7!

An important milestone, an important number, and an important achievement, from a number of aspects.☺

Best regards,
Jim Smith
Hi Srajan,

I have just been listening to Nefes again and I can't get over what a well recorded CD it is. If you have the time and it is not too much trouble for you, could you please recommend some other CDs or SACD' for that matter that you use for reference. I find it difficult to find orchestral works that are of good quality, so if you have any of these that you consider reference quality I would appreciate knowing about them.

Once again, please respond only if it is not too much trouble for you.

Peter Borelli

Glad you like Mercan Dede's Nefes. It's one of my favorites. Renaud Garcia-Fons you already know. On the same higher octave of music and outstanding recording quality, I can recommend:

Vassili Tsabropoulis Melos - ECM
Hector Zazou & Swara In the House of Mirrors - Crammed Disc
Buenos Aires Madrigal, Sera Una Noche and Sera une Noche La Segunda on the m.a. recordings label
Anything by Quadro Nuevo on the GLM Musicverlag
Abed Azrié | Pedro Aledo Suerte - L'empreinte digitale (there are a number of later live versions of Suerte, all of which I have - this one is the best still and one of my all-time faves)
Corelli Concerti Grossi Op. 6 1-6 (Nicholas McGegan, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra) on Harmonia Mundi

This will get you started. If you agree with these recommendations and want more, there'll be more...


Hello Srajan

Firstly let me thank you for the delight you and the rest of the team provide. May I trouble you for the title of a CD which was used in a review, sorry I can't even recall which one. The CD exclusively featured bass guitar.

Best wishes,
Ramon Lambert

I'd love to help particularly since it's not a silly "which amp is better, A or B" type question but one about music. Alas, 6moons is far too massive an enterprise now to identify what you're looking for without a bit more of a lead. Like for example, who wrote it? What was the review about? How long ago was it published?



What's badly missing in your web site is Lehmann Black Cube Linear heaphone amp review. This amp was Sennheiser's choice to demonstrate new HD800 headphones. It would be good to know how it compares against Ray Samuels Raptor or HeadRoom Home Max amps. And is there any sonic difference between the single-ended and balanced input versions? And maybe test could be done with HD650 and HD800 headphones? (I own HD650.)

Guntis Bukalders

Is it? Well, I sold my 650s (didn't like them) and don't have 800s. I also don't have a Raptor or Home Max as review units are always returned unless the reviewer buys them. While it appears you want such a review to assist in a purchase decision, I'm afraid it's unlikely these particular comparisons will happen.


Hi Srajan,

It was great finally meeting up with you in the Emillé/Rethm room last week. You kindly offered to update your piece on Sound Galleries, so allow me to bring you up to date on where we are.

To add to my selection of typical 6moons fare and maintain my reputation as the local 6Moons dealer :-), I recently decided to take on Avantgarde Acoustic hornspeakers. I am currently offering demonstrations of the Duo Omega and Uno Nano. These are typically driven by Tom Evans or Red Wine Audio electronics, fed by an Ancient Audio Lektor Prime, iPod via Wadia iTransport, Raysonic CD168, Consonance Droplet or Fonel Simplicité.

In a week or so I will be receiving a pair of Primo' which will be swapped over for a pair of Trios with Double Basshorn later in the summer. An increasing trend seems to be for customers to walk in with a Mac/PC or iPod containing their entire music library. I find these people become increasingly enthusiastic as they hear their music in ways they haven't experienced before. One music selection leads naturally to another as they follow their inclinations.

This is easily facilitated by our Isabella with built in DAC, USB input as well as the usual s/pdif inputs. We have also recently added the Weiss Minerva Firewire DAC that allows us to easily demonstrate the possibility of higher resolution music from the likes of Reference Recordings HRX, 2L etc. to great effect.

The portable music library approach definitely beats being limited to the half dozen or so disks that people traditionally bring along. For people who just casually walk in without appointments or music, we have our own fully loaded iPods, Macs and an Apple TV feeding the Weiss DAC.

We have also added the Fonel Simplicité Tube CD player and plan to take on some of their pre and power amp options in the near future. Some of the Fonel stuff has, of course, been covered by your syndication with Fair Audio. I was particularly taken with their Emotion amp and Renaissance pre which I tried out at Sound Galleries just before the Munich show.

Another addition is the Music First Classic passive magnetic and we intend to also add their MKII pre with remote in the future. Also featured in Fair Audio some time back were the Klangwerk Ella active speakers, which we feel give B&O a run for their money on sleek modern style, while retaining true High-End kudos. We eagerly await Markus's Manger-based speaker, which is currenly in the works.

We will be receiving the latest Zu Essence speakers next week in addition to a pair ordered by a customer, in a gorgeous custom yellow colour.

Several visitors to Sound Galleries mentioned your coverage and once again I very much appreciate it.

Kind regards,
Sound Galleries, Monaco
Interesting think piece on Snarky and although I agree with everything you wrote, I don't think you stepped on the wrong side of the line even on the KR review. On occasion designers need to be brought back to earth. The real challenge in the value comparison is to keep a good sense for relative cost of the offering (i.e. workers' life conditions and compensation between China and the Czech Republic for example, direct Internet sales vs. a global network of distributors & retailers, 2.5 watts versus 30 watts) but as you pointed out, when better amplifiers made in Japan or Germany cost less, it is also our role to point it out.

I think it is a very American thing to expect black and white conclusions and not accept that a grey conclusion may just be a reflection of the facts, not an attempt at hiding the truth. That's an either with me or against me kinda mentality when our European education is far more about nuances and the fact that one truth may not fit all. The fact that some reviewers also religiously avoid any meaningful comparison or conclusion only makes matters worse, but you've never been in that category.

I guess my point is, don't beat yourself up and don't change - tweak if you feel like it - but if there is a Serbian amplifier out there costing 2% of the KR and doing a better job, who else would ever say it?


I don't intend to fundamentally change, just perhaps refine walking the gloves-off talk to be fair, tactful and neither vague nor excessive. Of course e-mails from disgruntled importer can sway you if one is inclined to the occasional self doubt so feedback is always appreciated.


Hi Srajan,

I just had a look at 6moons and saw the report on Terry's Audio Art Café. It's really refreshing to see people do things like that purely out of passion. There aren't so many in this industry it seems. Vital of Emillé Labs is another of them. We even decided to work together and get a booth at the Whittlebury Show (UK) in September. Our importers / distributors will have their own booths but Vital and I like to show our products together and we just enjoy each other's company so we'll go for it and have fun !

All the best.
Eric Dubouays
Triangle Electroacoustique Export Manager
Hi Srajan:

I just wanted to share this w/ you. I am researching the RWA Sig 30 over at AA (does that tell you which way I'm leaning?). You made the following comment a couple of years ago: "It's all fine and dandy to review the mega buck stuff and find little to criticize sonically - except that only 1 in 100 'philes might be able to afford it. But finding giant killers in the sane reaches... that's the real fun stuff to write about...."

That's why I love your stuff. Keep it up!

All the best,
Ed Schulte
hello srajan,

i see you're getting a bit snarky and censorious in your latest reviews. well done, believe me, times being what they are what this hobby needs is a seriously value-oriented perspective. with forty years of hifi consumption under my belt, i'm getting seriously bored with the suckers are born every minute reviewing technique. what i want is comparisons, evaluations and judgments. remember to call me up if you're in rome.

p.s. you won't get nagra to send you their 845 amps for review but try to listen to them sometimes.

michele surdi

Hi Srajan:

There you go again. Another great job on the MiniWatt. I had persuaded myself to simplify my life and turn to a SS amp and then you point out another "high value" jewel. I was leaning on buying a used Red Wine 30 watter. They can be bought (with volume control) for around $800 and I'd never have to worry about tubes, power cords, dedicated lines, etc, and then you plant the seed that possibly an Ampino or now MiniWatt could get me to a very satisfying place for even cheaper. Unfortunately, I don't get to listen as much as I would like now, so I am driven (even more than normal) to push the bang-for-the-buck envelope. Keep up the fantastic work. I always enjoy your efforts!

Wishing you and yours the very best,
Ed Schulte
Hello Mr. Srajan Ebaen

If it is of any interest to you, my experiences reflect your own impressions about this little MiniWatt wonder. First off, delivery to United States took just two (2) days. Unit was shipped on 17
th of this month and arrived at my local Post Office on the 19th (amazing). The unit isn't fully broken in yet but it sings like a champ with my own 8" bipolar speakers based on drivers from Omega & modified Fostex FE206eN.

My speaker are pretty efficient and listening at around 11 o'clock gave more than adequate levels where 12:30 was the loudness limit which I did not feel was necessary or enjoyable for longer periods of time.

Your review is very accurate without exaggeration and when one considers its asking price, the idea of a "giant killer" comes to mind.

Thank you for yet another great review!

Mariusz Stark

I had Sven Boenicke here yesterday delivering his top-line CHF 35.000 review loaner speakers - about 94dB, dual 8-inch widebanders assisted by Raal ribbon in solid tone-wood enclosure. I played him the MiniWatt on his own speakers and he was shocked too. I don't think too many people brainwashed by the power apostles will believe any of it but those who take a risk and give this a try (within the obvious qualifications of course) should be very pleasantly surprised. And yes, the giant killer thing is appropriate but has been wielded too often. I tried to 'underwrite' and instead produce a lot of photos and indications of volume settings with a wide variety of speakers to present the facts, hopefully sufficiently and enticingly enough for others to actually believe them. It would be a shame if in the present economic situation, those who can part with $269 for this amp delivered and have the right speakers and setup would disregard it. So your feedback is most appreciated. Once the MiniWatt folks gather more owner feedback in their gallery, this topic should get rolling nicely.


Hi, Michael:

Just wanted to say that I enjoyed your Fragile Souls piece, as well as the earlier article in which you argued that sensual pleasure, as opposed to the chimerical pursuit of 'live music', should be the sole criteria for judging the qualities of audio gear. I don't suppose you evoked anything but dismissive shrugs from the objectivists, but those of us who take the 'unscientific' approach can only be heartened when the case for listening to capital-M Music is made so well (and with such engaging graphics!).

Though I can't say I spend much time thinking about it, I have found it rather paradoxical that people with so little apparent imagination would be drawn to a pursuit that involves something as incorporeal and elusive as music. I think you've provided the answer -- it's the pleasure of feeling smarter than someone else, and it's hard to think of a bigger, softer target than the large numbers of us who care about hi-fi as a window into the music that gives us pleasure, without knowing or caring an awful lot about what the electrons are doing in one component as compared to what they do in another. Are we pathetic suckers who allow ourselves to be exploited by the audio-industrial complex? Could be, but then I'm reminded of the declaration made by a woman I knew in my younger days: "I don't care how neurotic or psychotic I may be -- as long as I'm happy!" Substitute "ignorant" and "deluded," and this could well serve as the Subjectivists' Creed. Hallelujah!

Best wishes,
Phil Koslow
Brooklyn, NY

Hi Phil,

I believe a dismissive shrug by an objectivist is merely a reflex-ive re-action so I don't take it to heart ;-) I'm continually amazed at all the hoops, rules and tests we're expected to jump or pass through before we're allowed to enjoy our music on our hi-fi. I think some of these guys would like to Regulate hi-fi where you'd need a prescription for buying anything more than over-the-counter copper cables.

Thanks for the kind and well-worded words on the article and graphics! I love those images yet someone, I'll let you guess on which side of the fence they sit, has complained they are misleading causing people to think that blind testing is painful and involves wearing a 'blindfold'. And they were serious. Oh my. A sense of humor is also apparently not part of the standard objectivist tool kit.

"I don't know much about science but I do know what I like." Martin Amis

Cheers & thanks again for reading,
Hi Srajan

Thanks for constantly introducing your readers to great new products. RWA Sig 30.2, Yamamoto A08, Dayens Ampino, ASI Liveline, Crayon CFA1 and now the Miniwatt Tube Amp, to name a few. What makes this even more astonishing is that these products are highly affordable. I cannot remember any other magazine offering its viewers an insight into so many new products. Everybody seems to review only the tried and tested brands.

Keep up the great work.

I feel fortunate that these manufacturers solicit us since in half the cases, I would otherwise not even have known they existed. After having established that we are interested in showcasing such products, we seem to now be on the radar of smaller manufacturers. If they keep it coming, we'll keep 'em coming.

Hi Srajan,

Thanks for sharing the review by Francis Baumli. Well written, very interesting, and my ears are envious!! Offer him one of those high paying, short hours, but very rewarding "reviewer positions" you've been speaking about...and hopefully with 6moons.

All the best...
Ed King

Dear Sir,

I read your report on the recent High End Show in Munich.

I agree with you that the MOC location is ill-suited to listening to music and that this Show has become dull and unimaginative. I was therefore astonished to read your final comments "There was a little outboard show at the Fleming Hotel which I didn't visit on principle..."

I beg your pardon? On what principle? What status quo are you trying to maintain? How can you say, in one breath, that the main show is lousy and yet "on principle" you choose not to visit an 'outboard' show trying to put right what the main show fails to do? And all the more extraordinary as you were actually staying at a hotel less than 50 metres from this 'outboard' show! Bizarre...

You cover THE show in Vegas, don't you? Is that not an 'outboard' show of the CES? Do you not remember that the High End Show in Germany was founded exactly to counter the dull, unimaginative mainstream audio shows of its day? Now it has become the status quo (and all the more boring for it) you pay lip service to it "on principle"? I guess your "principle" must therefore exclude you from a huge swathe of audio happenings that your readership want to know about - but which you censor. One understands censorship when it is used to 'protect' dictatorial regimes, but censoring developments in audio...?

I do not subscribe to censorship, and my "principle" in so doing is out of respect for free speech, the basic tenets of democracy and the certainty that restricting freedom inevitably stifles creativity. Perhaps next year you should report on the North Korean or Zimbabwean audio scenes?

Yours sincerely,
Simon Yorke

Hello Simon,

I myself haven't lived in the US for 4 years nor covered the Las Vegas show. When I did, the event was in the Alexis Park and T.H.E. Show was right next door within a 3-minute footwalk. I haven't been back since everything moved to the Venetian.

When I go to Munich, I go there on my own nickel. No one pays my way, I cover all expenses out of my own pocket. Including travel days, actual attendance and writing the report, I lose about 2 weeks of time. When I return, I then have to make up that time as far as review assigments are concerned. If I don't go to the show, my business isn't affected as we are a review magazine. Manufacturers know how to find us and send review loaners regardless of whether they or we were at any particular shows.

I have little sympathy for manufacturers who would make the life of the press even harder. The Munich show is convenient because everything is under one roof. The organization which brings foreign visitors like myself into town has put this event together. Manufacturers like yourself who offboard attempt to take advantage of the other event's traffic. Without it, you'd have nothing. And, you chose a hotel which was not anywhere near the M.O.C. Why put the burden of finding you on the press? Participate in the main event where everyone else is. Don't make more work for us than it already is to cover such a massive event.

Perhaps you should reflect on my reality before you jump to any geopolitical conclusions. Censorship? Will you accuse those magazines who sent no reporters at all of it? It's nothing of the sort. I decided to support the main event, you decided not to. You took a calculated risk that not everybody would see you. That was your decision. Mine was to stay at the M.O.C. Next year I'm not going at all to instead do a show I haven't before - perhaps Athens, perhaps Stockholm, perhaps Tokyo. And I didnt say this show was boring. I said the spirit of the exhibitors was. Big difference. There's nothing wrong with the venue per se. The old argument of "not conducive to good sound" doesn't wash. Some manufacturers manage just fine to put on a compelling demo there. If they can, others should be able to as well.