I must admit, I read your articles as much for your writing style as for the great reviews. I've read that there are some of a decidedly different opinion but for me whatever 'it' is, you've got it.
I was hoping to impose on you for a few recommendations? After reading your review of the JOB 225, I ordered one immediately. With the exception of an initial hum which the manufacturer promptly fixed at no cost to me, I can't remember the last time I've enjoyed an equipment purchase so much. I'm smitten with the thing.
I have the JOB in my bedroom and my other half has taken a liking to it, which is really saying a lot! I listen mostly to Jazz and R&B and I really appreciate female vocalists e.g. Phyllis Hyman, Stephanie Mills, Whitney Houston. I have the JOB leashed to Def Techs 7004s which have a built-in powered sub which we love but the treble is tinny and sounds like aluminum? Considering the type of music that I like to listen to and the need for a solid low end or sub (if for instance you were to recommend Maggies) would you please be so kind as to offer your thoughts on some suitable speakers and cables that are somewhere near the ballpark of the JOB? Also, I do appreciate that the JOB is the epitome of value on steroids. I'd also appreciate your thoughts on the tube modded Oppo105 that you reviewed vs the Auralic Vega as a front end?
As always, thanks in advance for your time and consideration, and keep up the good work.
Given your mention of bedroom, I would look at the Gallo Strada2 + Gallo TR-1D subwoofer for a $2'600 combo of satellites and sub.
The monitors include desktop stands so they could go on a console or nightstand. This is the system I listen to on my desktop (except that my sub is the more powerful TR-3D which you won't need). For cables you might check out the Zu Mission or entry-level Audience. The ModWrighted Oppo 105 would be an ideal source in this context and obviously play any kind of disc plus serve as USB DAC whilst the Vega is purely a DAC.
My dealer is sending the order tomorrow for W5 coupled with its matching
stands and their sub.
Should I consider another sub or stick with Boenicke?
Sven's sub has programmed low-pass filter options custom-tailored to the W5 but my Zu Submission works great as well. I think here your options are quite wide as long as your sub ends up having an infinitely adjustable low-pass below 40Hz and a fine-adjustable phase control. You'll use it predominantly for the first octave so make sure it's a real down-to-20Hz sub and not a pretender.
|While waiting for the production W5 and sub to become available on this side I am, like many others it appears, anxious to hear the synergy you speak about with the Crayon 1.2. At a somewhat lower price point, what would you think of pairing the Boenicke 'tone' with the ModWright integrated? I appreciate your writing style. Please continue the work as it does inform this reader's purchasing considerations.
I've not heard Dan's integrated but owned his amp and preamps. Based on that I'd think the combo would be fabulous. My understanding was that the W5 has been in formal production since the review but you're right that the sub is lagging behind a bit. How soon US dealer orders can be filled I of course don't know. It seems initial demand is quite high and Sven's isn't a high-volume slap-em-together business.
Thank you for your reply. Our frustration (my wife and I) is that the arrival of the Boenicke W5s (never mind the subwoofer) are far behind the advertised dealer pronouncements, whether they be near (Audioprana) or in Colorado (Tweek Geek).Your favorable review has only made our wait that much more difficult to manage whilst hoping for more up-to-date information and demonstration. I'm grateful for your reply and my wife has enjoyed the Soren Bebe CD I gave her for her birthday at your recommendation. My best to you as we approach the New Year.
'tis the season for chestnuts so here's one: everything good is worth waiting for. We don't have our second pair either yet-:)
Dave Smith from the USA. Just finished reading your review of the HF cables Rick Schultz makes. I could not agree with you more. As an audiophile who has spent many years auditioning many of the top cables, I have stopped looking after trying the HF cables. I currently own 1 pair of CT-1U interconnects and the CT-1U speaker cables. I only have a Lumin Network Music Player and a pair of Chalice Audio 'Grail' SET monoblocks so only need 1 pair of the i/cs. The HF cables are the best cables, top to bottom, I have ever had in my system. As you so correctly put it, their sound is so natural. I find myself finally just listening to the music and not analyzing it. Everything is so real. As good as the CT-1 and CT-1E are, you do not want to try the CT-1U as they are another level better still. I have had all 3 of the lines in my system at one time or another. I am sure Rick is very happy with your review. Hopefully more audiophiles will read it and try the HF cables. Thanks again for a great thoughtful review……and great system by the way.
You definitely own a very fine amplifier and nice streamer
I will undoubtedly give a listen to Rick Schultz' ultimate cables and believe better results could still be achieved with the Ultimate and upcoming Ultimate Reference cables despite the CT1-E range already performing outstanding. That will however represent a substantial price increase and the interest for most of our readers should get rather limited as a result. But I shall personally seize the opportunity given by the French importer to audition High Fidelity's flagship.
You've really compelled me to sit up and take notice with your latest review of the Boenicke W5. I was just curious to find out what you found to be ideal amplification with these little gems. As the distributor for Trafomatic and Bakoon my like for lower powered—and generally speaking better refined—amplifiers is pretty obvious. I was thinking the Trafomatic Kaivalya could possibly be a good match with the W5. The Bakoon AMP-12R could be another option but it is getting pretty low in output. I have contacted Sven Boenicke about bringing a pair of the W5 into Australia. Before I pull the trigger I wanted to make sure my range of amps was going to be sufficient. The risk for someone like me is that nearly everything I bring in for the first time is completely blind. Your site certainly helps shine some light on to things. I would be interested in your thoughts.
All the best,
The Bakoon is a bit on the low side but for my needs got plenty loud. For ultimate woofer control I'd want more though. The Kaivalyas should be just right however. Ditto for Sasa's p/p pentode integrated. That's be your equivalent to Sven's p/p KT88 Cary which was more than enough for his 140sqm loft. With my hardware I got the very best sound from the Crayon Audio CFA-1.2. Last night I ran them with the Goldmund Job 225 and had friends over who aren't audiophiles but music fiends who've heard nearly all big speakers I've thru over the last 3 years. They were blown away too and it didn't take any prompting to get them to express themselves. Of course we didn't do Rammstein at disco levels but then I never do -:)
I've been following you on what I'd say is a daily basis since you lived in New Mexico. I'm not proud of my vice but thanks for being there. I realize that my question as to Boenicke Audio W5 vs. Albedo HL2.2 is not entirely a fair comparison in regard to cost but your enthusiasm for the Boenicke and your assertion that it is wonderful and likely to satisfy 90% of audiophiles makes me want to have a sense of where that puts the Albedo. I took your review of the Albedo to have a similar enthusiasm. What can you tell me in regard to a comparison regardless of prices and in a setting with a moderate-size room?
That's easy. The Albedo is essentially a full-range Gallo Strada2. It categorically doesn't need a subwoofer in my size space. Since I referenced the Strada2 in the W5 review, that should paint the picture. To compete the W5 would want a sub. With that things would be on the level and your preference, aside from cosmetics, would be based on flavor: fiery Flamenco guitar or con arco cello? The Albedo is the former, the W5 the latter.
|By the way, I received my JOB 225 yesterday. Shall we say sweet Jesus in heaven?
Since our last email I have acquired a pair of used active ATC SCM100A and am now trying to find a ‘budget’ preamp to go with them at least for now. From amongst these preamps which one would you think is a reasonable mate for the 100A (input impedance >10k ohms)? They are comparably priced and with enough I/O for my use: Wyred4Sound mPre, Khozmo balanced passive, used PS Audio PCA2 with separate power supply. I am driving the 100A direct with my Oppo 105 and in general am happy with the setup but it doesn’t give me usable volume range and the needed connectivity so a simple good quality solution will do. I listen at low volume most of the time like you do, I already have the Oppo which does a decent job at DA conversion so I would guess a nice volume is more beneficial but I’m no expert on this. Your comments would be most welcome and needed.
I'd go with the Wyred because, below unity gain, it works as a passive (like the Khozmo) but unlike the Khozmo, it's still an impedance-compensated actively buffered 'passive' which gives superior performance particularly at lower volumes. So that's the one I'd use in your place -:)
Just want to let you know that in the end I got myself a Wyred STP-SE and am happily enjoying my music. With a preamp there is more body and color versus the very nice and clear but rather plain Oppo/source direct driven setup. Thanks for your advice, cheers.
It's common thinking that a preamp these days is redundant in many scenarios (it's a very reasonable belief to entertain after all) and just as common to hear that most people who actually try it still prefer a preamp over source-direct and for exactly the reasons you just gave -:)
|Dear Marja and Henk,
I have read with interest your review of the PTP Audio Solid turntable
and would appreciate advice as I am keen to get into vinyl but
don't have enough technical background to judge what solution is best
My current setup: Mac air (with external HD/AIFF files), Amarra
software, Halide USB bridge, Devialet D Premier, Nanotec Golden
Strada 79/SR, Akiko audio tuning sticks (both thanks to your
reviews!), Wilson audio sophia 3, SGR Audio Signature Rack, Acoustic
Revive SR77. My room is ca. 6x8m (4m height) and I listen
mostly to jazz (Brubeck, Miles Davis), Pink Floyd/Dire Straits
and classic music.
How well would the Solid turntable match the rest of my system? What
full configuration would your recommend (12" vs 9", which arm,
cartridge, cables)? I would be using the Devialet phono preamp. Is it
good enough and any suggestions on how to configure it (I am using
v5.7.3)? Which alternative to the PTP Solid should I consider?
Thanks in advance for your help s and look forward to reading
more of your reviews on 6moons.
To get (back) into vinyl is a good thing as there are so many great
recordings hidden in the 1 to 5 quid bins at markets and thrift shops.
You just need a decent record cleaning machine—even the hand-driven
plastic version with drainer works fine if you're not too lazy—and of
course a nice turntable.
Regarding your musical likings we think a PTP Audio Solid 12 is a very
good choice. Combined with a long 12-inch arm there is a lot of
control and it can rock if needed. Mount a fine but not over the top
cartridge like a modded DL-103 and you're set. PTP Audio recently
announced a new bearing improving the turntable even further.
The D-Premier does a fine job as phono stage and is via the configurator
adjustable to the needs of the cartridge. Resistive and capacitive loads
are easily selectable and offer a wide range. As you still use the 5.7
firmware we would suggest that you make a backup because Devialet is
further developing on the v6 base. We too are still using the v5.7.3 as
we think the sound is more natural compared to the v6 version even
though opinions vary.
For an interconnect you can try a Nanotec if the arm you select is not
fitted with an attached cable.
In all cases, happy vinyl hunting!
Firstly my compliments to your peers and yourself on a quality real service you give to the hifi world with the auditions you conduct true and truthful without influence. I'm currently using an AURALIC Vega fed by an Olive 4HD hard drive with amplification by a Musical Fidelity A1008 which has been heavily modded (capacitors, power supply, internal cabling) and Audio Physic Scorpio 25 speakers, all cabling MIT Magnum. I'm looking at two ways to improve my system.
To match the Olive and Vega to AURALiC's Taurus pre and Merak amps. The Vega is very good with my current setup but I've only touched on what 'real hifi' is. The Vega does exactly what your reviews state but I find at times that it displays a little too much energy and glitz for my taste. This I believe may be my current amp and thus the suggestion of an all AURALiC system to hear the true potential of the Vega.
To continue with the Olive but change to a Metrum Hex and look possibly into an integrated or pre/power from VTL, EAR or the relatively new Musical Fidelity AM35i class 'A' integrated. I have a budget of approximately £6'500 or $10'500 to fund the amplification specifically.
You can't get a doctor's prescription without a full diagnostic first. And you can't 'fix' a hifi if you don't know what's wrong. You state that the Vega has a bit too much energy and glitz. I'm not sure I know what that means. But that doesn't matter. The question is, what's causing it and what have you tried to ascertain that? Why would you think an all AURALiC system would change it? And why rebuild the whole system in favor of the Metrum Hex you've not heard? DAC changes here are far smaller in magnitude than the amp/speaker interface. How speakers interact with a room is even more important. If "too much energy and glitz" relate to the treble or upper midrange, have you tried different toe-in, crossing speaker axes in front or behind you, moving your chair closer or farther away and investigated all possible speaker positions? Have you explored a long vs. short-wall setup if feasible? In short, have you exhausted all the free options which are at your disposal to optimize what you have? And what exactly makes you believe that you've only touched upon what real hifi is? That's exceptionally vague.
I'm pointing out that the more specific you are with yourself about the sound (what you like, what you don't, what you want more or less of) and what you've done to steer the sound in a slightly different direction using what you've already got...
then a more concrete plan of action emerges automatically. The arbitrary singling out of certain brands or changing an entire system to accommodate an unknown DAC is firing blanks in the dark.
I appreciate that you think of me as an expert but truly, there are very real limits to what can be done over the distance between total strangers. First it requires curiosity, experimentation and self reliance on your part to diagnose your 'illness' and formulate a clear list of things you want to improve. There's no right or wrong, no possibility to fail. It's just about what you like. If you're not clear on that (and I don't think you are), you'll have to do some listening to different systems to expose yourself to 'comparison by contrast' and learn what's possible and meet different sonic flavors and presentational styles. Once you've got that diagnostic written out, a clear vision on what you want (which only you can do), then you could ask me or a dealer or an audiophile friend for some suggestions on what to perhaps try to cross that bridge. But first things first, okay?
|In the past I've thought how great it would be to have a job like yours. And on the surface your job does indeed seem like a great one. After all, you get to spend time with some of the greatest audio equipment in the world... and that could be very exciting. But it occurs to me that it can't be an easy job. All that A/B testing and having to listen hyper-critically as much as you do... and even more intensively in your case because you can't do it 'blind' so you have to make doubly sure that you really are hearing what you hear and, in some cases even must figure out what is making the difference... well, I imagine that this can get pretty stressful.
I am speaking from my own experience with A/B testing. If it goes on too long it not only gets tiring but actually confusing. My 'ears' can get very confused especially if the differences are subtle. It might be different for you. It might me easier for you. But I can't imagine it is. Actually my guess is that the actual writing is the easiest part of the whole process. After due consideration I don't think I would want your job after all.
Your points are spot on but there's more. Judging and commenting on other people's handiwork where livelihoods are involved is a responsibility. How to balance that against our responsibilities to the reader isn't always easy but an aspect critics of critics often overlook because they needn't consider it nor have much practice of it. And doing anything as a job—day in, day out—which you also love as a hobby can take chunks out of your enjoyment. That too needs to be controlled or your dream job devolves into hollow routine. And that shows quickly and at least to my mind undermines the entire rationale of an enthusiast's publication. Finally pleasure listening is a different bag than analytical listening. One must juggle both and not unlearn the art of pleasure or all is lost. But most of that is true for any gig. One must find what one is matched to and enjoys, then use discipline and experience to manage it and keep it fresh. If it also pays the bills and involves artistic freedom... then it becomes quite a blessing and privilege.
|Good morning Srajan,
I'm young in the hifi sickness and very much appreciated my first experiences in this world with an NAD + Rowen system six years ago before I heard a set which gave me a feeling I never had before: spatial 3D scenery, air and real instrumental sound. Wow, I was shocked and immediately addicted but it was also too expensive for me! Then I started to save money, read, listen, save money, read, listen, read….. and get more and more lost and disappointed by any seller's advice regarding my new knowledge on specific product I go to hear. So I need some neutral advice as this next purchase will be an investment for me/us at least for the next 8-10 years. To be considered for our actual listening room, budget and amplification:
• Room size: 4 x 8m and I'm obliged to listen/sit in the wideness not deepness
• Actual amplifiers: Audia Flight 2 2010 (+ Mastersound Compact 845 from friend to try some other kind of speakers)
• Budget: ~€6.000 for the speakers (considering I will either keep my Audia Flight or get a good deal on the Mastersound)
• No WAF problem – wife is a musician
I'm seriously considering buying second hand for economic reasons and not to lose my shirt in case of a resell. I'm interested in an offer on a pair of Living Voice OBX-RW for less than €6K still under warranty but I'm not really motivated by the external crossover in term of space and cable budget, approach and influence on the whole result. I would very much appreciate some advise and selections for my priorities:
• 3D scenery
• Speakers disappear
• Classic/jazz and instrumental 80% of the library
• Efficient at low-normal volume levels
With kind regards from Switzerland
If I understand you correctly, you'll be sitting in a long-wall setup, i.e. 8 meters across, 4 meters deep. With the speakers 1 meter out from the front wall and your couch close to the rear wall, that puts you in the nearfield and well away from the sidewalls. Here I'd definitely go for a simple two-way speaker to make sure the sound coheres at your distance. It'll soundstage like gangbusters too. Here I think the Living Voice would be a fabulous buy at that price. The outboard xover is actually a sonic upgrade and the best they make. The cable harness between the filter boxes and speakers should be included. All you need then is a set between amp and filter boxes. I'd go for it. At 94dB this speaker also matches your efficiency requirements at lower levels.
|I appreciate your recent industry feature [on the old ways - Ed] but was wondering why you'd shy away from reviewing a $199 DAC that another reviewer claimed did very well against far more expensive units. Surely their approach and your reaction to it could be separated from a proper review?
Sure. But why reward a maker with a review who approached us in such questionable fashion? There are plenty of makers with equally deserving product whose conduct leaves nothing to be desired. As they say in many a pub, "we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone" -:)
illuminating piece on the old ways. Are we allowed to guess about X's identity? It confirmed what's wrong with certain press/manufacturer relationships. The utter transparency of it was quite funny. Thanks for publishing.
You're of course allowed but I'd not comment. This wasn't about identity. Hence the obscured items. It was about an attitude and control strategy which were expressed with a rare force of serve-me entitlement couched inside hollow self deprecation. Those are the bits I meant to focus on. Who put them forth is irrelevant. It's no secret that the current business model of mags accepting advertising (like ours - 6moons is my livelihood) must tread a fine line. There's no use denying that ours isn't a perfect world. Nor that this is an imperfect model. But surely there are better ways to navigate the innate challenges than this. We can only make things better if we know what's wrong. This was.
Can't quite understand why the M2Tech driver Mavericks issue is taking so long to fix. I have a Metrum Octave Mk2 and have not listened to my system for something like a month. Sure I should not have upgraded but I did and I am sure many others have too. I could be playing CDs but my musical tastes have progressed since my last CD. How much longer to wait…
PS. I spend more time on 6moons than any other site out there. Love it.
I wasn't aware of an ongoing issue but do know that iTunes 11 bollixed up many a company's interface to require updates on their end and the same was true for the subsequent OS change. You might email Marco Manunta at M2Tech directly and inquire when firmware updates for his OEM modules will hit so your Metrum DAC streams from Mavericks. In general, let that be a lesson where your music computer is concerned. Never upgrade the OS or iTunes or your player software until user reports in the field confirm that all is peachy. Or have backup versions so you can reset your machine. In short, defeat the 'auto update' feature on your Mac right now -:).
Thank you very much for the Tannoy Kensington GR review! It's nice to see a review of Tannoy speakers from a mainstream source.
You're welcome. I guess this means we've achieved mainstream status? -:)
Thanks for saving me big $. After reading the archived review of the magic pixie-dust box qol has just reduced, I knew it wasn't for my class A system. Maybe like the unlamented pro-unit Spatializer which even suckered Telarc for a while in its effects, life's too short to find out.
I just read today's take of yours on super tweeters. To add to the mix I
recently installed the following to my rather pedestrian Dutch
transmission-line speakers wired directly to the tweeter terminals and
fixed between the tweeter and mid/bass driver. The effect is quite
astonishing on increased coherence and musicality. The nice
thing is how discrete these are and how inexpensive. Even with French
customs getting an outrageous chunk, the pair came to €65 direct
from Japan. There of course is heated dispute on the web in various
fora, ranging from those who say it's impossible and against nature
to those who have actually tried it and fallen in love. I am in the latter
camp! Maybe you or one of your reviewers could have a go with these. The
gentleman in charge of Taket is very keen and responsive to
communication although his English is somewhat faltering. I am assured
by those who have tried that the more expensive models aren't really
necessary to achieve the desired effect. On the other hand apparently
multiples in strategic locations do increase it.
You were quite right saying that the most beneficial effect from
these STs is with widebanders. There is a growing community
here in France who are widebander devotees and getting all orgasmic
about the addition of the Takets. I have a Swiss friend who is a
very committed audiophile and music lover who I think now imports Taket. He also is the owner of a rather
special hotel and has a wonderful concert hall there with numerous
concerts. The hotel site is http://www.wartegg.ch/
Thanks for the referral. I'll check it out right now. Good to hear these Takets are so inexpensive. That's the one big drawback with the Sopranino. It's very serious dosh and for that physically bulkier than it needs to be.
|Put on your space suit and be prepared to ascend.
Speaking of which - depth, the final frontier. I have the SLS 2 as wide as the room will have them
and they still center fill like champs.
Had a love shot taken as well as a number of pro shots.
The Boenicke SLS 2s are unbelievable is all I can say. I've gotten nothing done for days as a direct result. The Dac I'm holding is the Musica Pristina Transducer and it took all comers into the active SLS 2. The SLS 2s were a one-off by Sven Boenicke who initially made them for a fellow with a large loft to fill with music. Their dynamic capabilities are scary. 4 x 4-inch flat metallic drivers for mid to highs and 4 x ten inchers down low and 4 inches of ambient tweeters on the back make the staging the deepest in my experience thus far. They also come with a DSP board but if getting into the numbers isn't your thing, there are 4 presets on the rear of the speaker that should scratch every itch. Adjustable input gain makes matching it with a DAC masterfully simple.
|Thanks for reviving the moribund music section. I don't know where you find the
time to do all you do and listen to new material and post it but bravo.
By the way, in reply to a previous critic, I think your writing style is
just fine. It's your site, your baby and your language. It speaks to me
and to many others I'm sure. Keep up the great work.
Finding the time is loving what I do -:)
|Although I like your website and the fact that you built it from scratch and turned it into a beautiful place to read about audio equipment - i have a little quip about your writing style. When I read a review from you it's like I'm listening to a lead guitarist who plays too many notes. I get—and I'm sure others do too—your point without you having to tell us all the minutia. You are a very talented writer but just put your writing style on a leash and what you say will hit home better. Don't know why I'm writing this to you - it's not me wanting to be critical of you, just wanting you to be a perfect conduit as a reviewer.
Perhaps I'm not aiming high enough. Perfection simply isn't my goal. I've committed myself to a certain amount of volume each month. If I cut down my output by half or more, I could spend more time on each article and whittle it down to the bone. That's what brevity which hits all the essentials just so requires. Time. I agree you could prefer condensation to more volume. And something closer to test scores rather than story telling. Those simply are decisions I made within which I now try to operate to the best of my abilities. And it's certainly far from perfection nor will it suit all needs -:)
first I would like to thank you for doing the reviews so that readers like me can get what's the best value for our money. The reason why I am writing to you is because I have decided to purchase the Job 225 Amp from reading your review and was now wondering if you can help me out by choosing the best monitor speaker for under 3K. I don't really have a way of auditioning many speakers so was wondering if maybe you can recommend the best monitor for the price. My room is only 13 x 14.5 x 9. Do you perhaps know of any giant killer bookshelves like the Job 225 in the amp category? I really appreciate your reviews! Thanks a bunch!
I'd go with what I have and use - Gallo's Strada 2. If you see the need you'd add the matching TR1-D subwoofer (or TR3-D) at a later time. The Strada 2 is $1.995/pr, the subs would set you back an additional $595 or $995 respectively. That would get you the very best monitor speaker I know of for sane money. Other readers I've recommended it to are equally smitten so it's not an isolated opinion -:)
|You gotta be kidding! Another USB cable rave. Are you guys stoned? What a joke!
It's a circle jerk. Mono & Stereo just raved about the same cable and our Aussie contributor John Darko agrees that this cable makes more of a difference than interconnects and speaker cables. I haven't heard it for myself yet but I want what those guys are smoking -:)
I have been reading and enjoying your reviews for a number of years. I hope (but certainly don't take for granted) that this might allow a reply to one brief question. I've just purchased an Ayon CD-3s replacing a Naim CD player. I'm running this into a Naim pre/power combo with multiple Naim PS driving Gallo Ref 3.1. I also have the Gallo SA amplifier. I'm considering purchasing a Job 225 and running direct from the Ayon which has pre-amp functionality. My concern is primarily whether the Job and the Gallos will play together nicely? The ultimate aim is better sound, less boxes and cables at relatively modest budget. I doubt I'm alone on this quest...
Your opinion would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks in advance.
Definitely a winning combo. A bit of valve aroma in the front end, very wide bandwidth DC-coupled speed, clarity and control on the speaker drivers. Good thinking. What I can't guarantee of course is how the performance would change over what you have as I don't know the Naim gear from personal experience. Simplifying a system to my mind is always liable to reap benefits as long as the individual players are in good shape. Yours would be so from my end I'd say, full steam ahead.
I just posted this on a forum. It has a few typos. Please accept my apologies. Notwithstanding our likely differences between subjective analysis of dacs (for example), I still think I may have a point about synergy; that is, it only is necessary if there are flaws in the system. I'd really appreciate your thoughts. And thank you so much for drawing the Gallos to my attention, they are unbelievable speakers! I think I still prefer them most in nearfield listening, Bonnie Prince Billy's wolfroy goes to town in such a situation leads to an out-of-body experience! But they are just so good at not adding or taking anything away! This post will inevitably be accused of trolling and, in the sense, it is in that it will hopefully inspire discussion but I am interested in hearing thoughts on this.
When putting together a system, people talk of synergy in particular. Statements are also made about particular components having certain characteristics. E.g. this DAC is musical, revealing, dry etc. and these statements (and associated listening experiences) are used to pair equipment together. I think this is slightly mad and an illogical way to go about it. This is why:
I think it is fair to say that speakers are responsible for the greatest differences in sound between systems; they are the most subjective part of the chain and they manipulate the sound wave hitting your ear the most.
What I'd like to know is, why isn't the aim of every system builder to build a totally transparent back end free of distortion as much as possible, with the greatest dynamic range etc and rely on the speakers to do the talking? At least this provides a stable test environment because otherwise you'd (literally) have to spend a lifetime of trialling different dacs, preamps, power amps and there is infinite combinations etc (even if such subjective differences exist at that level - which I don't personally believe, it's either a poor, good or great DAC based on noise etc).
If however you buy something like a Benchmark DAC and use Ncore amps, you know nothing is mucked around - the signal is just being decoded and amplified until it gets to the speaker level at which point the concept of synergy should cease to exist and you simply decide whether you like the sound of the speaker.
My recent experiences of the KEF LS50 have deepened my skepticism of the industry and fuelled this line of thinking. For example people talk of "wanting an analogue sound" and blaming things like their DAC for the supposed "harsh" digital sound and I even started to think that my USB connection or something else relatively minor like that was as fault. In fact the problem I had with the sound from my system was my speakers. They were a con with a jacked-up frequency response in a sensitive range of human hearing 1.5kHz - 7kHz that does bring out detail (and some singer/songwriter stuff sounded really quite cool because despite this, the speakers had a nice velvety sound and the combination of such detail and warmth was gorgeous) but on other recordings—complicated music, things like metal—they were unlistenable. You just wanted to run out of the room. To use the word revealing would have been wrong because they are simply grotesquely artificial. And it is major flaws in design (I think designed to make "demos sound impressive").
This is what led me to question the quest for synergy - is it not just trying to fix problems created by manufacturers or bad purchases? No doubt the LS50 would benefit from introducing a load of distortion at those frequencies at the beginning of the chain to calm them down, I don't know, but clearly that is not as good a solution as replacing them with more sensible speakers? It's like chasing your tail
As a end to this ramble of my current thoughts and another reason why I have learnt my lesson is that I am really blown away by my Gallos. They are transparent. All the rubbish you hear about certain speakers being "sensitive to source" "junk in, junk out" are pretty much all those with jacked-up frequency responses. If you can hear a shed load of track hiss from an old recording you know your speakers are offenders. What absolutely blows me away about the Gallos is that they seemingly have all the detail but only because they seem to be well made, not because they've just jacked something up. They shine with every recording and every genre. All I hear is music. They also sound exactly the same on or off axis. There is no search for synergy with these as there are no errors to fix.
Synergy exists because errors exist. In a perfect world we would have totally transparent sources and let our speakers do their stuff.
All of this is just common sense, Paul.
I'd just not use heavy metal as a gauge for 'realism' as such music is about massive amounts of intentional distortion that has any sane person run out of the room (of the live event) in the first place. Otherwise yes, synergy is a lazy term for a pleasing/correct coming together of corrective influences that shouldn't be necessary if there weren't faults. But here is a question I'd have for you. What are you using as a reference? Live music? Acoustic or amplified? None of us knows what's on any recording. We weren't there during the recording and mastering sessions. The moment any recording is 'etched in stone' (as a file or physical medium) the mystery is on. How is it supposed to sound? What's right?
Most home listeners (should) approach playback to please themselves. It's not about any absolute truth or idealized sound (a complete fiction and myth) but about subjective enjoyment. If 95% of your music sounds like shit, who cares if that's 'true' with the result that you can't stand to listen to any of it? That's deliberately marrying someone who drives you batty and mad. This hobby isn't about philosophy and endless arguments. It's about a very simple thing. Are you getting any? And how often? That's it. Whatever facilitates that the most is right. Everything else is rubbish and looking at pornography whilst never doing it with a real person. Unfortunately that's what many audiophile discussions boil down to - endless theorizing and abstractions that miss the real point: getting musically laid. How to achieve the latter is for adults who know what pleases them and how to get there.
first, I would like to thank you for taking the time to review the Light Harmonic USB cable. However as I can see quite frequently in reviews about USB-connected devices, there are some mistakes in the explanation given about how USB works and in particular about the influence of this interface on how music data is transferred. I'm working in the engineering department of a telecom company and we do have some experience with real-time audio and video transmission, hence my little feedback below.
Like with statistics, one can display data or measurements in a way that can lead to a specific conclusion. Some of the performance characteristics you talk about such as the 'eye' display that one can see on high-speed oscilloscopes during measurement of digital signals or the UTMI chip interface are of importance to an USB hardware device designer but ultimately will not affect the resulting functionality of the USB link as used for your purpose: to exchange data between a DAC and a computer.
Let me elaborate a little more: unless the design is faulty, the software sending and receiving data over USB in asynchronous mode (more accurately called 'bulk transfer' in USB terminology and used by 95% of the modern DACs) can assume that the data integrity is enforced by the protocol: this is part of the USB specification and can be found at http://www.usb.org, in the USB 2.0 specification, chapter 5.8. By the way, async transfer doesn't mean real-time and at the required bitrate to transfer stereo 24bit/192kHz data (<2 Mbps), the USB link is idle for most of the time.
So in summary, and contrary to what you're stating in the article, for most modern async USB DACs transferring data is identical to your computer transferring files from and to your harddrive.
From a metrological perspective and to put the argument to bed once and for all, jitter can only be measured for information (samples, bits, packets) that are transmitted synchronously or more specifically at an assumed periodicity. Jitter thus represents a measurement of the error of arrival periodicity as compared to the original sending one.
An USB asynchronous transfer therefore implies that the notion of jitter simply doesn't exist since there is no clock to rhythm the rate at which the data is sent. The DAC requests data as needed to fill its playback buffer. To be perfectly clear, please note that I'm not saying that an USB connected DAC is jitter-less. I'm just stating that the USB link used asynchronously can't itself introduce any additional jitter due to its 'clock-less' nature.
|I have one of those Light Harmonic USB cables and agree - bigger diff than speaker or interconnect changes -:)
You mean I ought to get one for myself now? Geezus. Thanks a lot, John -:)
I enjoy reading your site but does Mr. Pacula have to cover accessories? His Finite Elemente review from August was an insult to any thinking music lover. I'm prepared to accept that he deals in voodoo if he needs advertisers for his own site but you don't have to be a platform for it, do you? As I understand it, Pacula refuses blind listening tests because he knows of one where listeners couldn't distinguish between MP3 and CD. In other words, it doesn't matter what one hears but what one believes to hear. I'm no friend of MP3 and least of all with classical music but it does show his attitude. He begins on the defensive at the very beginning of this review without having been attacked in the first place. Very strange. His arrogance going forward from there can't be disassociated from his relationship with the Krakow hifi importer Nautilus and their dealers. The orgies of praise he bestows on gear they handle smacks of corruption. He can write whatever he wants on his own site but does he have to do it on yours? Do you appreciate the damage he does with hifi newbies by chatting up racks and cables rather than mention room acoustics? Of course room acoustics don't make for advertisers.
A few things come to mind. First, if you mistrust Wojciech's hearing or impartiality, it wouldn't matter whether he covers accessories or 'main' gear. It'd all be equally circumspect and you'd not read him at all. So I'm not sure how to understand your proviso that he don't review accessories (because he does cover regular components regularly for us). Two, properly engineered hifi racks can make an easily audible difference. Here I'm not talking about assorted pucks and cones which are tuning devices (and as such unpredictable) but broad-spectrum resonance attenuators as proposed by Grand Prix Audio, HRS, Artesania and Silent Running. So the subject at least to my ears isn't as circumspect or voodoo-ish as you seem to think. Three, yes, room acoustics are far more profound influences on the final sound in magnitude but most consumers listen in ordinary living rooms to despise turning them into recording studio likenesses (diffusers and such) or forests of tube traps. Hence the subject is more or less off the table. That being the case, the two follow-up areas to improving one's sound once the main gear has been acquired and properly set up are resonance control and power delivery. It sounds silly perhaps what with miles of Romex wiring preceding expensive power cords followed by hair-thin mains fuses but anyone who has tried it with an open mind tends to agree that there's something real and important going on.
Just how much money one spends on such devices; and how 'big' of an improvement one ascribes to them relative to the main gear... I believe it's here where one can quickly part company with certain reviewers and their findings. The reason I elected to syndicate all of Wojciech's 'component platform' reviews from this series (he dedicated one of his own issues entirely to them, hence the flood) was simply that it's rare to have the same writer go through a pile of such devices using the same control component with the same room, music and yardstick. I thought it made for a unique opportunity to shine some light on the subject—which I find very real—and look at various implementations of from basic to slightly more advanced technical applications. I personally don't use such platforms since a properly designed rack doesn't require them in the first place.
About Wojciech's unduly cozy relationship with Nautilus you mention, I will inquire. I wasn't aware of it.
Thanks for publishing the email. In one thing the translation is misunderstanding. Regarding the connection of Mr. Pacula to Nautilus, I didn't mean dealers. I meant "Krakauer Hifi-Vertrieb Nautilus und den angeschlossenen s ". That means Nautilus is distributing Accuphase, Dynaudio, Ayon, Hifiman etc. in Poland. However the distributor for Luxman (Audio Center Poland) belongs to exactly the same people. Just take a look how much friendly attention they get from Mr. Pacula not only on highfidelity.pl but also at the Polish Audio magazine. About five years ago one still could read his reviews of Luxman and others which were good, objective and sometimes even critical. That changed 2-3 years ago. You now read only how great everything is. Did the amplifiers really change so much or is it the reviewer who changed for some reason?
I've never seen a copy of the Polish Audio magazine but your point is well taken, thank you.
first of all thank you for your comment. However it is strange that you
didn't write it to me too as it seems I am the 'target' of your angry
What can I say, corruption is a strange assault. Do you have any proof?
If you are right, any and every site that has banners is corrupted. There
is no 'third' alternative I think.
Second, I started with anti-ABX comparisons comments, not blind ones. They differ. We do blind comparisons whenever we can. This time it just
wasn't possible. What's more, I do believe what I hear. Many readers
confirm my findings. We meet at the Krakow Sonic Society for 10 years and we
try so many different things and have so many different opinions that we can be sure
we are right. Nautilus is just convenient for us because is in the very
same city. However we cooperate with almost all Polish distributors and
many producers from abroad directly.
Anyway, I've read angry letters about voodoo and cables and accessories
like anti-vibration platforms for 10 years already. The problem is that almost nobody who writes them has taken care to conduct several listening sessions
on that subject. Writing that something “is true” because “I think so”
is simply inappropriate.
Thank you very much for your comments though. I respect your point of
view. Please do the same with mine.
I purchased the AURALiC Vega in the US because I got a great price on it and a friend will be bringing it to me at the end of the month. The US model was set on 120V so the vendor switched it to 240V for me. In doing this it also became necessary to double the value of the fuse. All of this got me thinking about how some people believe that the sound of a component can be improved by changing standard fuses to 'audiophile'' fuses. I did some research on various forums and as usual there is considerable controversy about this. My feeling is that if the fuse really made a sonic difference then it would seem that manufacturers of hi-end audio products would use hi-end fuses as a matter of course. After all they are hardly a costly item. Synergistic Research fuses only cost $60 to $70 to the consumer and the cost to manufacturers who buy in quantity would be much less. The cost of the fuse could be tacked onto the cost of the component. I do not believe that anyone interested in something like the Vega would refuse to buy it if it cost $3570 instead of $3500. So the fact that hi-end manufactures who want their products to perform as well as possible use only standard fuses leads me to believe that at the end of the day the fuse really does not make that much of a difference if any at all.
But my logic could be wrong about this so I am interested in hearing your thoughts on this issue. Do you think that fuses can make a significant difference? Also,in light of the fuse value having been doubled in my Vega when it was switched from 120 to 240 I am wondering how components like my Oppo/Nuforce BDP 93 NXE, which is just plug in and play no matter the voltage, confronts the fuse issue. Are there some fuses that can be used with both 120 and 240? Or do components like the Oppo have two different fuses one of which gets chosen automatically depending on the current the components are plugged into?
I believe Oppo use a switching power supply which explains the universal usability. As you said, aftermarket fuses are another of 'those' subjects but available for relatively little money if one avoids the bigger clowns. So it's easy enough to entertain yourself with one fuse to try out which in the end is all that matters. I've tried a few and found a little benefit. On its own that benefit sits very low on the totem pole. But if you do 10 or 20 seemingly silly little things which on their own amount to precious little, it does tend to add up. Taking 'em all out at once suddenly makes them a lot less silly. That's how I tend to look at the general subject.
would you be able to compare the Clones gainclone amp to the Audio Zone/Audiosector amps? I have owned an Audio Zone Amp 1 which I liked very much and wanted to know how the Clones integrated fares against it.
Thanks for your help,
Sorry, I haven't done that comparison because the power supplies of my Audiosector monos are 115V and I'm on 230V now without a step-down transformer. Obviously the basic circuit is the same as are the output devices. The only wrinkles in the recipe are mechanical (the enclosure), the power supply and just how the parts/boards are laid out. I'd not expect big changes. The Clones version is very good and as my review explained really pursues the cloning bit of the original 47lab to a very high extent. But that's about all I could offer on the subject.
I'm Denis Schwarzberg, the owner of Renaissens, an auditorium that I created 10 years ago in Paris. We just start selling Bakoon products and of course the latest AMP-12R that I recently received. I made our first listening tests last week and had excellent results with a PMC MB2i. However this is so big and ugly that we cannot recommend it to our customers. Also tried WLM Diva Monitor. They gave us good results but not exceptional. We also tried other speakers but without success. Our auditorium is 40 m² and 3m high and I'm currently looking for very good speakers to work with the Bakoon.
I'm not keen on expensive ones but they have to be average size and look nice. Of course I've listened to soundkaos but their shape is too special for my customers. I've been also reading your reviews about Prime and B10. I've been already exchanging on that matter with Soo In and I think you know the AMP-11R by heart. You also have a big listening room which is important to me. Hence can you please give us your feedback about the best-matching speakers for the AMP-12R.
Thanks a lot.
The Tune Audio Prime strikes me as quite ideal for your size space. The B10 likes more power at least to my ears to really control those sidefiring woofers. So from the speakers I've had through of late which I really liked and which would make a nice match with the AMP-12R, the Greeks would be on the top of my list.
|I always enjoy reading reviews of esoteric (with a lower case "e") audio equipment. I've always wondered how many pieces of equipment are sold. For example, I realize that the market for a $45,000 mono amp putting out 22 watts is incredibly limited but it struck me as interesting to know if the manufacturer sells five a year, 50 a year or what. Obviously, the number is somewhat of a trade secret or at least something a manufacturer wouldn't want public but I do think it is relevant for the reader as it relates to the bang the buyer gets for the dollar. Often, I'm more interested in the business aspects of the business than the more subjective parts of the equation.
Michael S. Traister
As you said, those are numbers manufacturers tend not to divulge for obvious reasons so reviewers don't have any more access to them than you might. So however relevant they might be, they're simply not at our disposal.
Not to say that you broke this yolk with your 'Swiss Eggs on Sticks' feature but your take on listening preferences leading the way to equipment choice is most appreciated. It's one thing to relate how one component performs in a given system and whether it succeeds or misses the mark. Going that route fails to convey to the reader just what it is that satisfies the reviewer.
To fully explain what it is that floats your boat and then defining the waters you prefer to sail on makes for a pleasant ride and informative read.
A mini lesson for some, a refresher course for me, and again, most appreciated.
All the best,
I thought you and your readers might enjoy this story from my bakery/cafe. As a lifelong hi-fi nut I was thrilled to attempt some good sound in my 30'x70' dining area when we opened Village Baker a couple years ago. Nothing real hi-end but I wanted true 2-channel sound staging, nice full range sound, and great clarity. We play a lot of ambient grooves and beats, old time jazz, electronica, latin…. all kinds of stuff just never any 'normal' music that one would typically hear in an American mid-western cafe. NAD, Cambridge Audio, a decent DAC, Acoustic Energy AELITE 2's, a digital iPod dock, ceiling mounted sub; all standard stuff, just not what is usually found in a public bakery. Our customers LOVE it. (By the way, I do pay royalties by way of a license from ASCAP.)
Occasionally I bring in my Rega turntable and spin some records. Turned up a little louder than usual was an absolutely fantastic disc of some Mozart piano concertos played by Clara Haskil. (Part of a magical seven disc set, mint condition, purchased for $1.00 at a garage sale.) The sound was sublime, beautifully recorded, with a lot of the showy qualities that us audiophiles love. A woman was amazed at the spinning record on the service counter; phonographs are museum pieces. She put her ear closer to the dust-cover and asked, "Why can't I hear it?"
|I'm calling 'over the top'. "Microphones stare down throats and F-holes to capture impressions at pornographic proximities and massively paralleled." Over the top - and very funny!
Haha. Yes, that got a bit graphic but hey, I needed the effect -:)
since you've got to listen to the Khozmo, I'd like to have your own honest opinion about how it might work in my system. I'm looking for music that's true, not emphasized hot or cold but realistic. I like a lot of low and mid tones. I look for depth of scene and the reconstruction of the stage giving me a sense of live music. My system is composed of Klipsch Cornwall III speakers of 104dB sensitivity, Goldnote Koala tube CD player with Siemens NOS, Promitheus TVC reference and Channel Islands Audio D200 MKII.
Thanks in advance
You've already got a Promitheus TVC Reference. I think you're all set.
Your answer is pragmatic. Yes I have a Promitheus but I've heard a Khozmo and it has thrown away the thin veil that I perceived until that moment, with more detail but less heavy bass. So you suggest I continue using the Promitheus TVC Reference instead of the Khozmo? Right?
I don't understand, Fabio. It seems you've heard the Khozmo already and liked it better than your Promitheus. What then do you need my opinion for? You already know all there is to know about this type of decision making. You have heard the difference in person and know what you prefer. Don't you trust your own ears? If not, why not? How could mine possibly be better across the distance? Does imagination trump first-hand experience? I didn't think so...
| Dear Srajan,
Lately I have been receiving emails from various sources, calling my
attention to a new review of some of our products which has recently
appeared on your website.
It has never been my practice to contact a website owner regarding a
review unless asked to by the website owner himself, however, there are
some extraordinary circumstances regarding this particular instance.
Specifically, the deployment of the double-stacked Series 2+ Rollerblocks
by the reviewer and depicted in a prominent photograph is completely
incorrect as regards the recommended application and setup of this
top of our platforms between the component and the platform, and not under the
platform. I do not know why this reviewer set them up this way; this setup
not recommended as a primary set up procedure in either our product
instructions or literature. It would be like reviewing loudspeakers which
are turned around 180° facing the wall and wondering why the
sound isn't so good.
To make matters worse, the reviewer states that this is the recommended
method for deploying our equipment! I assure you that it is not. We
specifically state both in the equipment instructions and on our website
that Rollerblocks should be primarily deployed directly under a component,
especially double stacked Series 2+ Rollerblocks, since their patented
body design was expressly made to optimize the mechanical interface
between component chassis and the platform, or between the equipment
chassis and whatever kind of support surface is being used.
Also, to further compound the problem, the reviewer used Fat Padz and
other devices of ours on top of the platform, where the Rollerblocks
should have been used. Again, he states that this is the set up that is
recommended by Symposium. This is also not expressly recommended nor is it
the original design purpose of these footer devices, which are meant as
"stand alone" damping pads to be used when a full platform is not
economically feasible or possible. They should have been evaluated by
themselves, as inexpensive damping pads to be used under equipment by
themselves. While some users have used them in conjunction with the Ultra
Platform as a top "coupler" device, this is a relatively rare instance,
been used as a review example in the course of seeking accurate results or
an accurate reflection of the efficacy of our products.
The problem is of course that someone who is not familiar with the proper
use of our products, when reading this review, is receiving
misinformation - which does both Symposium and 6moons a disservice. I do
not know where the reviewer got the idea to set up our equipment this way;
it certainly was not from us. He could not have read the instructions (at
least I hope he didn't), since Rollerblock Series 2+ instructions
specifically state the correct setup method (the Series 2+ instructions
are four pages long and quite detailed!) to be the opposite of what he
did. We would have gladly assisted him with setup advice as we routinely
do with all reviewers of our products, which require some care and
attention for proper results. Unfortunately, no such assistance was
requested, nor were we ever asked for any verification of the proper setup
of our equipment.
As a result, his results are of little or no value (at best), since the
products were essentially set up "upside down." And yes, I believe your
good reputation and your website deserve better than this.
To avoid immediate and irreparable damage to the dissemination of accurate
information, and in the interest of journalistic integrity, I would
respectfully ask that you withdraw or cancel this review as it stands
pending a correct and thus valuable deployment and audition of these
products. Our Rollerblocks and platforms have been in production for
almost two decades, are well-known and popular, and are known to give
excellent performance value. We would hope for an adjustment or at least a
chance to have the products evaluated properly, and ask for your kind
assistance in this regard.
Thank you for your attention.
thanks for your note. The review in question was syndicated from the Polish
magazine HighFidelity.pl and is identified as such at the beginning. We had
no control over the review process nor do I know why or how the reviewer got
the notion to employ your product as he did. The Polish version of the
review obviously describes the exact same thing.
Wrong employ of a device is still useful information if identified as
such. I've thus added your reply to the end of the review. This alerts our
readership and satisfies your request. It is not our habit to delete
already published reviews from our server. It didn't get there by accident
and involved significant work on my part.
I'm also copying the original writer and publisher of highfidelity.pl on
this exchange so he can append your reply to his original version if he sees
fit (obviously requiring translation into Polish by him first). I don't have
any control over that part either.
Again, thanks for alerting our readers to this issue. My site is hosted on
various cloud servers around the globe to protect again vandalism against
the actual server. That means site updates only register once whatever
virtual server you're looking at updates its cached pages. If you don't see
the revised page right away, give it a day or two and be sure to refresh
your computer cache. My work computer is set to look at the actual physical
server not a virtual cloud cache and I can assure you that your reply
already shows to honor your request.
quite its own nailbiting conclusion to your Gato DIA-250 review. Kudos for hanging in there to the winning line. I could sympathize with your troubles and loved your candor about it - as well as describing so clearly why the smaller more affordable model had your vote. Too often magazines brush over issues or overlook cheaper models to focus all the attention on the flagships. Thanks for doing it differently.
As I wrote Kresten, the USB choke really pissed me off. I'm not an IT whiz but usually get things to work. I'd given up on this already and was about to rebox it the next day. After a particularly good Pilates workout late at night, I suddenly had this calm certainty to try once more and leave no stone unturned. It took about two hours and all manner of shenanigans. A local Gato dealer would likely have gotten it sorted a lot quicker but in the end I kinda felt rather pleased with myself. And happy for Gato as I really hoped to conclude with an award but couldn't unless this got solved.
|Thank you for the very interesting review of the mTrio. I currently have an Oppo 105 which has enough digital inputs to handle all my sources. Since the 105 can drive a poweramp directly, mine a Parasound A21, do you see any advantage of including an mPre in the chain?
This gets us into the debate whether digital volume control is audible and if so, how much. Sabre claim theirs is 'invisible'. Current owner feedback of the Oppo 105 I've read suggests that the addition of a preamp is a very audible improvement. In past experiments I've found digital volume controls to be perfectly 'legit' if used at up to 10dB attenuation. Unfortunately most my listening (due to overall system gain, speaker efficiency and such) tends to involve a lot more attenuation. In general then, my experience has been that analog volume control is superior but it's always dangerous to make sweeping one-size-fits-all statements. Dan Wright who does a mod for the 105 (my review loaner is due in today) recommends against amp-direct drive but the cynics will point out that he would say that since he sells preamps. I'll report in my modded 105 review on what I think but unless the heavens part, I suspect I'll be siding with Dan and those other owners who prefer an external linestage.
Thanks Srajan for your speedy comment. When you said "involve a lot more attenuation" did you mean in laymen's terms
you needed to turn it down, or up a lot? I am in a much smaller room than yours so I tend to listen at relatively low levels. I shall look forward to your ModWright review in earnest anticipation!
Yes, "more attenuation" means turning the volume down a lot. With a digital volume control that eventually involves bit stripping or resolution decimation. The quieter you listen (I do a lot at night with neighbors so it's super important that a system sound excellent and involving at low volumes), the more you diminish the signal strength of what's coming into your amps. In direct mode this means the DAC's output gets trimmed back a lot. And with the digital control built into the Sabre chip which Oppo uses...
Obviously listening quietly is always different. The way our hearing works, low bass and high treble tend to 'shelve off' more quickly, hence the 'loudness' controls from 20 years ago which compensated for that. With that in mind (that at low volumes the sound will get more midrange-y), simply compare the overall quality and your sense of involvement when you listen at high and civilized levels (shouldn't change a lot at all, just be quieter) and then between civilized and low (shouldn't get too much smaller, paler and washed out). If the latter does get very small and distanced and pale and kinda boring... then chances are very good that the mPRE would be a good option.
Thanks, like you I listen at low volume late night, properly even lower than you: acoustic Jazz mainly, Keith Jarrett etc., life with young kids. Very useful to know, right now I believe I will have to trim the analogue volume setting in the Oppo setup menu to have a useful range of volume control. Will try out your methodology.
So the Oppo has an analog volume trim inside its menu? If that's true you'd set it slightly higher than you want for late-night listening, then trim the rest digitally by remote. Of course for party sessions you'd need to revert again to zero attenuation in the analog domain -:)
Since our last email I have acquired a pair of used ATC SCM100A (active) and am trying to find a ‘budget’ preamp to go with them at least for now. I know you get thousands of these emails daily but amongst the preamps below which one would you think is a reasonable mate for the 100A (input impedance 10k ohms)? They are comparably priced and with enough i/o for my use: Wyred4Sound mPre, Khozmo balanced passive, used PS Audio PCA2 with separate power supply. I am driving the 100A direct with my Oppo 105 now and in general I am happy with the setup but it doesn’t give me a usable volume range and the needed connectivity so a simple good quality solution will do. I listen at low volume most of the time like you do, I already have the Oppo which does a decent job at D/A conversion so I would guess a nice volume is more beneficial but I’m no expert on this.
Your comments are most welcome and needed.
I'd go with the Wyred because below unity gain, it works as a passive like the Khozmo but unlike the Khozmo it's still an impedance-compensated actively buffered 'passive'. That gives superior performance particularly at lower volumes. So that's the one I'd use if I were in your place -:)
As a long-time reader I would like to start by thanking the entire team at 6moons for quite a few years of excellent and informative articles. Moving onto the topic that causes me to take up my (virtual) pen, the reviews of isolating platforms. Although I find these articles both interesting and instructive, I constantly question why we are not seeing audio-based reviews of the plethora of excellent and highly developed isolating platforms that exist in the market place for microscopy. Microscopes by their very nature are extremely sensitive to vibration and the vibration effects are far more visible (literally!) than the audible effects of vibration on audio gear – which gets rapidly obfuscated by the tricky psycho-acoustic effects….. our brains like to interpret things and frequently find the “flawed” results more pleasing than the “perfect” ones.
There are extremely sophisticated platforms available for microscopes using both passive and active isolating methods – yet we almost never hear about these in an audio publication! It may be that the microscope platforms focus on low frequency isolation is somewhat different from audio platforms that also work on midrange and high frequencies – but all this would bear a thorough investigation. Once again thank you for the ongoing excellence of 6moons and keep up the good work.
All the best,
I remember one platform that was 'repurposed' from microscope to hifi isolation. But it was bloody expensive (very hi-tech and $7.800) and could only do one component. To do a complete system easily moved into the tens of thousands. I think that probably puts a damper on things for most. Plus often laboratory-type gear also looks it which may not make friends in a domestic situation. But it's certainly true that the microscope isolation sector has extremely developed effective solutions which could be repurposed for hifi. As you point out, the frequency window of primary address might be different. And one would have to see whether non-audio makers would be interested to provide review loaners to hifi magazines. That said it's an intriguing idea -:)
Thanks for the review. It is evident you spent a lot of real time with Crayon CFA-1.2.
We are thrilled with the result. Space and light are the purview of the CFA 1.2
and we're glad that's what you found.
The bass strength of the CFA 1.2 is something that can catch one off guard. With the Albedos it's a perfect match.
I thought it worth mentioning that the cpu set up allows for adjusting the bass ±14dB in 2dB steps. I don't know if you had opportunity to play with
that aspect of the design. By virtue of its implementation it's not the sort of thing you can do comfortably from your chair. It's more of a
speaker matching feature than adjusting by song feature. Many thanks again and look for some Crayon separates in the not too distant future.
|What a hobby! Never a dull moment, SOTA diodes, military capacitors, class D tech...can't wait for the rest of your review on the SPEC Corp amp.
I concur. The people who complain that there's no good new music being made don't know where to look. Just check out Juan Carmona's new Alchemya or Angelo Debarre's Complicité. Same with hifi gear. Whilst much is old wine in new bottles, there are some fabulous new varietals too if one knows where to look. Besides SPEC, some recent ones coming to mind would be the soundkaos Wave 40 and Albedo Aptica speakers, the Crayon CFA-1.2 and Bakoon AMP-12R integrateds and the AURALiC Vega processor. And those are just a few I came across. Colleagues here and elsewhere do their own hifi sleuthing to discover equivalent gems. It's true for music and hifi both. Times have never been better. Those who complain that the Internet has destroyed music distribution haven't taken a look at www.bandcamp.com for just one example. With hifi the Internet has undermined traditional dealers but good ones who actually add value and don't just sit in a shop waiting for walk-ins continue to thrive. But that would be a far longer discussion. The SPEC review will bow in mid to late October as I'm taking a brief vacation at the beginning of the month.
Thanks for the great piece on the Wave 40.
There's a recording of Tom Jobim's "Wave", by JJ Johnson and Joe Pass, (on an album of the same name)
that surely must be an analog of the Wave speaker. For it too is all about mellifluous flow. The kind of music wherein
nature herself might have been the composer. How different a path from that center many in the world of speaker design have
chosen. Many roads to Valhalla I suppose...and I enjoy them all...most anyway.
Still I wonder if in the connection of science and earth, a case could or has been made. I suppose I should talk to a music therapist.
Perhaps there's a grant somewhere that could more fundamentally explore even ordered distortions vs. odd ordered vs. complete purity...
divided music vs. music with integrity in the time and phase domains. I believe especially in this area that there is
a connection. No wonder that I'm a first-order or no crossover guy more often than not. My brain works enough without having my
subconscious sort time anomalies prior to my enjoyment.
I'm very curious to hear the accompanying sub that I've seen on the SoundKaos pages. Great too to get photos of the SK within a living environment.
It can work.
Martin delivered my pair today. I'm on the 7th moon. The sub is under revision because he came up with a brilliant idea I haven't seen done like it anywhere else before. If it works as well as it reads—his technical consultant seems convinced it has real merit—it should be terrific and even better than the prototype. These guys make for a brilliant team. And yes, there a different ways to Rome and many entertainments along the road. It'd be lovely if the press at large promoted that view.
A week ago I had an audition of the new Bakoon AMP-12R along with the Trenner Friedl R loudspeakers direct from a NAD M51 DAC.
This was a very musical combination. Balance was perfect. One of the great surprises was the Trenner & Friedl. The loudspeakers only had about 30 hours on them and already great highs and lows.
Indicators are that anyone upgrading or purchasing the 12R new
are in for a very pleasant surpise.
My 11R will get the upgrade
but before sending it in I will do a comparison and report back.
Thanks for the great informative intelligent reviews
with clever and meaningful comparisons.
A great guide for purchasing equipment.
|This is regarding Mr. Wagenknecht’s review of the D-Sonic M2-1500M. Overall I found this review very useful since I’m considering using class-D amplifiers. Several times in the review these amplifiers are referred to as “digital”. Most likely they are not. The amplifier has analogue inputs, analog outputs and there’s no description of analogue/digital conversion in either direction. The “D” in class-D for amplifiers is simply an arbitrary letter designation and pre-dates the digital revolution in electronics. The review should be updated/corrected or an explanation provided as to what in the amplifier actually is “digital". Otherwise the error undermines the reviewer’s credibility.
thank you for the very entertaining tour de Gato (so far) and also for trying to put yourself in your readers' shoes (i.e. your extensive foray into "big sound"). Any chance of, while you still have them there, a word on the pairing of the smaller Gato and your Gallos? It sounds like a very physically attractive solution: Gallos on the wall and Gato on the rack would surely score high on the WAF scale. Yes that's a corny expression but with some truth in there. The bagging I get about cables from pre to monos to speakers and so on visually polluting the living room. I know the Gallos reside on your desk but when you had the predecessors there you commented on the combo of Peachtree and Gallos in the big system and that looked and apparently sounded very interesting, too…
Cheers and keep up the good work.
Coming up just so in the DIA-250 follow-up-:)
| Hi Srajan,
read your Swiss eggs piece. I couldn't agree more but the reviewing game is about product placement not taste. Speaking of which, what did you play on your Avantgardes back in our day? I'll bet Gracie Slick sounded wonderful on circular horns. Ah me but we codgers do prattle on.
All the best
Not sure about "the reviewing game is about product placement". I never got that communiqué. I've played pretty much the same type of music over the years. It's what I like best. Obviously rooms, budgets and tastes have changed with ongoing exposure. And at that time I lived in a freestanding dwelling so SPL were no issue. Since moving to Switzerland I've had neighbors so the game changed somewhat.
Not your game I hasten to add. The fact that you don't toe the new improved line is the reason I'm a faithful reader (and quondam contributor).
Once more, best
I read your review on Akiko's tuning sticks. I was toying with the idea of buying one of the sticks to try out. Could you suggest which tuning stick will give the best results considering that my amp is a battery-powered Redwine Audio? I do not want to buy all three versions at this stage. Thanks in advance for your feedback.
BTW I am great fan of your website and you guys are doing a wonderful job.
here you got us. We have not experimented with any battery-powered gear
yet. The going theory of the stick's working so far is that it acts as a grounding
antenna similar to a good earthing rod. In case of a battery-operated
power amp there's no dirty ground connection from the power supply. It's off the grid. However the rest of the system powered by the grid
somewhere connects to the amp and thus there is a ground
connection via the interconnect. That ground connection can be grounded from the wall outlet or not. We assume that you don't have a
dedicated earthing rod. Continuing with that assumption a good start would be to introduce the AC stick. Most convenient would
be if the source(s) used a decent power distributor with a spare
outlet to accommodate the AC stick.
In our case the AC stick started with a positive effect which was enhanced
by the introduction of the universal sticks velcro'ing together the incoming
interconnect and loudspeaker cables per channel.
Hope this is somewhat helpful,
I really appreciated hearing about your experience "When IT turns to shIT". As a retailer I run into new servers with some frequency. In show conditions I think most failures are software related at least in my recent experience. The same is true with product issues and end users. That which seems bullet proof to the computer savvy is a lump of woe to many civilians. I was surprised to hear about Devialet's hiccups both in regards to functionality and their new chosen sound signature. If anything I had until then associated
them with excellent customer service. But things do happen and I imagine they will take care of it and continue doing great work. You mentioned an ethernet option. I wonder if you have tried it or any of the ethernet-based players out there?
Thanks for your thoughts,
We think one of the main problems is that manufacturers hire IT guys to do their dirty bits & bytes. They do so because the manufacturer's IT knowledge is mostly limited to a few office-related applications like Word and Excel. Those off-the-shelf applications just need a next-next-okay installation and after that bills can be sent and inventory kept. We're exaggerating of course. Vice versa the IT guy is happily coding away behind his keyboard listening to MP3s on his ear buds. Exaggerated again. The point is, both live in different worlds but have to agree somewhere. Next there's the customer. She's damn lucky if she knows her IT stuff but for 99% of audiophile customers that's a long shot. The majority has to struggle through what in their view are bizarre operations to get things running. If for some reason there's a change, they get lost. Apple understands the IT versus user situation in general. As long as you dance to their fiddle, you're safe. A slight detail here is that Apple does not get you to audio heaven either. You still need auxiliary gear and programs.
Regarding hard-wired players which are preferable to lower the 'electro smog' thing, Devialet finally added that option but we still have no word about getting promised samples for review.
Marja & Henk
Mola Mola amps.
That's one review that surely is taking forever!
I suppose if the amps are that good and you have to return them after the
review, I too would wait forever to publish a review.
Have you thought about reviewing the DIY NC400 blocks? I've been thinking of
building one since my wife will kill me if I spend 10K on a stereo amp.
This unexpected delay is because Mola-Mola still haven't delivered the amps to my Dutch reviewers. They've had many production issues which seem to just have been resolved, i.e. M&H report that Bruno is currently testing their actual review samples. As to the DIY modules, no review is planned for the obvious reasons. These aren't for commercial use and our focus is on commercially available products which our readers can actually buy. As far as loan returns go, as soon as a review is written it gets published and the product returned. Being online there are no delays between submitting a word doc review and seeing it formatted to HTML within a day or two. Once we publish a review, the maker is contacted with a call-tag request unless a writer wishes to acquire the product. Deliberately postponing returns would be an unconscionable abuse of the manufacturers who decide to work with us
|Hi Srajan -
What a brilliant review of the ALO Audio Studio Six! Your style and ability to communicate with your audience are top notch! I have a pair of Sennheiser HD-800 headphones and am looking for the ultimate headphone amp and DAC pairing for my desktop system to play my high resolution HDtrack and Linn Studio Master computer files. From your earlier writing, I know that the April Music Eximus DP1 is a nice all-in-one solution but I just don't think the headphone amp portion is getting out the best the Sennheiser HD-800 has to offer! Thus, I would like to separate out the headphone amp and DAC. I appreciate your thoughts that for the money, the Bakoon HPA-21 can't be beat although the pairing of the detailed and analytical HD-800 might work better with the Studio Six if money were no object, correct? By the way, with your same analysis and logic, is it fair to say that if I were to some day move up to the Stax SR-009, the Studio Six might work very well here as well? Any final thoughts on what would be a great DAC to pair up with either the ALO Audio Studio Six or Bakoon HPA-21? If cost were no object, would you also lean towards the Studio Six for the HD-800? for the Stax SR-009?
Thanks again for your time! I have all my audiophile friends following 6moons!
Starting with you characterizing the HD-800 as analytical—my sense precisely but necessary to know to put us on the same page—you're perfectly correct. The Studio Six will make for a more compelling juicy vibrant reading than the Bakoon. The Stax is an electrostatic design with a standing bias voltage that must be delivered by a special amp so the Studio Six wouldn't work. As far as a DAC goes, the Studio Six and its extensive tuneablility from rolling tubes is all the flavor you need. The DAC should merely provide a highly resolved wide bandwidth very clean signal. Since you're wanting to do hi-rez files, I wouldn't exclude the 352.8kHz DXD files 2L offers nor DSD which is starting to get more support. Here my favorite sane-money DAC is AURALiC's Vega ($3.000). Vega + Studio Six would certainly be an ultimate headfi system in my book and something you'd be very hard pressed to duplicate for 10 times the cost with a conventional speaker system.
Just a quick note to say your latest 'What if?' article really struck a chord with me. After many
years agonising over NOS tubes, lathing CDs, esoteric cartridges etc, I
too ended up in a similar place.
As you may recall, I use Hypex Ncore amplifiers but take a slightly
different approach on the source, streaming via wifi from my iMac to a
Lampizator Squeezebox-based transport and then into a Lampizator DAC with an
in-built analog volume control. Whilst indubitably seduced by the
convenience of this approach, I'm also very impressed by the natural sound
From what I read of your tastes, I think you would also really like this
brand and there's an interesting story behind its creator Lukasz Fikus to
tell your readers. I'd be happy to put you in touch if you fancy giving his
DAC a whirl?
All the best,
I'm a long-time reader from the Arroyo Seco days.
How do you rip your CDs onto your Mac? Use the built-in disc drive & iTunes or something more involved? Is your music kept on the Mac's hard drive or an external device? Finally, do you use any vibration/resonance controls on your Mac (other than the rack it sits on)?
Thanks for all the good advice and for introducing me to so much great music that I never would've heard here in the States.
Here I'm a very bad audiophile. But we've done the comparisons to feel confident. There's no need to go exotic in this case. So yes, rip with iTunes set to error correction. Because my iMac is a music-only machine and not used for anything else, my iTunes library lives on its internal 2TB hard disk, the OS and PureMusic/Audirvana on the 256GB SSD. With 16GB of RAM, loading a playlist or CD into memory buffer as both these players do when set accordingly, there's no need for any magic footers given the monster rack everything sits on. Here the motto is keep it simple - at least for me. I used to be good but no more -:)
Many have asked how to correctly place their speakers at home. My friend Andrey Smirnov who deals in acoustic treatment facilities has created an online calculator which assists with determining a good starting placement.
Here's the link: http://www.acoustic.ua/recommendations/800
|Hi SE -
great 'What if'
article. Our little keen-eared listener shown below also agrees with your scheme, i.e. it is visually and financially more attractive.
|Kia oa Srajan,
as much as I appreciate reading the many wonderful reviews on 6moons, the recent plethora of in-depth writings extolling the virtues of ceramic footers and isolation platforms and the mind-numbingly minute advantages that you may obtain by using them leaves me wondering if some of us have forgotten that it is all about the music. Just my humble opinion
A few things. We're simply a free resource of hardware-based information. Each review states the component category. One needn't even open a review if one isn't interested. In this instance Wojciech Pacula in Poland had dedicated an entire issue of HighFidelity.pl to isolation devices. This was a rare opportunity to syndicate all of his articles as a nicely comprehensive overview of the genre. Doing so with one and the same writer for a shared yardstick is a far from common occurrence after all. In a few months all of those isolation equipment reviews will disappear in the archives, accessible only to those particularly looking for them. Yes amps and speakers are more important (without them there's no sound) but this survey of resonance-control devices also showed how much is left under the table if one doesn't address the topic. It seems clear that the particular means are less important as long as a given rack or platform design is properly engineered for broadband attenuation. As for music, we have our music review pages though we are primarily an equipment review publication. If people forget that it's about the music not gear, that's really their choice, perspective and priority. And of course without gear there's no playback of music in the first place...
|Dear Mr. Kan,
I'm Francesco from Italy. I'm one of your 'aficionado' readers and decided to contact you (hoping to not disturb you too much) looking for help with my Dynaudio Facette. I own a pair coupled with OCOS cables driven by a Burson 160 Pre and two Virtue Audio monos with B&O IcePower modules (500w/4ohm) and Dodd Audio tube buffer. My speakers are placed in quite a large room. It's an attic whose height goes from 2.5 to 5m and the floor plan is 3.5m by 9m and the listening seat is 2m from the speakers which are 1.5m from the front wall so there is a lot of air volume. I simply love those speakers but at the same time would like to understand if there is anything to make them play louder with more pronounced bass and lower midrange. Do you think that with other amplification I will obtain benefits? In other words what in your opinion is the best amplifier for those speakers? Or would it be better to give up and consider other speakers?
With best regards from one of your Italian readers,
Thank you for your kind words. The Dynaudio Facette has been the longest serving pair of speakers in my possession and I never thought of selling it. When sentimental value comes into play it clouds judgment and that's the dilemma we must face. As you know they are very attractive musically as well as aesthetically but not without limitations. They're not for large rooms and they are shy of ultra-low bass but playing some double bass music (Gary Karr for instance) would quickly convince us that they can go deep. They pick their rooms and music. I have driven them with Symphonic Line RG3 pre + RG4 monoblocks in my larger room (13' x 28' x 9') with a long-wall setup augmented by paired subwoofers. That's the best I've heard them. Other amps that have taken shifts range from Audio Zone Pre T-1 and NuForce Reference 9 SE monoblocks to Almarro A318B, with the latter offering better mid to bass response. But that's in my smallest room. At the moment I am driving them with the Triode TRK-3488 in a medium-sized space (11' x 18' x 8') and short-wall setup. I am very content with this combination playing classical music and I rarely switch on the paired subwoofers.
Have you tried double or even triple OCOS? I've customized my Facette adding two extra OCOS adapters in parallel so that in total it accepts three OCOS cables. Just use the red adapters. The speaker has the impedance stabilizer already built in. If you are not handy, connect three OCOS adapters in parallel and plug into the speaker binding posts. Of course you also need to make one more pair of tri-OCOS
adapters to connect to the amps. That's my second suggestion: double OCOS or triple OCOS and try a tube amp. But still they won't fill up your space. Since you have the Facette placed quite far away from the front wall, you can try adding paired subwoofers behind them. Another suggestion that most audiophiles would call sacrilege is adding in-ceiling speakers. If you do have the stomach for this, add not only 2 but 5 in-ceiling speakers and drive them with a Dared DV-6P. (The .1 subwoofer active out of this amp can connect to a passive subwoofer placed in the middle between the paired subs.) All these additions are for augmentation only and the Facette should remain your main speakers.
Hope my answers won't freak you out. Good luck,
PS: The reason I'm recommending 5 in-ceiling speakers and the Dared DV-6P is that the 5.1 tube/hybrid amp features (in addition to the 5.1 analog input) a 2-channel aux input that can be converted to 5.1 matrix. in addition to the master volume, the front, center, rear and subwoofer volume can be individually adjusted on the remote control. That's how I'm enjoying my 2-channel playback on the Symphonic Line system.
For many years now I've read the reviews from 6moons and learned a lot from you folks. I've been into streaming audio for years now and bought a SOtM dx-USB HD converter. My problem is that I want to upgrade to the SOtM sCLK-2224 clock nodule but they don't deliver to the Netherlands. Is there a way you can help me purchase the upgrade?
PS: I like your postings and way of life.
They don't deliver to Holland? That seems strange and like sales prevention when in today's economic climate you'd think people would like to make sales. Not sure what to tell you then. I don't get involved in a company's marketing and distribution policies. You could perhaps email May Park who has been my English-speaking contact at SOTM. [email protected]
Perhaps Rene was trying to purchase the clock via eBay. They can't deliver to the Netherlands where we already have a formal dealer. I just made a call to our Dutch dealer to support Rene with his purchase desire.
|I wanted to drop a short email to thank you for publishing Glen's review of the D-Sonic 1500M amplifiers. I am using them on Magnepan 3.7. The amps work well on these inefficient speakers. It is hard for me to explain but I like having so much power available when driving these speakers. Thanks again.
I represent a small company from northern Poland in from Gdańsk. We are named Premium Sound and are an exclusive shop. Some time ago we decided to take on some brands for domestic distribution. We have Swedish Solid Tech and yesterday the shipment of Lithuanian AudioSolutions speakers arrived. We decided to buy those mostly after your review. It was very promising and we are not disappointed.
That's why I decided to e-mail you with a request. I've heard that you bought a pair of Rhapsody 200 for yourself. It would be a great recommendation that a person like you has them. And there goes the question. Can I use that information in my adverts? Of course they will link with your review on your site. Can I translate your review and use it on my website? Of course it will still be as 6moons and it will be mentioned that you (and the other review of RH130 which Marja & Henk did) are the authors.
Thanks for asking. Yes I own a pair of custom white Rhapsody 200 and you're free to mention that. But they're not my only pair, just one of many I keep to do my job. You may translate our reviews but the condition would be that you do so in their entirety and not just pick and choose the parts you like and leave out the others. You'd also need to link back to the original reviews on my site.
I enjoyed your review of the new Job amp and wanted your
thoughts about pairing it with a Wyred4Sound STP/SE and DeVore Gibbon Nines? I know
you used to own the Nines so your insight would be much appreciated!
I am also using a Herron VTPH-2 phono stage and Jena labs modified Oppo 95.
I would normally just order the Job to find out for myself but there's now a 20% restocking fee which amounts to $300 for a 10-day trial
period. Yikes! One other amp I've been eyeing is the D-Sonic stereo.
Glen Wagenknecht raved about the monos. Of course those are a lot more
power than I probably need but the input sensitivity is 2 volts so maybe
that would work with a passive preamp.
Anyway, anything you could offer would be greatly appreciated. Thank
The Job + passive is an excellent pairing I'm using at this very moment in a
speaker review (Albedo Aptica). So going the Wyred STPse route is spot on. I've not heard
the D-Sonic myself but I've had numerous class D amps through here. The
fact that I didn't buy any of those but listen to the Job instead might tell you
something (and yes there are class D amps I think are brilliant starting with the AURALiC Merak monos which will set you back $5.000 and the various Ncores go up from there to €9.000 and beyond -:)
I sprung for the amp and yowza does it ever sound good! Thanks for the review and for alerting folks to perhaps the greatest amplifier bargain ever!
you've indulged my curiosity a couple of times in the past and while not wanting to push my luck, or your generosity, I'm hopeful you might be willing to lend your opinion yet again. I'm recreating, from scratch, my main system and as it stands at this point I have only two items in place: Mac Mini server and Spatial Computer T2 speakers. The T2's have yet to arrive but I've heard a non-upgraded version of the Emerald Physics 12" coax that Clayton is using, in the EM CS3 I briefly auditioned before recognizing the CS3 would require a separate sub to obtain a sufficient degree of "grunt". Clayton incorporates a 10" woofer in the T2 and I trust that will address the issue I had with the CS3.
The main areas of decision making I have yet to make: DAC; DAC/pre; amplifier.
The whole DAC thing has gotten ridiculously convoluted, first with the sheer volume of choices in the $1-3K range, my range basically, and the number of DACs that are now incorporating some form of preamp functionality. While I was less than bowled over by experience using a W4S DAC-2 to drive amps directly, I am still tickled by the possibility of one less component in the chain if I can achieve the sense of dynamics I require. Anyhow, the list of DAC candidates:
1. Chord QuteHD (with iFI USB + upgraded PSU)
2. Auralic Vega
3. B.M.C. PureDAC
4. SOtM sDP-1000
And this is where I could particularly benefit from your input as I'm aware you've had "ears-on" experience with at least two of the candidates:
1. W4S mAMP monos
2. JOB 225
3. Hypex nCORE-based build - NOT DIY, will have "pro-assembled"
If a preamp is required:
1. Dodd tubed line-stage of some sort
2. Doge 8
Any guidance you're willing to offer, understanding MY choices are just that, I'll be very grateful. Hope all is well with you and yours,
The issue you likely ran into with the Wyred DAC directly into the amp is digital
volume control. If you attenuate too much (say more than 20dB below full
blast), you start losing resolution. That's why I at least prefer analog
volume. I routinely listen very low and there digital simply throws away too
much. The SOtM sDP-1000 doesn't so of the units I know and which fit your
budget, that'd be the one. I've not heard the Chord or BMC so can't
comment on those. With amps things are much simpler. Job 225 without a
doubt. I just sold my $4.000+ ModWright KWA-100SE because of it. No longer
needed and I can use that money toward the Swiss speakers I really want. I've not
heard the Job directly vs. the Ncore but I know of at least one reader who
had Ncore, then bought a Job and liked it better. I'll also say that I
really wanted some Ncore 1200 amps but since I got the Job that urgent
desire has gotten very - well, non urgent indeed -:)
So my redo reco would be SOtM + Job 225 -:)
sorry for a late reply.
I understand that minor changes in an amplifier may not be easy to evaluate. Especially since the gear you partner it with is constantly changing. I will contact Michael Hollesen and ask him to let me borrow a Bakoon 12R demo unit.
I am still surprised that I preferred the Bakoon to my KR Audio amp. But I simply could not send it back to Michel after living with it for two weeks. It is clear and transparent as a mountain stream. Going back to tubes was like putting some silt in that stream.
The next thing for me will be to find a speaker that works well with the Bakoon. I noticed your positive review of the HRS-120. Omnidirectional speaker really offer an alternative take on hifi and sound reproduction. I lived with a 'semi-omni' speaker for 14 years. It was a speaker designed by Stig Carlsson, the l'enfant terrible in Swedish hifi. Stig's speakers were designed to work with the surfaces in the listening room instead of letting them degrade the sound.
It is interesting how Stig's ortho-acoustic principles still flourish on the Swedish hifi scene. Among recent examples is the OD-11 copy from Teenage Engineering, claiming to be the first 'cloud speaker'.
A more interesting project is the recently launched Bremen speaker 3D8 developing Stig's ideas even further. 3D8 is a wall-mounted speaker with 180° dispersion. I heard it briefly at a hifi show earlier this year and found that it was very good in reproducing the feeling of the venue of the recording. It made the listening room change like a chameleon from a small jazz club to a medieval church. I think that's one of the strong qualities of omnis and even semi omnis. Good conventional speakers take the musicians to you, good omnis take you to the venue.
I doubt that the Bakoon will be able to drive the Bremen 3D8 and definitely not the HRS-120. I will probably end up with a traditional speaker. But most speakers with high sensitivity seem to be voiced to work best with tube amps. Finding a partner to a 10-watt solid state can be tricky. Perhaps I should go for the Job 225 instead of upgrading the Bakoon...
If you are not already familiar with the two albums below, I can promise that they will make your life more agreeable:
Bobo Stenson Trio Indicum (ECM 2233)
Anouar Brahem The Astounding Eyes of Rita (ECM 2075)
Thanks for the music recos. I have everything Anouar ever recorded (I think) but not yet Bobo. That'll be easily rectified. On Bakoon speakers, the recently reviewed €6.600 TuneAudio Prime would be a perfect contender at an easy 93dB, albeit no omni. I'll check out your Swedish omni links next, thx. It's always good to know about terrible infants in any scene. They tend to crack the mold and stimulate the mind. Good description of the Bakoon/tube amp difference btw and my sentiments precisely -:)
|Now you've gone and done it. The TuneAudio Prime sounds like the curvy sister of a more svelte Rethm.
I can't wait to hear it based upon your review and what I've heard about scaling up in their ranks.
The Amp-12r sounds like the perfect patch. Also the Crayon since it's new sexy loudness control has
horn lovers using it.
I feel certain that many of my fellow dealers feel I'm suicidal. It's as though I'm the plague for traditional speaker
designs. Rethm, Voxativ (just the PI), Gallo, Teresonic (I've just designed and sent to a machinist stands to hopefully
compliment what I believe to be a great monitor.) And now you've left this low-hanging fruit on the trellis over the porch. Having had
a few Fostex-based designs, in present times I lean more towards the heavier magnet-ed Lowthers...more presence...but in a design with
help on top... now the Wave and the Prime.
Sehring will add some normalcy until his reference system comes out (that and KEF will make two coax.) And of course Albedo.
After the type of sound the Fostex gave you, I wonder how hopping into bed with the Albedo will contrast. I doubt there could be two
more opposite sounds.
Hopefully in another 6 months I'll have them all system matched in a place where they can be heard. Based on room size, placement
and associated equipment, I find they all have something special to offer: from Quad GMBH to the 'single drivers' (which if you think about it
are normal speakers with much better midrange drivers).
I like designed systems—like the Rethm with its own amp—which I still regret you not hearing.
All the best,