Regarding your Burson HA160D review: if what you say is true (and I have no reason to believe otherwise), this is a great day for middle class audiophiles. A solid DAC, credible preamp functionality and top class headphone amp at a very reasonable price has everything you need to be the brains of an evolving system (and still upgrade your legacy components such as CD players). Every audiophile dad is going to want to send his son or daughter to college with one of those, to start with the iPod (with Onkyo or Griffin digital transport) and cans he probably already has, and then gradually grow up to the monoblocks and speakers, hi-rez files and whatever else may happen in the coming years with source components, without tripping up in wires and a dozen little boxes. And that you perceive that this is reference-level component at several levels is just sweet. Thank you Santa Klaus!
Firstly, a big thank you for providing a large coverage of hifi reviews and for the great photographs - the best I have seen in the review business. I am sure all your readers are similarly appreciative.
Request 1: Now, you've definitely piqued my interest with the Voxativ gear. In particular I'd love you to review the Wallhorn 2 in 2011. My 12' x 10' music room is now being converted to my daughter's bedroom and my hifi system is coming out to a larger open planned living area. Hence I'm looking at a speaker upgrade (currently I have Audio AN-Ks which are great in the small room but inadequate for the living area). Having listened to the Rethms about 10 years ago and being blown away by the seamlessness of a widebander, I'd love to get my hand on one that can get down to 20-25Hz. Also the fact that the Wallhorn can be mounted on the wall is appealing because it means I can have more living area available in the vicinity of the racks. Your Ampeggio review was very positive so I am hoping the Wallhorn 2 using the flagship AC-X filed coil driver will be at least as good - and hopefully a lot less costly than the Feastrex field coil.
Request 2: Any chance of getting the Lansche No 4.1 loudspeaker reviewed next year? I only found out about this one by chance recently as I was skimming through AudiogoN. As I will soon be in possession of a modded SACD player, I'm thinking the plasma tweeter may bring out the best of the SACD as well as providing great bass (20Hz). The reviews I've read so far have been flattering but I would be interested in your views.
Request 3: Any chance of having the Vacuum State DPA-300B monoblocks reviewed with the RTP3D preamp and a single-ended preamp? The RTP3D, which I also own, was very positively reviewed by Pat Kennedy (May 2010) but not with the DPA-300B. I'm very interested to know whether the combination of the two is "better" vs the RTP3D/single-ended amp approach (which I am currently using).
Lastly, have a safe and happy festive season.
I talked with Inès about doing the Wall Horn when it goes into formal production so on that count we seem all set. I can't commit to a date but sometime in 2011 sounds just right. The Lansche was recently covered by StereoTimes. On Vacuum State, I learned after publishing the Pat Kennedy piece that he sells the brand as an independent home-based retailer. While the designer claimed this occurred after the review, Pat never acknowledged any of my inquiries. This left a bad taste in my mouth so I've decided to stay clear. But one outa three ain't so bad, is it?
| Dear Srajan,
First, thank you for detailed and insightful audio reviews on the 6moons site.
informative and a pleasure to read. I'm currently in the market for a headphone
amp/DAC unit and am considering the NuForce Icon HDP and the
Burston HA160D based on your reviews and those of others. Is the performance
of the two units comparable - are they at least in the same league? What are the
main differences in their sound characteristics? I plan to partner these with
the Audeze LCD-2.
I listen to a broad range of music from classical to jazz to world music to
rock and pop. I'm looking for a good sense of rhythm with well-defined and
bass as well as accurate tonal colors. I prefer tonal accuracy and timbre over
high resolution and soundstaging.
Any information you can provide will be much appreciated!
On the Audez'e I prefer the Burson as amp by a small margin and as a DAC by a rather larger margin. The Burson of course is more expensive so that's not entirely surprising. The Audez'e is a warm lush phone with amazing dynamics and bass when powered properly. The Burson is a bit more incisive than the softer NuForce and in combination with the LCD-2 more copasetically plays to its specific strengths.
Enjoying the preview of the Schiit (my LCD-2 is on its way and only awaits my purchase of a headphone amp - I waited for the Burson 160D review but decided on just the 160 as I have the Music Streamer+ and the way DACs are improving I'd rather have a solid headphone amp and then down the road upgrade the Music Streamer +). Looking forward to the full review of the Schiit. But one question (I can wait if it will be in the review) does it come close or as my wallet prays best the Burson - especially in regards to the LCD 2?
Again thanks for changing the landscape of audio reviews and bringing these non-mainstream items (read no money for PR and marketing) to the forefront. Recently reading this month's hifi magazines was laughable as all of their gear of the year was no different than all of their steady advertisers. Integrity is what counts most.
All the best.
That comparison and others will indeed be in the review conclusion.
AFAIK Krell did not actually invent CAST nor were they the first to
use it. They are perhaps the first to widely advertise it. You might want to check into what the intellectual properties actually are before making comments about it. Especially ones that are almost accusatory. Not so sure I would be flattered were I He Qinghua after reading this review. Everything else comes off as a back-handed complement after essentially discussing he may be engaging in unethical business practices.
My 2 cents.
I know Krell did not invent the technology.
But CAST is nevertheless a Krell patent and TM.
Whatever you think about the Audio GD Ref 5 review, it remains a fact that He Qinghua advertised his products at the beginning using
implicit Krell trademarks.
Audio GD has since changed their marketing strategy and altered the name of their amps and technology from CAST to ACSS.
I agree that the footnote written by Srajan is no
pleasant issue for He Qinghua. But a lot of readers remain aware of how Audio GD put one foot in the business. Avoiding the darker
side of that story would not be fair.
Our goal is not to flatter audio manufacturers but to deliver a fair report of our experiences. I personally believe that a properly moderated opinion has a more positive impact than an unsubtle too flattering review. I already answered other 6moons readers with further
positive considerations on the Audio GD Ref 5.
The product is worth the money, that's what counts in the end.
Wanted to let you know that my Tango Rs finally arrived. They are a stunning step up. Effortless. Tonal accuracy. Soup to nuts, from deep bass to beautiful highs. A musical instrument. Thanks to you and your review for giving me the confidence to buy these unheard (I'm in NZ).
How are you finding the Living Voice speakers in comparison?
I think my next upgrade will be an amp - have the VAC Ren 70/70. Want tubes but less valve hungry e.g., replacing 8 x 300B is a tad crazy. The Trafomatic might be a sensible option. Not a crazy price either. Or maybe something Japanese.
The Trafomatic Kaivalya monos do work exceptionally well on the Tango Rs and I personally prefer them to 300B amps I've reviewed or owned. You might also consider a good solid-state amp like the ModWright KWA-100SE.
Greetings! Having recently survived a cancer scare (with lashings of prayer, Bach, Bach, Bach, Beethoven piano sonatas and helpings of jazz, esp Mulligan and Webster) I wanted to say a sincerely meant Thank You for 6moons. The writing and reviewing quality is not uniform but at its best is exceedingly fine - and such a welcome relief from some of the depressingly mindless opinionated 'waffle' [I'm trying to be generous] that passes for insight on a number of audio forums.
I'm intrigued to see that you are reviewing the Audioprojeckte CA10. If you still have in your collection of amplifiers the First Watt F3 I'd be particularly grateful to know how the CA10 compares with it as the F3 has been my resident power amp since acquisition in May.
All good wishes,
Being still here is a good thing. Enjoying music as one of (hopefully many) things is also very good. Congratulations. On the hardware front, I have the J2 and F5 and in fact told
Ralph Beerschwenger that those would be the amps I'd use as comparators. The J2 in particular would be a very close stand-in for the F3 so you could extrapolate from that. I'll also throw into the mix the Linnenberg amp2S which is another low-power transistor design, albeit in integrated form and with a different circuit topology.
I had sent you the news clip on the new "TA-300B" from takatsuki-denki.co.jp some months back. Now I wanted to bring to your attention some nasty practice around these Japanese tubes. It seems that AxissAudio.com has purchased all of next year's allocation for North America and locked the price at $1800USD a pair. The price in Japan is $925 a pair. It is folks like this who are killing the industry. Ours is the last generation that will spend money on audio. My kids certainly won't no matter how much I expose them to it. When us old farts die in the next 25 years, that will be the end of it. I hope the reps in Europe are more honest. I expect a markup for import taxes and transport and even a margin, but this monopoly setup is too common in audio.
Well done on the Bridges editorial, Sir - and I couldn't agree more. A number of us (in the industry) are still shaking our heads when seeing brand-spanking-new CD players being introduced and with stratospheric prices. This was a serious topic of discussion at RMAF. Where is the connectivity with a younger audience? Not with $10,000 or $20,000 CD players. One of the few places where this connection is made is with headphones, headphone amps and small modular DACs such as HRT....those companies seem to get it and the variety is growing.
I just returned from attending AES in San Francisco. My main mission was to find new DACs for computer audio playback. Other than Daniel Weiss, Antelope and RME, there was a paucity of offerings or should I say, next to none. I was very disappointed. Given that this is largely a pro industry show, not everyone attending is a studio wonk and some of the exhibitors already know that. The show, overall, was a bit smaller than 2 years ago. But powered monitors were in good supply. Even Neumann introduced a very good-looking and sounding small offering (at around $1500) with more models to come. Products such as these could be plug-and-play with a computer audio front end, creating a lovely space-saving and great-sounding system fitting in with your overall concept (and mine). If you can't get 'em in the front door, get 'em in the side door.
Btw....I believe Tim de Paravicini is coming out with a replacement Acute CD player with a digital input. This player will allow one to play CDs as normal (especially for preview without ripping) and utilize its onboard DAC for streaming music and of course, computer audio playback. Brilliant.
I started reading your Bridges commentary and felt the need to chime in. I read that reviewer's piece and show commentary - which was mostly self-congratulatory. Another writer from a famous magazine equated vinyl = audiophile and vice versa and described it as a heroic pursuit. Puleeze. One more writer reviewing a DAC concluded his computer-based system all falls short of his 25,000+ turntable system. This vinyl-is-holier-than-all-else attitude is terrible. Fortunately AV designers don’t pay attention to everything printed and are embracing new techologies and systems like yourself. I recently purchased a Pioneer-820 with USB/iPod connection. With my Athena AS-F1s, I feel I have found my AV soulmate and contemplate sharing a photo.
Thanks again & don’t stop.
On that subject, consider the Onkyo dock. I bought one here in Switzerland for CHF 277 delivered. Like the Wadia but cheaper, it runs the Apple authentication chip to access the iPod digitally. Running it into the Burson Audio HA-160D headphone amp with DAC (all discrete, class A) with a good cable like the $123 Black Cat Veloce into premium headphones like recabled beyer-dynamic T1s, Sennheiser HD800s, Hifi Man HE-5LEs or whatever you might fancy makes sound for $3.000 total ($250 Onyko, $1.100 Burson, $500 iPod, $123 cable, $1.000 headphones) that most big systems for $30.000 would be very hard pressed to duplicate. Not that 3Gs is small fries. That's real money. But so are the results. And one could easily shave off bread with cheaper phones, a smaller iPod and cheaper cable.
Like you said, it's not so much what is said but how. Why we need patronizing attitudes in a hobby I don't understand. It's about enjoyment at all levels regardless of price, concept or origin.
Do the TJ300B SE also have the "magic, likeable, cosy and flexible" character of the WEs.
Background: I follow all your personal 300B reviews with high interest.
I bought a Kondo power amplifier 3 years ago equipped with KR 300BXLS. I didn't like the Kondo with the KRs. The sound was as though coming out of a rock-solid continuum in contrast to something yielding or flexible. You are the first who has officially identified this character of the modern 300Bs vs. the classics. I totally agree.
When I wanted to obtain a quad of WE300B they were no longer available. You know the story. The Western Electrics are supposed to have a certain magic which is otherwise not explainable.
Do the TJ300B SE have the same voicing?
Your answer is important to me as I am planning to buy such tubes or second-hand Western Electrics from eBay.
With my amps and to my ears as reported in the TJ review, yes, from all the 300Bs I've tested, those are the virtual stand-in for the 'current (no longer) gen' Western Electrics and in mind the top choice for people after the classic sound. The SE is quite expensive however and I'm not sure how close you might come with Full Music's standard version.
A few months ago you gave me some advice on tube amplifiers and upcoming class T amps. Now I thought I'd give you some feedback and maybe ask you for some small advice again. After listening to a lot of D/A converters I ended up purchasing the Weiss DAC2 being tipped by Srajan and another colleague of yours at 6moons. After auditioning it for a few weeks and trying some of the cheaper USB DACs also from Kingrex (the UD-01 with batteries) I came to the conclusion that this is a really special DAC with good versatility for the future regarding connectivity and playing high rez files. I also got the Amarra software to have the music passed in bit-transparent fashion from iTunes on my iMac.
The DAC2 can be a little direct and analytical in the upper mids especially when combined with the LS3/5A speakers which tend to emphasize the upper mids. Both together was too much for me. It was great on good recordings but anything less was exposed relentlessly. I had the Almarro A318B on loan too and although it added some warmth it could not change the overall balance. I think this is a great amp which simply amplifies without adding unwanted character.
Then I decided to give it a try and buy a pair of the Klipsch Synergy F2. I am very happy with the purchase because it is a very complete speaker with a pleasant tonal balance. The lower register can interact with my room in a negative way because I am not able to really place it freestanding. When combind with the Almarro tube amp it was too much because it can produce very strong bass.
Finally I decided not to purchase the Almarro for this reason but also because of the excessive heat, the waste of electrical energy connected with that and expected reliability issues. One expert told me that the extremely high voltage/current and heat production might compromise reliability and robustness of this design.
So now I am considering to purchase a higher-quality class T amp. I am quite satisfied with the sound of the Trends combined with the Klipsch and the Weiss DAC2. However, using it with the Waeco batteries for some time tends to be cumbersome for some practical reasons. First of all I really have to check the voltage of the batteries regularly because my Waeco does not have the voltage protection at 10.5V like your batteries form Xantrex has. So there is the risk of over discharging which might cause damage to the batteries. Then it takes quite long until it is completely charged.
So what I am looking for now is a Tripath amp with a better power supply. But the Redwine Audio or the Nuforce are too expensive for me at the moment. I see the following options:
a) Purchase a Kingrex SLAP to work with my Trends amps (I own two of them for bi-amping)
b) Purchase the Winsome Labs Mouse which seems to have a quite good SMPS power supply. But on the Klipsch I really don't need the extra power. Does it sound any better than the Trends?
c) Purchase a class T amp with good regulated power supply like the Sutra. Do you have experience with that one?
Any suggestions from your side? What is the best low-budget class T amp with a practical power supply according to your experience?
Sounds like you're getting one step closer to audio nirvana. It so happened that I acquired the Almarro A318B a few months ago and I love it with the Klipsch F2. I wonder what you mean by not having the speakers placed free standing? To focus on your questions:
1. Battery for Trends x 2 bi-amp. Getting two KingRex SLAPs is still not too wallet friendly. I recently tried the Dodd Audio battery w/ charger (for Virtue TWO.2) and I find that really user friendly in the sense that the charger is smart to cut off or turn on automatically;
that it charges quickly; that it can be charged while driving the amp without audible penalty (if you want to get off the grid completely you're welcome to unplug the charger);
that the battery seems to be durable and so far hasn't given me any memory problems (5 or 6 months now) -
whereas the KingRex SLAP requires new battery after more than 16 or 18 months. (The original battery can only be charged up to 1 hour use.)
I know you need 12V DC for Trends and the Dodd for Virtue is 24V DC. But the Dodd battery is in fact two 12V connected in series. That means you can charge them as they are originally configured but you unplug the charger, disconnect the two batteries and re-wire each of them to your Trends. The Dodd claims to be able to run the Virtue amp at high level for 4 to 5 hours without a charge. I found that it could do a lot better than that, over 8 hours to be exact. The only down side is the trouble of disconnecting and reconnecting between each charge.
Here's an alternative. Get all the parts and DIY a 12V battery with a 12V smart charger. SLA batteries are heavy and hazardous to ship, you better get them locally. I'd suggest any reliable brand rated at 12VDC 7Ah. For the smart charger, get the one with AC input that suits your local voltage and make sure it's with automatic cut-off and true float. Either 5 or 7 Amp should be fine. Here's some made in Canada by Soneil.
The Soneil chargers have a lot of built-in safety features. Wiring is simple, just connect both the charger and the output DC cord to the battery. Use male/female connectors for quick hook-up and disconnection. Remember to observe polarity! I once fired a Trends when I fed it with reversed polarity DC. If you are handy, add a 6.3A glass fuse to the (+) supply cord (leading out from the battery) by means of an inline fuse holder.
Some people use Nickel Metal-Hydride batteries. Here's one audio company that sells the kits but I haven't tried that:
2. Winsome Labs Mouse: Yes, with the high efficiency of Klipsch, the higher output power of the Mouse is a waste. You're better off with bi-amping.
3. Sutra: I haven't tried that and couldn't comment.
4. Best T-amp with practical power supply? The best is always subjective and depends too much on personal applications and expectations. Without dodging your question, let me say that the best for me is Virtue for its versatility in choice of models and power supply. Even with their lowest priced model, the ample output power coupled with musicality means one can drive any low-budget-friendly speakers with adorable performance for now and upgrade to meaner high-end speakers in the future. (Oh yes, they sound good with the Klipsch too.)
I am not in the business of praising or despising the work of others
but in some very rare occasions something special happens.
Such is the case with the Calyx integrated amplifier designed by Mr.
Seungmok Yi. This digital amplifier doesn't sound digital (as in teeth-grinding high frequency noise) nor does it sound like anything else. In fact I do not care at all about the way it sounds because the effect on my appreciation of loudspeakers and sound and music
structure has dramatically changed since the Calyx arrived.
I am in the presence of a giant imaginary grid from one side of the room to the other - wall to wall, floor to ceiling and above. The grid has
as many levels as I can imagine. Levels of harmonics, distance, decay and
ambiance. This amplifier has replaced my reference amplifier and I
have no desire to go back, no desire to change anything at all but to enjoy the spectacle. I didn't even try to change source or experiment with anything. Very un-audiophile of me!
I am not hearing woofers and tweeters. I see a wall of sound, a giant painting filled with tiny details. Very very spooky. Anyway, this
amplifier sells for a little less than $1800, comes with a remote and a "convenience" built-in DAC with USB input and 3 analog inputs. At 200wpc and with a damping factor over 1000 (I didn't check), it should sound like an old Crown - except that it doesn't. The bass is so incredible that anything sounds like everything: I see
a 5-inch, I hear a 10-inch, I feel a 15-inch driver.
Some build aspects are annoying like PCB-mounted instead of chassis-mounted RCA inputs, cheap-looking typography on the back panel, skinny user manual, bizarre plastic-laminated steel on the bottom of the enclosure, plastic glue dots as feet etc. This is one of the very
rare product in hifidom that could use a little more bling. I am
impressed enough to spread the word.
PS: I have absolutely no financial interest in this company. Just a
very happy consumer.
|Re: crops etc.
As a semi-sane semi-comfortably ensconced academic I've often asked myself the same question. I also asked Vincenzo Fratello, sometime Nagra importer and ambitious would-be purveyor of proprietary bespoke products to the nobility; and Roberto Amato of Blackmagic, one of the most appealingly down-to-earth persons I've met. They really can't find a reason except they think it's sexy. As though women were into hifi.
I think Apple failed to understand the appeal of the iPod as a high-resolution machine. This is surprising from the inventors of the genre (or second
proponent if we include Sony as the true Mother) but perhaps they just outgrew their own personality.
Judging from the sheer number of HD portable media players offered at the HK electronics fair (players with FLAC support and compatible with almost any other AV format you can think of), I think the iPod
will open the door to a new generation of non-Apple portable devices
just as the Sony Walkman paved the way to the advent of the original iPod...
That's well possible. I'm simply rooting for a hiPod because the device itself and its interface is so slick. I've only seen a few of the alternatives you mentioned but those I did see were rather bulkier and coarser and their interfaces left a lot to be desired. As an audiophile of course I shouldn't give a shit and just go with the best sound but I'm apparently not just an audiophile -:)
|Srajan… thank you for your excellent site and reviews. Always enlightening and entertaining.
Is there somewhere on the site that lists your review CDs. I cannot
read all the names of the CDs shown on the Gallo Ref 3.5 review as the text is
too tiny. Your team always uses interesting music beyond the norm and
I say why not give them a try. If there is no list no problem. I continue to learn from your great articles and your ears are much
better than mine. I trust what 6moons says as I cannot remember
travelling from equipment dealer to dealer if I liked the Simaudio
Moon better than the Bryston.
Keep up the great work. It's a tough job and you do it.
No separate list for review CDs, Mike, just the embedded mentions and our music reviews pages, sorry.
As owner of an Anthelope Zodiac plus I must say that it needs more run in if you want to get the best from it. I came to the same conclusions as you and I even emailed the importer to ask Anthelope Audio about the lack of impact of the bass and body but after some more weeks of continous playing the DAC suddenly made more bass so I suggest you keep it for some weeks more and report on the changes if those finally occur. My sample needed at least 800 hours if not more.
If 800 hours are the case, the sender has to precondition their loaner sample. I'd never get anything done if I had to allocate that amount of just break-in time for each item I review.
|Srajan, that ModWright KWA 100/100SE was a really good useful review. Still, your Tchangs are a highly subjective and uncommon choice. Maybe an extra pair of commercial speakers with more widely recognizable characteristics? My vote would go to the Harbeth shoe boxes but I'm partial to the BBC sound.
All the best.
It's a fair point to make. Actually, it's the permanent challenge of the proper enthusiast/pro balance. As enthusiasts, we should only own components which turn our crank without any regard for convention, popularity, widespread relevance and such. As professional reviewers, we should only own components which the largest number of readers can relate to from dealer show rooms. Taken to the extreme, the latter would mean Bose and Monster Cable.
What I need from my main speakers besides loving their sound are superior cosmetics since my listening room also doubles as our living room with friends coming over and such (i.e. they couldn't be too big nor too heavy where I can't easily move them myself); full-range performance to become a tell-all tool for electronics; a very linear impedance and non-reactive load with sufficient voltage sensitivity to suit both low-power valve amps and transistor muscle amps; and vitally, excellent low-level persuasiveness at very high resolution since much of my listening takes place at low volumes. The ASI Tango R is the only speaker I've come across that combines all of these requirements in a way that appeals to me without any reservations.
That's not to say dozens of others aren't out there waiting right now to potentially replace them, some or all of them far more recognizable and mainstream. But that's like soul mates. Once you find one and recognize that you did, you're likely to commit and settle down. That doesn't mean others don't exist. They simply become irrelevant as you can only fully live with one. I do own Zu Essence speakers for something less obscure. For something even more obscure, I also own Boenicke SLS. At the end of the day, I'm clearly more enthusiast than pro. Guilty as charged -:)
I just saw some pictures of your new listening room in the ModWright review.
Maybe I missed it somewhere - did you elaborate a little yet as to how it sounds different now, how moving all that gear went, things like that ? I moved house several times and was amazed every time at how different the same system can sound when it "resonates" with other surroundings.
It must already be a big difference that you now have a back wall behind the speakers and an open space behind the listening seat, exactly the opposite orientation as before.
For me, information like these (and their sonic consequences) are often more interesting than reviews of gear.
Maybe you can make a small "new listening room update" for those who'd like to know ?
Thank you !
This is a quite personal matter, Steffen. I'm not sure it has much of a bearing on anyone else. As you said, each room is different. Each listener must come to terms with the readjustment process according to their preferences. I somehow doubt my particular situation applies to anyone else to be of much interest. Hence I haven't written anything on it. You didn't miss a thing -:)
As one who owns the DAC2 (and many other of your inventory….Wyred STP SE, Modwright etc) and has evaluated the Antelope Zodiac Plus, among others, I have to agree with a large part of your recently completed review. The speed, finesse and overall depth/airiness of presentation tells me that Antelope knows clocking; they know jitter management! However, I found that the missing heft you described started showing itself after about 200-300 hours of break in. Not quite up to the DAC2 mind you but significantly more than earlier in my demo. This was one aspect of the sound that changed the most with more mileage. Wondered how many miles you put on it. Thanks
I clocked about 200 plus whatever the senders in Bulgaria put on it before dispatching my loaner.
Thanks for the comparison test! Comparison test reviews are the most meaningful, but are hard to find - sounds like you experienced why!
|Thank you for writing that 2004 HeadRoom review. It was very well put and my favorite line was "...where it errs, it does by omission so you'll never notice unless you had something dearer to compare against." That settled half of my interest in the review. The other half was your contentment with the sound boost the Sennheiser HD 650 gained from the Total BitHead Amp/DAC.
I am buying the two online (the HD 650 and the Total BitHead) and I was relieved to hear you said they matched at least adequately. Now I can wait for them to arrive and be relieved to rest on my laurels in these wonderful purchases.
I also bought the "SendStation iPod Pocket Dock Line-Out Mini-USB," which will make my iPod mesh better with the headphone amp.
I have a weird idea for you. I only read one review but I loved it a whole lot. Your website is in English but you were born in Germany. Couldn't you make another website where you repost all your reviews translated into German (or any other language for that matter)? You would multiply your readership.
You are a man of well-established philosophical assumption. Your religious history in your bio ostends that.
Translating reviews from one language into another is a lot of work and I'm quite maxed out as it is. I also personally only could do German. For any other language, I'd have to source out translations which means I couldn't verify their accuracy. That's why I haven't done the latter. I'm too much of a control freak. As to the former (English/German), I decided to syndicate/translate fairaudio.de reviews from German into English which adds interesting content to this site. It keeps 6moons focused on being an English publication whilst simultaneously supporting a competing magazine that's by nature focused on the German market and does a very good job of it. For me it's not about being biggest. It's about doing something I love at a consistent level of quality and at a sustainable scale that's not too massive to kill the fun. Otherwise the core reason for doing it at all would vanish. It's about striking the right balance. At present, I'm maxed out.
|Well, once again I owe you my heartfelt gratitude. I have so far put about 200 hours on these Gallo 3.5s and they are nothing short of fantastic. Right out of the box I heard considerable improvement over the 3.1s but after all this time, it is just simply obvious that the 3.1s, as good as they are, cannot begin to compete with these 3.5s.
The improvement as you know is throughout the entire frequency range but two of the areas which particularly stand out for me are the reproduction of cymbals, high hats, triangles, etc. and the bass. Cymbals and the like are now very metallic and very real. The bass goes without saying. You extensively covered that in your review.
I will probably never own another speaker given that in order to arrive at equal or better performance I would need to spend a lot more money. Even if I could someday consider speakers like your Tangos, they would still cost me approximately $19,000 more (I am assuming that you kept the ones you reviewed which according to your review cost $25,000) and in your review of the 3.5s you stated that they came very close to your Tangos.
I am using iTunes in my Macbook and the Music Streamer II+. To this I have added a music player application called Pure Music. You may have heard of this but if not it is very inexpensive (120 euro with the tax included) and you can try it for free for 15 days before purchasing. It uses iTunes as a data base but eliminates iTunes as a player. The improvement, in my opinion, is significant.
At this point with Macbook/iTunes/MS II+ as a source, the Crayon CFA-1/90 for application,and the Gallo 3.5s I feel as though I may have reached the end of the line. Perhaps at some point I could consider a better USB DAC but I am not sure that one exists.
The Ayre QB-9 could be a possibility but it costs $2,500 more than and how much more performance would you get for nearly $2,200 more?
Thank you Srajan.
|Dear Mr. Srajan,
We hope you have courage to inform your readers about industrial abuse and copy of our proprietary hybrid stereo integrated amplifier design by Mr. Dan D'Agostino, ex-owner and designer of Krell electronics. We are company from Serbia, Beyond Frontiers Audio.
Bosko Pjescic, CEO
It's not our job to fight intellectual property disputes on behalf of trade members. If you indeed believe that Mr. D'Agostino infringes on a trademarked or patented design of yours, cosmetically or circuit-wise, you will have to first go through the proper legal channels.
I'm unclear on your claim as I don't see cosmetic overlap. I also wouldn't think you've had one of his new amplifiers on the bench yet to ascertain its circuitry. Whatever exactly you're referring to, the proper recipient of your claim is Mr. D'Agostino, not 6moons. Common sense would also suggest that a designer of his stature is talented enough to create original designs rather than having to borrow ideas from elsewhere, don't you think?
Thank you for your nice review!
You are quite correct in noticing the major improvement with lossily compressed files. There are technical reasons why this is true (in short, Pure Music preserves any digital overs generated by the audio decoder). Ballad of the Green Berets, eh? :-)
Looking forward to the LV review. I have a Leben CS600 integrated
and never heard it sound better than in a system that included
IBX-R2s. They're on my short list. But I have heard that the woofer
surrounds need to be replaced every few years or so. If this is
correct, I'd suggest that information on likely costs and whether
maintenance could be done by amateurs would be useful for potential
owners. Perhaps a side bar from the manufacturer?
We've emailed previously about the Raffinatos from AT and I was just now reading your review of a Burson amp and I connected with some of your comments. Specifically about the AKG 702s.
I started my love affair with AKG headphones with the 701s and and listen to both absolutely stock in every way. My comments have to deal with amplification. I own 4 headphone amps and 3 of them have been modified by Doug Jesse of ASi Teknologies close to me in the Detroit Michigan area. The modified amps are an AudioAlchemy Headphone Amp v.1 with modified power supply #3, Musical Fidelity Xcans v.1 with modified wall wart (which is a transformer) and NOS Amperex Orange Globe 6dj8, Graham Slee Green headphone amp (for which Doug modified the power supply) and finally a Vincent KHV-111.
I mention all of that above about the amps because only the stock Vincent (albeit with a NOS RCA 12AX7A as input tube) has the power in stock form to get the AKGs (either of them) to do their thing. Doug when with RAM modified my Pioneer Elite PD-65 CDP with Audio Consulting transformers in the analog output stage and I've not heard better (a subjective term but a reality nonetheless). So I asked him to do his thing with the headphone amps and they are all wonderful. The little hot-running AudioAlchemy is still the smoothest, cleanest, easiest to listen to amp I've heard yet. The MF with the new old stock Amperex is fast, fast, fast. Not tubey at all. Sometimes the MF is the choice for the AKGs. Those Amperex 6dj8s are powerful. The Slee is the odd one. It just doesn't have a character to name or be categorized. It's got the power for the AKGs. It's kind of like driving a BMW after driving my Subaru. They both do the same things but the BMW is - clinical?
Now the Vincent purely stock took a while to acclimate to. Somewhat non-descript and not very lively. Kind of what the AKGs are initially. But after 20 minutes of acclimating to this match, wow! Here we have the musical message suspended in midair with all the correct timbres, all the correct placement and bass that drives this musical apparition and takes me along with it. Left/right channel volume controls. I own a Croft preamp so I'm familiar with those. Love them BTW. Advertised 5-watt solid-state power output. Big metal box. Looks family-like next to my Audio Note DAC kit box. And virtually unknown. The amp is great with the ATs but it's the match with the AKGs that brings me back to it all the time.
You relate what the AKG's sound like to you with the powerful Burson amp in situ and those sentiments are what drove me to email you with this note. I too, have found that magic with the AKG, but with the Vincent KHV-111 amp and a good 12AX7A (key is the suffix "A") tube substituted in the amp. I do hope you get the chance to hear one of these big boxes for yourself.
Also, thank you very much for all of your insightful info on the headphone culture. There's musical magic in those cans.
|Hi Mr. Ebaen,
I'm sorry to inconvenience you but I was wondering whether you could give me some quick advice on what headphones and headphone amps to get. I'd like to stay under $1000 in total and I listen mainly to Jazz and Classical music. I've been thinking about the Beyerdynamic DT880 (600ohms) or the AKG 702s for headphones. For amps I was thinking about the MusicHall amp or the simple Musical Fidelity V-3 amp. I don't expect to get high-end hundred dollar cables etc. Just something to really improve where I am at the moment.
Thanks so much, and sorry to have bothered you,
The AKG 702 with the Australian Burson Audio amplifier would be terrific but marginally exceed your budget. I've not heard the Music Hall or Musical Fidelity. While I love Beyer's new T1 recabled, I was not fond at all of their DT800 which I thought very gray and boring.
Just wanted to quickly mention how thoroughly I enjoyed the Living Voice/Vox Olympian RoadTour article. Something about that level of love for craft, business design, technical design, high level implementation and a deliberate focus on creating a platform that engages the customer into the design of the final sound through all the adjustments is just fascinating to see. I once saw a similar level of the above at a high-end bicycle shop if you can imagine that. Don't know how much that masterpiece costs but I look forward to the Avatar review when it happens.
Thanks for the write up.
|Obviously style is in the eye of the beholder. In the review of the Densen combo, we get this comment: "...the best of all wives pointedly asked me what was so great about such bland components? You’d spontaneously concur. Spectacular they didn't look." Sleek and minimal they look to me! We get low waf for big chunky things. Especially speakers! There must be a few miles of print in getting our views on the aesthetics of hi-fi stuff. (There's a string on 'Hi-Fi Wigwam' called 'Gorgeous Gadgets' that has over 2000 entires and 250,000 views!) Here I enter my custom Rock turntable, with apt picture disc as a 'tasteful' addition to the subject.What? Black lacquer with glitter paint isn't tasteful? Oh, I loved your e-exchange re 'pompous ass'. Verbose, maybe....... pompous, no. I think your name-caller should look in the mirror?
The Allnic A-6000 double para-SE mono amp gives a specification of 50watts/monoblock. I checked their website and it says the same thing.
However, I noticed that they specify watts and not watts RMS. I also noticed a lot of other SET tube manufacturers aren't clear on this either.
My question to them would be whether they mean peak watts or RMS watts.
Peak watts = 2 x RMS watts [RMS = Root Mean Square].
For example, I rate the Sapphires at 18Wrms. With 120Vac power from the wall plug the Sapphires produce 40 watt peaks on a resistive load of 8 ohms.
The reason I'm sending you this is because it's a rather important specification that should be clearly defined.
After reading your RoadTour article about the Vox Olympian I was
reminded of another one-man designer, cabinet maker etc who is much
closer to you: www.haigner.com/.
David Haigner would make another great article/visit.
If I get to europe he will be tops on my list to visit.
Dr. Jim Schmonsky
P.S. I'm playing with some Cogent field coil drivers at the moment and really enjoying them.
They get you from 350hz-12K!
I hope that you are doing well. I caught these Living Voice Vox Olympian speakers on your website and was wondering if you had ever heard them in person? They look fantastic and I was interested in how they sound.
If you've read the report, you'd know that I listened to them. We also have a second report on them up too.
I haven't had the opportunity to read the report in its entirety. I just read the first few pages. I'll keep an eye out for the follow up.
You might read the first one in its entirety before you ask further questions. It's all in there.
I will in the future not be reading anything else written by such a pompous asshole.
That would both save us some time.
First let me say how much I enjoy your articles and 6moons in general – it is by far the most interesting and well produced HiFi publication I have seen. Long may it continue!
I’m an Englishman living in Malaysia (in self-imposed exile). As with most of us, I have used quite a range of equipment over the years, yet some 6 months ago I decided to dabble in vintage gear. So I’ve now set up a system in two halves, one 'modern', one 'vintage', both driven by the same sources (Bluenote Stibbert, Nakamichi Dragon, Garrard 301)/pre-amp (Manley Shrimp – soon to be replaced by the Neo Classic).
On the modern side I’m running a pair of Martin Logan Ascents, driven by an ARC VT100 II/Nakamichi PA-7, and on the vintage side I’m running a pair of Mcintosh MC250s (transistor), and when the valve-halo mood strikes, a little Prima Luna tubed up to the gills with NOS goodies, driving a pair of cork-faced Tannoy Stirlings.
I’m totally, and tonally, bewitched by the Tannoy sound. So I’ve decided to have a pair of Japanese-style Tannoy Cornettas built. I’ve found a good pair of HPD 295a 10-inch drivers and crossover and now (as you will have guessed) am looking for some plans. Once they are completed I intend to have the cabinets finished in antiqued Chinese lacquer work, to match the rest of my décor -:)
I read the article by Steve Marsh regarding the Cornettas built by his friend and remember there were some Japanese cabinet plans involved in the proceedings. I take it that Steve is no longer contributing to 6moons but would dearly like to find a way to contact him to see if he is willing to let me have a copy of said plans.
So all this to ask if you could either point me in the direction of Steve and his fabled Cornetta or if you might know where I can find such plans. I have a feeling these will be my final resting ground, I can then breathe a final satisfied breath and go forward to meet my maker in the knowledge that my life had meaning.
Steve's email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for the great review on the wyred4sound st-500. It has given me some great insights on how far the class d amps are progressing. I have been considering whether the st-500 would be an upgrade from the rotel rb 1080 that I am using. I have begun to use an emotiva preamp usp-1 with a high and low pass system to optimize the intergration between the bookshelf speakers and a subwoofer. The speakers you might not have heard of they are designed and built by Ed Frias, model b-15. Very clean and articulate speakers. I am using a denon 2900 dvd player as the source for cd and streamed music from my mac is processed though a ps audio digital link III. The room size is 12X14 with 8ft ceiling. I use the system as a 2.1 for music only and listen to mainly jazz. From you experience is the wyred st-500 an amp to consider to upgrade from the rotel. With the rotel I sense that the amp is not concise and clear. Thanks for any feedback and advice. Again great review! It helped me understand the balance that Wyred is bringing to the market of providing some strengths of SS and some of the warm nature of the tube route.
Not being familiar with your Rotel at all, I sadly have no basis for any opinion on the subject whatsoever, sorry.
I just noticed Steremojo's World Exclusive review of the MiniMax DAC. Didn't you review it many weeks earlier?
To my knowledge, ours was the first review of this piece but considering how many audiophile review magazines have cropped up online in so many different countries, keeping track of who is doing what when becomes an exercise in futility. If James Darby wants to be first, why not? He likes that sort of thing.
I received my Modwright SE two weeks ago and in my opinion Dan has hit it on the money. The only downside is the very long run-in time for his metal/oil capacitors. The amp has opened up nicely though 600 hours is what Dan said it will take in total. I would assume you too have the 100 SE for the second part of your review. I have had several friends bring over their $5+K amplifiers from BAT to simaudio and MCormick and I feel that for the money the ModWright is a most superb find. I look forward to you findings and am curious whether you think it is a major step up from the standard 100.
I just added photos for the SE to the review but listening impressions will have to wait until I'm in the new house. We're moving at the end of September and our current rental is being taken down as we speak for the usual mess that goes with moving. Come October, I'll settle into the new sound room and then the reviewing schedule commences again. Dan put some solid break-in time on my loaner so hopefully it won't be too long until it stabilizes. Looking at the innards, the parts upgrades are quite comprehensive.
|Hi SE -
After reading your take on the passive preamplifiers, I put my "almost" brand new TAP-X into my system again. Wow, I doubt that I will be taking it out of my system for quite some time.
FYI, I probably have one of the last factory assembled units by John. I had him configure it as a hot-rod unit for one input only. This eliminated a PC board and some wiring. I will be tweaking the TAP-X when some OEM standoffs & new feet arrive later next month. This is way too much fun especially for the amount of $$ spent!
Please keep the moons rolling...
Indeed. When you're an expensive preamp, it's insulting how good the Tap-X is - including being possibly beaten soundly should all the moons align. It's really too bad John discontinued it. Hopefully one of his current OEMs does something similar for a good price -:)
A very avid reader here of yours - and especially of your accounts of the Kaivalyas (since the get-go). Just out of curiosity, now that your review of them is complete, why have you not awarded them a Blue Moon?
Rob La Barre
Because as a custom commission, I was personally involved with this project from the get. That would make it a bit self-serving, wouldn't it? I figured my enthusiasm for these amps should be transparent enough without requiring the "official stamp of approval"...
I enjoy your in-depth reviews on 6moons and look forward to your forthcoming review of the Living Voice OBX-RW speakers. I purchased these about 6 months ago and have been experimenting with different amps to suit my taste and budget. I wouldn’t be surprised if you find the Kaivalya amps to have good synergy. Although I haven’t heard the Kaivalya, I too favour the sound of a well-implemented EL84. I’m currently using a Leben CS300 (EL84) integrated to very good effect, the only amp that has sidelined my longstanding favourite, the Patek gainclone. Thanks to your writings I came know of the Patek. I found that the OBX responds very favourably to the incisive and upbeat nature of the Patek and CS300, in fact much better so than the Leben CS600 (6L6GC) which I used to own. I was somewhat disappointed with the Kondo cabling that Kevin Scott highly recommends for his speakers. Perhaps it was a synergy thing with the amps/source (Wadia & Opus 21) I was using? Or maybe I’m not used to the smoothing effect the Kondo cables have on transients?
Anyway, because I seem to relate to many of your reviews, I certainly look forward to your appraisal of the OBX-RW and what in your arsenal makes them click.
|Kia Ora Srajan.
My business is based in Christchurch New Zealand. In the early hours of Sept. 4th we experienced an earthquake of 7.1 magnitude. There was large-scale damage in the region. After a few days without power, it has been wonderful to be able to return home and turn on the hifi! What a wonderful feeling of peace and normality the sound of your favorite music can bring in such stressful time.
I have to thank you again. I now have had the Music Streamer II+ for a couple of weeks. It is fully broken in and I have to say that it is very very very nice. At this point I don't think I will ever go back to a CD player for listening to Red Book CDs. My guess is that I would have to spend a lot of money for a player that would be better than this Macbook/MS II+ combination.
I would consider a better USB/DAC if and when you apprise me of its existence - reasonably priced that is.
Next week I will be getting my new Gallo 3.5s. Very excited about that. I have a feeling that they will be the end of the line for me at least for two-channel reproduction. For CDs I will have the Macbook/MSII+/Crayon CFA-1-90/Gallo 3.5s. For multi-channel I have the Oppo BDP 83 Nuforce Edition/Cambridge Audio 640R. The 640R allows me to use the CFA-1 to power the Front R/L channels while it handles the Center SR/SL channels.
That should keep me happy for a long long time. The only other change I might consider is Gallo Stradas for the other three channels. But not sure yet.
Anyway, thanks once again for an excellent recommendation.
|Good evening Frederic,
le Beaujolais nouveau est arrivée! Ou plutôt - un grand bourgogne!
And they are already burning in. Quality is better than the pictures taken, that's for sure!.
P.S. I'll have to buy a Gotan Project CD in their honour.
Could you write on the movement towards connecting transports and DACs with I2S connections?
Some manufacturers (Wyred4Sound, North Star) are including I2S inputs and outputs on their transports and DACs. Some use RJ45 connections and others use HDMI. Can you tell us about the merits of moving towards I2S?
I remember that the Zanden transport and DAC used an I2S connection between them.
'fraid not. It would require having transport/DAC combos with that feature. I've transitioned to an iMac source and Firewire DAC (or occasionally USB should I review such a DAC). My two fall-back legacy spinners only have S/PDIF outputs. The PS Audio Perfect Wave Duo which does rely on this feature has already been reviewed by Marja & Henk. I've done the April Music Stello 100 combo a while back and no longer own the Zanden. I'm not really aware of any other digital separates that use the I-squared-S standard. If they're out there, we've not been solicited to review them - nor am I really focused on old-fashioned transport/DAC combos since I consider especially dedicated RedBook transports passé when computer 'transports' outperform them for so much less money. Sorry.
|Your new amplifiers look stunning. Absolutely top shelf...
Yes, the boyz in Serbia really outdid themselves. I'm happy as a pig in shyte.
|I read with interest your conclusion to the review of your custom Kaivalya amplifiers: "I'd encourage music lovers to follow suit and hire their favorite audio designer to design something especially for them. Not all will be able to accommodate custom requests but having now done this twice myself—a previous occasion involved Peter Daniel of Audio Sector and the first pair of Patek SE chip amps as well as two 240/120 step-down power transformer boxes—I can vouch for the multi-dimensional satisfaction it gives." I had Jarek Waszczyszyn of Ancient Audio build me an amplifier to match my Ancient Audio CDP. He customized not only the aesthetics but also the electronics etc. A photo of my custom Integra amp is attached.
|I''m playing the Pure Music 1.6 demo through the Streamer II. Lawdy. A hundred bucks is a lot for a license but it's good. Memory play and dithered volume means you can lose midfi preamps.
I've purloined enough musical selections from your pages that I am
compelled to award you the 'Personal Folder Award' in my iTunes.
Sorry there is no ribbon or plaque presented by a bikini laden harlot,
still, thanks for the music.
I'm a faithful reader of your excellent online Hi Fi mag. Would just like to point to you to an inexpensive digital playback system which I came across which
play backs .WAV files recorded on flash memory card. It isn't pretty. In fact it reminds me of the Sony Walkman back in the 80s but the sound is shockingly good. I really wonder how it measures up to the high end CD transport.
Do check it out!
Comments about reviews.
One of the things I love about the reviews you conduct personally is that whenever possible,
you offer the reader comparisons against other equipment you own or have reviewed.
Of course this provides a very useful yardstick for the reader who may be interested in purchasing new equipment
- and it makes for good reading too as it adds a competitive element.
I write this in response to the recent review of the SGR Audio EL30s in which the reviewer completely avoided
comparisons against his (well known) reference amps (both almost similar in price).
A quick peek at some of his previous reviews shows that on occasion the same reviewer does make comparisons
- so it's not as if he is against making comparisons.
Have you considered making comparisons a policy for all your writers to follow?
I understand that not all writers agree with this but it would be good to see this as a consistent policy for all reviews.
Beyond certain core policies primarily on conduct, I've not instigated the type of streamlining you propose because I prefer variety - different approaches to reviewing, different reviewer personalities. If I ran a publication where without a writer's name at the end you'd have no idea of who wrote the review—because they're all freely interchangeable to the extent that if one writer left, you'd be none the wiser—I'd be bored to tears. That's just me of course.
Practically speaking, I do this for a living to make it a point of owning a reasonable inventory of hardware specifically to conduct comparisons. But most everyone else on the team does this as a hobby. They tend to own just one system. Comparisons aren't always meaningful then if you own a $3.000 amp but suddenly review a $15.000 unit for example.
And, imagine how boring it would be if a writer with a Bryston 4B amp used it in each single amplifier review. You'd soon get real tired of reading about his Bryston amp. Insisting on this type of policy can, at least in my book, backfire in various ways. So no, we don't have such a policy.
That you for the mention in your review of the Burson separates.
Little did I think my thoughts would have weight as I wrote you just in passing. To reach out as you did brought a kind of validation to what I feel, coming from someone whose view I hold in high regard -:)
All the best,
|Re: going passive, "the best preamp is no preamp."
It's blanket statements like these which litter the audiophile highway of frustration. People on the retail side of our business like yourself should know better. What's true in one context isn't necessarily so in another.
Thanks for a very interesting review of the W4S DAC2. I had the benefit of a two-hour home demonstration and as a result ordered one. One interesting result I found was that the performance is significantly better using the S/PDIF input via my Empirical Audio Off-Ramp USB to SPDIF converter rather than using the W4S native USB input. I encourage users to experiment with D/D converters with the DAC2 to get the best performance. Needless to say, this is likely very dependent on the source and cabling. I use a standard non-optimized HP laptop running Vista and driving 5M of stock USB cable. It's possible that a higher spec computer and shorter cable would reduce the performance difference.
On a related note, I think it'd be great if 6moons did some reviews of computer players. iTunes on my laptop for instance is massively inferior to the same machine running other players. Of the various players I've tried, I am consistently impressed with XXHighEnd, which admittedly needs a lot of tweaking for best performance. I appreciate that the multiple dependencies for Mac/PC, OS, CPU etc make this complicated but I think a piece on the subject from 6moons would add usefully to the debate.
Thanks again, regards
Tim Summers, Hong Kong
I too had S/PDIF superiority at first but this completely vanished once I ran firmware v1.4. That said, a 5-meter USB cable perhaps does become an audible bottleneck. As regards media players, I'm not experienced enough yet. I just bought Amarra 2.0.
I enjoyed your article on the return of the passive. You probably know these two but for completion, the Pass B1 is passive and a buffer and there's
also the Lightspeed Attenuator which works a little different. I have not tried them but would love to read more comparisons between different passives.
Thanks for your reviews.
Yes, I do know about those. That's why I mentioned the FirstWatt by name and hinted at the Lightspeed as a variable resistor triggered by light intensity.
Thank you for your detailed review on W4S DAC2. There are now so many new mid-priced DAC for CAS in the market: Antelope Audio Zodiac Plus, W4S DAC2, Mytek Stereo 192, Arcam rDAC, Eastern Electric DAC, the coming HiFace Young DAC.etc. The Eastern Electric DAC was extremely popular in the Hong Hong HiFi Show last week. I also preordered one (all stock sold out & so was the Zodiac Plus). Does 6moons have plan to review the Zodiac Plus & the coming Zodiac Gold, HiFace Young & Arcam r DAC? I also hope that the new HiFace EVO will be reviewed in your website. I will buy one & pair it up with my Eastern Electric DAC.
I'd expressed interest with Antelope when word of their USB DACs first leaked. That ball has been in their court since (see next email). On the other converters you mention, no current commitments exist but manufacturers interested in reviews can always contact us.
I hope this email find you well and you spend a good time this summer.
I want to inform you that I made all efforts to send you the first review unit from Antelope.
Now we are finally close to releasing samples and the target date is mid September...
You must be having a blast with the ultra-familiar (to you) high-resolution unlimited bandwidth Tangos and Esoteric C-03 serving as the ultimate constant for a series of "find the perfect amplifier" experiments. After extensive listening to and living with the fruits of brilliant amplifier designers in this system (various First Watts and Yamamotos, Nagra MSA, Emillé KM-300SE, Crayon CFA-1 seem to be the winners), you get to see how your own vision executed by a master (Sasa Cokic) makes music. You've nailed it visually! Even compared with the stunning Emillé, the Kaivalyas are exquisite. I can't wait to read how you think they sound (and to see you struggle remaining an unbiased father describing your offspring)!
One amplifier you loved in your pre-Tango days is the Octave V80. I'd be very interested in that amplifier making a return visit to the current system, especially now that you've heard the First Watt, Nagra and Kaivalyas as well as great tube integrateds like the Crayon and Emillé. The Octave, a one box complete solution (including MM/MC phono, headphone, and remote), seems like a dream partner for the Tangos.
Cheers from chilly California (global warming has missed us, at least for a summer).
I actually don't have the Octave V80 so a return to it won't be possible. And to remain factual, the Crayon isn't a tube but transistor amp. Aside from that, yes it's the kid in a candy store syndrome. One brilliant aspect of the Tango is its non-reactive nature. According to the designer, the impedance is extremely flat at 6 ohms and below 1kHz. It makes amplifier selection far less a matter of drive/control and far more about sonics.
And yes, the Kaivalya turned out fantastic but credit for that really must go to the Serbians. They converted my rough ideas into the final product.
I auditioned a FirstWatt J2 a few months ago, associated equipment was the RWA Isabella and Zu Druids. I thought the J2 was hands down the best amplifier I had ever heard. Only problem was that I couldn't listen for more than 15 minutes without significant listener fatigue. It may just be a teensy bit too resolving for me. Having said that, the J2 conveyed an aliveness and nuance to presentation that I haven't been able to get out of my head.
Is the F3 very much like the J2 but with slightly less treble energy? And how would you compare the F3 to the M2?
I presently have an RWA Isabella. Wondering if the Wyred4Sound STP-SE is sonically superior or if the STP-SE is merely (but importantly) better value for money but without the tube rolling flexibility of course.
Thanks for any insight you may be able to share.
The M2 is mellower and a little 'darker' and more 'voluptuous' than the F3 and J2. Between the F3 and J2, I'd contact Nelson Pass directly. I've not heard those two side by side. I have heard the F5, M2 and J2 side by side to be very confident in how they compare. From memory, the F3 and J2 are very similar. Whatever difference there are, Nelson would be in the best position to tell you.
The Wyred preamp is what I refer to as an 'activated' passive preamp. It's very close to a true 'look no power cord' passive but has superior drive over long interconnects and just a bit more tension in the music and perhaps a tad less speed and lucidity. The Isabella is warmer, slower and denser. It really depends in which direction you want to shift the sound. Knowing the Zu Druid well, I'd characterize it as dark, fleshy, highly dynamic, somewhat opaque on top and very dense. The FirstWatt amps (particularly the F5) would slim things down and kick up the energy and light. The Wyred would go a bit in that direction as well. But if the J2 already had too much treble energy for you on the Druid, I doubt that anything but the M2 in the FirstWatt catalogue would suit you. All of these amps have wide bandwidth and low phase shift to light up the top end. The Isabella meanwhile is a 'Druid as preamp' machine. You've got chocolate with chocolate. If you want to go the other direction, only change one thing at a time to not overdo it and end up with... well, whatever the opposite of chocolate would be. Lemon juice? I personally love lemon juice and drink it with a bit of honey and hot water. When my gut puckers up, I'm happy. Most people hate it though. See what I mean?
Loved the photo above the statement regarding the Burson and the
Modwright: soft focus out back compared to sharp focus up front.
I just feel that the Burson is a wonderful performer with the same
attributes but different conclusions. I have the older P-100
integrated and with my Tonian TL-D1s, it's making the best sound my (limited) ears have heard. This is not to draw you out but just my
preference. Having said that, could it be due to something as simple
as component matching? The Burson does everything so right that I
find it refreshing in its exacting, detailed presentation.
All the best,
The Burson works very well in booster mode. How it'll perform with its stable mate preamp will be reported in its own review. It is a very exacting performer no doubt. The response to those qualities will, as always, be a function of listener bias and also associated equipment. There's nothing limited to anyone's ears. You hear what you hear and build a system around that. Everything else is irrelevant.
Thank you so much for your wonderful site. I have discontinued subscriptions from several magazines because I prefer your magazine. I have purchased Avantgarde Uno Nanos and I'm curious what of the FirstWatt models you would recommend for the most "300B" like sound.
Thank you in advance!
F3 or J2.
|Noticed the reader letter mentioning Luciana Souza. She is indeed a
wonderful singer and I was fortunate to see her in concert a couple
of years ago. To my ear, perfect pitch and completely composed as a
performer. Not only does she come from a distinguished musical
family but she's married to Larry Klein, producer
extraordinaire. Here's the Wiki for your reference:
I've been following your site for almost a decade but this is the first time I am writing to share some impressions on the Nagra CDC and the discontinued stereo power amplifier Nagra MPA. I bought an MPA in 2002 and sold it in 2009. I bought the CDC in 2005 and sold it in 2010. Together with Verity Parsifal Encores, these were my minimalist audio system components over several years.
Reliability: One month after I bought theMPA, a persistent hum started. I sent it over to Nagra for repair and I enjoyed trouble-free performance for 7 years. In 2009 the same hum started again and very soon afterwards the amplifier stopped working. Repair was very expensive,so I exchanged it in the dealer's shop.
After four years of flawless functioning, the CDC started having problems. The drawer would not open completely, the CDP would not play certaintracks, stopping abruptly before the end of the disc and finally the display did not show the track numbers and other information any more. I send it over to Nagra for repair through the dealer and paid 1.500 euros but when I received it back, something was broken inside during shipping. So I exchanged it in the same dealer's shop.
In light of the above, I cannot conclude that Nagra products are reliable for the asking price. I paid 10.000 euros for the MPA and 13.500 euros for the CDC. However, I have to say that the Nagra people are very helpful and take care of their customers.
Sound: Although I do not use Nagra products now, I must admit that I am missing their sound, especially that of the CDC. I learned listening through Nagra. I like the balanced and human dimension of their sound, which avoids exaggeration and is clear and transparent. I like that their presentation is not mellow or romantic but a bit lean, true, natural and humble. In a word, I would describe the Nagra sound as really aristocratic in the best sense of the term.
I am sending you this input as an old Nagra user for I see you are about to review MSA.
Finally, I want to thank you for my audiophile education through your site. After your review of the Boenicke W20, I bought a smaller model from them (now discontinued), which I am currently enjoying.
I have been following your writeup of the Modwright KWA 100 amplifier. It will be interesting to see how it stacks up with similar $3K units. I am waiting to see your final view point. I have a decent audio system but don't need more than the 140wpc the Modwright is capable of at 8 ohms.
I did email Dan and indeed he will be coming out with a maxed-out 100 SE model within the next 30 days or so. I truly hope you will have the opportunity to compare the standard model to the SE version. Dan says it is much better in every regard - for only $700 more than the stock edition. I am going to wait the extra few months and see how the SE version is rated. btw, good informative honest writing as usual.
Dan wrote in this morning explaining the SE option and offering to ship out a unit for comparison. I accepted.
|What happened to the Zu (Soul) review?
Sean Casey informed me now that a review loaner won't be available until October. Seeing how my preview published in May after being solicited for this assignment, it was prudent to cancel the review due to ongoing unavailability of actual samples.
| Dear Marja & Henk,
I enjoyed reading your review of the Dr. Feickert Analogue Blackbird turntable. I'm always interested in your reviews because I also own a pair of Avantgarde Duos, so to have your perspective on what works (and what might not) is helpful. However, I was disappointed that you didn't refer to your earlier review of the TW Acustic Raven One in some way. Both 'tables retail at similar prices, both in fact had a Jelco arm fitted if I understand correctly, and you regarded both very positively. In fact both have an Avian/Black theme to them! Can you elaborate on the Blackbird/Raven comparison for us?
In the course of writing the review we have thought about including the Raven for comparison not least because of the German/avian/black leitmotiv. Srajan also saw this and while editing the review added the respective birds in the headers. However, there are too many factors that differ to make the comparison an honest one. Just to name a few, since the Raven review we have moved house, hence the acoustics are different and we all know how much the room contributes to the overall sound. Then there are different cartridges used, a quite heavy Zu DL-103 and a much ligther Lyra Dorian. Also, the cables were different for both reviews.
This outlines a primary reviewer dilemma. Should one always revert to the exact same setup for each review so that only the piece of equipment under review is changed? We always try to stay as close to a 'reference' as possible but it's not 100% possible over time as one's system evolves. A second dilemma is availability of loaners. It is very hard to arrange for equipment in the first place. Most of the time only one piece is set aside for review or demo and demand can be high from other reviewers, magazines and dealers. With more exotic gear it becomes even harder. So the only practical thing was comparing the two tables on memory.
tricky when more than a year has passed. On that basis—only as good as aural memory is stable, trustworthy and accurate—the Raven/Vivid Two/Lyra Dorian combination in our old room sounded lighter and smaller than the Blackbird/Jelco/Zu Dl103 combination in our new room. The latter had more grandeur and pizazz over the full range. With both turntables being in the roughly same weight category—around 20kg—sporting roughly the same tone arm, the main differences were two vs. one motor and the cartridges we used. For a one-on-one comparison, we should really have both tables on hand and swap cartridges between them. As this involves impossible logistics, cooperation and above all time, such a thing was not feasible, hence we deliberately passed on comparative comments in the review. We hope you can live with that.
|An open letter to Allen Wright of Vaccum State Audio:
As I know you know, we published a reader review by one Pat Kennedy on your
You link to it on your website.
As of this morning, I have added a publisher's comment ahead of the review
proper. A reader pointed out that Pat Kennedy operates under the handle
Banpuku with his own website where he sells Vacuum State products. His
Banpuku system listing on Audio Asylum mirrors that which Pat Kennedy lists
in our review to perfection.
The likelihood that Pat = Banpuku is thus a near 100%. Needless to say, Pat
doesn't reply to my email about it.
If factual, this is very deceptive. To approach 6moons in this fashion then becomes more
I also fail to see how you as the manufacturer wouldn't know which of your
customers moonlights as a dealer. If you knew about it, you're part of the
deception. If you didn't, you should probably investigate this matter ASAP.
My editor's comment has the links you'll need.
I look forward to your response.
Patrick is indeed the holder of the name Banpuku but he was not our dealer when he wrote the review. In fact, I doubt that he's a dealer in any real terms of sales volume but he bought the RTP3D preamp and loved it so much he felt he should write the review comparing it with the expensive units he had previously owned or had had on extensive loan.
Only after submitting the review did I suggest he become our dealer
as approaches to 'regular' dealers had received no response in our currently difficult financial times and market.
While I appreciate your response and situation, given that Pat Kennedy reviews under one name and operates an online dealership under another as though he had something to hide ... it does raise a flag even if only on perception. It thus compels me to leave my editor's comment in place.
I had the opportunity to visit Ken at 32 Ohm Audio in Portland last weekend, and I was incredibly impressed by the store and Ken's approach to audio. Ken's shop is an important milestone in efforts to bridge the gap between audiophilia and the rest of the music-loving world, and I tip my hat to you for recognizing this.
High-end headphones have opened me up to a world of audio that I could never have experienced with speakers, because of both expense and the endless challenges of room interaction. Many of the most expensive headphones in Ken's store, which max out at around $1500, sound like gazillion-dollar speakers. Spending an hour in 32 Ohm Audio is like having the best from Wilson Audio, Magico, Rethm and others all in one place,perfectly positioned and ready for a private listening session. The best offerings from Sennheiser, Grado, Audiotechnica and Beyerdynamic (the T1 was my personal favorite) are that good.
Put simply, there is no audio store in the country that offers this sort of diversity at such a high level, and none that appeals so much to such a broad audience. I will support 32 Ohm whenever I can and encourage your readers to do the same.
Best regards, and thanks as always for a great read,
|About your Voxativ preview, I love the virtual relationship harkening back to the JBL Signature C34 cabinet, kind of a newer femaled version with high heels and a kick ass wide bander.
In my exploration of passive preamps I've found that running an interconnect post attenuator is often much more detrimental to the overall sound that one might assume. For many years I've run with some version of these. (They've been through a few minor changes since they were first introduced.)
No, not the most convenient or cosmetically desirable but for the money the sonics (under the right circumstances) are unbeatable. My current setup doesn't allow me to run them but I can't recommend them highly enough for those who have the appropriate system.
|If it's not too personal, how many hours of sleep do you get at night? I don't imagine it's more than a couple if the number of components you review—and at great length!—is any indication. I'm awestruck. Most humbly,
Senior Editor, StereoTimes.com
Consultant, NuForce, Inc.
Working 8 or more hours a day 7 days a week out of your own home without distractions, commuting or other downtime can get a lot done. It's no magic, just discipline which comes easy when you enjoy what you're doing.
Just finished reading your Kaivalya story so far - it's wonderful! Thanks for sharing it. And the Kaivalya is absolutely gorgeous! I look forward to the listening test.
Also, thanks much for your 32-Ohm series on headphones. As a current apartment dweller, headphones are the only way I can truly let loose and give the music its full head - especially with classical organ, which can get rather loud at proper levels! But I'm afraid you may have cost me the price of a nice set of recabled Beyerdynamic T1s...:-) Especially since you've verified for me that the T1 will work nicely with my iDecco.
Lastly, on the subject of your site's load time - absolutely no issues here and I'm usually reading it in a comfy chair with my iPad, which is not quite as fast as a full computer. In fact, you're to be commended for a site that works splendidly on the iPad as well as in normal browsers. Thanks again.
I found a wonderful Brazilian singer I think you might like—Luciana Souza. Do you know her work? Beautiful voice; virtuoso pitch and rhythmic accuracy; very exciting at up tempos; wonderfully expressive at slow. Less romantic and soft-edged than Paula Morelenbaum but equally fine in a different way I would say and the two CDs below are as well recorded as Morelenbaum's Casa.
Souza has two recordings of duets (Brazilian Duos and Duos II), each pairing her with a series of Brazilian guitarists doing Brazilian tunes. (Tom Jobim is not the only fine Brazilian composer of songs!) Both discs are sung and played brilliantly and are very well recorded. I think you would like her a lot, knowing your preferences a bit and having profited by your recommendations. Here are links to sound samples.
PS: BTW, I much prefer her on this Brazilian material than when she sings in English. She does the latter well, but something is tamer and not nearly as magical, to my ears at least
|My NuForce HDP finally arrived together with my new Sennheiser HD800! I was
expecting it to sound good but it sounds even better already at the
burn-in stage. To my suprise the HDP is a lot nicer (more musical -
smoother I guess) than the pretty cold and digital Benchmark DAC-1 I auditioned it on.
I just wanted to thank you again for the replies etc. The HDP is exactly
what I needed and your award for it seems spot on! It's a shame so few
people know about it. I think there'd be a huge market for entry-level audiophile products such as the Icon line. Especially since with
headphones it's pretty cheap to get to a fairly high level compared to
|6moons is spoiling me. I can't take much more of the endlessly retarded, new improved crackle snap pop marketing of most other magazines, net or print. The M2 piece really has something to say to mature audiophiles (oxymoron I know). As one F5 owner and admirer to another however,I Istill feel that
the Nagra VPA have a margin on it in my rig when it comes to all-around imaging Bbig tannoys, remember? Why oh why didn't Nelson make an unbridged mono version?
Keep on chooglin'
PS: Should you ever decide to go subscriber I'm easy.
There is talk of monos - perhaps the J2, M2 or F5 could apply? We'll have to see what the man decides. My vote would be for the J2.
I just love your reviews and your writing style. You should be very proud of your contributions to the world of hifi. I just read the comment about slow loading speeds and want to reassure you that every computer I've used here in New Zealand to view your pages loads fast and successfully without fail. Your website is also very easy to navigate through.
Thanks for your great work.
Thanks for the latest reviews and updates on Franck Tchang’s incredible inventions. He’s quite an out-of-the-box thinker and his cables, for example, are revelatory (I own the IC’s and speaker cables).A quick savings tip for all your readers: he Sound Quest Isopads that you enjoy on your ASI rack are nothing more than 2” x 2” x 7/8” furnace vibration pads and can be purchased from several industrial sites for .$25 a piece. I realize that the Sound Quest price of $25/4 is not a huge audiophile purchase but at 25x the price they seem like highway robbery….okay maybe not highway, more like small cobblestone road. Here’s a link to one of the suppliers:
I read the third page of your W4S DAC2 review yesterday. As I am considering the DAC2 for purchase, I was a little concerned about the failure of the "comm link between micro chip and USB transceiver." To get to the point of my e-mail, I came across subjects such as reclocking (or not), I2S and RF transmission that seem to dovetail with your page 3 product report.
Earlier this week, I saw an offer by a member of the Houston Audio Society to sell his DAC. I did a little research on his dB Audio Labs Tranquility DAC. The comments on this DAC appear to be positive but the unit is limited to 16/44.1 and only has a USB input. These capabilities are short of what I am looking for in a DAC. The interesting information I came upon is the reply by the DAC designer (made on 12-11-09) where he discusses what is necessary to implement various input options.
The comm link issue was, it seems, due to an earlier firmware code that's been updated to v1.4 in the replacement unit which works peachy.
Nelson Pass is definitely an electronics savant, his control, precision and understanding are awe-inspiring. Your review of the M2 was also awe-inspiring. I imagine an incredible amount of work on your part and your writing was so precise and concise…a tour de force.
I was thinking the HRT Streamer + deserved a Blue Moon award because it proved superior to the Blue Moon winner [NuForce]? On the subject of website loading, 6moons has always been among the fastest websites and easiest to use.
|Just (another - I hope!) support message for your site speed! I've never had problems with it and echo the opinion that it's pretty
easy to navigate too!
Now, as to its effect on one's bank balance...
Well, thinking about it, I've enjoyed the various experiments caused
by your reviews and even made a profit now and thenas well as had lots of musical enjoyment.
Listening as I type to iTunes/iMac via Kingrex USB and Zigmahornets
(my own polystyrene variants).
Main set-up includes Firstwatt F3......etc! All influenced by 6moons reviews.
I'm sure some of us are tempted to put a "Parental Block" on the site though
- for ourselves!
Just a quick counterpoint to the letter you received re: your site's loading speed and its navigability. FWIW, as long as I can remember, it's always been one of the quickest sites I visit - and I see dozens - if not hundreds - daily.
Its ease of navigation is unsurpassed by any other high-end audio review sites. IMO, that's due to the clean layout and graphics. In addition, you keep things organized into manageable groups. Some sites are like a veritable maze to navigate. Please continue providing us with the audio industry's best international audio review and commentary site. Most people that I know are aware of its quality and comment on it, if not on line, then certainly in conversations.
I have known about your website for quite some time but don't frequent it much for a few reasons. For what it's worth... have there been any discussions to somehow improve the performance? Your website is the slowest loading site I have ever frequented by a large margin. Content is delivered painfully slowly and often times does not load completely or has to be refreshed. This experience is universal no matter what computer or Internet provider is being used. Until that issue is ever resolved 6moons will always be on the fringe. It's a totally frustrating experience trying to access your content and I always kick myself for trying again.
Also, the site has always been difficult to navigate even if you could ever get the content.
Your experience is certainly not common. My server is in the US, I live in Switzerland. I access the site many times daily and have from as far as China and Cyprus. It's plenty fast. My collaborators live across the globe and quite quickly point out issues (which tend to be the occasional coding error, typo or factual mistake but, rarely, also that the site was down during server maintenance or machine failure). Lastly, our site sponsors (from as far as Korea, the US and Europe) would rightly ask for their money back if the site didn't work properly. After 8 years of operation, I haven't seen evidence of slow loading. It's certainly possible that the server has occasional issues but from what I can see, it's clearly not the norm. I'm not sure why you're having problems, sorry.
am sitting here listening to Juanita Hall Sings The Blues [Counterpoint Recordings DJZ-623] and I am moved to once again thank you for your great review of the Crayon CFA-1. I just love this amplifier and I seriously doubt that I will ever want to exchange it for another. So thanks again.
Your commissioned amps have turned out beautifully. As always, your candor is refreshing. Just after receiving a gorgeous implementation of your personally dreamed concept, you are questioning whether valves hold their place at all. It's a great question. I see something like these amps and am always attracted to the beauty, the vintage look, the warmth of the sound and glow. Maybe the best combination is the convenience of the Clayton Shaw approach (mac mini + dac/pre doing software-based room and phase corrections on the music itself), along with the convenience of everything through iTunes using an iPad, and have that chain end in a pair of beautiful tube amps. But it would seem that the music file corrections in his system might make the amps matter somewhat less (assuming power is managed correctly)...
|Your new amps look really gorgeous and quite elegant. I didn't think a white chassis would turn out that well. I trust they'll sound as good as they look.
That's the $23.000.000 question -:)
|Srajan, I noticed this comment in your recent review of the HRT MS Pro. I couldn't agree more and wonder why more reviewers haven't mentioned it.
For now, my silly question is how hi-rez files are supposed to become popular with the iTunes nation when we require Fluke, Switch or other intermediary software and file conversion rituals to make 'em work?
I've had good results using XLD (X Lossless Decoder)—a free software download—to convert files from FLAC or WAV to AIFF or Apple Lossless. It's a very simple program to use. Just drag the files onto the icon and presto, they are converted. I haven't had any trouble with it so far. You might want to give it a try if yo are having problems with Fluke, Switch and others.
X Lossless Decoder: Lossless audio decoder for Mac OS X
brief note to say a huge Thank You for your meticulously detailed review of the First Watt F3. I'd had a not good experience with a well-known valve supplier in relation to the EL84s in my Leben CS300x and got to wondering about not using valves - which I have been wedded to for about fifteen years. Your review persuaded me to take a risk on the First Watt. The folks at Reno in the US couldn't have been more helpful.
It is paired with a Music First preamp and into Living Voice IBXRs with Kondo cables thru' out it is just wonderful. The little Leben had to go for repair (a dry joint) and Kevin Scott upgraded the pot which makes an astonishing difference - but the clarity of the First Watt is addictive as also is the bass. I listen to a lot of piano and it's a whole new experience.
So, to reprise a couple of earlier e-mails, I'm no longer interested in the Trafomatic EL84 flagship. Apart from anything I don't like that shape of amp. However, I am potentially interested in the M2...
Is there an approximate time scale for your review to appear? In the meantime thanks again for the F3 review!
The M2 is in Cologne as we speak so it'll touch down in La Suisse tomorrow and my digs the day after. Give or take 6 weeks and I should have a report. The ModWright KWA-100 showed up today and my Kaivalya monos should ship next Monday so it's raining amps over Chardonne right now...
Dear Srajan Ebaen,
I am writing to see if you are interested in my submitting a report on the recent Lone Star Audio Fest held last month in Dallas Texas, USA. I was actually an exhibitor at the show with my company Audio Crafters Guild so given the usual wall between manufacturer and journalist I had dismissed the idea of writing it up for publication. That changed with your recent Industry Features article on Canjam 2010 by retailer/manufacturer Ken Ball. Industry Features is my favorite hardware section of 6moons and your acknowledgement that input from the actual doers does not instantly taint information and in fact provides insight for the reader is pragmatic. I like the way it treats your readers as adults who can consider source and context.
If you are interested I see a couple of options for the article. One is a straightforward “here are the pictures of the rooms and descriptions of who was there and why”. A second idea is a first person account of my experience as a small manufacturer preparing for the show, setting up and displaying my babies; along with what the other rooms featured. Having exhibited at RMAF and LSAF and attended CES I will attempt to give the reader a peek at the ‘other side’ hoping they will use that information the next time some pundits make absolute decrees based on 5 minutes in the sweet spot chair in a hotel room demo.
In either case I would of course refrain from negative comments about my fellow exhibitors, especially those competing with ACG products. My main goals are to raise awareness of the small low-key LSAF to help assure its continuance and less magnanimously some publicity for ACG. I have photos taken with my Canon G10 in 15Mpixel format of many of the rooms. If you are interested I will approach a couple of other sources who were taking photos with the goal of presenting every room of the show.
Audio Crafters Guild
Absolutely. The 1st-person perspective is the ticket. It's more - um, personal and thus, interesting. Given the context and just like with Ken Ball, it also establishes and celebrates proper subjectivity rather than attempt to hide behind always faux objectivity with the omniscient commentator perspective. As you rightly said, we do trust the intelligence of our audience. So by all means, count me in. Thanks very much.
hope you are doing well. What a lovely review by David Kan this morning! I think it is a classic example of what your site does exceptionally well. You found a couple of interesting pieces of equipment that many of us have not heard about, reported on them with passion and intelligence and published a review that was written clearly and cohesively. Please pass on my compliments to David or if you send me his e-mail, I would be happy to do myself.
Director of Sales
I just discovered your excellent site 10 days ago after a chance encounter with a Peachtree iDecco at a local dealer led me to the web to learn more - and was steered to your excellent review of the iDecco from a link at signalpathint.com
. Given that you were well impressed with the iDecco even in the context of your working and living with even more superb equipment, you can imagine my reaction to it as someone who, for the past 10 years, has lived with nothing more sophisticated than a Bose home theater system. And while I've had iPods since the first model, the best I've ever heard them sound was through a pair of Bose headphones.
So, you can imagine my astonishment when I ventured into this dealership to check out a Sonus S5, and the dealer decided to demo the iDecco for me, running through some Sonus Faber Toys and an REL T1 sub. As you might guess, I was smitten. Then I found your review and a few others and you confirmed what my less trained ears had suspected - that the iDecco was a superb product especially for the price. So, a few days later I returned and bought one with a pair of Monitor Audio speakers.
And thus, I've been bitten once again by the audio bug. In my youth, I once worked at one of the more mass market audio stores and had some modest equipment then, but I've been away from it for over 20 years. I've really been enjoying your site and just ordered Jim Smith's "Get Better Sound", which was also influenced by your endorsement.
Thanks for providing such a great resource with such a unique style. I'll be a frequent visitor.
6moons illuminates the alchemical blend of science, art, creativity and unique individuals that make high-end music reproduction so intriguing. Without 6moons I would certainly have heard of Nelson Pass and possibly Frank Tchang but I would never have gained the insights about their visions and approach to bringing the magic of music into the listening room at home.
All of the individuals who believe they can reproduce a musical event better than anyone else must, by definition, have quite an ego. Because smaller volume high-end audio is not typically a road to riches, the vast majority of these companies are boutique in nature. And because the products tend to be quite expensive and highly personal, I think that many audiophiles like to have an idea about the people whose designs they are buying, not just the products.
I recently came across some extremely striking electronics from Acoustic Plan. With their minimalist blue face plates they are simply beautiful. In trying to learn more about them, I stumbled across the rather bizarre experience you had reviewing one of their loudspeakers (also quite striking, by the way, at least from the front and sides). Based on his own words I learned enough about the head of Acoustic Plan to know I likely won't give any of my hard-earned money to his company no matter how beautiful his products may sound and look. Similarly I was surprised to read in the letters section the nasty diatribe from Simon Yorke, taking you to task for not visiting his display away from the main show in Munich. There are a lot of turntables out there. (By the way, shortly after that email there is a short note of appreciation from Neil Young, I assume the famous musician one. Ironic, since he is known to be a Simon Yorke TT owner).
I don't expect to learn about every manufacturer's character from your reviews but often they do it with their own actions and words. The in-depth visits with people like Nelson Pass and Frank Tchang are fascinating though! On the suggestion side, -it would be interesting to read a review of the Consensus Audio speakers, especially the Magma, which is strikingly similar in design to the Tangos (I think Frank was involved with Consensus in some way). The Magmas are $5,000 more than the Tangos and don't have resonators! Another intriguing speaker is the new Tofana from Isophon of Germany. Very cool design.
High-end audio very much is about buying (into) the personal visions of individuals - into what constitutes good sound, proper engineering, timeless design and value. Unlike a commodity or appliance, there's an artisanal aspect to it all which, as you said, makes it important to learn as much as possible about the creator and not just the bits of metal and wood we end up with. Whenever the opportunities arise, all of us enjoy going the extra mile to paint the fuller picture. It's not always possible - and sometimes the picture isn't what we hoped to see and report on -:)
And yes, I too think that Franck Tchang was involved in certain earlier Consensus speaker designs.
I am a few days from pulling the trigger on a pair of WLM Diva Monitors in Tineo finish (after a bit of effort, I found a good deal). These will replace my current second-hand Totem Rainmakers, which I pair with a Cayin A50 tube amp. In connection with the Divas, I am considering upgrading to another integrated amp. I am considering the Luxman 550A-II, Shindo Apetite, Leben CS-300sx and Almarro 318B. I know that you have spent quite some time with WLM speakers and was wondering whether you had any suggestions for an integrated.
I would appreciate even a sentence or a few words of your input.
I only know Shindo from word of mouth and Leben from my collaborators. The Almarro runs very hot, that particular Luxman I haven't heard. From 'deep tube' to 'modern tube', I'd array your options in the sequence of Shindo, Leben, Luxman and Almarro. Depending on where you want to be, sonically, that's where you'd pick. Other natural mates would be the WLM/Trafomatic EL34 integrated and the smallest Octave.
Not that I'm bothering you often but I want to this time. Hope all is well in Switzerland where I'll be returning for the summer holiday. In nearby Lenk no less!
Anyway, onto my question. I currently have an Acoustic LiveLine power cord in my system. I am now looking at including either 1 more pc or an RCA cable. The budget is not likely to stretch to include both, my system's been upgraded quite a bit as it is. In your experience, where would you think the most can be gained? Another pc or the ic instead of the Acoustic Zen Silver Reference II I'm running now, no slouch by itself.
On my upgrade, I've sold both my Arcam CD23 and Modwright 36.5. Also the Powerplant Premier has gone. I'm getting a much better sound with the Chapter Audio Sonnet S that has replaced it. This is an integrated CDP/preamp. It plays CDs at an for me absolutely unprecedented musicality and includes attenuation plus a number of flexible settings. Moreover it can be used as the center of a digital audio system as it has 4 S/PDIF and 1 USB input. I am looking at the new Mac Mini to complete a compact but hi-quality system. I must add that the software on the Sonnet S is not 100% foolproof yet but the importer has given his guarantee that those minor issues will be solved and he will 'zap' the improvements into currently delivered machines when available. Good service in my book!
I have no idea whether the company is up and ready for a review of this product. Their website is 'basic' to say the least, and then I'm being complimentary. I do think they have a magnificent product that the audio world should know about. Maybe that starts with you.
Between power and RCA, I'd go with the RCA. Thanks for the tip on the Chapter Audio.
I have been very impressed with Acoustic System Int. products. I have the SRA Craz rack which is fairly similar to what GPA does. I am planning to get into vinyl. Would you recommend a Heartsong rack over SRA?
I'm not certain. I used to own GPA Monaco racks which were physically too deep for my current space. The transition to HeartSong racks came by way of being fully 'Tchanged' as it were, not by comparing. I thus don't know from experience just how I'd rate them in an A/B. Common sense would suggest that the SRA approach goes deeper into noise attenuation while the HeartSong approach is strategic tuning and resonance shifting. Which would be more appropriate for your needs I couldn't say.
Discovering and reading 6moons reminds me of my
experience as a brand-new audiophile in 1977 and
discovering The Absolute Sound, Stereophile and
Audiogram. I greatly enjoy your site and I have
learned much from it. Your perceptive listening
acuity as well as your colorful and sophisticated
writing style makes reading your reviews enjoyable
and informative, like Harry Pearson was at his best.
In 1979, I happened upon the wonderful world of
high-end headphone listening via the Signet TK 33
Electret Condenser headphones. They sold for $300,
a rather princely sum for cans in those days. The
TK 33s had an energizer box that could be directly
driven by any stereo power amp. I purchased a 25wpc Electrocompaniet pure class A amp
second hand out of the Audiomart. The sound was
stunning. Beautiful, lush, rich yet superbly well
defined with a huge sound(head)field and rock'em
sock'em dynamic swings that were startling. I have
been a true believer in high-quality headphone
listening ever since and it has been my primary
listening source all these years. Headphones allow
me an intimacy with the music, an inner experience
and satisfaction from my recordings that only headphone listening with the best cans can give me.
It's great that the wonderful benefits of headphone
listening are discussed and encouraged on 6moons.
D. W. Whitlock
Glad you're enjoying 6moons. Yes, I have been on the headphone soap box for
a while now. Guilty as charged -:) I feel the audiophile press at large doesn't give quite enough
coverage to the sector. Particularly with the current economy, that's a
shame. Consumers not exposed may not believe how good it can get if
they've never tried it. I reason that if someone in my position, with a
lot of exposure to better speaker-based setups, keeps reiterating and
covering the upscale headphone theme, perhaps a few people will be intrigued
enough to actually try that route.
I feel the same about the iPod. It has far more potential than getting bashed as fit only for the MP3 nation. Hence my enthusiasm for the Peachtree Audio iDecco and, looking ahead, my excitement over the potential of the new Cypher Labs Algorythm Solo. If portable audio can be elevated to true hifi standards now, the future for our hobby looks far less bleak. I'm always surprised by how many audiophiles are quick to discredit convenience (they also do it with PC audio). Headphone listening opens the doors to anytime, portable headphone listening to anywhere. People don't grasp that greater convenience inevitably means doing more of it. What good is a hobby that must be shoehorned into time slots when family and neighbors give their consent?
That's why particularly top-notch portable audio (iPod, iPod DAC/headphone amp, quality cans) has my attention. As a concept, many audiophiles and our press at large seem to discount it as midfi. I think it's the (very rosy) future. For starters, it gets audio out from the basement sweet spot into the streets and out into nature. Doing it in public can't be a bad thing. If the iPod can be transformed into a $3.000 CD player (loaded with uncompressed files streamed digitally into a higher-quality DAC with a better volume control and output stage), our kind of hifi can begin to make real inroads. Nothing else can.
I have enjoined your headphone articles. I bought a pair of W1000
several years ago based on your writing and have since progressed
through HD650, Edition 9, D5000, and finally the D7000. Which
brings me to the D7000. It is really a fabulous headphone (mine is
driven by a RudiStor RPX-33, which is absolutely wonderful and
under-covered in the media). You have mentioned Denon headphones in
your articles,but I don't recall any specific impressions you may
have of the D7000.
If you have not heard the D7000, I would urge you to give them a try.
They are the first headphone I enjoy without reservation,
almost psychedelic at times in fact. Paired with the PRX-33, my
journey may be at an end though I do want to hear the HD800 and T1
at some point.
Thanks again and keep up the excellent work. It's amazing how your
site has continued to pioneer thoughtful audio journalism in the years
since our interview. I believe, in terms of traffic, 6moons.com is
second only to Stereophile.
I only heard the D5000 at a show. That was too bassy for my tastes. It appears the D7000 is a different animal? Good tip indeed. On site traffic, we indeed do get a lot. But how it measures up to the competition I'm not sure. The usual means to count that aren't that reliable. Nor do I need to know. My concern is for quality and an interesting product mix which the community of our readers can rely on as a constant. I leave worries about biggest and best to others who tell us at each turn that they are.
As an audiophile-type guy new to the headphone world, I have had many very expensive speaker-based systems. Through reading many of your reviews on headphone equipment, I jumped in and started sampIing all the headphone equipment I could in the Chicago land area. I am amazed that I actually prefer this concept even over the most expensive system I have ever owned; and I have only heard three systems ever that I liked more than mine in any high-end store. So I just attended the Chicago CanJam 2010 show and got to hear some of the equipment you have reviewed. I have always wondered how accurate reviewer's descriptions of sound could be and I now can say that you are a very good listener/writer. I enjoy your style of writing very much. I sampled the two Woo 300B units with the difference being the tubes. And I can hear many of the things you describe in your review concerning the Woo and how it responds to different tubes. Thanks for putting so much effort and time into your site. I visit it frequently now and have great confidence that I can figure out whether what you describe/like in a review is for me without having to wonder if we hear differently. Your reviews are so specific that even though I may prefer more of a bloom and steam room effect sound, your preference for more of a PRaT sound will not trip me up because the descriptions are so well placed into a sliding scale that I know just what you are explaining. This is unique I believe so thanks very much again for all your efforts and also for promoting headphone listening. It has greatly improved my life.
I'm pleased your life has improved as a result of getting some information from our site, Dave. As this hobby can quickly degenerate into a toys-for-boys affair, it's gratifying to hear that the real reason we're doing this does occasionally meet its mark. Seriously though, you have discovered what's been my contention for a long time. Most audiophiles/reviewers are quite clueless over just how stellar performance can be for a much lower price than they're referencing vis-à-vis the usual speaker systems
if they just investigated serious headphone setups. And yes, certain things are different which might take some getting used to. On a whole though, freedom from room issues, greater linearity and often greater bandwidth and very often much higher resolution do give headphone listening a real edge. I'm pleased as punch that someone with ambitious speaker systems concurs with me on that count. Being able to listen at 2:00AM in the morning without any sacrifices in high fidelity nor disturbing the neighbors is quite the deal.
And yes, the most important thing for the reader of any reviewer is knowing whether their descriptions coincide with yours. You needn't favor the same things. As long as black is black and white is white, the information presented is useful and can be applied to personal needs and desires.