Your space to participate, comment & critique. Email srajan@6moons.com.

For published correspondence December 2013 - September 2013, click here; September 2013 to April 2013, click here; April 2013 - August 2012, click here; August 2012 to September 2011, click here. April 2011 to September 2011, click here; December 2010 - April 2011 click here; June to December 2010, here; February to June 2010, here; September 2009 to February 2010 here; June to September 2009 here; January to June 2009 here; May 2008 to January 2009 here; December 2007 to May 2008 here; July to December 2007 here; February to July 2007 here; November 2006 to February 2007 here; June to November 2006 here; April to June 2006 here; February to April 2006 here; December 2005 to February 2006 here; September to December 2005 here; July to- September 2005 here; April to July 2005 here; February to April 2005 here; December 2004 to February 2005 here; September to December 2004 here; August to September 2004 here; July to August 2004 here; February to July 2004 here; June 2003 to February 2004 here; June 2002 to June 2003 here.


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

John & Srajan:
Well, after very little time I can already tell the AURALiC Vega is special. Okay, that was a great call. I've paired it with a Cavalli Liquid Glass running some 6GU7 or 12SN7GT and wow.  It's so sweetly analog and totally grain-free. Thanks guys!  People will really love this setup with our headphones at meets.
Dan Clark

It certainly is, high resolution, illumination and tonal colour being its core strengths. The matching Taurus headphone amp doubles down on those core qualities. Review hitting DAR this week in which MrSpeakers will feature.
John Darko
"...a very upscale version of the socks Srajan stuffs in his speaker portholes..." from Michel's Tektron review. Socks? We need to know more. Are they cotton, wool, synthetic, mix.... new or worn? Washed or not? Pre or post meditation session? Rolled or folded? Have they been cryogenically treated? In line with Ley lines? And, of course, in light of recent research that colour can affect how we taste (and hear) things, what colour? Who needs more amp reviews? We want socks!

I also notice you're about to try out the Oppo headphones. I've been watching the progress of these (via Head-Fi) for quite a while. Interesting that Oppo have been utilising US headphone/hifi fans in the development of these, obviously tweaking them after the feedback. One thing that is annoying to Euro folk is the costing. The USA price is $1'099. The GB price is.£1'099, which translates into $1'838 at current rates. Given that there is no voltage etc.  variation -as in amps, it's hard to see any reason for the hike except to milk the Euro market? As you may recall. I've been using the original Isoplanars since the 1970s and have read your Audez'e etc. articles with interest. And I've contributed to Head-Fi on the topic for quite a while. But Oppo will not get a new customer with this! Will be interested to hear how you hear them!
Christopher Skelton

I gotta sock it to ya - they're holy socks, Chris, a pair each folded upon themselves, then rolled up tightly and 'screwed' into the port hole. As to Oppo, I don't know about their global pricing policies but I can see why particularly the £ pricing seems unduly high if that's their final word on the subject.
Srajan
Hi Srajan,
I know you enjoy finding gear that performs above expectations. So I wanted to tell you about my new favorite headphones, the JVC HA-FX850. I was intrigued when a friend on Head-fi compared them favourably to his top of the line full sized headphones including the HE6. And then I saw them being compared on Headfi to the TH900s and the bass to the LCD2. That caught my attention so I ordered a pair from Japan.

I am amazed by the 850. They sound great straight out of my Tera player but if I hook the Tera up to my iCAN amp, the sound can make my jaw drop. So much body and fullness to the tone with incredible clarity at the same time. And with the 3D feature on the iCAN, the soundstage is almost unbelievable for an in-ear headphone. While I have not owned many of the more expensive full-sized headphones, these are the best sounding headphones I have heard so far. And a nice feature is that they sound great with shallow insertion so I do not need to stick them all of the way into my ear canal. They can sit just outside the canal and still sound incredibly full and present.

The other quality that stands out is how instruments just sound right and real. One of the toughest things for me on most headphones is the trumpet. It often gets harsh or bright and almost hurts on a lot of headphones. But on these the trumpet sounds amazingly real and yet smooth at the same time. Also drums come across as more real sounding than any other headphone I have owned. Not to mention the flute which can sound off to my ears on other headphones but simply sounds like a flute on these. These are completely changing my opinion of what is possible with an in-ear headphone. It reminds me of when my friend in Spain drove me around in a Smart car. We would drive for a while and then when I got out of the car, I would look back at it and say, "Oh my god, we were driving around in that tiny little thing!"  When we were inside going down the road, it did not feel like we were in such a small vehicle....but from the outside it sure was tiny. Same with these 850s: I can hardly believe they are just small little cylinders when I take them out of my ears. The sound is like a big powerful Mercedes sedan. I hope you are doing well.
Warmly,
Nirmala
Hi Srajan,
I thought Pono was a great idea, to produce a high-quality portable device. Yes, HiFiMan and others have gone there before but so what. People need more. However, I tend to agree with you that hi-rez downloads are not really the future especially at $15+ each. I currently use Spotify at 320kbps and also purchase things regularly from HDTracks and others. My main gripe is that although I personally feel that 16/44 is an ancient barely-sufficient-for-hifi early 1980s format (now over 30 years old), nevertheless I am generally happy with 16/44 and often buy CDs today in that format. The problem with 24/96 or 24/192 besides price is that most albums are terribly mastered and grossly compressed even with digital clipping. This applies to virtually all pop and also a lot of jazz and other world music etc. which is mostly what I listen to. Classical usually has better mastering.The point is, many non-classical recordings are so handicapped at the mastering level that there is no improvement going to higher-rez formats. The dynamic range database at http://dr.loudness-war.info shows what I mean. Fleetwood Mac’s classic Rumors album has a lovely 14dB of dynamic range as measured by DRD’s proprietary formula. The track "The Chain" has a peak of -2.48dB and an average of -20.96dB for over 18dB of dynamic range by that measure (DRD’s system is a little different.)

Rickie Lee Jones’ Pirates album from 1981 shows a peak level of -1.47dB on track 1, "We Belong Together", and an average level of -23.11dB for dynamic range of over 21dB by that measure (DRD’s rating is 16dB). Beck’s Morning Phase,which I purchased at 24/96 from HD Tracks has a measured DR of 6dB by DRD’s formula. Track number 4, "Say Goodbye" has an average level of -7.47dB and the peaks are actually digitally clipped - squared-off waveforms at -0.00dB. This is unfortunate because I actually like Beck’s new album quite a lot! But obviously there is no improvement going to 24/96 from 16/44 just so you can reproduce digital clipping at 96-thousand samples per second or represent -0.00dB peaks in 24 bits. Lest one think this is limited to mass-market pop, Pat Metheny’s new Orchestrion Project disc (2013, which I own and is full of percussion) has a DR rating of a piteous 8dB. His 1997 album Beyond the Missouri Sky, with almost no percussion, has a DR rating of a lovely 14dB. The issue with classical, for me is that it's cheap and abundant in 16/44. I would generally rather buy some giant box set on Amazon than spend $18 at HDTracks for one single recording. Volume and variety trumps resolution. For example I recently bought a six-disc box set of Jascha Heifetz’s recordings—some of the world’s favorite violin music played by one of the best violinists of the 20th century—for $25 including shipping. I also included a four-disc set of Berlioz’s opera Les Troyens for a big $8.50 including shipping. Spotify’s 320kbps streaming is plainly handicapped IMO although that is also because I can’t use Audirvana with it which provides great improvements. Anyway, these issues make hi-res formats pointless in my opinion unless proper attention is paid throughout the recording process as is the case for some Chesky recordings for example.
Nathan Lewis

320kbps is clearly limited, hence my pointer at Qobuz and WiMP which offer lossless FLAC streaming. Otherwise I'm much in agreement. It's the reason I haven't bought a single track from HDTracks yet and don't intend to anywhere in the near future.
Srajan
G’day,
I live near Melbourne Australia. I thought I knew a little about hifi until I started to look through your website and the British Whathifi one. My knowledge extended to Denon, Marantz, Pioneer, NAD, JBL etc. I really knew nothing other than the department store brands which makes me embarrassed now. I have been quite startled by just how many brands of high-quality stuff are out there. It has been incredible to learn a bit about them through your really cool website. I first discovered Whathifi because they were mentioned in a Marantz review. They are a great source for me so much so that I just bought an $11'000 Naim setup purely based on their recommendations and without ever hearing the gear.

I am really happy. It is great stuff. Whilst it is a lot of money for me, I know it is my first real foray into high quality hifi. I have no doubt I will upgrade over the years as the bug was always with me, I just didn’t make enough back then to afford it. My first decent hifi was a Denon setup I bought when I was in the navy in Singapore. I paired it with a pair of JBL Pro VIII’s. Your magazine though seems directed at the very serious audiophile and your articles and reviews are incredibly detailed and informative. I am blown away by just how many manufacturers there are of top-shelf kit and to be honest it bugs me a little. I always thought that if I had the money for a very good setup, I would have a choice of maybe ten brands, kind of like European car brands.

How wrong I am. It makes it tough to find the 'perfect' speakers for example. I thought the science would make it simple but each brand seems to have its own sound which seems to mean trying out as many of them as possible and finding the one that make the spine tingle and the heart race. Now I see why audiophiles are like adventurers, always searching for a higher mountain to climb! Perhaps perfection and true satisfaction will always be beyond reach. I really love the reviews you all do. It has allowed me to bookmark articles on products I never knew existed and hone in on what stirs my soul to start with. As a JBL monitor lover I realize I am like the Japanese who like the big old-style monitors from 20 years ago.

Yesterday I discovered these Spendor SP100 monsters. Wow, they look like they just stepped out of 1983! Anyway, thanks again for providing a wonderful service without hifi store bias and for opening my eyes to a new and exciting (and bloody expensive!) world. I seem to find hobbies that are expensive? Keep up the great work and I look forward to being a regular visitor.
Kindest Regards,
Steve Coon

Thanks for your letter. I'm pleased to hear you feel like a kid in a new and bigger candy store. And yes, things can get mighty costly fast but expense and quality (or better put, satisfaction) aren't mutually linked beyond a certain point. So by all means enjoy our reviews for their information and entertainment value but don't be misled into thinking that to enjoy your hifi requires being rich! It doesn't. Which is why I make a habit of also reviewing more affordable kit like the Clones Audio stuff in recent months. It keeps one honest relative to the expensive stuff and how much better (or not) it really is when one applies realistic rather than idealistic uses (standard not manse rooms, normal not extreme levels etc).
Srajan
Srajan,
in your review you placed the T2+ amp on top of the Aqua DAC which has a larger but lighter chassis. I have a Stello D700 (April Music DAC designed to match Stello Ai700 amp not released in other countries yet) incoming and it weighs 9kg and has a larger chassis than the T2+. I was considering placing the T2+ (which weighs about 14kg) on top of my D700 like you did with your Aqua because I have limited space on my desk. However, do you think this is ill advised? Do you think that placing the T2+ amp on top of a DAC this large would noticeably affect the sound in a negative way due to noise or heat? The chassis of the D700 is identical to that of the Ai700 by the way.
Song Kyung-han

I’d foresee no issues at all. The D700 won’t run hot and the T2+ vents upwards through its opening since hot air rises. So why should there be an issue?
Srajan
Hello Marja, Srajan, Henk:
I'm writing to you today to query about the progress of the MIR - the Mission:Impossible Review.The Mola-Mola amps are extremely high profile product, with an enormous amount of buzz, in 6moons as well as plenty of other places, so it's kind of amazing that this "coming next" review takes more or less forever. I saw, what seems like months ago, that there had been delays in delivery but that finally the crates arrived... and then what?  I've opened up these pages every day for what seems like endless times without any news - until I read your article about the Axhorns today. What do we learn? That the Mola-Molas appear to have destroyed the Pnoe-horn drivers by leaking some DC into them. That's not exactly what one would want, however, at the same time, it appears that there is some kind of log-file tracking the behaviour of the amps, which in itself is quite unusual (if not exclusive I think - my understanding is that the top-of-the-range Dartzeel amps have something similar under the covers). So what I think would be a good idea is to put up a status report explaining what's going on with this review - for example, when opening the crates, was there a message saying "10 secs after power-on, your speakers will auto-destruct?
Salutations / Regards / Halsningar
Goran Svedberg

M&H will have specifics but I do know they no longer have the loaners. We're only too aware this review has been in gestation for abnormally long but most of it has been out of our control. I let them fill in the holes.
Srajan

Srajan, thanks for the prompt answer I still think you/M&H should put up some kind of statement about what's happening especially now that the Axhorn story clearly points at the amps to be the DC leakers. I can assure you that I have no particular interest/link with either Hypex or Mola-Mol, or indeed Bruno. I'm just a retired ex IT specialist who's got a very strong interest in music and therefore hifi and I've been into this for more than 50 years already. What I do think is that this wildly long story must be making bad publicity for the maker, which is on one hand quite rightly so if they can't even provide a working pair of these amps for a very high-profile review by a team who I believe would have a tendency to come out with very positive results(having read previous reviews on this particular technology both by yourself, and the fact that M&H are using an OEM version of the same module). It seems to me that if Bruno & Co. are having problems, this would perhaps justify a little statement from M&H explaining what's happening. I know for a fact that you can actually order these things in France today for rather big money. The question then comes to mind that if I did order, would I get them in a year? 2 years? Ever? This starts to look a bit like your "Delays" story.

I don't want to incriminate anybody but that Axjet statement clearly indicated, although between the lines, that the amps were the cause. I'm sure I'm not the only one waiting eagerly for this review and I realize that your policy isn't to give particular attention to any particular brand but I think the "non event" regarding this particular review together with those loose statements in the Axjet paper produce a strange feeling for hundreds or even thousands of your readers around the world. I'm sure you've already thought of this and perhaps you're getting into a dilemma here. Producing a "review of a non-review" so to speak would be extremely unusual too but the fact of the matter is that there is obviously something wrong. Apart from that as well as also due to that, I actually dig 6moons beyond reason.
Goran

A few things come to mind. One, it took M&H a while to identify in the greatest likelihood what actually happened during their fried driver episode. It's not as though one component's red light suddenly blinked to say 'it was me, sorry'. As far as they have been able to ascertain, the culprit was their USB audio source. But the amps had to go back to Bruno which is when their embedded log files clearly indicated a DC incident. Returning the drivers to Filip then confirmed burnt voice coils. Two, yes the whole situation is causing a number of issues. I thought of pulling the review until I have one on my desk to publish but then I'd have to field endless inquiries. Three, M&H no longer have their loaners as they've been recalled. Four, they're awaiting feedback from Hypex. Until a number of questions are answered, it would seem unfair and premature to issue a statement - except that a statement is due and ought to be forthcoming. For now this will have to suffice I'm afraid.
Srajan

That the Molas blew up the AER drivers is crap, we never wrote or said that. The only link between the two is that the Molas' logging confirmed that the amps detected DC. The only things known today are:
• the Molas detected DC
• the Molas did not shut down upon detecting DC
• the Molas are back to Bruno
• we haven't had word from Bruno so far
• there was no preamp (read galvanic separation) between source and power amps
• this incident set us back over two grand
M/H

As of 14.4.14 we're informed that Mola-Mola remain delayed on production but hope to have it resolved by the Munich show.
Srajan
Wow, your Delays feature struck a number of chords, having been to some degree on either side of the fence. We've experienced delays that have been cause for some uncomfortable refunds. In good faith engineers have given me dates that were passed onto them,often from some OEM aspect of a product only to be hung out on a costly and time consuming line. The end user/client has in good faith put their money out on those words. One thing I find is that when small manufacturers get involved with larger entities for finishing, things can go markedly wrong. I can give a real estate and development analog. A friend of mine, not a developer, came to me pleased as punch because Spaulding and Slye had approved his 7-unit loft project as something they would take on. They bid well and things seemed in hand.

6 months or so before permitting would allow the ground to be broken, I warned him that this was not the right tool for the job. S and S built bridges, wharfs, sky scrapers. Just because they are renowned didn't make them the right partner. About 2 weeks prior to breaking ground they came back with the finalized paper work. After accessing all the minutia, steel cost, etc, the build would have to be increased by $800'000 to $1'00',000. To them this amount was a nominal amount to be off on a bid. You know costs rise, you need to comply with this or that .To my friend it was the world ending. All to say that when you mix industrial quality finishing with small yield products, something similar can happen. In these number, you are not and never will be a priority in a finishing plant's daily life. They are doing you a favor considering such a small order, much less doing it. You are their last concern and their word to you means nothing. All it takes is one 'real' order on their plat, or a delay in something they're working on and you get moved to the back of the line.

Dan is a super good sport whether or not he had intended to be and I'm sure Clayton feels like his head is in a vice. People I know who have bought from him tend to say he's a super guy and provides excellent service. I don't know if it's possible for all parties to come out feeling unharmed as time is money but perhaps there can be a salvage of some sort. I wish all parties a positive end.
Fred Crane

Quite so. The luxury paint issue by way of an automotive custom shop occurred to me as well. In this instance the prior lost year of the first order and a number of missed replies to disrupt communications merely added themselves to a general level of customer unease particularly since there was no refund of any sort involved.
Srajan
I was so happy to read your active speaker article [on DigitalAudioReview.net - Ed]. It reminds me of the first time I heard a really good pair of active speakers 15+ years ago. Paradigm made a version of their Studio20 called the Active20. I had them playing next to a pair of B&W Matrix 801 we had been running off an ARC system. My dad walked into the room and off the cuff remarked on how good the B&Ws sounded. Been a fan of active speakers ever since. BTW, reading the comments of the article I don't think it's exactly clear to people that powered speakers aren't necessarily active speakers. 
ATB,
Jonathan Derda
I was really looking forward to the upcoming review of the Axjet speakers and no longer see it pending. Care to comment?
Alan Trahern

It'll show up in industry features instead where it's already announced for later this month. I already have the copy but Marja & Henk are still waiting for the maker to sign off.
Srajan
Srajan: What is the make and model of the chairs in your listening room? They look nice and probably comfy. Great site.
Thanks,
Julian

Those are the Lillberg rocking chairs from Ikea. We simply added the carpets. They have three adjustable positions, come apart for easy moving, are very comfy and affordable.
Srajan
Following the 'Chairs' letter. Now this is a (listening) chair! Newly re-leathered. Hangs from the ceiling. Once in you are disinclined to move - once it's stopped swinging about! No remote, though! I'm sure we should take more notice of chairs in our listening environment. Such factors as fat-padded ones absorbing bass etc. come into play.
Chris Skelton
Dear Srajan,
There's nothing I enjoy more than a nice relaxed read. I tend to linger with the authors I most enjoy. The other day I was reading Nabokov's Glory and I think I spent 20 minutes on the first few pages. In any regard, I suppose I mention it as those moments have declined somewhat since I began the audio biz so perhaps I pay them more mind. I did just have some afternoon tea (in preparation for re-doubling my efforts this evening) and most enjoyed your piece on the new Nagra Dac. Humanizing these various projects that others view as products is to me an important part of our culture. When we enjoy some 'thing' whatever it may be, I find it correct to recall that at one time it was stamped into life by a brain, perhaps a calloused hand, maybe even by greatness.
Thanks for that. 
Fred

I'm pleased you enjoyed that. Pure product reviews commoditize our 'things' when in truth really good hifi carries the imprimatur of its maker like a piece of art. We often simply don't get the added information to expand our reportage. In this instance living close to Nagra made multiple visits and interviews easy. Plus they were up for it. Other makers play things closer to their chest or don't answer our questions. Then we're left with just the product.
Srajan
Congratulations on the move and the new digs. What struck me as I was looking at the pictures was that I immediately felt it was a home, not just a place where you put your things. I had the same feeling when I entered your abode in New Mexico regardless of its small size. There too you made it your own.
Alan Kafton

Well, working out of a home to spend so much time in it means it's gotta be a home - whatever that means.
Srajan

My 'house' has largely been a manufacturing plant and storage site for too many years. I'm so tired of that. My remodeling project is intended to return things to a real home, one where I can entertain friends. I plan to move my work area to a 2nd bedroom (rather than my current and past takeover of the living room/dining area) and hopefully keep it there avoiding any business 'creep'. What a concept! 
Alan

To us our home has to reflect calm and nourishment so that's what we aim for. And thanks... we like it a lot -:)
Srajan

That's my plan as well. In a very certain way, what you've done is an inspiration.
Alan

It's important. Other folks spend money on annual vacations. We hardly ever do because in a way, we feel we are on permanent vacation by picking nice places to live and then living in homes that give us our sanctuary zone. Obviously that also means paying for it... but since it enhances our life quality, that's where our 'vacation funds' go - high rent -:)
Srajan

Many people having the daily grind of being an employee with all the stress that entails would consider the scenic views you've had (New Mexico, Cyprus and now Switzerland) to be a permanent vacation. What is totally cool is that you and Ivette have always planned it that way. And you can still opt to travel within Europe, charging off audio shows as a business expense and seeing more incredible scenery in and around the shows. I would suspect the hard part is all the writing on a continual basis, having to be 'on' for that activity as everyone expects you to be brilliant 24/7. That and all the website work of course. No doubt a lot of hours devoted to that endeavor.
Alan

Being 'on' as you call it isn't so hard when you enjoy writing as much as I do. Hifi really is just the hook where I hang my writing coat. If the focus were hifi, boredom would have set in a long time ago. But since the focus is on the writing and getting better at it... there's no end to the verbal wrestling opportunities. As far as having planned it all... it certainly was the dream which I called "living anywhere getting checks in the mail". But without widespread support from the industry and our writing team plus fortuitous timing it would never have happened. It was more a function of voicing a desire out loud, doing what we thought was required to make it so and then having the universe respond in unexpected ways to actually make it happen. And yes, I spend a lot of time on it. But I really enjoy the networking aspect of it all. I feel like a spider in the middle of a net. I keep adding new threads with our content and across those threads different people around the world connect with each other. That's the most rewarding aspect. As to being an employee and that being stressful... self-employment has its own stresses as you well know. There are ongoing risks involved but at least to us they're more than worth the rewards.
Srajan
Dear Srajan:
Three cheers to Tim Smith for writing and to you for publishing Tim’s review of the Bottlehead Crack headphone amplifier kit. Due to their products being kits, many audiophiles may not be aware of or skip over Bottlehead products. That would be a mistake because they are both excellent sounding and very high-value components. Along with vintage and modern second-hand components, kits are another solution to what ails the industry as alluded to by Michele’s recent letter to the editor. Here’s just one example. You recently listed the Purity Audio’s Harmonia 300B tube buffer on your News Room page. I’m sure the Harmonia is a fine product but it costs $'3995 (single-ended) or $5'495 (balanced).  Bottlehead’s TOTL BeePre 300B preamp kit costs only $1'175 with 300B tubes. Of course the catch is that you have to build it. Not necessarily! You could have it professionally built or even better, have a friend build it for you. Buy the friend a beer, a Margarita, dinner or all three (that’s what I did). I’m using the BeePre along with Bottlehead’s Paramount 300B monoblocks and can attest to their sound quality. It’s been almost 7 years since Michael Lavorgna wrote about my system in a 6Moons Road Tour (September, 2007). While I’m still using the same speakers (Altec 756Bs + Jensen RP302s on JE Labs style open baffles), the Bottlehead components have made a significant improvement to my system.

As one Bottlehead owner put it, Bottlehead components are not just great kit components, they are right up there with the 'best'. This is from a guy who can purchase any component he wants but owns just about every Bottlehead component. The other great thing about Bottlehead components is that there are virtually unlimited upgrade paths. Last, when you purchase a Bottlehead component, you have joined the Bottlehead community with its very active and helpful forum. Bottlehead takes the expense out and puts the fun back into Hi-Fi. Isn’t that what it’s all about?
Gerry E.             
Srajan:
I have read with great interest the first part of your excellent review of the new Nagra HD DAC. In this regard I have been following the news surrounding the new PS Audio DSD DAC as the Nagra is out of my price range. I am a bit puzzled by some of their statements about this new product and would appreciate your views. I own a large number of CDs—many of which have been converted to digital files—but I still like to play them nonetheless. Considering the process by which the PS Audio DSD DAC converts the CD’s PCM data  into DSD…

  1. Does the quality of the transport that you use to send the PCM data to the DSD DAC really make a difference? What does this mean for their PerfectWave transport and its I2S output over HDMI?
  2. Does the quality of the digital cable matter between the CD transport and the DAC?  
  3. Does it make any difference which digital input you use on the DSD DAC?  Is the I2S the best option?

I am a fan of DSD so I am trying to decide how best to proceed.
Many thanks,
Michael

Regardless of how a DAC processes data, the means by which that data arrives (off a transport be it a PC or legacy spinner; and via a cable unless it's wireless which we're probably not discussing here) seems to have an effect. To what extent "jitter busting" and "total reclocking" in a DAC can offset or ameliorate a sub-optimal digital data transfer is open to discussion and should depend on implementation. If a company calls their I-squared-S interface superior for PCM, it'll obviously apply regardless of whether a receiving DAC processes that data as PCM or DSD. But since neither you nor I have heard the DirectStream DAC yet, the question remains open by which input it'll generate its very best performance. Beyond such speculation I would feel quite certain that the quality of data delivery (the quality of the USB, AES/EBU, RJ45 or HDMI as-I-squared-S or S/PDIF cable, the quality of the transport) remains as important as ever. That said, the DAC's designer and author of the FPGA code claims in a Youtube interview that because they completely disregard the incoming signal's clock, there's no (or hardly any) difference between inputs.
Srajan

Dear Srajan,
I just read your preview of the Pathos Logos MkII integrated. At the beginning of page and with other famous designers and manufacturers, you mentioned BFA. We are honoured and feel privileged to be part of this short list. Thank you. Our Tulip A single-ended design has a new MkII upgrade designed with SRPP topology by Andria Sabolcki. The advantage vs the classic triode topology of the first Tulip A is far better sound. In triode designs we use a resistor for the negative pole, hence the influence of the resistor is audible. Brand can be important like Vishay Z foil or Dale. The best resistor is none. In our SRPP design we utilize the same double triodes (2 x ECC83 and 2 x ECC88) for the plus and minus phase respectively. All music signal is handled by tubes at an electron level, preserving all harmonics. This gives more 3D, speed, transients and tone colour. We already used no caps and/or audio transformers inside the signal path. The benefit is again no influence on the sound to preserve all the tiny variations in voltage which are normally lost in capacitors. We can send 90V to the speaker drivers. How is our secret for now. We have bandwidth from 7Hz - 1MHz.
All the best
Bosko
Hi Srajan,
just a suggestion. Could you do a small piece on the economics of audiophilia? From the civilian's point of view it doesn't make much sense: an indefinite number of producers ranging from gilt edge to very bad joke and everything inbetween; a shrinking dealer network saddled with all kinds of distribution costs and a quirky semi-senile customer base half drugged by implacable product placement and perpetually resentful at the extortionate prices it compulsively pays. How does this particular bumblebee keep flying? Adult audiophiles might be interested. I know I am. Also, a question for your new and beautiful listening space. What about that glass front wall? It's breathtaking but hardly inert I would think.
All the best as always
Michele from Rome

It's funny how many have already commented on the glass. If you think on how Crystal Cable, Perfect8 and Waterfall Audio all make speakers out of glass; and that the BBC today builds entire recording studios out of it... it's not a bad material per se. In this case the layout's overall size and the high number of irregular non-parallel walls (which include the glass) seem far more important. It's a well-constructed modern quality building and it's not flimsy flexing glass but thick stuff properly framed. Even at the Munich show some manufacturers manage to make good sound with a front wall that's essentially floor-to-ceiling glass - and with far larger panels than ours which are all individual French doors. So again, it depends. This room has far fewer issues than audiophiles seem to assume.

Re: the other thing, I don't believe I've got anything new to say on the subject. Whatever about it has been on my mind I've written up over the years. I think our readers are intelligent enough to figure out for themselves how they wish to relate to the subject. They don't need a self-proclaimed oracle to lay it out on their behalf. I'm frankly a bit tired of soothsaying and crystal-ball gazing of the sort the current Pono campaign has inspired all over the place. I'm more interested in doing reviews and letting the other players in this sector do what they do. The importers import, the makers make, the dealers deal and the shoppers buy (or not).

A proper economics expert should be able to chime in far more ably than I ever could. Like everyone else I have observations on 'our' issues and what seems to be wrong with our sector in general. But without offering credible solutions (which I frankly don't have), it'd just be another woe-be-us piece which I don't think would do any good -:)
Srajan
Srajan,
I'm listening to the T2+/H2+ but there seems to be a sonic technical issue. I would like to know if you have this issue too or have any idea what might be causing it. For me the T2+'s volume knob needs to be turned past 3 o'clock to get a satisfyingly loud level of listening. It's not ear splitting, just loud enough to enjoy the music with vigorous energy and power if you know what I mean. Usually around 3-4 o'clock and for some tracks past 5 o'clock even maxing out the volume. However, the problem is that at such levels the music distorts in an unpleasant way and nasty cracking hums come out. It's hard to describe but sounds as though the headphone cannot handle the power and is cracking apart. This phenomenon would also happen if, say, I were to drive a very high-sensitivity headphone with a very powerful amp like the Schiit Lyr and max out the volume. The headphone would produce distorted sound, crackle, hiss and hum before dying. Well the H2+ doesn't seem to die but nevertheless it's producing these noises at satisfyingly loud listening levels. Do you have any idea what it might be?
SongKyung Han

I have no distortion at all on my combo but with a standard 2V source the volume does sit at between 1:00 and 3:00 for me too. Of course if you go to a 4V-out source, you’ll move everything up a bit. You might want to talk to sasacokic@gmail.com who built the amp; or Takei-San at ttakei@axel.ocn.ne.jp.
Srajan

T2+ has 1.5Vpp input sensitivity which is why the pot needs to be at 3 o'clock for normal listening. I wanted the pot to be more open for a lower resistance because of the Miller effect on the high frequencies atop the problem that these cans have a very high capacitance and very low impedance at HF. There were many problems to solve and inside of the T2+ nothing was done by accident. My advice is to use a source with higher voltage output and everything will be fine. In my opinion there is no chance distortion could be caused by the amp which runs in pure class A. It could only come from the source if it perhaps has some DC offset; or something is faulty with the headphones.
Sasa
Hello Srajan,
Could you point me to articles in your archives relating to your adoption of an iMac as your source and its setup customisation.
Regards,
Roger J Cann

Not really. They're not sorted that way, sorry. Basically you want the library on the hard disk and the OS and software player (PureMusic, Audirvana et al) on the SSD. And you want loads of RAM. Then you optimize the software player as their websites recommend, use a good USB cable like the red KingRex double-header or the Light Harmonic LightSpeed, perhaps a superior USB-to-S/PDIF bridge like the SOtM if your DAc's USB implementation isn't the hottest... and that's it.
Srajan

Thank you for your time, that's it exactly. Regards, and enjoy your new home!
Roger
D/As explained in Observer 'Tech' Monthly fiasco! Quote from article on D/As by Jude Rogers: 'I'm a music critic (sic!) and love good sound quality but I don't think it's always necessary. .... lots of digitally downloadable music does sound fairly shoddy - it's the price we pay for convenience." What? Anyway, the shock news is that "DACs add analogue signals to digital data, making compressed files sound uncompressed." I never knew! (Jude: that's extreme irony! They don't.) Amazing! And she got paid for this!
Chris Skelton

That's hilarious. But also a reminder that audiophile lingo, like medicalese and legalese and all the rest of it, is hard to make sense of as an outsider.
Srajan
Hi Srajan,
I hope you and your wife are both well. I’m really looking forward to reading about your experiences with the Backert preamp. Hopefull, they won’t be long getting one over to you.
Stay well,
Larry Phillips

It's an assignment I'm looking forward to myself. They apparently expect the next production run soon so the only question is what Americans mean by 'soon'. I do know what the Swiss mean by it -:)
Srajan
Hi Srajan,
congratulations on the arrival at your new flat. Hope the room acoustics match your expectations. It seems we get more and more clones... the 'femtomania' is running rampant throughout the audio industry. Just kidding. A low jitter clock is important just like a decent DAC chip is, nevertheless it is just one ingredient in the overall recipe for better sound.
Regards,
Ivo Linnenberg
Hello Srajan,
I have not written to you since I was living in the UK. I hope you and family are doing well. I  returned home to the current president and mess in the US. Getting back on the subject point, I enjoyed your very detailed review of the Wyred4Sound DAC DSD-se. I'm hoping you do a follow-up on it for I have recent read they just upgraded their master clock that is up to 80% more accurate with the new femto clock vs the older  pico master clock. Srajan, is this a possible plan?  
Best regards,
Paul Letteri

A follow-up to a follow-up that would require two decks to do a proper A/B for the dubious purpose of a very brief commentary? Sorry to say but I think it's a terrible plan, Paul -:)
Srajan
Good morning Srajan,
just thought I’d drop you a quick note to say I tracked down an Asus Xonar Essence Muses Edition this week and I have to say, it’s a terrific bit of kit. I think it ticks the boxes on so many levels. I have it in use between my Mac and some active Studio monitors. It’s taken them to another level. Though I think longer term I’ll be shipping in some Opal Events to really get the place rocking. Now the big question is that it also has a superb headphone amp. I had a little listen the other evening with some Audio Technica cans that I use mainly when I’m on a planes (they have the noise cancellation feature). They sounded very good. But I’m now going to look a some proper cans and obviously you’ve had the pleasure of spending some time doing this. What would you go for?
Keep up the good work, and thanks in advance.
Jon Partington

If cost is no issue, the Audeze LCD-XC. For 1/3rd the scratch and 2/3rd the sound, the MrSpeakers™ AlphaDog.
Srajan
Dear Srajan,
I’d like to extend my thanks to Mr. Chevassus for his thoughtful and informative review of Vivid Audio’s K1. It was a very nice touch to include the factory visit into the review. Even though I know a thing or two about the company, this brought (a lot of) new information to the surface. Does the reviewer have any more to share regarding the development of Oval successors? I was intrigued by his remark, and would like to know whether we can expect something at High End 2014 perhaps?
Thanks and best regards,
Dirk

As discussed with Laurence Dickie‎, it is not easy replacing the Oval line and especially the K1 with a more efficient design. I have no idea when the Oval line will be upgraded. I am not sure there is a lot of room available between the 3.5-way design of the K1 and the 4-way design of G3. And in relation to the upcoming Munich High-End,‎ Vivid Audio will probably introduce their new Giya G4.
Best regards,
Joël Chevassus
Hi Marja and Henk,
I wanted to send you a quick note on the PS Audio DSD DAC. I'm not impartial here since I became a PS Audio dealer at the end of last year and feel like a bit of a shill for my products, having just emailed Srajan about how amazing the Pass 30.8 amp turned out to be. That said, I think this is going to turn out to be a special product. I don't have a unit but heard the circuit a few years ago at a meeting of the Seattle audio club from the designer Ted Smith. It's quite a unique design and it was amazing, blew everyone away back then. I thought of you because the two of you have done some amazing work with digital product, so be sure to give this unit a listen when you have the opportunity.
Best regards,
Darin

Hi Darin,
we were informed about the DAC at a quite early stage and promised an early pre-production review sample. Sorry to say that as with many things PS Audio, that did not materialize. Neither was there any communication. One can do two things in such situations: keep on bugging the manufacturer or focus on other things which are more positive and responsive in nature. Examples of those latter are a new setting—different combination of existing parameters—in our XXHighEnd software which enables scarily realistic 3D sound like birds flying through the room and a whole new music genre which was previously completely ignored by us with hundreds of free legal downloads. So whenever a unit becomes available, we will welcome it for audition...
Best regards,
M&H
I really enjoy reading your site. I have learned a lot and I always try to click on a few links when I visit. I wish you would consider not posting reviews of Russian products until Russia decides to abide by the Budapest Accord, which it signed in 1994.
Gerrit

Gerrit, we try not to mix politics and hifi exactly so that we can review products from all corners of the globe. But you certainly don't have to read those which bother you. If I allowed politics to interfere, someone else could want Japan ousted for the slaughter of dolphins for example. Or Switzerland for its role in hiding Third Reich monies. Or the US for its treatment of the Native Americans or involvement in Afghanistan. Or whatever. There'd be no end to it. So we'll stick to our current position instead and review interesting product no matter where it's from. Plus, equipment is made by individuals, not governments. Just because you dislike a certain government shouldn't disable enterprising individuals living there from being showcased on our site.
Srajan
Dear Sebastian,
I very much enjoyed your review of the AKG-K812. You painted an excellent picture of the headphone. I was curious which amplifier did you use with it the majority of the time? I was also wondering if another amp choice may open the stage a bit?
Best Regards,
Fred

Dear Fred,
thank you very much for the feedback, it’s always appreciated. Most of the listening time I used the Headamp GS-1 as I found it in the past to be the most neutral amp across vastly different headphones. It always showed me exactly what the phones I am listening to were about. My amps in general are more on the forward/direct side because I usually prefer that sound with most headphones I use regularly. But I tested the AKG also with the Meier Audio crossfeed which, to my surprise, did not yield good results. Maybe a more fine-tunable solution like a SPL Phonitor would be a good amp to check that with. Amps with a wider natural soundstage could also be a solution. Unfortunately I could not check that during my test. Last year I reviewed a Music Hall ph25.5 which had a very wide natural soundstage. Depending on music preferences it could be a great match as it also is a tube hybrid.
Regards
Sebastian
Hi Srajan,
After looking and reading a ton of stuff I settled on PS Audio and their Perfect Wave DAC, bridge and transport. It did not meet all my needs (does not read SACD) but for the most part it gave me 90% of the flexibility I needed to adapt to my future setups that may or may not include a network and NAS. And at 60% off list price I even had found a killer deal on brand new equipment. I knew something new was coming (otherwise why 60% off?) and I did not care.

In the end I decided to not go through though, and it is in good part because I can't understand why they would launch their new DAC the way they are. They pretty much claim their old one was wrong (as well as everybody else's who does not do it the way they do). Why would anybody do that? In addition to calling heir previous customers imbeciles for buying into a wrong design, it kills all credibility as far as them getting it right this time.

On top of it there is, as you pointed out, the fact that most manufacturers actually believe that straight PCM and DSD -> PCM is superior but I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. Those who claim the superiority of PCM all use chips that operate in multi-bit so they don't really have a choice anyway. PS audio and their FPGA could at least in theory have recreated the only DAC operating in true 1-bit. Since they do not exactly say so (and we know they are not shy with outrageous claims,) I am wondering whether they are just dressing up another multi-bit solution. But again, until proven otherwise I will accept that they have the only pure DSD option out there. But launching it in a way that puts down everything they have done up to now just got me upset and I decided to not go ahead. Because if they can't have pride in what they have  done so far, why should I ?I know it's a silly reason for walking away from a good deal but hifi no matter what has a dose of pride of ownership in it - value is paramount to me (i.e. price/performance ratio) but if you make me feel bad about buying your gear, chances are I won't regardless of value. If that was the intent, PS Audio got it all right.
Cheers -:)
Frederic Beudot

Funny you just said that. I thought much the same. Their propaganda machine really went overboard this time. Never mind that Meitner and Playback Designs (and now Nagra who license the board from Andreas Koch) have done the FPGA-as-1bit-DAC thing for years to treat all PCM as de facto DSD - including high upsampling. I'm frankly not sure how PS Audio's approach differs until we learn more. But the marketing storm surrounding this product launch does taste like bad MSG -:)
Srajan

If you have not read this, you should. The part where Linn comments about DSD is priceless:
http://www.stereophile.com/content/genesis-and-linn-elite-audio-systems-san-francisco
To quote from the head of a company whose SACD releases are recorded in PCM, then upsampled to DSD, "there is no need for DSD. You'll get better quality sound if you convert DSD files to PCM and play them back through our server ... Sony is pushing DSD because it is in financial trouble, and has in DSD a proprietary format that can produce a constant revenue stream for the company. Sony is trying to own a piece of people's music libraries. I think DSD will fail. I urge people to keep their entire collection in PCM." Gotta love this industry :-) Do you think Sony just increased their royalty rate on DSD? Sure smells like it.
Frederic

It sounds like a viable argument for Sony's interest. Reissuing their huge catalogue in a high-resolution format like downloadable DSD files could be a solid marketing strategy - unless the 'DSD craze' remains a very narrow venture of interest only to diehard audiophiles to not amount to any significant software sales of the sort physical CD enjoyed.
Srajan
Srajan,
I was very happy to read your recent KIH #6 article about subs and stand-mounts. My apartment layout unfortunately requires wall-mounting speakers and I'd like to spend only $600-$800 for a pair to go with my Gallo TR2 sub. Do you have an opinion about wall-mounting? So bad that I shouldn't waste my time? Can you recommend any suitable products? Paradigm Millennia CT, Focal Bird (with my sub)? A dealer recommended outdoor speakers (B&W AM-1, Def Tech AW6500, Polk Atrium7) but I have no idea if the quality is different from indoor/satellites. I've tried the Gallo Micros (regular, not TI or SE) and was so disappointed I was afraid to spend more for the "better" models. I tried Def Tech ProMonitor 8000 and was disappointed again. I would be very grateful for your thoughts. Thank you.
Brian

Very fair and excellent question, except that it falls squarely outside my realm of experience. Most speakers stop to image well and particularly in the depth domain flatten out when mounted to a wall. Specialized models are said to overcome some of it but that's about the extent of my exposure. More than a decade ago I worked in a hifi shop where we had a demo wall of in-wall models. None of them at the time sounded very good. They were more for sound distribution, i.e. what you'd want in a retail store or restaurant for background music. I think Gallo's Strada2 would fare a lot better as it's been designed for also that purpose - but it's $2'000/pr so out of your range. Patio-type speakers from the 'majors' would, I believe, make for good options. Obviously you'd be looking for solid integrated wall mounts that allow you to angle and tilt the speaker the way you'll need it to. Sorry I couldn't be helpful.
Srajan
Hi Srajan,
A fascinating article on acoustic treatments & aesthetics by Joël Chevassus, largely because of the man holding a pistol in photo number 4 on page 1. I'd love to know how the pistol got in the picture -:)
Martin Osborne

The pistol was the signal generator. It's not an ordinary pistol with ordinary bullets but a special acoustic device that creates a very loud very short blast whose response over time is measured in the room.
Srajan
Hi John,
I was using my Macbook Pro tricked out with all kinds of  things as well. No amount of additions (and lets be honest, in the past I've sold quite a few so I have many to play with) came close to the improvements I found employing a server. In my case, the Wyred4Sound MS-2...which seems a very similar design to the Antipodes. Regardless of the brand, I've found a well comprised server does up the ante (the Lumin has an aggregate effect as I imagine does the ReQuest Beast). I wonder if that's the case with all of them or if there is a synergy issue to consider. I know Srajan's tricked our iMac has been hard for him to best in the server world.

Personally I like ethernet to I2S in most instances - Musica Pristina Rivulet or their Transducer Dac with built-in Ethernet streaming, essentially a Rivulet built into the Dac),  Sonare Rendu, W4S MS-2, SOtM and a number of more expensive offerings). Though I believe if you want DSD or upsampling, you need to switch to USB for those modules to make it happen. Anyway, glad you've seen the same results.
All the best,
Fred
Hi
Based on your recommendation iI bought the Akiko Audio Tuning AC stick. It works as you have described in your review. Thank you. I use the ASI Liveline Reference loom of cables. Do you think the Universal sticks will work with the Liveline cables?
Regards,
Prem

Hi Prem,
good to read that the Akiko stick also works in your neck of the woods! Personally we have positive results with our ASI Liveline LS cables and a pair of Universal sticks. It takes some trail and error—but isn’t that the fun core of the hobby?—to get the best results. In our case we tied (velcro’ed) the loudspeaker cable together with the incoming interconnect with the Universal’s supplied wrap close to the power amp.
/M&H
Srajan:
Hullo. I'm looking forward to the 6moons review of the new Sony music server. It seems to have the "one-stop-shopping" features you were looking for. The question is the sonics. I wouldn't want to know so much if it punches beyond its weight or is a good value for its price point but how it sounds stacked up against the Lumin or Aurender. TAS reviewed it this month but it was like reading tea leaves. Is it on par with the best CD players or it is merely mid-fi, comparable to 2K DACs?
Regards,
Stephen Greer

I'm not certain why you'd be looking for this review when we have nothing on it planned or announced. I personally never heard the Lumin. Joël wrote that one up. And the Aurender has gone back to Korea after its review. The type of specific comparisons some readers like to see are often impossible to arrange, sorry. The next server type review that is coming on our site will be John Darko's report on the Antipodes piece from NZ.
Srajan
Srajan,
Good morning. Fantastic article on digital volume control on DigitalAudioReview.net. Just wanted to say thank you! I have been educating myself on volume controls and this article was exactly what I was seeking.
Gabriel Montemurro
Senior system design engineer
gramophone.com
Dear Srajan
Today I read your interesting review on the Aura Vivid and Vita. It was good to read an in-depth story. Thanks! Especially I liked how you described that the Auras are very able to play excellent at low volume. Besides that I am sold on the design. I am writing from Berlin and it is not so easy to buy Aura and Vita here. And it's impossible to listen to them anywhere. So this is my not so easy question. I want to pair the Auras with my Elipson Planet L loudspeakers. And I want to ask what you think about this. What the Elipson needs is a strong companion because they are great in the middle and highs but miss some bass although they are quite capable when the amp supports it. I discovered this with an old Yamaha AX 570 amp. And maybe I will go for an Elipson subwoofer. It would be great to hear your thoughts and hints! Thanks a lot for your support and greetings from Berlin.
Benjamin

The speaker's 90dB sensitivity will be fine with the Aura's power rating. Of course a 6.5" coaxial 2-way loaded into a compact spherical enclosure with a reflex port will have limits in bass power and extension. A subwoofer addition now or later would be my suggestion and then the Vita amp would be all you need. You might also consider the Aura Note V2 I just reviewed. It has 250 watts into 4 ohms per channel and was voiced deliberately strong in the bass. It essentially combines the Vivid and Vita in one chassis and adds a CD player to it. This would maximize the Elipson without a sub. Ultimately however the Vita with Elipson + sub would be the best combination I think. I'm very much in favour of a simple 2-way speaker to which is added a sub around 50Hz.
Srajan
Dear Srajan,
I was just doing a little reading via a link sent by one of my clients. It was a review on What HiFi. It was unsettling to see a 2.5 paragraph review with little if any technical explanation and to the right of the title line of the review a buy it now button. It seems What HiFi has become an on-line retailer/review mag. I'm going to go put on some tea and come back to make sure I'm not dehydrated or half asleep.
Fred

Let's hope you were daydreaming and imagining things and that the post tea reality turned right side up again. If not... well, then things would seem to be slipping indeed.
Srajan
Hi Srajan,
very interesting speaker, that Chinese Linkwitz Pluto. I'm awaiting part 2 of the review. I want to read your listening experiences. But I don't intend to rush you, just a positive yell.
All the best,
Lucas Kunneman

The amp/xover arrived last week but the speakers got split up and ended up in customs for four days since the clearance paperwork had been stuck to the amp which left the other two boxes in limbo. Supposedly British parcel post successfully intervened with Swiss customs now and the speakers should show up today or tomorrow. Then that show will continue.
PS: One of the speakers did get delivered now but not its mate. It looks as though that one never left the UK in the first place. I'm not sure whether it'll resurface or whether a burnt-in replacement will need to be ordered and dispatched. Either way I'm delayed on this assignment until I get a complete loaner set.
Srajan
Dear Srajan,
I have been meaning to write for the last six minutes. Perish the thought that a $150 USB DAC should ever sully these hallowed pages, let alone become the subject of a proper review regardless of its merits! While you may feel firmly anchored by your Nagra pre, it is a dangerous path you tread amongst these 'eclectic' products, far too easy to slip into the abyss of budget and value! As for the splitting of reviews; well, we all remember the last chappie who tried that and we all know what happened to him! While we're on the subject, my batman informs me that there have been three mentions of your cat over the last calendar year in these columns. Now, for a purportedly serious publication these flights of verbose whimsy simply won't do! I'd like to sign off as "Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells" but Tunbridge Wells is in fact very pleasant so, on behalf of the great majority of your readers who love 6moons just as it is, thank you once again for all your efforts in making this site so special, best regards to Blondie,
Charlie Chisnell

P.S. I am eagerly anticipating the arrival of my Clones Audio trio of 55pm and AP1!

Blondie says meow right back and I think the Clones might have you at meow on your end -:)
Srajan
Srajan:
I have been meaning to send an e-mail to you for about six months then I saw the mail from Randy Bart, which touches on the same subject that has been on my mind for months. 6moons is the first audio website I look at each day as I like the reviews of 'eclectic' equipment and the daily newsroom. I will continue to be a reader regardless of my concerns. Harry Pearson at The Absolute Sound used spread reviews of some equipment over several issues, which I found extremely annoying. I notice that your are now doing the same. It may be to entice readers to return to the site or it may be because some components need months to settle. If the break-in time is protracted, then review in one article once the component is ready. The reader’s excitement can be dissipated if they have to wait for an undisclosed date for the conclusion of a review. I do not have ADD but I think protracted reviews should be kept to a minimum.

You have mentioned that some critics feel the website is verbose, flowery etc. The problem is that in many reviews the actual description of the component does not start until the third or fourth paragraph. I would suggest a description of the equipment at the beginning then followed by subjective, flowery analogies if one has to go there. I am not looking for a bullet-point review but there is a middle ground.

As regards English language translations, sometimes it feels as if the writer is subconsciously saying “ Look at my great command of the English language! Read how many three-syllable words I can use!” I speak several languages badly so I admire your reviewers great efforts for writing in English but I feel it’s time for you to step in and set some policies. Otherwise you will end up with ten page reviews on a $150 USB DAC, for example.
Many thanks,
Victor Savage

I've not followed HP on TAS since I left the US about 8 years ago. It wasn't on the news stands in Cyprus nor is it where I live now. I don't know what or how they've been doing previews. In our case it's primarily me who does them because I process a lot of gear. This gives me opportunity to write up the intro (company background, basic functionality, design goals, tech) before the stuff has arrived. And yes I could hold it back and only publish until the review is finalized. I simply prefer turning things on when they're written. This keeps content moving and fresh rather than updated just once a month as is the case in print. In many cases previews particularly if they're the first English coverage become like extended news items. You get informed beyond what might be available from a generic news release especially if, as we endeavour, such previews contain information that's not published on the maker's own website. I recently did that for Wow Audio Lab, Enigma's Mythology and the Metrum Acoustics Aurix.

Some writers and publications write very 'linear' reviews. Others go about it more circuitous or multi-layered. Each has its place and audience. We're more nonlinear. I called our site very deliberately a website for music lovers and audiophiles who love to read when I launched it 12 years ago. If a 3-4 paragraph intro to set the scene is too long for you then yes... I'm afraid our style might not suit you. Our writers are given the freedom to express themselves as they see fit so our reviews don't become entirely predictable paint-by-numbers affairs (and let's face it, with audio reviews there are no real surprises about what's to come). And it's of course true that we've attracted a certain type of writer as a result of our overall style. I believe the same is true for our audience too. I see how publications newer than ours borrow from us as well as others to find their own way and 'feel'. And it's also true that balance is a good thing to avoid extremes or excess. So your feedback is very welcome. As you suggested, we'll never publish bullet-type reviews. Those just bore me to death -:)
Srajan

I think we have a misunderstanding. E-mails do not always portray what's in the soul. If I did not think you had a great website I would not have bothered writing in the first place. I would just delete from my daily reading. I comment about things I am passionate about. It was not the previews I was commenting upon but the full reviews. I like to know what is coming up in the future.
Victor

So you're referring to the 'coming next from' gallery then? Yes, some announcements get hung up when manufacturers don't ship as promised. We don't like it either but it does happen -:) 
Srajan

No - I am talking about current reviews or as I called them, full reviews. I think the Wow Audio Labs may be an example where when one is expecting a summary but it finishes with 'more to come'. To paraphrase my first e-mail, I understand that it takes a while for a component to reach it best operating level so wait until everything is set and then publish. Or 6moons could have an official page called 'Follow Up'. Or label a review with 'Part One' so the reader knows going in that it's a split review. Anyway, I risk being pedantic here as overall I like 6moons.
Cheers!
Victor

The Wow Audio Lab review consists of two components. I got the preamp first because the amp didn't become available until last week. And that's explained at the bottom of the first page. So the preamp review is complete, the power amp half comes next and then a report on how the two of them go together. It seems you're simply objecting that the review was published before the second component arrived?
Srajan

Okay, that may have been a bad example because I understood the review process in that case. However, to clarify, it's reading a given review that one thinks is going to be complete that day only to find at the end it's just part one of a more extensive discourse.
Victor
Not ever wanting to get on the audio component carousel, I have been reading your website reviews for some time waiting for that perfect integrated or pre/mono combination that will just let me push play and enjoy the music.  Over the last 11 months you have reviewed 2 products, the Clones AP1 and 55 and the Wyred4Sound mTrio that have me ready to spend my hard-earned money. Forgetting the difference in price and the increased function of the W4S's preamp (I already have a Schitt Bifrost and a dedicated headphone amp), how is one to choose between two obviously excellent high-value products? I have three sets of speakers:  Usher s520, Mark & Daniel Ruby (thanks to you and Mr. Kan) and a pair of Tekton Lore which some say are similar to Zu Omen.  I love all three and would like to be able to use whatever amplification I choose with each one.  Any thoughts or comments would obviously be appreciated.  Thanks in advance.
M. Spatz

The output impedance of all these amps is low so would drive the M+D fine. Wyred has remote, Clones does not which could make a difference. Purely on sound the Clones trio is probably a bit more lit up and energetic than the Wyred equivalent but I've not heard these side by side. I wish I could be more specific for you but it'd be pure guess work. It is fair to say however that given what speakers you own, you'd not go wrong either way. -:)
Srajan
Hello Srajan,
Wanted to share some thoughts with you regarding the sonic performance of the Burson Soloist, Stello HP-MKII as linestages. Based on your rave for the Wow Audio Lab L1 I have setup a review in the future with them as soon as their model for the US market is ready to ship. Finally, I wanted to give you some information on what has turned out to be a real eye opener based on its wonderful performance and very reasonable price of 2K US, the Arte Forma Perla solid-state preamplifier. The Perla uses a opto/led volume control is an active solid-state preamp with remote control. This is all in the context of a survey/review I'm going through for hometheaterreview.com that will finally lead to conclusions about what relatively inexpensive SS linestage can be used in a very good two-channel system and produce great results.

1)  In a very high end system I compared the Burson Soloist with the Esoteric C-03 and frankly if there was any difference in their performance I could not hear it. 
2)  In my own smaller reference system of Lawrence Audio Mandolin speakers, MG cables, Stello S-200 amplifier, Eximus CD-5, I have been comparing the Soloist with the Stello HP-100 MKII. Both offer great musical performances and I find them quite close in their sonics. However the Soloist does have the great feature of variable output gain which I have found does make a big difference hitting the sweet spot with different amps. Both offer great performance for very little money.
3)  About two weeks ago I got in-house for part of this review process the Arte Forma Perla and have been amazed at what this rather inexpensive linestage is offering compared to either the Soloist or Stello. It matches both in areas such as transparency, micro details, overall dynamics and extension on the top and bottom ends. Where it betters either piece is in four key areas. First, its overall tonality is more grainless with more liquidity.  Secondly, the Perla offers a bigger more layered soundstage. Thirdly, the image density and the 3D of individual players is much better. Finally, the timbres of the Perla sound like a great tube-based preamp. My favorite input tube is a NOS 5814 that I use use in my Concert Fidelity DAC and preamp and the the Perla comes quite close to matching this sound. Now, I'm not claiming that the Perla is the greatest or is at the same level of the CF gear but it is amazing how close it comes for such a reasonable cost.

I'm waiting for the Wow Audio Labs L-1 to come in for audition and then come to a  final conclusion regarding which piece offers the best performance. The three above are all very good, however so far the Perla is my favorite for the reasons I stated. Srajan, I don't know if you are familiar with the Arte Forma company which is located in Taiwan. Boy, Asian designers/companies are kicking butt when it comes to performance/cost ratio these days! I believe, if you have not heard the Perla, this piece is something you might want to hear and your readers would like to hear what you might say about it.
Thanks,
Terry London

Thanks, Terry. I wasn't tuned into the Arte Forma company or this model so that's good to know.
Srajan
Hi Marja,
I was hoping you could give me the benefit of your experience with Nanotec. I have been speaking to Takeshi Hayashi with regards to buying a few metres of Nanotec's power strada #306 cable to make some power cords after reading your excellent review. Takeshi tells me that for best performance 1.8m lengths are recommended. Obviously I want to get the best performance but 1.8m power cords are a bit longer than I really need Do you use these in 1.8 meter lengths? Have you used them in shorter lengths and does it make a noticeable difference? I intend to terminate them with Gigawatt Schuko connectors and maybe one cable with Furutech and they will be used in conjunction with a Gigawatt PF2. Also do you earth the foil shield? Any advice you could give me would be very helpful. Thank you for all the excellent 6moons reviews and keep them coming
Best Regards
Bryan Perrin

Hi Bryan,
Takeshi is right. For some reason 1.8 meter power cables sound better than other lengths though the difference is subtle. If you can accommodate the extra length, you won't regret the result. For termination we suggest any shielded connector. Hayashi-san shipped us the #306 terminated with an FI-E50-N1 Schuko and Furutech FI-50 IEC. These are not cheap though. No matter how sophisticated the shielding construction of a cable, a lot of it gets ruined by not using shielded connectors at both ends. An upcoming review of power cables will elaborate a bit more on the subject and propose a solution. When you are in a position to build a #306-based cable from scratch, adding shielded connectors will result in one of the best cables you can imagine.
/M&H
Hello,
I've read your thoughtful reviews of the Devialet D-Premier and generally agree with your views. I own a D-Premier and currently use it with v7.5.3. The question of whether to upgrade to a 240 or not is on my mind. I noticed that you won't upgrade your D-Premiers. My question is then: do you have plans to audition a 240 and give us your findings on the difference? This would be most appreciated and very much in line with how you have described your journey with the D-Premier until now.
Best regards,
Olav Sunde

Hi Olav,
since the introduction of the new Devialet machines we expressed our intention to review them all and were promised review samples ASAP. However as of today we've not received a thing. One secret we want to share improves (at least in our situation with highly sensitive loudspeakers like the Avantgarde Duo Omega and Arcadian Audio Pnoe which run above 100dB efficiency) the old D-Premiers’ sound quality beyond expectation. Simply lower the max wpc output substantially. We set it down to 32 watts and enjoy better transients, even more tranquility and a general sense of more ease. Just give it try. It is easily reversible. We tried this with both V5 and V6 softwares and though we like V5 more than V6, the lowering of the max output voltage works great on both.
/M&H

When I started using my D-Premier around two years ago, I noticed that the factory default config as viewed in configurator was 180 watts. I remember using this setting for some time and liking the sound. I then made the mistake of upgrading firmware and changing the power setting to 240 watt at the same time, which obviously  masked any changes in sound quality from the power setting alone. You are right. The sound is more relaxed with a lower power setting. My speakers have around 87dB sensitivity so I cannot use the lowest setting but I still hear a marked difference. I also believe I hear quite a bit more detail. I do look forward to your view on D-Premier vs 240.
Thanks for the valuable tip!
Best regards
Olav Sunde

Whether M&H can review the 240 depends solely on availability of a review loaner. As they already mentioned, it's been a year since they first expressed interest and we aren't appraised of Devialet's plans in this regard.
Srajan
Hi Srajan,
In the latter part of 2013 I contacted you for information on the Total Dac you and your friend had evaluated. The reason was to curtail the continual upgrade path I had been pursuing. I had briefly heard a four-box dCS setup at the recent Melbourne audio show. And it was easy to hear that the heart of the very expensive system was the DAC. $90'000 I think for it. So my thoughts were how good were the DACs in the $10 to 20,000 range compared with the ones I had already checked like the NAD51, Auralic, Hex etc. I evaluated the dCS Debussy which was quite a sonic improvement on the above but the company's new distributor had increased the price by $3'500 over the old one.

I then looked at MSB as they are distributed locally by SGR Audio whose amp and equipment stands 6moons have tested. The owner and electronic engineer Stuart Ralston was very helpful and able to give me a home demo of three models - the Analog, Platinum and Signature DACs. On evaluation I found huge sonic improvements in all areas. This was of course relevant to each one's cost and a good step-up in each case. The model I picked was the Platinum which has the Femto clock. I have spent a lot of years upgrading my digital front end with small improvements. This is an upgrade I have never before experienced. The improvement is huge. The separation of voices, instruments and the soundstaging are beautiful and with wonderful musicality. My conclusion is that anyone looking to upgrade amps, speakers etc. should seriously look at the digital front end first. That's where it all starts.
Regards,
Brian Livingston
7moons hotel in Valencia. Just not sure about the name when it only has 6 rooms -:)
I am a loyal reader of 6moons reviews and especially have enjoyed your comments on the various Anthony Gallo speakers. Yesterday I received the Gallo organisation's newsletter. It reports that a new floorstander is being readied! The 3.5 series is no longer available. Please let Mr. Gallo know that your readers really want more news and maybe even a peak at the new 4.0 speaker.
Thank you.
Richard Whitten

Anthony had told me last year what he was working on next but at the time the renewal of the small sphere speakers (A'Diva etc) had to take precedence as something he needed to do first for their dealers whilst they cleared out the remaining 3.5 inventories. That the latter's replacement is imminent now I didn't know. Anthony has been busy then. Very exciting news, thx.
Srajan
Hi Srajan,
I've been reading 6moons for over 3 years. I really enjoy your articles. In the thumbnail worldmusic reviews I saw the CD Hadouk Trio Live a Fip. I really like this. Incredible music. I looked everywhere to find it on disc. Unfortunately I can't. Do you have any idea how I can purchase it?
Kind Regards,
Patrick Caspers

Not really. You'll have to scour the usual suspects. I buy nearly all my music as downloads. But you've obviously listened to Live at Fip. Can't you burn your own CD off that file? Or is the problem that it's compressed? I'd check on Qobuz, Amazon, CDBaby and the other online music resellers then as well as the artists' own website/s.
Srajan
Srajan,
SixMoons is really the reference for someone who wants to read thoughts about music reproduction in an articulate language. Kudos for that. I’m back to you after reading about Kaivalya (Trafomatic). I mostly listen to orchestral and contemporary: Carter, Boulez, Berg, Berio und so weiter. My current system of Cochet PS-1 + ALS-1 + modded Klipschorn handles that very well. But orchestral (Mahler, Beethoven and so forth) still feels constrained. Will the EL84 push/pulls by Trafomatic (Premise or Kaivalya) give me more philharmonic magnitude? PS: Listening room is 10x6m.
Audible regards,
Johan-Frédérik Hel Guedj

With your Klischorns + Kaivalyas I don't think you'd be shy on symphonica. You might also ask Marja who with her husband Henk listens to Kaivalyas on their high-efficiency Pnoe horns.
Srajan

Hi Johan,
while we haven't heard a combination of Klipschorn and Kaivalya, we think there's plenty of unhindered power to get you the magnitude you're after. Our Pnoe horns are only 100dB effective and already able to portray a large orchestra in all its glory. However, even the best power amplifier can sound constrained when the accompanying preamp does not match well. Take that into consideration.
/M&H
Hello Srajan,
I just read your syndication feature and Kevin's response to it here. Looking at the work you've already done and their decision to branch out, I can appreciate that you'd rather opt out now. There is such a thing as loyalty after all. I've also compared their original reviews to your versions because you suggested that Kevin just keep reading them there. I must say that your grammatical edits make for much better reading. This is something that's starting to bug me a lot about some of the many new sites that crop up all over. Often their English is very marginal. It's so full of errors that it should be terribly embarrassing to them; except of course that they don't even notice. Kudos to you for treating the English language with more respect. One site even insists on adorning their reviews with images of scantily clad ladies. What has that got to do with hifi? Am I just imagining it or are things really in decline?
Randy Bart

I've noticed the same. It bothers me too. Hifi is a hobby. It should be about fun, passion and the sharing of useful information between enthusiasts. But I also believe that a professional presentation and proper language should be part of it. As a non-native English speaker I appreciate the challenges involved when enthusiasts in other countries enter this scene in English to reach a larger audience. Hiring a professional proof reader and editor can be prohibitive when you're moonlighting next to a paying day job and derive no income from your hifi activities. It's not easy then to compete with larger-staffed established publications on these counts. Whether one even tries or just fumbles away seems to depend on ambition and priorities. A lot of mistakes would actually be caught by a basic spell checker. If one bothered.

It all depends on what your audience looks for and tolerates. Those who dislike us say we're too verbose, flowery, weird and complicated. If the longevity and/or growth of hifi sites is any indication, there's enough of an audience for us all. Today's hifi reader has more choices than ever. There's more sheer stuff to read on a daily basis. That the spread of quality and focus would be far wider than before too seems to go with this explosion in quantity. It's like any other gold mine. You gotta sift through a lot to get at the good stuff - whatever 'good stuff' means to you -:)
Srajan
Nice feature on your syndications. I enjoyed the Polish articles and was sad to hear you won't be doing any more. Any reason for that other than oversaturation in the online media?
Kevin Wozny

Oversaturation is a good word and was the primary reason. My intent was to help them grow their readership whilst benefiting from additional content. Our help bit has been accomplished. Now it's time for us to perhaps do the same for a publication that's still newer to actually benefit. But you can continue to read their reviews in HighFidelity's existing English section and at least some of them in the three online magazines they already work with.
Srajan
Wow! The hype was no hype at all. It was all true. Of course for you it probably was less of a ''wow!'' experience because you were already using a hi-end USB cable connection. But I came from a standard USB cable to the Light Harmonic LightSpeed. For me then there are many things I notice right off but the most notable of all these is presence. Again I say "Wow!" I have it now plugged into my Auralic Vega. It is hard to believe that a USB cable could bring about such significant improvements in sound quality. With the Vega/Crayon/Gallo 3.5 combination and the Spatial corrections, my system was already sounding amazingly good. While I was expecting improvements based on your, Paul Candy's and John Darko's assessments, I had no idea they would be so profound. Once again I have 6moons to thank for it. In breaking in a USB cable, does music actually have to be coming from the speakers? Or is it sufficient that a signal be sent to the DAC? And if doesn't actually need to be playing music, does the DAC have to be set to the USB input or can I use the DAC with other sources while the cable is breaking in? 
Peter Borelli

For proper break-in you want signal flow. But only a speaker has to make actual noise to do so. An amp could be terminated with load resistors to break in quietly. Anything upstream just wants to be connected to a proper load. I have my Vega on the desktop. Even when I listen to S/PDIF, the USB input shows up 'live' in Spotify+. Whether that means there's actual signal in the USB cable though I don't know. It's a really good question AURALiC should be able to answer.
Srajan
Hello Srajan:
Kudos for your occasional equipment giveaways. I've never seen another hifi publication do this. At best they'd sell off such orphaned gear for an easy profit. But why, on this last one, did you specify personal pickup? That seems most inconvenient for the recipients and basically leaves all your stuff in Switzerland.
Thomas Radford

People with money and infrastructure might have their secretary use the company account to issue a shipper call-tag for pickup. That's convenient for them but usually not an avenue which someone with less money and no existing shipper account can pursue. And the whole purpose of these giveaways is to let some folks get into some gear which would otherwise be a real stretch or simply out of reach. Such folks still appreciate that a little effort and resourcefulness on their end is a worthwhile expenditure. I've already had folks here who drove in all the way from Brussels or took a train from Zürich. A German visitor from Heidelberg will pick up tomorrow also for two other friends in the UK whom he alerted to the list via Linn's forum. Someone in Poland organized pickup via a friend in Lausanne today and her stuff will end up in Warsaw. Someone else is having a friend come by who is a hospital nurse in Aigle and will forward the gear out of the country. That's the kind of person I meant to find, not posh types who can afford to buy any of this thrice over without thinking even once but still want freebies. Plus I simply no longer had original shipping cartons for any of this. Doing it in this fashion seemed a good way to cover all the angles. And it certainly worked well outside Switzerland. I don't know how other publications deal with 'orphaned gear' where the makers didn't want to pay for return shipping or re-importation taxes for review loaners. I simply feel that if I didn't outright buy it, this is the only proper way to pass it along. And my personal acquaintances are by now already maxed out on all things hifi -:)
Srajan
Hi Marja,
I very much enjoy your contributions to 6moons; an independent voice, hooray! I hope you don't mind me asking - why is it you're not going to 'upgrade' your D-Premiers to the 240/500 status? Have you compared them sonically? I also have Devialet monos and love them but was thinking of upgrading them to the 500s ... but only if sonically it's an improvement! BTW, not sure if you guys have experimented but mains cords make a huge difference on the Devialets. My favourite so far are the Acrolink 9300s.
Many thanks
Damien Anciano (South Africa)

Hi Damien,
you are right, for now we are not planning to upgrade. So far we did not have the opportunity to compare our current D-Premier to an upgraded version even though we were promised some review samples of the new versions last May. The 'old' D-Premiers we have and use satisfy our current needs. Forking out two times €3'500 for an upgrade is not too tempting either. If we ever were to consider changes in our Devialet stock, we might— after serious testing—go for a (1) complete new model. For some reason both our D-Premier suffer from severe staining. The complete surface of the amp tends to accumulate a yellowish tarnish. It takes quite some effort to rub it off and the effect only lasts for a few weeks. We are not living in a chemical contaminated area, on the contrary we live almost in the woods. It is no surprise to us that the new Devialet models come in black chrome.

You are quite right on the difference a mains cord (and correct phase alignment) makes on a D-Premier. We favor a Nanotec PS #306 with Furutech plugs. These large plugs prevent the D-Premier's lid to close but are of the rare breed of fully shielded plugs. More on the subject of sound quality, we still prefer the V5.7.3 software to the current V6. The latter misses in our opinion the clarity and neutrality we love so much in the older version. We did some A/B comparisons between our two D-Premier and V5 won. Another thing we noticed is proper support for the D-Premier. Some decent footers—we like the Franc Audio Classic Ceramic—make another very noticeable improvement at reasonable costs.
/M&H

Thanks for your quick reply! Yes, I also note that the support under the Devialet makes a real difference. I'm not sure how it'd sound on the wall! I tried Stillpoints (up to the Ultra SS ... horrible! Too 'dissected' and forward), Black Ravioli (soft), Boston Acoustics (okay), Synergistic Research (better definition but still too analytical) and eventually found it at its best (so far!) straight onto the carbon fibre shelf of my Grand Prix Audio stand. Let me know if and when you compare the D-premier with the 240/500 please! My software is still v5.7.1. Is it worth upgrading to 5.7.3?
Thanks!
Damien

PS. Srajan, I love your reviews - the only reviews that a/ actually describe the sound of a component (I have looong noticed the tonal richness issue - more (truly) transparent gear actually increases tonal colour) and b/ provide comparisons to similar gear. Only then can one judge whether or not to investigate upgrading!

PPS. Not sure if you've followed the IPC Acoustic Energiser stuff on Stereotimes. I tried some, and they are not universally applicable. They certainly changed the sound but in my book towards the analytical/staccato and away from richness/flow.
Hi Srajan,
Am a relative newcomer. However am passionate about music and well-designed equipment. I don't own anything audiophile grade. It's my wish to have one simple beautiful minimalist system this year that doesn't cost an arm and a leg. I really enjoyed reading your review about the Boenicke W5. My query is that along with the bass module the system is advertised in one of the sites at over $7'000. The actual Boenicke website is not iPhone friendly so I can't browse it yet. If my requirement was for
1. Middle sized room.
2. Neutral/ Honest sound.
3. Tight Bass as opposed to feel good bloomy or fluffy.
4. Exceptional vocals.
5. Good dynamics.

Would you still recommend this speaker set at this price? Or would you be able to recommend something else at less than 5k? Any guidance with respect to other components is also most welcome.
Regards,
Monish Anand

I still recommend the W5 but remember that even a $595 Gallo TR-1D subwoofer will do the job of filling in gently from 20-45Hz. That's all you need. For electronics the $1'445 delivered Clones Audio trio I just reviewed (AP1 with dual outputs, 55pm monos) is a splendid combination. I'd start with the Clones + W5 combo and decide whether you even need/want lower bass. You very well might not and then $3'500 + $1'445 would come in right on budget.
Srajan
You take a lot of care of your site and especially the visual aspect. In fact, your site has the best art work and photo inlay of any audio one. I know your wife paints and rather well by what I can occasionally see of your home. What would you/she think about having a few pages showing her work? I'm sure there are others of us in the art world or just visually attuned that would appreciate seeing her work. Just a thought and I would of course understand if either of you considered this inappropriate (although I can't imagine why).
Strudwick Shepperd

We've talked about putting together a little online 'gallery' for her so she can share her latest paintings with friends. This requires taking good photos which requires excellent lighting and being able to shoot from far enough away to avoid distortion. Our new digs should help in that regard. There'll be natural light galore. Perhaps once we're settled in later in the spring it'll indeed be time to follow up on that. Thanks for the prompt -.)
Srajan
Hello Srajan,
Hope you are doing very well in this new year. We have a friend in common. Ted Brady and I are very close friends so I'll say hello for you. The reason for this email is regarding your opinion on the similarities and differences between the Burson Soloist, Stello HP-100MKII and Wow Audio L1 only being used as linestages. I have in house already the Soloist and find it quite good. However I just purchased a Stello S-200 amplifier and was curious if the Stello HP-100MKII might offer more synergy with this amp. I just got through reading your last preview on the Wow Audio LI, very interesting indeed. So were do you think the L1 fits into this mix? I'm only going to be using any of these pieces as linestages, not as headphone amps. So that's were my interest lies. Thank you in advance for any information you can provide me with.
Terry London

The L1 belongs into the Burson/April Music vein but is the next step up from the models you mention. I added a page to the Wow Audio preview today which should paint that picture a bit better. More will be coming in due time.
Srajan
Your Questyle piece was fascinating. I couldn't care less about the gear since I loathe 'phones but your observations on fit, finish and production facilities are what separates audio journalism from product placement. Now for the big but. What if the staggering price differentials are counterbalanced by non-existent commercial credibility like availability, service, longevity etc? Doesn't that make the quest for an alternate price value ratio... erm, quixotic?
Best as ever,
Michele from Rome

The unholy trinity of availability, service and longevity. Yes, there audio journalism craps out particularly at the front of a new brand's rollout. What will happen to it over time is anyone's guess. And longevity reports are out of our purview as well unless one holds on to loaners for a few years and uses them daily. That's where interactive forums with actual owner comments come in.
Srajan
Dear respected Srajan:
It's been a pleasure to read your reviews over the years.  I am very fond of the way you do a review, taking your time, covering every perspective and detail but also at the same time making it a enjoyable read. I own a small desktop setup and now have been looking for my first proper hifi setup. I live in India and the speaker pricing and availability here is a big discouragement.  After a few auditions in my price range, the speaker I narrowed it down to was the Amphion Helium 520 floorstander. Now I have an offer to get the Blumenhofer Genuin FS5 big standmount for less than 50% of retail due to an ongoing offer. So it's a really good offer.

The problem is I cannot audition it as it is in a far-off city and I can't find anyone who has heard both Amphion and Blumenhofer for an opinion. So I am turning to you since you have heard both though maybe a long time back. I listen to mostly new and old movie songs (Bollywood), a lot of vocal music and some Pop and House music. Mostly commercial stuff, none of the audiophile/audio-enthusiast music. I am looking for natural, fast, dynamic and musical sound. Something that is not bright/forward at all. My source will be PC and a DAC and my room is about 30m2 with 4m ceiling. Amplification also has to be bought according to the speaker.

It will be very kind of you if you can give me some opinion/pointers that can help me decide. What will work better for my kind of music and also which of these will be a better fit for modest amplification (looking to spend only $1500 or so). Any input that you will give will be helpful.
Thanks and regards
Arhant Durlabhji 

I think you go about your system search the right way by first honing in on the speaker. The problem is, I've never heard the Genuin FS5 or Helium 520. Amphion does a lot of work on the recording side. In fact they have pro-audio versions of their home speakers. It's a direction they're pursuing more strongly now. Recording monitor accuracy is thus big for them. Blumenhofer's designer has a lot of personal sound reinforcement background on the club level. This perhaps could give you a hint what's important to either of them? I'd say that Amphion's focus is more on what's on the recording (they work with recording engineers to know), Blumenhofer's on what it feels like to be in a club. Sorry if I couldn't be more helpful.
Srajan
Hi,
Just read your review of the Questyle CMA800R, nice job and professional as usual. It's hard not to agree with what you wrote regarding technicalities of the sound. Yes, in my eyes this brick acts like a magnifying glass as well, it's representative of precisely that sonic school also to my ears. As I wrote earlier, I've overall found the CMA800R to be 'very generous' overall with the HD800. I heard something there. I'm guessing you weren't that impressed -:)
But it's good to know that we heard very similar things regarding its sound signature, now I'm convinced that my ears still know the drill. Thanks for giving the CMA800R a chance.  
Cheers,
Dawid Grzyb

As I tried to stress, just how much leading-edge focus and magnification one enjoys is so personal. With the HD800 it simply went farther than my own taste found ideal. That's merely 'seasoning to taste' where different sources and even cabling could be exploited. But that's for actual owners to decide. I only try to paint the general picture or board-walk sketch. Back on the HD800, I much prefer the Audeze sound. Nobody need agree with that, it simply shows my biases. That said, with the Crayon CHA-1 I finally heard the HD800 sound far better than I've ever heard 'em before... and on that monster amp I could actually like the Senns better (or as much but for different things -:)
Srajan
Srajan,
As long-time user of phones that need a 'proper' amp to run (Wharfedale Isodynamics from 1970s) your comments on the Take-T 'phones caught my attention. Mine are 120 ohm. But 7K is a bit more serious! The Wharfedales were recommended to run from speaker outlet as, it appears, are the Take-Ts. They certainly should sound good. I use a modded Hafler DH200! Nice HeadFi vid https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_QYt7owKNk if you want a starter. Your ears in for a treat?
Chris in Bristol

Happy listening in '14 (thinking of using the Take-T super-tweeter in conjunction with my Ocellias. Seems like a good complement.)

It'll be an interesting assignment for sure. Crayon's CHA-1 too is being readied to drive the Take-Ts in a special high-voltage version. Having never heard an AMT-style headphones, it'll be virgin ground for me.
Srajan
Srajan:
I was wondering if you have any plans to review the Sony player in the future? Unlike the Aurender it appears to be fully self-contained. No NAS, computer, iPad or non-proprietary software necessary. Perhaps it will be overbuilt like the SCD-1 and offered at a discount with an eye towards digital music sales down the road? At any rate, I'm a big fan of your site. I'm an American living in Saudi Arabia and my rig (and inevitable yearly upgrades) keep me fairly sane here. Or at least fairly busy.  I can spend hours on 6moons reading the reviews.
Regards,
Stephen Greer

Fair question but the Aurender chapter has immunized me against the entire genre again for the foreseeable future. I appreciate that the Sony is different but I'm simply not sold on the idea to put up with a far smaller display which becomes an issue when you have 20'000+ tracks. So if anyone would do it for my site, it'd probably be another writer with less of an 'attitude' against servers. In fact John Darko is due with a review of an Antipodes server within a few weeks which should be a counterpoint to my Aurender review. Happy to hear you enjoy reading us -:)
Srajan
Hi Srajan,
RWA preamp and amp, Oppo BDP-93 w/NuForce NXE upgrade board, Bent Tap-X passive, Goldmund/Job 225 amp, WLM Diva Mark II monitors on Ardán Audio stands, various Omega speakers, Nanotec interconnects and speaker cables, TakeT Japanese super tweeters, Akiko Audio tuning sticks—all have received positive 6moons' mentions and all are currently in my listening systems and contributing to my musical enjoyment. It seems about time to say thank you for all the good recommendations!

Now an idea: Would a tour of the Swiss factory where the Job 225 is made be at all feasible I wonder? That might make pretty fascinating reading given the story of this Cinderella amp and its somewhat mysterious company with offices both in CH and CA, the origins and subsequent refinement of its circuit design, that circuit's OEM adoption and implementation in various products by Goldmund and others, its under-the-radar Amazon appearance in the Job 225, your review resulting in the popularity of the latter, the company's future product plans etc. Would that be worth exploring and would Goldmund and Job cooperate, I wonder?
Best,
Marshall Taylor

Job have announced monos and a preamp this year. That could be a good opportunity for a factory tour if they want me to review those items. Of course it's possible that we're really just dealing with an outsourced contractor in some Geneva business park. Then one has to arrive on just the right day to see Goldmund/Job production rather than someone else's. That wouldn't make for a standard factory tour but of course still be of interest. Let's see how their plans for new Job products roll out in 2014...
Srajan
Srajan:
Whilst waiting for our new W5, I think the world would be a better place if more people listened to Eric Reed's "Reflections" from A Grateful Heart.
Rich Lavoie
Dear Srajan,
I drove all the way up to Basel 2 weeks ago to pick up the W5 from Sven Boenicke. I am very happy. Much more resolution and clarity in the music and voices. Still moving them around to find the best balance because the 3D stage now is limited due to my wall being in such close proximity behind them. In this setup also the lower octaves are sensitive on placement and I need to get lower stands to make everything perfect. I was with Sven from 12:30 – 14:30 and we only used my pre/power combo connected to Sven’s PC + DAC. My amp is an Odyssey Khartago and they are notorious for losing their signature when switched of. After a break it needs a couple of days to sounds its best again. Normally I leave it switched on all the time. So you can imagine that after a whole day in the car, it needed time to recover. Just before we had to leave, we really could enjoy the great 3D sound in Sven’s big space. A good friend who joined me has a Devialet D-Premier and the same Master speakers as I had. He too was impressed. He was referring to the whole soundstage and imaging thing, forgetting that my pre/power combo is less than €2.000. Haha -:)
Best regards,
Oystein

Stage depth and front-wall distance are inextricably interlinked. That's why in-walls can't do much depth. Pleased to hear that on other counts they already clobbered what you had before. Cutting the stand's central column shouldn't be hard for Sven. Of course he'll have to retap one end for the bolts. Sounds like you had a good demo of what the W5 can do on SPL, scale and soundstaging at Sven's with your own pre/power duo. If the W5 don't do the same in your space, you'll know it'll be mostly the room (not much you can do there unless you move) and a bit perhaps also the source -:)
Srajan

Yes I know. I need to move to another house to get the big room for the soundstage. My source is a Linux mini PC (the BeagleBone Black) with a Lindemann USB DAC. Does perform great so I do not think I miss much compare to Sven.
Oystein
Srajan,
As one of a small legion of people eagerly awaiting the next shipment of W5 speakers to the United States, I would like you or your staff's opinion on possible stable mates for these diminutive speakers. In particular, I have narrowed my choices to: Red Wine Signature 57 with the tube option; Crayon CFA 1.2; or Devialet 110. The pricing for all three is very similar when configured with the phono on board. Your time and thoughts are appreciated.
Skye

Seeing how I own the Crayon and think the combo such a bomb that I'll bring it with me to Basel when I pick up my second pair so Sven gets to hear it too ... there's my answer. Wish they were all that easy -:)
Srajan
I am pretty sure there's no way but I sure wish you could get your hands on the new Nelson Pass Vfet  monos. Nelson is naughty because he knows full well there aren't enough Vfets to go into production (unless Sony decides to run a limited edition which they have the means to do but probably not the will.) I suspect these were sourced from NOS stock and that Nelson pulled some strings to get them. He is a wizard and it probably tickled someone chez Sony to have him do a demo pair. In the olden days the amps made by Sony with these parts had become both legendary and notorious. I believe the latter was because they were unstable. Not sure though. There is a site which lists each and every variant ever made and is a treasure of information. Let's see if I can find it: http://www.thevintageknob.org/
Cheers.
Strudwick Shepperd

I'm actually not sure whether it wasn't the inverse - Sony approaching Nelson for a contract design to commemorate the 40th anniversary of their Vfet tech. Either way there could well be sufficient parts inventory left to run a small edition of amps. With the right kind of response from Pass and Sony dealers lucky enough to hear the traveling demo pair, perhaps the response will be more far reaching still. Manufacture of SITs is no joke however. The company which made Nelson's tanked. Still, one can always hope -:)
Srajan
Srajan:
As I wait—somewhat impatiently my wife would add—for a pair of Boenicke W5 to make their way across  the ocean, I continue to read your missives with interest. I especially enjoyed your 'brief editorial' where you posed the question 'does being grizzled render one less relevant'? As a 60+ year solo physician practicing pediatrics and caring for adolescents up to 18, I hope to know when that day comes long before they begin to roll their eyes and my memory fades. Although your comment had its perspective narrowly focused on the attempt to remain pertinent from an editorial standpoint, your question remains applicable in so many fields and in so many lives. Continue to 'do the needful'...
Rich Lavoie

Yes, being grizzled. At this rate I'll be fully grey without a dark hair left in a year or two. But if I don't look in the mirror I wouldn't know so I guess it doesn't matter -:)
Srajan
Hi Srajan,
I wanted to wish you and your family a Happy New Year! Looks like it's going to be an exciting audio year around here already. Funjoe emailed me to let me know my pair of Clones Audio 25pm monos were finished and are on the way this week. Recently my friend with the Job 225 amp asked for a recommendation on a preamp. We tried several including the Modwright 36.5, the Wyred4sound STP and the SOtM sDP1000. They all sounded pretty good. But after considering he decided to keep things simple for his wife.

I remembered I always thought after reading your article on the Crayon 1.2 inter grated that you sounded like you considered it a pretty special amp. I hope I was right in sensing your feelings on this as I recommended it to my friend who just bought one from our friend Fred Crane :)

One last bit of excitement around here was actually at the end of last year. I was able to acquire one of my 'dream' speakers, a pair of Audience Clairaudient 4+4 speakers. I don't know if you've had a chance to hear any of the Audience speakers but I think they're pretty special. Unfortunately they are discontinuing the larger ones for now and concentrating only on the One, 1+1 and 2+2. If you're ever interested in hearing them I would be glad to ask John about a pair to check out. The Ones desktop and the 2+2 in your upstairs could be pretty special :).
Take care,  
Rod

Our Crayon is playing in our upstairs system every night so I think you made a good call for your friend. And yes, I would be interested in listening to the Audience 1+1 speakers.
Srajan
Hello Srajan,
Enjoying 6moons as always. I am lucky enough to have a Burson HA160D bought soon after and due to your Blue Moon review of it a couple of years ago. Hooked up to my Senn 600, the combo remains a very sweet thing indeed. That was a great call of yours! I see that you are a Mac user. I come up short sometimes re: the latest tech so please pardon what might be classified a basic question: after re-reading your review, I am still not quite clear as to whether I can just 'plug and play' the Burson to the USB port of a basic 21" or 27" iMac and enjoy the optimum sound for YouTube music videos online. I go on a YouTube musical journey of discovery almost on a daily basis so that will be the Mac's primary use; not as music server or part of a music playback system although it would be nice for the future if it was ideal for that too. So, can I get by with the basic iMac or are there upgrades to the iMac like better graphics cards or especially sound cards (if even available) for optimum USB output to the Burson? Or does the Burson look after all of that for me?Basically that's it.

Best of the New Year to you and yours and thanks as always for a very enjoyable 6moons site!
David Biron
P.S. I'm using a PC right now and the thing must have a pretty decent sound card because it sounds quite good but wondering if the move to the new Mac will be an upward one, a sideways one or, hard to imagine, a downward one. Thanks again. Re: your wireless internet hook up - I know it bothers you and your wife - do you unhook it at night?

From the end, we don't do wireless at all so there's no nightly 'unhooking' involved. The router's wireless function remains turned off for good. The same goes for the WiFi functions in our computers. Of course we're still flooded by neighboring WiFi networks. For us it's simply about turning off the strongest source of radiation in our own digs that makes the big difference. At the moment I can't use my iPad Mini as the planned iTunes remote at all because of it. Perhaps if we lived in a place that had our current square footage or more on one single floor rather than stacked over two, we could position the router far enough away to deal with it.

Re: iMac and best sound from it... if all you do is listen to 256kbps or lower MP3, I don't think there's much to worry over. If you ever transition to uncompressed music at 16/44.1 or higher, I'd definitely recommend either PureMusic (my favorite) or Audirvana. Both player softwares bypass iTunes as the playback engine but keep using it for library access. The GUI remains iTunes to be ultra convenient. But 'the sound' now buffers all music files in RAM called memory play which can spin down the hard drive altogether. These programs also offer optimization features to defeat background computing threads, can do 64-bit upsampling in various modes, dithered volume control and offer the option to embed EQ, room and speaker correction plug-ins. That's how I use my iMac. On the desktop I run a Windows XP Pro machine for work. Here I listen to Spotify+ for new music discoveries (320kbps) without any software player and for those casual purposes it's good enough for me.
Srajan
Afternoon Srajan,
any plans to review the new Metrum headphone amp?
PS: The Oppo 93 with NuForce board is brilliant! Wow! This into my KingRex HQ-1 with HE-500 and cables courtesy of ALO is the best music I've ever heard.
Happy tunes,
sincerely,
Kevin Pope

Indeed. Cees has nothing left over of the first production run but I'm scheduled for a loaner from the second batch -:)
Srajan
Hi,
do you by any chance have a contact address for James Zhang? I bought one of his Silverstone balanced SE’s secondhand from Belgium and when I had a problem with the input selector recently my dealer said he’d never seen a StereoKnight with such substandard parts. I thought that if I could contact James he may be able to help me source the original parts but no contact info for SK works since they went out of business.
Kind Regards,
Kevin Hedley

I don't. James Zhang disappeared from the hifi radar. But you could try Audio Music or their current UK importer. That's the new brand of the same engineer who worked at the time with James Zhang under the StereoKnight brand. You can find their website URLs in our archives under Audio Music RT1 in the alphabetical listing. Forward to the review's final page and you'll find them at the bottom.
Srajan

Thanks for the tip! Have already established contact with Ian Borthwick and he seems very helpful.
Regards,
Kevin Hedley
Hello Srajan,
Currently my system consists of the Metrum Octave, Bent TAP-X and Job 225 amp. I'm considering running a SOtM sDP-1000  directly into the Job. I have no hi-rez files. All my music is  Redbook. I know in your review of the SOtM, you stated that sonically it's 'on the level' with the Metrum Hex. I'm loving my Octave so  regarding its performance, I believe the SOtM will be an improvement  with 44.1. However, my concern is not with the converter in the SOtM but the quality of its preamp section versus the outstanding TAP-X. Considering the scarcity of the TAP-X, I'm a bit apprehensive about letting it go. The idea of one less component and set of interconnects to meddle with the signal is attractive but I don't want the system to sound too lean running amp direct. I detest overly detailed hifi sound. I prefer a quiet sound, low noise floor with black backgrounds. I like transparency and air around voices and instruments while retaining true timbre I listen to a lot of classical and jazz.Your thoughts?
Luca Kostrencic

You seem to love your system so I'm not sure why you'd want to muck with it. That said, the TAP-X as an autoformer passive in many ways already drives your Job 225 direct just as you would with the SOtM. I'd not expect the SOtM to get any leaner. I'm just not sure that for the trouble (selling the TAP-X, buying the sDP-1000) you'd feel that far ahead. Like you I consider the Bent a fabulous unit. I'd be more inclined to hang on to it and leave things as they are - or move up from Octave to Hex if you've got the cashish and itchy fingers. Metrum's NOS approach has a particular sound. Since you love it as I do, going to oversampling DACs changes things. For folks like us who sync with the Metrum sound, that's not necessarily a good thing. Staying with the house sound but moving up within it could be the better plan. I also own the AURALiC Vega. It's a truly wonderful DAC in its own right. I run it on my desktop and for DSD/DXD-type tests in the big system. But for pleasure listening in the big system I have a preference for the Hex. It's different and the Vega clearly does certain things like tone color 'better'. What the Hex does different/better in turn (and it's a subtle thing but you're already keyed into it with the Octave) is simply more important to me -:)
Srajan

Good advice. I do love the Octave. When I think about it, some of the best systems I've heard had NOS DACs or CD players. When I say best, I mean in terms of a natural organic presentation and an overall enjoyment and connection to the music which in the end is all I really want. One more thing: The Job and my speakers get along very well and I'm lucky to have come across your review of it. Frankly, I'd say the overwhelming majority of owners of the Job 225 have you to thank for their purchase of a product so incredible it throws the gauntlet at the industry's juggernauts... and wins. Thank you for your efforts in exposing the community to products that fly well under the radar of the mainstream audio press and are within the means of the average man's wallet.
Luka Kostrencic

Glad to hear you're enjoying the Job. This year they've announced monos and a matching preamp. If the p/p ratio continues, there'll be more excitement. It's great fun to discover such stuff. But I can't take credit. Most of the time it's really the manufacturers who come to me, not the other way around. I'm fed discoveries. Which works too. I'll thus only take credit for developing an overall site 'atmosphere' where this happens regularly -:)
Srajan
Dear Sirs,
my name is Paolo Verzegnassi and I am an Italian audiophile. With the arrival of digital I have lost my peace. The last attempt in the computer music word has not been encouraging. Well, now I would like to come back to a player or digital transport. As always the prices of the best ones are prohibitive. Would you like to propose those that in your experience have revealed themselves to be effective toward the music and reliable? I thank you and sorry for disturb ng you but I live in a zone far from high-end centres and don’t manage to listen to the wonders you describe in your reviews.
Kind regards
Paolo Verzegnassi

You've sent a lot of people this question! Here's our vision. We hold on to one CD transport 'just in case' and are in the process of getting all our CDs on hard disk as we think pure digital beats CDs 10 to 1. Remember, CDs are analog in nature. That said, our remaining CD transport is a PS Audio PWT and the reason for this choice is that its heart is a computer drive that loads the recovered data from the CD like a computer does into memory.
M&H

I've owned an exotic 4-piece Zanden digital front end, an Accustic Arts transport and a super-expensive fully rebuilt Esoteric UX-1 universal player with their very best sled but not listened to spinning discs in years. To do computer audio properly wants a dedicated fast modern machine preferably with both HHD and SSD and plenty of RAM; and one of the many good software players which buffer to extended memory, spin down the HHD, defeat background processes and optimize playback. Real extremists build their own music computer from the ground up and ComputerAudiophile has information on that. Like M&H I've found 'streaming' via USB superior to optical readout. There's also a growing number of network streamers but as a genre I find them too expensive and functionally compromised. Nearly all of them also rely on a WiFi tablet-type remote to access the music and I prefer not to run WiFi in the house. If you want a Redbook transport, one that uses the Philips PRO2 like the Aqua Hifi unit should give very good reliability and the raw transport part is still being made to be replaceable.
Srajan
We always knew you had a big head. This kind of info is useful though: "For a big noggin like mine (hat size 61 or 7 5/8th), the clamp pressure of the HifiMans also was the more uncomfortable. This could reverse for smaller heads." Mine is 7+1/2! Still happy with my 40-year old planars!
Chris Skelton
Dear Srajan,
I always enjoy reading your reviews. They are always full of detailed information of equipment behaviour in all different kind of equipment combinations so anybody can get a good idea what to expect in their own setup. I am quite happy with my set but my wife hates the speakers on stands visually. The speakers are a local Dutch brand, Master Three probably known by Marja & Henk and I enjoy these monitors because of their good and “bigger than appearance” sound. The week before Christmas I realised my wife really hates them but she knows I really like them so she allowed them to be so prominent in the living room .During this discussion I said to her: would you like something more like this? … and showed her your review of the Boenicke W5. This was way better so after explaining that I probably could be just as happy with the W5 instead of the Master Three we decided to replace the Masters. Because I will probably be like the 90% of listeners for whom the W5 will be all I ever need, I decided to drive up to Basel and pick up my set of W5s. Saturday 4th is the big day so I look forward to this new adventure. Here is my current setup.
Best regards,
Oystein Buraas

Haha. Smart man. Having a happy wife is a good thing. Not that your current speakers are that big. Do let me know what you think once you return with your new treasures. I have to go back up to Basel soon too to return my Ash loaners and B10 owners and get the Cherry W5 for my wife and the Walnut pair for myself -:)
Srajan

Srajan,
Happy New Year and thank you for many fabulous reviews thru the years! I am in the market for a DAC and my head wants to explode from all the reading and technology. In my readings I like the SOtM sDP-1000,  Wyred4Sound DAC 2 DSDse. Both seem overly capable and I assume many more. I know music, system components, room acoustics, cables etc. play a large part of how the outcome will sound. My system is dual-purpose 2-channel and multi-channel for home theater.

NAD M15HD pre/pro
NAD M25 7 channel amp
Esoteric UZ-1
Sony XA5400ES
Sony BDP-S500ES
Windows PC at the moment with J Rivers
Definitive Mythos ST (mains)

These units have caught my eye for their quality, H/T bypass ability, reviews, and connectivity. SOtM sDP-1000 has great reviews, beauty, nice display, connectivity 1 year warranty and is a little above budget. Wyred4Sound DAC2 DSDse has great reviews, industrial look, upgradability, connectivity, 5 year warranty. At top of budget. I try to make my decisions on how it will improve my system, quality, longevity.  I rarely if ever get to audition a piece of equipment since I live out in the country northeast of Dallas Texas, no quality audio stores within 70 miles, so far I think I have done well for my budget and my ears.  I would always love better, but the experiment is part of the fun!
Any input would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you,
John J. Howver

You've parsed things down to two models which fulfill your requirements. That's exactly how reviews should be used. Either unit is of high quality. Unless we buy something, reviewers don't live long enough with loaners to weigh in on reliability. All I can say is that Wyred4Sound has a track record for good customer service per unsolicited reader feedback should things go wrong. My acquaintance with SOtM is newer and for that brand I don't yet have reader data. Obviously the sDP-1000 has analog volume so it could be used as a preamp replacement now or later. The Wyred's digital volume should ideally be used only in the uppermost quadrant of its range.
Srajan
Hi Srajan,
Im very interested in FirstWatt product. Did you check two amplifier at the same time, I mean the J2 and M2? How is the sound different between these two amplifiers? Thank you. All the best in the New Year.
Kamil

P.S. I know 85 to 90% of the audio market is shit product. Please give me a short list of your really  good amplifiers. That saves me time.

I've very comprehensively reviewed the FirstWatt catalogue. You can find those reviews in our archives. Whenever I could compare different FW models I did so. All the information is already there. But you'll have to do the reading and parsing yourself. That saves me time -:)
Srajan
Hi,
I must totally agree with your Bakoon HPA-21 review, great device, the best HD800 match I’ve heard so far. This mail is about something similar. A couple of weeks ago a company called Questyle contacted me and asked if I’d be interested in reviewing their CMA800R headphone amplifier. Woo Audio WA234 MONO aside, CMA800R is another one that can work as a balanced mono amp. It’s a $1499 current output deck and a discrete one. I’ve heard many similarities between CMA800R and HPA-21 sound signature, bass, detail and overall smoothness to be exact. I didn’t have them both at the same time but I remember the magic of HPA-21 and Questyle product does incredible things to HD800 as well. It turns out those headphones really like current output stage. Interested? Questyle really has an excellent sounding technically unique device that goes very well with the HD800, therefore this might be something worth your while. And truth be told, I’ m a journalist, not marketing person. No one asked me to write this message. This is my personal sharing with you of something unexpectedly good I’ve found. Here’s my review. Aye, it’s in Polish, sorry for that. I work for the Polish press.
Best regards,
Dawid Grzyb

Very interesting indeed. If it competes against the Bakoon for half the money, that would be a very exciting find. Thanks for sharing!
Srajan
Hi Srajan,
I wanted to wish you a happy new year and also thank you for the support through the Job 225 'fixing the noise' issue. I have the Job 225 driving LS50s with the Ami DDH1 (also on your recommendation) driving the Job directly. The sound is very transparent and direct. So, both your recommendations have worked out superbly. Given your love of everything Swiss these days, I'd like to send you a live Jazz CD recording of my son's trio playing at the Therme Vals spa in the Alps. I'm hoping you'll enjoy it.
Thanks again,
Ze'ev Mehler
Hi Srajan,
Happy New Year and thank you again for all of your work, influence and help. A friend passed this on to me, to share a few laughs.  It's not the newest of trends but makes for a few smiles when the public puts some creative twists into reviews.  Of course it could just as easily be one of my products on the chopping block but there are some funny ones.
Happy New Year,
Fred Crane

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0055OM9WS/ref=cm_cd_asin_lnk
Hi Srajan,
By way of introduction my name is Eric and I've been a pretty loyal follower of your reviews for a decent amount of time. To cut to the chase, my question is this: right now I have a Singlepower MPX3 headphone amplifier but am thinking about replacing it. What tubed and solid-state components might you recommend? With tubes becoming increasingly scarce and increasingly expensive, I wouldn't mind switching to an SS HPA if it sounds at least as good as what I have. I'd like to stay within $2'000 but could go higher if something really deserved it.

My components are, from top to bottom:
Wadia 861SE CD player
Sennheiser HD800 headphones, rewired by StefanAudioArt
First Sound MkIII preamp
BPT line conditioner
All Kubala Sosna interconnects and power cords (I don't recall which they are but they were the top of their line when I bought them).

I listen only to classical music and favor warmth and spaciousness above all else. I've scoured the web but can't honestly decide whose opinions I trust and whose I don't, so I thought I'd write to you. Many thanks in advance!
Eric

I'm not sure what makes me more trustworthy but the first thing inquiries like yours routinely overlook and yours is guilty of it as well is - why? Why do you want to upgrade? There must be something specifically 'wrong' with your system which you're not happy with. Without me knowing what that is, exactly, I have no means whatsoever to answer your question. To me it looks like such an obvious thing but seeing how often it occurs, it apparently isn't. Upgrading just because might make retailers happy because you're spending money. But it doesn't necessarily accomplish what you want. You can't treat an ailment if you haven't diagnosed what it is first.
Srajan

In fact I love my system but I have been having a problem with the headphone amplifier. A few months ago I started getting a hiss in the left channel. After switching out all the tubes to no avail and bringing the set into a dealer with whom I have a good history, the hiss still comes back. And I've tried disconnecting various other components and know the problem is there. As a result I'm thinking solid state might be the way to go but if you don't think there are any solid-state amplifiers that would equal the warmth of a tubed amplifier, I'm willing to try a different machine.
Thanks!
Eric

I've transitioned to transistor amps for both speakers and headphones a few years back to where I haven't kept tabs on the valved competition since. I've reviewed and owned the Woo Model 5 and reviewed the Eddie Current Balancing Act, both of which sounded excellent and are tube-based. But to expect a transistor amp to sound like tubes is a bit unrealistic. Since you love the sound of your tube unit, it would seem logical to continue in that vein. I'm just the wrong guy to ask since I've gotten out of the tube racket -:)
Srajan
Happy New Year Srajan,
Been a few years since I have written. Quick question: Clones mono 55 a step up on the Clones 25 integrated, Job 225 power amplifier? I have a 90dB typical 3-way speaker (Audes - Estonian brand) that can be biamped, currently have the Cayin KT88 tube integrated amp. I would go with the Clones 25i as the price carries little risk (plus no need for a preamp ) but wonder how the Job and Clones 55 would handle my speakers. Right now I can get free shipping on the Clones, sorry I couldn't wait for the review.
All the best,
Joshua Jacobson

The Clones pre is in production, the monos are slated to bow middle of January. Funjoe now decided to send everything together, not the preamp first. As such I haven't clapped ears on any of it yet. You simply need to know already that going from a Cayin tube amp to a Job or Clones set will rather shift your sound, hence the only reason to even consider it would have to be very specific discontent with what you've currently got. And as seems usual, you haven't at all talked of what that unhappiness might be.
Srajan
Hey Srajan,
since the 24th I've had at home both the Auralic Vega and W4S DAC2-SE. Been doing extensive comparisons with the same music, setup etc. Conclusion so far is that the W4S communicates the mixdown and mastering and the Auralic sells the song and the emotion. Both very good. Being a former producer there are things I like about W4S but it seems a little too bright for long term listening. The Auralic was initially boring, slow and lumpy but it has now blossomed. They both sound different every day. I wish burn-in fluctuation didn't exist. Think the Vega is out in front at the moment and will most likely stay. PS, I take back what I said about the internal DAC card in the Rowland Capri S2, after more listening it's way, way too soft... almost void of attack.
With kind regards,
Ron Wells

Two ESS Sabre DACs, two different sounds. Good reminder that the core sound comes from elsewhere in the implementation. It's why many makers are leery disclosing their silicon of choice since consumers react with preconceived notions which can easily kill sales when a particular chip ends up in the no-fly zone of appreciation.
Srajan
Dear Srajan,
First of all, thanks for your incredible reviews that help us so much to understand and decide what could be better for each of us looking for great gear. I am very interesting in adding a preamp/amp to my new system, last week my Auralic Vega arrived and I am very excited on which will be my next step. From your awarding reviews, I like the mPre & mAmps trio from Wyred4Sound but also the JOB 225 with a very good preamp in the chain could be a nice choice, could you give me a push in the right direction? Is the JOB plus preamp a better partner to a system than the Wyred trio? My speakers are Paradigm Studio 100 and GE Tritons.
Charles

Without a notion of what you presently like and don't like about your system, nobody could give you any meaningful advice. You've not told me one bit about your current sound and what you would like to improve. Hence I couldn't possibly answer. And you can't listen to two pairs of speakers at once unless you do surround sound. Which of the two is your primary speaker?
Srajan

Ok, I like the Tritons better for two channel and I am using a Crown Amp XLS2000 for now, the sound is big and detailed but it needs to be sweeter as it gets cold, harsh and fatiguing and perhaps it needs more depth and ambiance. A note on cables: my XLR interconnects are Canare and the USB cable came with the Vega. Should I improve those cables first? Or perhaps some tubed amplifier or preamp?
Charles

The first thing you'd want to change are your electronics and the Wyred4Sound stack would be my advice. The cables will be a far smaller step.
Srajan
Dear Srajan,
Im presently the owner of a set of Vienna Acoustic The Music, which I have the opportunity to up/down/side-grade to a pair of B10s. My challenge is that I haven't heard the B10s and thus of course don't know what I potentially would be moving towards from basically all angles. I have read your review numerous times and my only concern is really the reproduction at low levels but again I face same issue with my present speakers. I moved from an EAR + Living Voice setup (and miss that sound) to the present speakers + a D-Premier + an Aurender S10 as main source and do really appreciate the sound quality and ease of operation. I have been communicating with Sven Boenicke who recommends the B10 + Devialet based on the setup his French dealer is using, hence Im really inclined on making the switch. However and just to make matters even more complicated, I also have an offer of trading both speakers and amp for a set of IBX-RWs + an Overture at a reasonable price, which would get me back on the track I left for the Devialet. Not sure if the above makes much sens, but any thoughts/comments would be appreciated. Finally it should be mentioned that due to my line of business I move around every 2-4 years and dragging 400kg of speakers and crates around is not impossible but something I would like to avoid.
Best regards and thanks to all of you at 6moons for all your efforts and work....
Peter A. Hansen

Given that you're missing the Living Voice setup, it'd make the most sense to me to return to it -:)
Srajan