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

For published correspondence April 2014 - December 2013, click here - 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.

Good job on the HifiMan HE-560 review. It was the one that put a smile on my face in Munich. I am deeply in love with my LCD2 - but only as driven by the Trafomatic Audio Head 2. See my 2 bits at HeadFi. I do want to try the 560  and buy it if it beats the LCD2 on the Head 2 -- but there is no rep in Greece
Giannis Bouc
PS: The plural of apparatus = apparatus!  

I've not heard the Head 2 to predict whether you might prefer the HifiMan to the Audeze on it, sorry.
Srajan
Srajan,
I have been reading a few of your reviews and recently about headphone amps in particular. I was thinking of upgrading my Octave V80 amp (speakers WLM Diva monitor) and really like the look of the Boenicke W5 or W8. But then I realised that I must listen to 90% of my music on my HD800 headphones via a Graham Slee Diamond Ultra Linear headphone amp. The main reason being, I live in a small house and have a 6-year old daughter asleep at night when I can listen to my music (source computer - Amarra - via Chord Hugo DAC or Vinyl via Dr Feickert Blackbird and Kuzma Stogi Ref 12", SoundSmith The Voice cart, RCM Sensor Prelude).

I am not sure if you need to know any of the above but my question is, would you think I should seriously consider the Crayon CHA-1? If this is as good as I believe your report says, this would be a cheaper option than upgrading my amp and speakers. Also from the build quality, would you expect it to last a long time? I am sure the Octave will. Again if it makes any difference, most of my vinyl is jazz or blues. My digital is a mixture of jazz, blues, classical and opera (which has been growing on me this year, something I never appreciated before). I am not asking and know you cannot make a decision for me but some pointers/advice from the sounds you have experienced would be so helpful as I have not had the opportunity to hear many of these units here in Australia. I was looking also at the Bakoon amp which you gave t a very good writeup but it seems it does not bring the benefits of the HD800 out like the Crayon does. I appreciate you are busy and most probably inundated with emails. If there is any advice you could provide, thank you in advance.
Grant

I can and I shall. Get ye a Crayon, mate! I'm amazed you're not in shock over its sticker. I know I was. It's very expensive. That said, it was hands and shoulders the very best amp I've ever heard on the HD800. Seeing how they are your primary transducer... from my circle of amplifier acquaintances, you'd be reaching for the stars with the CHA-1. In fact I'd be jealous if you did -:)

Looking at your hardware, you've made some brilliant and serious choices. The CHA-1 would fit right in. Relative to reliability I couldn't say. I sent mine back after the review and it worked like a charm whilst I had it. And you're right, the Bakoon wouldn't be my reco for the Sennheiser. If you'd said Audeze or Oppo planar, the Bakoon would be my top reco. But for the HD800, it's the Crayon and by quite the lead. Shy of the things headphones can't do relative to freestanding loudspeakers; or simply do differently... I predict you'll find the sound from the Crayon+Senn combo even better than what you currently get from your speakers. I'd feel the same relative to my own speaker setup. Hope this helped.
Srajan
Hiya Srajan,
cheers to laying it out there in your new policies. It's an obvious issue for all your competitors. From what I've seen, nobody else speaks out this clearly and lets their readers know exactly how they operate. I wish everyone was as forthright about it. Your approach seems perfectly fair. Let's see how it works out.
Thorsten Schmidt

It's really perfectly simply. I've lived and worked out of Europe for nearly 9 years. This is what I hear a lot from manufacturers. "We can't get into our domestic print publications. They want us to take out a 1-year ad campaign to get started. We can't afford that." (Of course American commentators will say that it's completely different in the US. Perhaps so. But separation of church and state over here? Not in your dreams.) Our new minimum buy-in is a small one-month token ad. That costs less than my monthly health insurance payment. It's less than 1/10th of what a single-insertion full-page print ad in a major US glossy used to cost 10 years ago. It's something everyone can afford. Those who'd insinuate that I'd treat reviewing for such a small amount any different than I have all along clearly have never built something from nothing to understand that you'd not jeopardize it for 100 times that amount.
Srajan
Best of luck with the new model. Sure hope it works and you can get to an ad-free publication. If I am not mistaken, reviewers in Japan operate exactly as you aspire. Their reputation is the one thing that keeps the system going. If they play games, nobody ask them for reviews. Hey, don’t get enough fees and they have to look for another job. In a free system, any review is better than none, even one from a known crook. And there are many examples of that. I sure hope manufacturers see the wisdom in supporting your efforts -:)
Frederic Beudot

I really debated whether I ought to rock the boat, Frederic. I could go on as things are but the imbalance of it stuck in my craw. And as you said, in Japan something similar has worked for many years. I'm not sure how 'clean' their system is but no matter how you set it up, there's always a grey zone of potential conflict of interest. Whether people go there or stay clear isn't a function of the system but their own morality. No system controls that. So we'll see. I really would love an entirely ad-free environment that was purely about quality content -:)
Srajan
Dear Srajan
I understand and support your new ad policy.  Makes sense (and cents).  It's also good for your readers and your loyal customers alike. I subscribe to a few publications with a pay wall—Wall Street Journal and Washington Post—but that's about it. I don't believe that Six Moons would benefit from this direction.
Best of luck!
Michael Fanning

I could go on as we have but decided to push for a fairer overall system. We'll see how it works out.
Srajan

Srajan
You are displaying leadership, a quality sorely lacking in the digital space. Some may chaff at the new policy but when one reads your editorial argument, it's very hard to dispute its logic. And quite frankly, from your point of view, it will shut down the myriad requests you get from garage hobbyists to multinational behemoths who want you to review their product or service without scant thought of your economic position. 
All the best,
Michael

My issue actually isn't with the small timers. We've been small timers for years and had lots of help to get to where we are now. I'd have no problem with continuing to do freebies for companies who are just starting out. But obviously I need an all-inclusive policy or we're back to unfairness and imbalance. The wrinkle I've built in is that companies get to decide our level of compensation. I actually wouldn't expect or want a lot from a newcomer who wants his cable reviewed. How much is there to say about it? But when a clearly successful company comes to us with a €25'000 preamp and offers the bare minimum whilst throwing big money at print magazines where they couldn't get a review otherwise ... then we might decide to take a pass.

If we get to transition to the fee-based model, we'll implement a structured menu where each writer gets to set their own fee for different services: short, medium, full length, with or without designer interview, virtual factory tour and such. Then a manufacturer can pick the word count, number of photographs and overall formatting. We just can't get from where we are to that without a transition.
Srajan
Hi Srajan,
Just thought I'd share with you my quick-n-dirty idea after reading your latest article on the broken business model. As a long-time audio hobbyist, I have been an avid fan and member of Audiogon. I think some sort of "classified posting" system as seen in Agon can work along with something like an airlines or a hotel reservation system. An audio company wants a review.  It logs into your "review reservation" site and selects the reviewer and when it wants to have the review published (each reviewer maintains his own calendar and availability). Pricing can vary depending on timing wanted, ad-ons and features that will charge a premium (such as urgent review or an ASAP review akin to an airline seat or a hotel room on short notice, features, bold listing; full-page ad etc). Then there are cheaper options for reviews to be released way out in the future or bulk discounts for committed future reviews and follow-on or second-opinion type review slots. The fees charged here are ad fees but the ads are priced based on a "reservation/posting system" which in turn offers premium or discounted packages based on ancillaries and options. Thus even the same small banner ad will have different pricing structures based on the various options.

No refunds by default as the ads go out as soon as "reservation(s)" made and confirmed (like posting and taking down an ad on Agon). Maybe somewhat simplistic and perhaps something you already considered. Just my 2 cents. Hope something for the better works out. You have a great thing going -- maybe too good and manufacturers are taking advantage of this.
Cheers,
Kenny

Thanks very much for taking the time to present a well thought-out proposal. As you'll see, in the meantime I've put together a revision of our policies with the intent to transition to something along the lines of your idea.
Srajan
Hi Srajan,
Such a fair set of changes to such wonderfully written and compared articles. Your 6moons is the bible of fairness and unbiased reviews for thousands of audio fans worldwide. Nothing else compares. I do hope manufactures take up in numbers as they fairly should. You've deserved a lot better for a long time.
Thanks.
Brian Livingston
Hello Srajan,
I received my Clones 25i today. OH...MY...GOD. The End.
Luka Kostrencic

Go forth and sin no more.
Srajan
Srajan,
What common three-letter word in English changes pronunciation when its first letter is capitalized? job/Job. I've wondered from time to time which way to pronounce the Job in JobSys, Job 225 and Job Pre2, especially since one of the JobSys pages references the eponymous Biblical book of the same name. But that's mere trivia. I'm more interested in what you will think of the new Job Pre2 preamp, its symbiosis with the Job 225 power amp, and how the Pre2 in that combination might compare with other preamps you have in your stable. I currently precede the Job 225 with a Bent Tap X passive, a pairing that seems to me both transparently revealing of detail and wonderfully toneful through my WLM Diva Mark II monitors. Yet, pleased as I am with the coupling, I'm curious as to whether the Job siblings in tandem might prove to be a superior combination. I await your review with interest.
Marshall

During my visit with Goldmund, we always referred to the Job name as work, not the biblical character - so that's how I believe it's pronounced. Hence my opener of the review. And yes, I'm curious too how the Pre2 will mesh with the 225. It should arrive tomorrow so we'll see reasonably soon...
Srajan
Srajan,
if I understand correctly, I could write you about how I lost money to an audio manufacturer, then you would post it on your website for everyone to see? I believe you did that with several companies, most notably Raysonic. Well, it seems that a well-known audio distributor (whom you know too and have reviewed several products for) is trying to cheat me or something. I won't say who yet because I would need to gather proof or frame an otherwise innocent man but today I handed him an ultimatum. I won't go into details either yet but let's just say that I lost about $3'000 total and have been unable to get this money back for over 10 weeks. If he folds and gives me my money back, I'll just let this one go but if not, I will collect the evidence and report to you. Hopefully you could let everyone know the dangers of dealing with this guy although I'm surprised he didn't try to rip you off when you reviewed his products.
Songkyung-Han

If you have proper documentation, that’s something we can do. Like you said, without proper documentation however, it’s just as easily slander and character defamation. And I’m not a global hifi police either. Just because I review product doesn’t mean I’m responsible for your happiness with it or get involved if one of its sales agents acts badly. And I’m not sure how a manufacturer or distributor could rip me off as a reviewer. They send me product, I review it, they issue a call tag to get it back. I usually deal directly with the manufacturers rather than any middlemen. Of course people can default on ad commitments if they have any, i.e. not pay a due bill. That’s possible but happens rarely. When it does, I take their ad down and won’t deal with them again. They can refuse to pick up a product when I’m done with it. In that case I act as a free warehouse until I run out of patience and give it away. That’s about the extent to which I can get abused. As a buyer, I'm in the same boat as anyone else. Of course credit-card payments can be reversed if you have proof that an order wasn't fulfilled or the product damaged and not replaced or repaired. I don't know in what type of time frame one has to act as I never had to resort to it. Let me know how your case unfolds and whether it seems to warrant a formal Raysonic-type warning so other potential customers aren't abused.
Srajan
Srajan:
I've been investing in high-quality audio equipment for more than 30 years. I started with a Rega, Naim, ProAc system in the 1980s while a university student in the UK.  I must admit that I have heard very little real improvement in audio reproduction during most of that time. Even today it's very hard to beat a good turntable with tube preamp/amp combination. Computer audio has attracted my recent attention as something that may both improve audio quality and convenience—where the improvement in convenience does not degrade the audio improvement. I remember meeting Mark Levinson at his Red Rose Audio store in NY years ago. He was proclaiming the benefits of DSD as embodied in SACD discs.

I am impressed with both the sound of the Nagra HD DAC and the PS Audio DirectStream DAC (although both are completely different on all fronts).  My early impression is that DSD computer audio may represent the first real improvement in audio in years on a collective price/convenience/performance basis. That being said, the high resolution/DSD computer audio space is moving very fast, so much so that it is impossible to make an intelligent purchasing decision at this time.  There seems to be at least two problems here: (1) the equipment seems to be evolving very quickly and (2) the chips/microprocessors being employed by the manufacturers do not appear to have been designed for this purpose.

On equipment, do I purchase a USB converter to use in front of a DAC or can I expect the next generation of DACs to eliminate this piece of equipment? For example, some people put the Berkeley Audio Designs Alpha USB converter between their computers and very high end DACs including the Berkeley Alpha DAC. Is there any reason why the next generation of DACs cannot eliminate the need for converters?

Again on equipment, the future seems to be moving to streaming music directly from music subscription services on the cloud to your DAC/playback device. How fast might this happen and what does this mean for making equipment purchases today?  In this connection, although this product is very expensive, I thought the Astell & Kern A240 was outstanding in terms of its sound.

In terms of the chips/microprocessors, some manufacturers are using existing designs and managing the digital problems around them and others are going to other platforms (FPGA b, for example Chord, PS Audio and Meitner).   Can we expect new chips designed expressly for this purpose to emerge soon?

I believe there is a need for a piece on 6moons that gives an overview of these issues as many people are very frustrated at the moment by the complexity and speed of this transition.  I purchased an Eximus DP1 and have now sold it.  I have gone back to my Audio Aero Prima DAC and am using a Bel Canto uLink USB converter with my MAC computer.  Thankfully, my old and great sounding Audio Aero DAC has an ST input so I purchased the uLink to use its ST output.

I am going to wait until all of this confusion regarding high resolution computer audio settles before making another purchase. 
Kind regards,
Michael

For starters, I'm not an oracle and prefer leaving such tasks to those better suited to it -:)
Two: USB bridges (D/D converters accepting USB and outputting it as S/PDIF via coax, BNC or as AES/EBU) can update pre-PCfi DACs to interface with a computer but aren't essential or relevant with modern DACs which sport built-in USB transceivers already. That some of those can still be upgraded sonically with a superior external USB bridge is frustrating and counter-intuitive but not only my experience. But it's not the next generation of DACs you have to wait for. The current DACs all have USB!

Three: In Norway and Sweden where WiMP streaming began, it's already shown itself to be the domestic music industry's biggest money maker. That suggests that full-resolution streaming (16/44.1) could make global inroads faster than expected. Once/if Apple gets behind it, things could get very interesting on that front. Otherwise we'll have to wait for the likes of Qobuz and WiMP to vie for world dominion, with Spotify &. Co. following suit. But you'll still need a quality DAC to play back their feeds. They're all delivered in digital form. You might do it wireless, you might to it via Ethernet. Either way, there'll be adaptors to interface with current USB DACs.

Four: So I really don't see your issues. At all. Your DAC doesn't care whether the digital signal it's asked to decode arrives off a spinning silver disc; a spinning hard disk; a memory buffer; a solid-state drive; a memory card; a cloud; or a music delivery subscription service. Software can convert DSD to PCM if your DAC won't accept native DSD. As you already know, certain DACs convert all PCM to DSD instead. Frankly, there isn't enough here to merit an article. If full or high-resolution streaming is the next big thing, it won't change digital encoding. It only changes the delivery mechanism. Again, your DAC doesn't care. Then why should we worry about how soon this 'wholesale transition' to streaming happens?

Five: There isn't enough money to be made in high-performance audio to attract chip makers to reinvent the wheel. Ultra performance opamps for example come out of IT, medical or military fields and are simply being repurposed for audio use. But since FPGA can become complete custom chips, clever designers already have a workaround for that.

Zero: Pundits have predicted the death of vinyl and it's still here. CDs still sell though not as well. As far as the pundits go, CDs must be in the zombie phase by now since they all died five years ago. The type of transition to streaming we're talking about relies on IT infrastructure, bandwidth, licensing rights, new schemes to get money to artists and record labels and so forth. Those things differ from country to country. I'd thus expect this transition to be gradual. But that part is for the real oracles. Common sense instead focuses on the basics, in this case a quality DAC whose sound you like and which offers the type of connectivity that can interface, directly or via adaptor or add-on, with streaming services and all the other delivery mediums I already mentioned..
Srajan
Srajan,
in your review you wrote that the HE-560 is an HD800-like sounding planarmagnetic headphone. If I understood correctly, you are saying that the HE-560 doesn't sound like a typical ortho (which tend to sound warm/lush/mid-focused) but has relatively more emphasis on the top end and therefore sounds airier and more open like an HD800. Then tell me, how do HE-560 and HD800 compare on sound? Surely they must have some noticeable differences. What are the advantages/disadvantages/differences of each headphone and which do you prefer more overall?
SongKyung Han

That's what I said alright. And at the end I also said that I prefer the HE-560 because it has planar traits which the HD-800 lacks. But otherwise this wasn't a comparative review between the Sennheiser and HifiMan. I actually don't have the time to conduct one now for you privately, sorry -:)
Srajan
Hello Srajan,
how does your business go? I read your article on the broken business model. Will you change something? I don't like the current model either because 20 firms pay advertising like us while 200 get the reviews and pay nothing.
Sasa Cokic, Trafomatic Audio

Things are well but I'm looking ahead. For 12 years now I've never had to have this discussion. Enough people applied enough common sense, decency and courtesy to make the broken model limp along. With an increasing amount of abuse now, something has to change. Of course I'm just one guy. I can't single-handedly change the ad-based model to the fee-based model I'd prefer. Until numerous important publications change their way of doing business, a single exception swimming against the stream will simply get boycotted until they're dead.

So using the existing model for now, I will simply stop doing free reviews. Everyone will have to pay something even if it's just a small banner ad for a single month. If a manufacturer can't pay that small sum, they a/ shouldn't be in business, b/ don't think my time is worth that, and c/ don't deserve a review for a+b. When you tell people that you can't work for free, they understand. When you point out that the current ad-based model doesn't allow you to charge directly for your time, they can see that too. So now I explain that since I can't charge a fee for my time, they can either look at paying for a review and getting a free ad; or paying for an ad and getting a free review. Either way there is some form of remuneration for my time and anyone reasonable can agree that that's how it should be. The perennial freeloaders will stop coming but there's plenty of avenues left for them.

I still have a number of reviews to do where I haven't had this discussion upfront yet. Once those are done, the new rule will go into effect. It wouldn't have to if not so many clearly successful manufacturers weren't so badly abusing the 'get it free and let others pay for it' model. So nothing will really be different here for now except my willingness to tolerate that particular attitude. I always have a soft spot for newcomers of course.
Srajan

That's far better and more honest than the current situation. I agree absolutely.
Sasa Cokic
Dear Mr. Srajan,
I see you have done a review of Rockna products and are waiting for the WaveDream DAC. Have you got it now and had a chance to listen to it? I am very excited about it as it looks like a solid construction and am looking very much forward to hearing what listening impressions it gets! If it is near or better than other MSB products, I would by it.
Best regards,
Paul Fløholm
Norway

As of July 4th I've not received the DAC loaner. Once I do, I’ll compare it to DACs on hand—hopefully including the Nagra HD DAC by then which would juxtapose very different tech—but an MSB converter will not be part of that, sorry.
Srajan
Dear Srajan,
you have certainly noticed that the review process on the one hand and the manufacturer/publisher relation on the other triggers my interest. I am not so sure if this is the right platform to discuss such matters, because the reader of audio publications is here for recreation and fun after long hours of work. Ideally he should not be burdened with the financial relationships of the industry. As I pointed out in my previous post, he (the customer) is the one who is paying everything.

In any case it is pseudo debate. The only problem I see is that you as publisher of 6moons are open-minded giving everyone a chance. That’s an invitation for abusing your charity. It is not a problem of a certain business model. It is easy to find recent examples on 6moons of global players selling considerable amounts not having paid a dime. An easy solution if you feel ripped off by some is to do it like they all do. In the common practice, it is relatively irrelevant how payment is done and how one names it. There is no romance without finance. Readers know that already and certain individuals turn their back to commercial publications and only trust forum reviews. What they do not know is that very often those guys writing about products are sponsored or even hired by the industry. That’s a real perfidious game.

Coincidentally, a guy making Youtube reviews in the headfi area approaches the subject from a different perspective. His article is dated from the 25.6.2014, a day earlier than the Broken thesis. Obviously there is something in the air. Here is the link: http://www.lachlanlikesathing.com/2014/06/review-units-hurt-audio-community-how.html. In the end a few words from a manufacturer's perspective. Reviews are often overrated. An average review containing one or two constrains has no positive effect on the sales figures. But the opposite is true. It can have a negative effect. Opening the wallet of a perspective buyer needs either a tsunami of reviews in different publications or a hyper positive review giving the product an absolute overachiever rating. Anyway, marketing strategy costs money and again it is the customer who pays. Upscale products with high margins enable the manufacturer to do more on the marketing front. For this reason it seems unfair to soak the ultimate customer twice in an arrangement where he has to pay the reviewer; especially not for online publications. This is not the solution.
I wish you the right sense of proportion.
Regards,
Ivo Linnenberg

Clearly a percentage of any product's retail price always pays for marketing. If a product sells through dealers, their fixed buy-in cost covers it since that's all the money the maker ever sees. If a customer pays full retail, they too participate in paying for marketing. Of course many particularly of heftier purchases won't commit unless they get a discount. As Bryan reminds us in the next letter, related issues are very real to our retailers. So there's an underlying mentality. No matter the operational model (be it in publishing or brick and mortar sales vs the Internet), it'll always have to confront that mentality. And that's the crux. 'Something for nothing' or 'something for less' are as old as mankind.
Srajan
Hello Srajan,
re: to your Broken article, retailers have a similar problem today. The internet has totally changed the business model (or game if you prefer) as far as selling to the audiophile market. I would not be surprised if many of your readers have read reviews online, then looked for a retailer who carries the product, listened to it in their store or borrowed it to listen at home but then purchased it online. Do we need to charge admission to our stores or charge a listening fee and then refund the listening charge if a purchase is made? I understand that there cannot be a dealer for every product within 100km of every client so if you wish to buy online because there is no local dealer within a reasonable distance, then that is your prerogative. What is unfair is to take advantage of a local retailer's time and inventory and then make an excuse why the purchase should be made for some other dealer's benefit. I would be happy to pay a fee to 6moons for 'special content' - certain reviews would be available to paid subscribers. I subscribe to Stereoplay and Stereo Magazine from Germany as a sales tool to show reviews from outside the English language press (mostly for the pictures as my German ability is nil).
Mit freundlichen Grüßen,
Bryan Taylor
The Gramophone Inc
Canada

I can relate 100%, Bryan. I worked in hifi retail for a few years. Even back then we started to see that game of try here, then buy online or beat us up for a deep discount by pitching various dealers across the country against each other. I'm certain it's only gotten worse since. I call it the something-for-nothing mentality. It's on the rise.
Srajan
Srajan,
Love the website – yours is the best of the best (you should give yourself a Blue Moon award). Wondering if there are any plans for a review of the room correction software by Dirac or other developers? I wonder if these might present a reasonable solution for some of us with limited ability to perform changes to our listening environment that have made the leap to computer-based audio files. Thanks!
Regards,
Rick Swearingen

John Darko of DigitalAudioReview.net has signed up for the Dirac software package so that should take care nicely of your request.
Srajan
Hello Srajan:
As a lawyer myself I’m sympathetic to the idea that paying for my time and knowledge doesn’t mean you get to tell me what to think or how to advise you. In the real world, however, there’s always a tension because that’s the expectation that many (not all) clients have: I pay you, I own you. Most professionals resist that pressure, some do not. Some succumb to it in more or less artful ways. What’s key is the credibility of the individual professional: in my case, I’d rather lose a client (who can be replaced) than my integrity (which can’t - once it’s gone, it’s gone).

On the other hand, everyone who provides a service of value is entitled to be paid for it, and most are, one way or another. Personally, I don’t see anything inherently wrong in your being paid by a manufacturer, provided the rules of engagement are clear to all concerned, including the reader. What counts is whether or not you retain your credibility, which you will do if you maintain your integrity (in an odd way, having a reputation for integrity is actually good business, because it makes what you’re proposing more likely to be viable over the long term, even if there are losses in the short term). What remains to be seen is whether manufacturers will pay with no guarantee of what will be said. If nothing else, it would certainly show that those who agree to do so have some cojones, and some (hopefully justified) confidence in their product.
Regards,
Eric Wredenhagen

I'm in full agreement that both transparency and integrity are key. They already are in the existing model. The current 'buffer' that the ad department doesn't talk to the editorial department, hence there's full separation between church and state, has never yet prevented readers from insisting that the two in fact are connected. And obviously they are. Ad revenues do pay for operational costs. And one of those operational costs is paid staff. The 'disconnect' that writers aren't paid directly by the manufacturer, but indirectly via ad sponsorship, is somewhat artificial. But as you point out too, "I pay you I own you" is a situation pretty much any service profession struggles with. Setting proper boundaries and navigating potential conflict depends on a given individual or firm. Some manage well, others cross the line, yet others sell out completely.

The technically best example for what I'm proposing would really be an inspector. People can relate very easily that an inspection—say of a car, property or house—is paid for regardless of the outcome. The problem with applying this to hifi reviewing is that regular inspectors are licensed, bonded, board-certified or otherwise officially sanctioned. They are beholden to certain standards and subject to oversight and compliance. Hifi reviewers are self-made. They aren't licensed by any board or agency. As such they're sanctioned only by their actual product. Over time their output creates a body of work which becomes evidence about whether they are credible experts or not. That lack of formal training and certification undermines claims of professionalism. And that makes it easier to treat the entire sector as a hobbyist endeavour whose members are expected to do it just for the fun of it.

For now then it's just a discussion. That the current ad-based model is most imperfect is without doubt. Whether it can be replaced by another that's less so remains to be seen. As always, nobody wants to be first to try it in case it won't work and backfires badly -:)
Srajan
If a subscription will get me more articles like the one on Kaiser, bill me.
Michele from Rome
Hi Srajan,
I felt your pain and frustration reading about the business model or current lack thereof. With the advent of the internet, there was born the idea of 'free' information. Of course nothing is free, especially if you're the one sweating out the shipping and receiving, research, listening and ultimately the cobbling of words.

As a small company, a very small company, we've attempted (and often had to abandon by choice or failure to pay) the placing of ads in those publications that we feel are valid and that have brought edified discourse in this pastime that we love, often to our on economic peril. Sometimes the money is there, other times not. I notice that most of those who place ads on 6moons are manufacturers. Actually, on your front page, 100% are manufacturers. It seems that some of the more established importers or retailers might look at publicising their lines. After all, it is the synergy of system pairing that is a large part of the relevance of good sound. If a dealer or an importer has ideas that are unique to that en, as many do, it would seem like a way to put that across. Not to mention, for each dealer or importer, a dozen or more manufacturers may be involved.  

It's just a thought. Thinking back to your essay, it reminded me that there was a time, not long ago, when we (the readers) would simply pay a subscription or buy the latest hifi mag at our local news stand. (Out of Town New, open 24/7 Harvard Sq.) It was a civil way to do business .Certainly those magazines made most of their funds from ads, but there was a $7 entry fee for the user too. I pay for books, newsprint, for the firs- hand experience of those I know to be intelligent and experienced in a field. Why should that stop at the audio's door.
All the best,
Fred Crane
Hello Srajan,
Free anything is indeed a strange business model :)
Opinion leaders have tremendous power especially in the audio business where an opinion can make or break a product (the Pathos review is a good example). I think an honest "critique" is good. If the reader respects the writer's opinion, then the reader gets a valued opinion. Who should pay for this? I think the reader should pay. Obviously, Pathos won't. Would I, as consumer, pay to read a review? If I'm about to spend any significant amount of money on something, I would. Due diligence. But I doubt it will happen any time soon, as long as audio products are purchased as fashionable luxury items where perception is everything. In such cases, manufacturers should advertise in Italian Vogue magazine or Elle HK.

I am vaguely interested in digital photography so once in a while, I read DPreview to keep up with new products. Interestingly, I found out that DPreview.com is now part of Amazon.com. Thinking about it, it's kind of logical. Read the review of the new Sony A7R, click the link, enter the card number and 2 days later, the Sony is delivered at my door (I'm fantasizing).If we agree that the review is the first step of the product acquisition, whether a camera or a vacation package, then I wouldn't mind a "buy now" button at the end of the review, the manufacturer would be happy and the local distributor or dealer (two entities harder to differentiate these days) would handle the sale. Everyone happy. Makes sense?
Best regards,
Robert Gaboury
Hello Srajan:
Interesting "Broken" article. I never really gave any of it much thought but now that you've aired it, it does appear to be a very flawed model. Kudos for putting it out there. I've not seen it discussed anywhere else but it must affect most of your competitors just the same.
John Henry

It affects the entire publishing sector, print magazines included. The only exceptions are exclusively subscription-based ad-free outfits; and those which are ad-free and free. Whilst print magazines have a secondary revenue stream from subscriptions and sales at news stands, those often would seem to barely cover the cost of ink, paper, post and delivery vans. It's really a long overdue discussion. Until it is being had on a large scale, nothing will change of course. And there's reluctance about having it because of the pervasive confusion that exists between paid-for opinion which is unethical; and paid-for time which distinguishes the pro who does it for a living; and the amateur who does it solely as a hobby. There's nothing wrong with the hobbyist approach. I'm simply pointing at a business model which concerns those of us who do this for a full-time living. The foundation of all business is sufficient profit to stay in business. And it seems very wrong that a minority of manufacturers engaged in the review process are expected to carry the bag for everyone else.
Srajan
Srajan:
In your response to Ivo below, you compare reviewers to doctors, attorneys, judges and arbitrators. Surely those professions all have extensive formal training. Are you saying reviewers compare?
Rakesh

Absolutely not. Not for the most part. Professional services run the gamut from very highly skilled and thus very highly paid professions backed by very serious education; to unskilled labour which picks trash off a street; or a college kid who babysits for some extra cash. But this merely reflects in the amounts those services can charge, from the €500/hr attorney to the €15/hr house cleaner. The bottom line is simple. Services cost money. Writing and publishing reviews is a service. Ergo, they should come with a fee. How high or low that fee should be is an entirely different matter. It would seem reasonable to expect that a first-tier publication's most senior reviewer would command a very different fee from that of a rookie writer with a third-rate publication.

My point of bringing up those particular professions was simply to illustrate that paying for their time doesn't guarantee results. You might pay for a viticulturist's inspection of your property's soil only to learn that it does not lend itself to the growing of grapes like you hoped. Yet that outcome does not alleviate you of the need to pay for the inspection. Why should paying for a review conflict with its writer's ability to point out that your transformers hum, your volume control clicks through the speakers and suffers a channel imbalance at lower levels and your headphone amp can't drive HifiMan's HE-6 to proper levels? Why should such findings imply that saying so frees you from the obligation to pay the reviewer? Obviously no manufacturer would be obliged to deal with third-rate publications or contract with reviewers they deem untruthworthy, technically incompetent or lousy writers. Quite the opposite. They'd select the exact writers they find most suitable for a given product. As always, the burden of due diligence for that process is solely on the manufacturer.
Srajan
Dear Srajan,
I am in total accordance with your analysis of the deficits in the payment arrangement of professional review journalism. Every manufacturer should be aware that an audio magazine or on online portal needs some funds to run the business. Some companies can do more to support such activities than others due to extremely large differences in the advertising budgets. I see it more like a tax where the strong can do more than the weak. Paying no "tax" at all is antisocial and there should be some sort of penalty.

Where I disagree is that small companies are discredited as dreamer or simply as unprofessional. Our mutual market place is relatively small and heavily overcrowded: sometimes I have the impression that a 1:1 manufacturer / customer ratio is reached. In addition, even the smallest niche is segmented in to tiny fractions.  It may be my personal perception, but it is fact that we all do (including review magazines) work that no one really needs and therefore no one really wants to pay (much money) for.

What’s the consequence? Ignore all small businesses that can’t afford to act big? If so, I don’t think that high end audio would survive in the long term. Our business and yes, our passion would become progressively boring leading to further decline. We should all agree upon proper rules of game in the benefit of us all. Besides all monetary difficulties, we should never forget our customers. He is the only one that makes it all possible.
Regards,
Ivo Linnenberg

Hello Ivo:
Good points but, obviously, something for nothing is not a working business model. Your customers do pay you. If my readers are my customers, they pay nothing. If the manufactures are my customers, some pay, rather more of them don’t pay anything. How would your business work if only some customers paid for your product? Not very well I imagine. My article simply pointed out that in the current model, the majority of manufacturers pay nothing. That creates a grave imbalance. Hence my proposal for a fee-based model instead that would do away with ads entirely. There's no dispute that larger companies have larger means. That's not really the point. Anyone in business relies on ongoing services to stay in business. You can't not pay your electricity bill because you don't feel like it or can't afford it. And nobody implies that reviews are a must in any hifi maker's business plan. But if one does decide that reviews are a service one needs from time to time, expecting that service for free is not only unrealistic and asocial, it is unprofessional. That this should even be argued underlines just how badly the current model is broken!
Srajan

Dear Srajan,
there is no dissent. Please allow for some final words, although it is impossible to discuss the whole matter in depth here. To stay with the picture of the electrical bill: If you pay for something, you have the right to get something in return. Imagine your supplier is switching on the line for just a few hours a day, he merely delivers 200V instead of 230V. In this case you are not obliged to pay for the services. Applied to our business, the writer/reviewer is no longer free in his opinions when a certain manufacturer is a direct client. The situation is as follows: Wes Brot ich ess, des Lied ich sing (Walther von der Vogelweide, 1170 – 1230). For decades now, that’s exactly what is the reality in print media. Who else but you has the backbone (and the freedom) to write sorry, but I do not get along with this hybrid integrated amplifier.
Regards,
Ivo Linnenberg

I disagree, Ivo. In a fee-based model, you’re paying for my time, not my opinion. A doctor gets paid regardless of whether he can cure you or even diagnose you properly. You don’t get to decide to only pay him if you’re cured. If you hire an arbitrator or mediator or attorney to settle a divorce or custody case, you pay that professional. You don’t get to opt out if you lose custody or get fewer visiting days than hoped for or are liable for higher child support or settlement fees than you anticipated.

In a fee-based review model, the manufacturer would pay for time as reflected in say a word count. A long ‘full-feature’ review would carry one fee, a shorter review with less tech or background info another. Picking from an à-la-carte menu (different word counts, different writers with different fees), you’d get exactly what you pay for: a review of a certain length; and a given writer’s opinion, experience, skill and reputation.

Your position reflects the ongoing confusion between paid-for opinion and paid-for time. But you’re absolutely correct of course that because the public has and continues to confuse the two; and because some of the press has and continues to confuse the two … it seems impossible to propose that a writer could separate them properly. But if certain writers can and have all along, what’s the difference if they’re paid indirectly (via ad revenue) or directly (as a professional per-hour or per-job fee)? As I see it, the only differences would be that it eliminates the freebies and freeloaders; and creates a level playing field whereby all manufacturers are treated the same and have the same access. Obviously for now this is no more than a discussion to shine some light on a very imperfect model. Whether it can realistically be replaced with one that's better remains to be seen.
Srajan
Steve, 
I have a Schumann resonance device. I sent an e-mail to Synergistic Research to find out if their FEQ generates a Schumann resonance and got no reply. Obviously if I already have a device generating a Schumann Resonance, I would have no need for another such device so it is important to know! Could you please ascertain whether the FEQ is a Schumann Resonance device and let us know in your review.
Thanks, 
Doglet

I'll see what I can do.
Steve

Thank you for an excellent review, it is very much appreciated. One further comment I have is that rave reviews of an isolated single product are of very limited value. What are valuable are comparative reviews and of this you have done an excellent job and afforded us very valuable information.
Thank you, 
Doglet

PS. And thank you for ascertaining that point of information I requested.
Dear sir, 
I was very interested by the first part of the 6moons review of the Nagra HD DAC but for months now is says at the end of page 3 "more mid-April"  and now we are at the end of June! Did you experience disappointment with its performance or lost of interest? Anyway, bravo for your reviews and articles.
Bertrand Michels, BM&TV sarl

PS: Any test coming on the McIntosh MHA-100 headphone DAC/AMP?

If you could prompt Nagra to actually deliver a loaner, I could finish the review. I've still not received it and am told it will be sometimes in July now. And nothing planned on McIntosh but later this year I will review Goldmund's new Telos headphone amp/DAC.
Srajan
Dear Srajan,
I read your article about your visit to Goldmund and wanted to thank you, not only about publishing such an in-depth report of your visit but more for the quality of your understanding of our small company's unusual profile. It is usually quite difficult to make people understand what we do and why, and I must say I am flabbergasted by your capability to capture it in such a short time and pass it on that clearly in your writing.
Thanks again.
All the best,
Michel Reverchon
C.E.O.
Goldmund
Hi Srajan,
I just read your posting on the Apertura Edena and was wondering if you had come across the Mulidine brand in the past (a quick google search did not return prior reviews on 6moons). While Apertura is a well-established French brand, it is considered a bit on the pricey side by many French audiophiles. Mulidine on the other hand is one of the very few brands that I know of getting Diapason d'Or awards for their entire speaker lineup (Mulidine is too small to 'buy' awards through advertisement contracts). Their Cadence model is a two-way ribbon tweeter design just like the Edena but at half the price sold through dealers just like Apertura. I have no ties with Mulidine but thought it would be interesting to compare similar designs of two competing French brands. It'd be great if you could make this happen.
Cheers,
Lionel Yron

I've already planned on comparing the Edena to the twice-priced Grand Cru Audio Horizon. But that's the extent of scheduled A/Bs for the Apertura.
Srajan

Sounds like you already have it all planned out. In any case, Mulidine has been around for more than 30 years and have developed a strong following in France. I believe they have a patent for the way they load the speaker box and damp the sound waves inside it. I don't think they are distributed in Switzerland but if you ever happen to be near Grenoble or Dijon, they have resellers there. Anyway, I'm starting to sound like a salesman pitching for a review. If you ever come across that brand, it'd be great to read your take on it.
Lionel
Hi Srajan,
I saw the announcement for an Albedo Aptica revisited. Just wanted to ask, why the revisit?
Bryan Perrin

You'll find out in due time -:)
Srajan

Very mysterious. I think I'm looking forward to it!?!?
Regards,
Bryan

That’s the whole point. Mystery cloaked in confusion wrapped in obfuscation -:)
Srajan
Hi Srajan, 
I just saw in your letters&feedback where you posted a reply to a letter I wrote about how hard your job must be. In it I was talking just about the mechanics of the job - the difficulty of trying to ascertain subtle differences in very fine performing components. You wrote back outlining some other difficulties inherent in a job such as yours. Here is what you said: 

''Your points are spot on but there's more. Judging and commenting on other people's handiwork where livelihoods are involved is a responsibility. How to balance that against our responsibilities to the reader isn't always easy but an aspect critics of critics often overlook because they needn't consider it nor have much practice of it. And doing anything as a job—day in, day out—which you also love as a hobby can take chunks out of your enjoyment. That too needs to be controlled or your dream job devolves into hollow routine. And that shows quickly and at least to my mind undermines the entire rationale of an enthusiast's publication. Finally pleasure listening is a different bag than analytical listening. One must juggle both and not unlearn the art of pleasure or all is lost. But most of that is true for any gig. One must find what one is matched to and enjoys, then use discipline and experience to manage it and keep it fresh. If it also pays the bills and involves artistic freedom... then it becomes quite a blessing and privilege.''

Somehow I missed this answer (or perhaps did not even receive it) because I saw it for the first time now. Those are all aspects of your job that I certainly would not have thought of. In my original letter I had stated that while I had once thought that your job was a ''dream job,'' upon reflecting just how stressful the single aspect of A/B testing often is for me, I had come to understand that, at least for me, it would not be a dream job at all. However, after reading the above, I can see that my assessment of the stress of your job was only touching the surface. Everything you outlined in your answer of course is important but the most difficult for me would be fulfilling the responsibility to the reader while keeping in mind the power that I would have over people's livelihoods and by extension over their lives.

That one would be incredibly difficult for me.Your answer has  opened for me a new vista on just what it entails to be a reviewer... a vista which creates in me a deeper understanding, appreciation and respect for the work you do. With respect to reviews/reviewers you have more than once said to me ''find ears you trust and follow them.'' Very wise words indeed and I have been lucky because I found you. But this happened only because I actually tried products that you had favourably reviewed and found them to perform exactly as you stated they did for you. This led me to try others and the more I tried, the more trust in your ears was established. I have also been able to create this trust with a few other reviewers... others on your staff, for example.

This is not to say that I always agree with what these reviewers (or you) say. The other words of wisdom you (and others) have continually imparted—and perhaps those are most important of all—are "trust your own ears." So I don't always agree with what is said... sometimes on theory and other times from practical experience. But after reading your answer to my original email, I can unequivocally say this: While I retain the right to disagree with what a reviewer is saying, I will never again criticize the reviewer nor question either his right nor (and especially) his motives for saying it.
Thank you, Srajan, 
Peter Borelli

You're welcome. And, everything is 'up for grabs' when it comes to questioning a reviewer's opinion, motives, perspective or procedure. Once done against the backdrop of some of the things I outlined in the original answer, much of it simply gets tempered. As with most everything, it's not black and white but has a lot of gray in-between. And I wouldn't call it stressful, just various aspects which inform the job.
Srajan
Greetings Srajan -
you’ve reviewed both the ModWright LS100 preamp and the Job 225 amp. I’d be interested in your view on what sort of marriage might arise from these two designs in tandem. I own the Job amp, unfortunately the preamp I chose to partner it with did not prove to be a good match. I’ve owned some of Dan’s designs and have been favourably impressed. I reread your LS100 review and am encouraged to give it a go. Did you find the LS100 to be quiet in operation, in terms of perceived 'tube rush' and such? My system is configured in a relatively “near field” arrangement and tube/transformer noise is clearly evident when it arises, particularly with my highly-efficient speakers.
Thanks,
Kurt Steele

I've always found the ModWright gear quiet and in Munich this year it was even used to power 100dB+ speakers without any noise. Of course sitting in the nearfield using a hi-gain amp like the Job over efficient speakers creates a different kind of challenge and you're right to hone in on potential issues of noise. With my Nagra Jazz preamp (kind of equivalent to the LS-100 if not as saturated on tone), I have no noise at all into my Job 225 but I presently don't own anything above 93dB efficient in speakers. And the Nagra has a 0dB gain option to increase rotary range on the volume if necessary. Before you pull the trigger... I'm gonna see Goldmund in Geneva today (really, today). They're supposed to have the Job PRE2 ready for me to take a look at. It'll come in at $1'695 delivered with remote control. It's reasonable to assume that it'll be tailor-made for the Job 225 on gain and performance. Contact me again in a day or two and I let you know what I learnt and heard -:)
Srajan
Hello Srajan,
After 10+ years, I continue to enjoy reading the reviews, industry features, responses to letters etc. which you and your collaborators contribute to the 6moons experience. Wonderful stuff! Although some of the technical descriptions are beyond my understanding (perhaps some college-level electronics courses are in my future), most of the content is compelling and, of course, tantalizing to this music lover.

Ah, the Pathos Logos review. As an owner of a Pathos Classic MkIII integrated amp, I have to admit I was hoping for a positive outcome (the itch to upgrade is getting harder to relieve). However, as I kept reading it became pretty obvious it was not a copasetic (love that word, by the way, which I first encountered in one of your reviews many moons ago) match in your particular circumstances. Your postscript certainly makes that quite clear even though the body of the review alluded as much. It's unfortunate that Mr. Fiore finds it necessary to play the bully card, thereby refusing to accept the proffered olive branch.

Speaking of upgraditis, in addition to the Pathos, my primary system comprises a Mac mini connected with a Wireworld Silver Starlight cable to a Benchmark USB DAC1 with Parts Connexion upgrades to the XLR outputs, in turn connected via Zu Mission XLR cable to the Pathos, from whence signal is transmitted through Audio Sensibility Testament biwire to Totem Hawk floorstanders. Power cords are Zu Bok and power deliver is via Shunyata Hydra-6, which is connected to a Shunyata outlet with a Silent Source 20-amp cord. All in all, quite satisfying. And yet...

Secondary system, acquired shortly after New Year's 2014, includes a Marantz M-CR610 all-in-one CD-streaming DAC-tuner-amp and KEF LS50 speakers. The latter are amazing, without the need for a sub! I've actually been neglecting the main system these past few months. Listening preferences are jazz, progressive and hard rock, some classical and sundry world music. Recognizing that you are often loathe to make specific recommendations to individual readers, I nevertheless wonder whether you might suggest a DAC or integrated amp upgrade?
Your sincerely,
Max Hollins
Ottawa, Ontario
Canada

Without knowing what qualities in particular you want to change, it's really not possible to recommend something concrete. I've heard the Benchmark to have an opinion but I'm not familiar with the Chris Johnson mod to know what it does. My three favorite DACs in the ~$3'000 range are the Metrum Hex, Aqua Hifi La Voce 2 and AURALiC Vega. I've reviewed all three which might give you an indication about their flavours. Translating that to your DAC and how it might apply will, as always, be the challenge -:)
Srajan
Srajan,
Fuck ‘em. You wrote it as you heard it (and I love ya for it) and the guy is threatening you now? Had it been my product, I would’ve taken completely different approach/tone. For me, his reaction is making things a million times worse now, toward Pathos in general, than what I drew from your review. In fact, from your review I drew exactly what you wrote in your P.S - a possible mismatch in tastes and equipment, particularly speakers. Had he even bothered to follow 6moons, he would’ve known your tastes (in electronics, music etc.) and perhaps, anticipated the outcome. Even I, as a music and  audio lover (not professionally in audio), would know better than to send you a pair of ESLs to review, for example.
Good on ya Srajan, keep up the good work!
Dragan
Dear M&H,
My system: Mac air, Amarra (ALAC files in external HD), Qobuz hifi, Halide usb/spdif bridge into Devialet, PTP Lenco L75 with new bearings and Schick 12" + mod DL103, Devialet 250 (v7) on Franc Audio ceramic discs, Wilson Sophia 3, Sablon panatela speaker cables and Gran Corona Quantum main cables, Bybee Stealth Power purifier, Furutech Rhodium wall sockets, Akiko tuning sticks, Acoustic Revive RR77, SGR audio rack.  Room 8x6m x4m height, speakers on shorter side 1m from back wall /1.3m from side wall, toed in, listening position 3.5m from speakers, 2.2m between speakers, sofa's, large/thick rug, paintings, some books, thin curtains on windows. I mostly listen to jazz (A Cohen, P Fresu), pop/rock (Pink Floyd, Dire Straits), world music.

I had a lot of fun building this system and your/6moons advice was very helpful along the way. I'd appreciate your help to get it to the next level.
• What works: strong imaging, realistic soundstage, often good dynamics, excellent bass, very realistic voices/mid range.
• What needs to improve: at times the sound is heavy, a bit compressed, highs lack top end air. I suspect my source can be improved (the Lenco sounds better than the Mac particularly on high quality Japanese pressings) - I will be trying the new Auralic Aries soon. In Munich I loved the Enigma room (mythology M1 with sopranino tweeter) and wonder if there is anything I can do to fix the issues I am currently experiencing.

A few side questions:
• in your latest review of the PPT Lenco you mentioned the positive effect of the Hiraga mat. I can't find a way to purchase one, can you help / recommend an alternative? Would the Lenco benefit from better support (i.e. Franc audio discs) than the one provided?
• how would you connect the Auralic Aries to the Devialet (AES/EBU, spdif, usb)? Your reco on a 'realsization' cable much appreciated.
Thank you!
Vincenzo

Hi Vincenzo,
reading your mail and especially the word ‘compression’ triggers for us issues with the room interaction. As you are happy with most playback and suffer from heaviness, compression and limited top extension this makes us think of ‘the room is full’. There are several ways to counter this problem. Two of them we are familiar with. The first is deploying Franck Tchang’s resonators and sugar cubes. If aesthetics  are no problem - the devices are tiny - you could start with a silver resonator at the tweeter’s height between the loudspeakers and the sugar cubes at the recommended places. Additionally you might add a diffuser, the checkers sized wooden piece, under the shelve with the Devialet. All these are attached with non-permanent blu tack adhesives. Applying these ASI devices needs some experimenting to get it right.

A second option is to ask Peter Schippers of Audiodata in Germany to help out with his Audiovolver and tuning expertise. This is a costlier option, but his service and knowledge does wonders in the acoustic realm for you and results are stunning. Regarding the leather mat you could shop for a piece of thin pigskin - glove grade for instance - of 35cm square and use an old LP to draw the outline on it together with the centre hole. Cut it out and apply to the turntable. It will lack Jean’s signature, but you can try it.
Best regards,
Marja & Henk

I'd add that given your response to Enigma's Munich demo, you might also consider their Sopranino super tweeter. As long as your hearing still extends high enough to benefit from its bandwidth, it should introduce a very similar quality of the top bands. And as M&H suggested, compression usually indicates too much bass energy in a room which will damp the treble. Addressing that with the acoustic resonators and/or analog equalization then would be the important first step which could eliminate or postpone need for the Sopranino add-on.
Srajan
Hello Srajan.
Any chance, plans or interest to review the PS Audio DirectStream DAC?
Thanks!
Scott Kramer

I'm not sure what you're asking. We posted a review of it yesterday and had it in the 'coming soon' gallery for M&H to announce for a few weeks. Paul Candy is slated to review this DAC for either PFO or a new Canadian magazine. On that score we've already organized that he'll furnish us with a 2nd-opinion piece to be appended to M&H's review in due time. That'll wrap up the subject with a bow I should think. I'm personally scheduled to review Nagra's HD DAC which approaches PCM in very similar fashion (converting everything to high-rate DSD and processing that via a custom-coded FPGA) and of course the Playback Design and Meitner converters do it plus Sony today offer user-selectable 'remastering' of PCM to DSD.
Srajan
Hello Srajan:
Kudos on your latest review. It describes the sound of a component in your system, reports on you disliking the results yet kept it clear for me that different speakers would likely produce very different results. It's not often one sees such level-headed honesty in hifi reporting.
Alan Shannon

To be frank, it's caused issues. Enrico Fiore at Pathos is so unhappy that in response to my review he's involved my writer Joël Chevassus who obviously had absolutely nothing to do with it except for writing the Sonus faber Guarneri review whilst Enrico was working there. In his last email to me, Enrico just announced "you cannot even imagine what a diabolical project I have in my mind!" I'm not sure what he means by that but I reckon we'll find out in due time. Considering such a strong response which clearly takes things far more personal than is healthy, I just added a brief postscript to the review for some more perspective.
Srajan
Dear Srajan,
I'm much too lazy to read through countless reviews of equipment myself. I'm too busy texting my friends and posting interesting pics of my day to everyone. I want to upgrade my system so it is even more impressive to everyone. Can you spend a few hours, plus your extensive experience, and recommend to me a hifi system for the 21st century? I'm sure you can do this, free of charge of course? Now, which foot should I put forwards first, left or right?
A. Dummy

Sparked by some of your mail, of course! -:)
Hi Srajan,
I just wanted to commend you on such a huge undertaking!  I read your show report and my eyes were glazing over with the over-the-top abundance of gear that you covered! My only personal wish was that you had shown some interesting turntables but I know that is not your bailiwick. I'm looking around for an interesting tt to review but have not found one yet.
Best,
Steve

Fairaudio.de ran their report in four or five parts and one of their writers focused on turntables exclusively. That might be a good resource.
Srajan
Hi Srajan,
my equipment at the moment is a Lector 4-box CD player, Jadis DA88S valve amp & also a Trigon Energy amp with half a dozen sets of cables (MIT, Van den Hul, Kondo copper, Tellurium Q &  Tag MacLaren). I have been offered a deal to upgrade to a Melody Platinum 845 integrated amp & a MBL C31 CD player. My speakers are Tannoy Canterbury SE. Any advice please. My friend Nick Brown said to ask you.
Many thanks. Regards,
Alan Cash

Hello Alan:
I don't know you, hence have no idea what you like. Giving any kind of blanket recommendation under these circumstances is a fool's errand at best. The fact that you think a total stranger could, based on just a list of gear, give a credible recommendation without knowing what you want to improve, what you like, what you're really trying to achieve with an upgrade,  is... well, I won't spell it out. I'm sorry but this is simply not the sort of thing I do. Please ask someone else.
Cheers.
Srajan

Hi Srajan,
Thanks for your advice to please ask someone else.
Alan

You're welcome. To get a cure, you first need an in-depth diagnosis of what's wrong. Next time you ask someone for hifi advice, remember to provide them with the diagnosis of what you consider is wrong. If they're not present to perform this diagnosis themselves, you need to do it yourself and give it to them. That would seem to be pretty obvious, yes?
Srajan
Srajan,
wow, talk about no punches held back in your latest Pathos review. It seems to have been quite a while since you disliked a component this much. Pathos will be seriously unhappy of course but nobody can accuse you of not saying it as you see it. Good job!
Henry

It wasn't an easy thing to write. Having worked on the other side of this fence—soliciting reviews for manufacturers I worked for only to meet my boss with bad news—I appreciate the bigger picture. I also appreciate why some magazines have a policy of returning gear without a review. I don't agree with such a policy because I don't think it serves the reader. But I can certainly see how it makes life easier. I've invested myself in keeping a good inventory of hardware on hand to minimize scenarios where a component just won't play well with something else. In this instance I ran out of speakers that would have worked better. I feel bad for Enrico who contacted me for this review. But as I see it, asking for a review is in many ways like stepping into a ring. You're bound to take a few hits. Occasionally you will outright lose. It's no fun for anyone when that happens except for certain train-wreck bystanders who gauge a magazine's credibility by how many bad reviews they publish. Enrico reminded me that the Logos design is 14 years old and that I'm the first one to call it crap and by implication all those who've bought one idiots. Obviously I said neither but this documents just how personal people can and do take these things.
Srajan
Srajan,
Thanks for the excellent Munich wrap. I attended the show as well and purchased a pair of Sven's amazing Boenicke W5 on the spot. By the time I had given Sven my details you had left the room so here I am asking for your advice. My goals is to build a high-quality desktop sound system around the W5. As source I was thinking of the Astell&Kern 120 where I would upload my HD music files and also use it as a streamer for Qobuz (not sure if I need to purchase A&K USB cradle to do that). Alternatively I could use my Mac as source with a Halide usb/spdif bridge I already own. Which dac/amp solution would you recommend to drive the W5? My instincts would favour a one box solution like the Gato 250 but keen to hear your thoughts. I noted that you own a Red Wine modified A&K, what's the benefit of the RW mod? Which 'travel-friendly' headphones would you recommend? And finally, should I go for the A&W a a source which cable would you recommend to connect it to the dac/amp?
Thank you
Vincenzo

Travel-friendly headphone = Aedle VK-1
Travel-friendly hi-rez portable source doubling as table-top source = AK 100MkII (not sure on the Qobuz angle)
Desk-top all-in-one = April Music Aura Version 2 (adds CD player, tuner and killer headphone output)

The RWA mod lowered the output impedance to nearly 0 ohms. Subsequent AK units followed suit so the mod no longer applies to current stock. Re: cables, I use an Audioquest Diamond optical link between AK and Aura.
Srajan
Srajan:
I’m appreciating your tastes in audio via a new Boenicke W5 run by a Job225. These are replacing a Maggie III and Bedini Q100 class A amp. The next step is a turntable, which I’ll run with a Soundsmith Voice into my Audible Illusions 3B preamp. I like the Kuzma Stogi/Stabli looks and it’s price is comfortable. But, how does a Garrard 301 or the recently reviewed PTP compare?
Russell

Right question, wrong guy. I don't do vinyl and our team doesn't meet in a shared office where everybody would hear everything. The PTP was reviewed by M&H in Holland, the Garrard by former contributor Jeff Day in the US and so forth. You'll have to get with a writer you trust who specializes in vinyl for educated answers on that question -:)
Srajan
Srajan,
one more question please, going down the 300B rabbit hole or similar. A pair of Coincident Frankensteins and the Coincident PRE speakers; or a pair of FirstWatt-SIT-1s and DeVore O/96 speakers.
Thank you,
Jeff

I'm not fond of transformer-coupled direct-heated triode amps without feedback for numerous reasons to do with having owned a number of them. Hence my vote would definitely be for your second option - except that you could save yourself €5'000 and settle down with the SIT-2 stereo amp. And John DeVore makes lovely speakers indeed!
Srajan
Srajan,
I read with interest your paper "Dead On Arrival" in the DAR pages. As I'm an old IT guy ('I've spent more than 40 years in the professional IT industry working in both the SW and HW worlds, of which 37 in IBM), there are a few basic points I'd like to linger on a bit.

Historically speaking, the birth of the CD although "provided" by Sony/Philips actually goes back to a company known as Discovision which was born as a joint venture between IBM and Pioneer Corp. (Later, when Pioneer was bought by Philips, IBM withdrew from the joint venture, and work got started on the CD). The product, a metal disc roughly the size of a 33rpm vinyl disc, contained an analog video track and a digital soundtrack, which was already coded on 16 bits. Why did the guys choose precisely 16 bits rather than anything else? It's actually very simple: in the IT world (this was pre-PC days, late 70s) the dominant structure/building blocks of the basic computer system was, in hierarchical order bottom up, as follows:
the Bit (0 or 1)
the Byte (a string of 8 bits on which you can express a number from 0 - 255) 
the Word (or double-byte, a string of 16 bits from 0 to 16'383).

In the IBM world of then, the truly fundamental block in programming terms was the Word expressed in hexadecimal. As an example, when you press the spacebar on your keyboard, what happens is that your computer translates this to a hexadecimal code 4040. That is the code which puts in a blank on your screens, which you probably think means a space, or "nothing" where in fact that space is filled with 16 bits of zero translated from that hex-code of 4040 into what looks like a blank.

Coming back to Discovision, as it was IBM guys who did the soundtrack, it was very natural to code the musical signal into 16 bits. This was really the cornerstone of the architecture in IBM's System 360 computers. By the way, on the Discovision disc exactly as on the CD, the very first thing that happens when you power up your CD player (or in those days the computer) is a command which says "put the read-head (or laser or whatever) right to the center-most position on the disc and read the "IPL record". This record contains an instruction to read the next record, which is known as the IPL Bootstrap,  and the size of that record. On a CD, this bootstrap will "tell", among a few other things, the CD player where the next most important record is and the size of that record. What it points at is the table of contents, which you see displayed partially on the CD player display; or if it's a dematerialized CD, your reader pgm on your Mac will show the full content.

Now coming back to the discussion about DOA, I believe that you are right, things get "lost" when you go from the master recording to the stamped silvery plastic. However, I don't believe this is due to lossy manufacturing processes but I do believe that it is the recording engineers who actually compress things on purpose. The reason for my thinking is that every 16-bit word contains a 'special' single bit known as the parity bit. This bit tells the computer, CD player of DAC whether the number expressed is even or odd. (That's why the actual music cannot be coded on more than 15 'real' bits but that's another story). So if there is something lost, the chance that the record(s) could actually be read is quite marginal. Chances are that the parity bit would say error on at least 33% of the records read, and you'd simply don't get anything useful out.

I do believe something else happens having to do with the dithering added in post production, i.e. noise is actually added. This could be a place where the very small numbers in the 16-bit word get drowned. The noise is also strings of bits with a more or less constant very small number also coded in the same place, i.e. the same strings of 16 bits. Why would anybody want to do that? This is actually done to 'hide' imperfections in the digital domain, which could make the recording more difficult to reproduce even with very high-grade kit. In essence, the resultant sound will effectively be somewhat compressed in the  sense that the smallest numbers tend to disappear. (Another side effect of this is that on musical material, I think you will never find a 16-bit word with all the bits being zero i.e. silence).

To really compress things requires recalculation of the string of 16 bits. I would be very surprised if this could occur by accident in the manufacturing process. If it did, we would again stumble on that parity bit problem which in my mind is very unlikely. Then there is another thing to consider: connections. In a computer, if you run say an accounting program, it would be completely unacceptable that record contents could be somehow altered. If you have an invoice for €99.98, this cannot under any circumstances be taken for "roughly equivalent to 100". The accountants of the world would all end up with psychiatric treatments if computers worked that way!

If you look at a block diagram of a CD player, it actually shows roughly the same thing as a block diagram of an IBM S/360 computer system. There is a CPU (central processing unit), a memory, a buffer memory, an I/O bus (handling inputs/outputs between the CPU and a storage device (which in a computer would be typically a hard drive but also for example a USB key). The data flowing between the different areas are usually hardwired on the motherboard but between the hard disk and the I/O-bus there is a cable.

In the real computer world (in my terminology that means computers filling up very large rooms) and in S/360-days, the cable between the disc drive and the CPU was something like 8-10cms in diameter and terminated on each end with a 32-pin connector. Why 32 pins? Again very simple. 16 pins were going from one to the other and the remaining 16 pins went the opposite direction. That's how you could send packets of 16 bits both ways in one smack. Of course it would have been intolerable to 'loose' a bit on the way (to not drive the accountants nutters).

In a modern personal computer, the cable between the CPU and the hard-disk is usually of the SATA type (serial advanced technology attachment) which is actually a serial device. This means that the bits in each word are sent one after the other. But it is bi-directional so the CPU can talk to the disk at the same time as the disk talks to the CPU. This is the mechanism which allows the CPU clock to synchronize the data from the disk, by "telling" the disk things like "send a packet of data".

In the CD world it's very much the same but you need to spend hefty chunks of money to get a clock which doesn't hick-up from time to time, because the CPU of the CD player is busy doing other things like converting data to analog voltages. Also in the CD world, you actually don't care too much about the mental health of the accountant, and I suspect this is the fundamental reason why music reproduced by a computer (and the associated DAC plus SW which basically disables most other functions) is able to produce a better sound than a CD drive with the same DAC. This second aspect (the disabling thing) is in my mind fundamental. Once the computer is up and running, there are dozens and dozens of processes running what looks like concurrently. In the real world, each processor-core is controlling x number of processes. As soon as one of these processes has "done something", the processor will check if any other process is waiting for the processor to do something. A large percentage of the time, the processor is spending its time to figure out if it has something to do!  

In the CD world, the processor has far fewer processes to look after but it still isn't totally mono-processing with a single seamless feed of data from the laser-beam to the output voltage through the CPU. In reality it's a continuous flow of interruptions where the CPU says "read a string", then checks if the parity bit says odd and the number is or isn't odd, send the data to the dac, wait until the dac has converted it to analog voltages before smacking into the converter the next bunch of bit, and so on.

To sum it up, a CD player is a specialised computer, no more no less. I wouldn't say that the engineers designing these type of computers are less stringent on the precision of the number-crunching than the engineers designing computers. But getting each and every number absolutely correct is not a question of life and death as it is in a computer doing business work. And the sound engineers want to sell records which can be played on any vanilla CD player. Just like in the vinyl or mini-cassette days, musical material is compressed more or less depending on some sort of minimum-to-average quality depending on the media and the capabilities (real or not) of the expected media player. So let's get rid of the CD player and go all dematerialized. No computer will loose a bit here and there. .
Salutations / Regards / Halsningar
Goran Svedberg

Hello Goran:
Not surprisingly I fully agree with your conclusion. Your IT background provided me with some fascinating historical data I was unaware of. Thank you very much! People who know about the mastering end of the music business would, I think, fully concur with you on the compression bit. The question I can’t answer because I don’t own any original master ‘tapes’ or files is the exact extent or delta of magnitude of just how much is lost. According to Anssi whose email exchange was the impetus to this little piece… it’s a lot.  I’ve talked to numerous people who own original master tapes/files or have heard them. They all agree. The differences between them and the final commercial release (be it vinyl, then cassette tape, then CD and SACD etc) are significant.

I’ve personally heard XRCD re-pressings vs. their plain-vanilla CD releases. That difference was notable and in this instance supposedly/presumably due only to the additional effort/money expended on the pressing side of the process. Same master file as the commercial recording but a truly fastidious stamper protocol onto polycarbonate. That makes me certain that even the physical translation of the authorized final file that leaves the post-production facility to get stamped is lossy when we’re talking mass production of 1’000’000s of copies.

Never mind that we’ve all had the experience of copying CDs to recordable CD (and using blanks in various colours from various makers) only to find them to sound different… and in many cases better. Plus the nutters amongst us have played around with green felt markers, various CD sprays, photon bombardment (remember the Nespa device?) and sundry only to realize just how ‘analogue’ the CD medium really was to be that susceptible to external changes. I remember clearly the day I saw that wacky, wonky and wonderful 47lab PitRacer CD transport with its exposed laser reader wobble like a drunkard on crack trying to follow the digital pits. It seemed well-nigh impossible that it wouldn’t miss a beat. The servo mechanism seemed to constantly have to correct the head’s precise location and angle. Forget smooth sailing. This looked like the total opposite. And that was a souped-up very expensive attempt at perfect data retrieval from a spinning disc, not some $200 Electric Avenue special that would read the same disc without any audible glitch.

It’s a very involved subject about which I’m sure you know a lot more than I. In the end, I welcome the transition to virtual media because as most things today are recorded in the digital domain to begin with and then manipulated, spliced, EQ and ‘mastered’ in the digital domain… it only makes sense to omit the conversion process to a physical medium which needs to be read with a moving laser and leave things in the digital domain from creator to consumer. That said, PCfi seems to be in its infancy still and there are many things even our so-called experts aren’t in agreement over yet. What I do know is that my $30’000 something APL Hifi deck’s transport (Esoteric UX-1) was beat fair and square by that piece-of-shit DVD/ROM drive in my iMac used to rip commercial CDs to its HHD.

Obviously a computer drive works quite differently than a CD drive but that experience was quite an eye opener. It’s honestly why I think Esoteric failed. Their brass was in love with vinyl and approaching digital like it – with superior mechanical engineering. Which they did exceptionally well. Except then computer audio came along and changed the rules of engagement. Suddenly owning the world’s most over-engineered CD/SACD transport no longer mattered. (Not to say that you could beat it with any old funky laptop but you could beat it with a properly configured commercial stock quality computer). Anyhow… I really appreciate you taking the time to email me in response to that little article. I learnt something and that means, this was a good day!
Cheers.
Srajan
Hi Srajan,
Just a quick email to say that I enjoyed your Munich show report. I also wanted to say that I do not share your regret of you not purchasing but returning to Italy the Albedo Apticas after your review as you mentioned in the report. My reason for this is that I was lucky enough to buy those for myself at an excellent price -:)

I ended up driving them with the Gato DIA250 which I am very happy with but I will always regret not being able to hear them with the Crayon integrated. I have replaced most of my system and cables etc. over the last 12 months with equipment you have reviewed so please continue with the excellent reviews. My last goal is to replace my optimised laptop with a dedicated music server of some description.
Regards,
Bryan Perrin

You dog !
Congrats on your speaker acquisition. On a dedicated music server of some description, I might have finally identified one I could live with. It’s the aria by Digibit of Spain. Their main man promised that he’d figure out a way for me to use it without Wifi. If so, sold. That’ll be coming up for review over the next few months so stay tuned. For now enjoy your system as is – with ‘my’ speakers -:)
Srajan

LOL, I really am enjoying 'your' speakers, your review was very accurate to my ears. I see the first part of the aria review is up and it looks great in the pics, plenty of options. This could be exactly what I'm looking for too! I'm hoping it sounds as good as it looks.
Bryan

Me too.
Srajan
Hi Srajan,
I must agree with your comments on what you’re showing in this attached picture from your review. Is it likely that Mr. Backert may address this with something a little more confidence inspiring for full on production? Hope all is well with you otherwise.
Regards,
Larry Phillips

I'm far from an expert on soldering. The very basics I was taught simply involved making a mechanical connection first, then using solder for a gas tight seal around it. A no-no was using solder alone to replace a mechanical joint. And some of those in the photo are nothing but that. Will production look different? Impossible to know unless you removed the motherboard for a look-see underneath.
Srajan
Srajan,
enjoyed your show report. As you suggest at the end, I triangulated it with reports elsewhere to find some interesting tidbits. Jonathan Valin tends to love anything Magico but he fully agreed with you on the very bad showing of their $600'000/pr Ultimate hornspeaker. He simply blamed a terrible room which presumably was the same everyone else had on that floor. Jeff Fritz who also loves all things Magico highlighted their horns as one of this year's best über speakers. One of you guys called this all wrong. As to your favorite room, neither TAS nor Stereophile even mention the Living Voice exhibit but many of their best rooms do feature in your report. The Audio Beat for last year and some blogs for this singled out Living Voice as the far and away best room just as you have now done twice in a row. Doesn't it seem strange that LV would be so completely overlooked by two major print publications?
Brad Winters

I would agree that Kevin Scott's room was hard to overlook. I simply couldn't begin to guess why someone might decide to not even mention them. Surely their effort of bringing some 3 tonnes of flagship kit from the UK merits some respect and at least marginal commentary. As to Magico's horns, I stand by what I said. I usually skip rooms with bad sound in my mentions. Given the very high price and profile of their exhibit, some comment on it was simply mandatory. I've now taken a look at other show reports and as expected learnt about many products I didn't cover or missed. Regarding different writers and their favourites, it goes with the territory that I'd not agree with all of theirs nor they with mine. As long as all of us remain consistent, it's simply a matter of finding reviewers whose tastes overlap with your own.
Srajan
Hi Srajan,
It was pleasure to meet you in Munich. I took good note about your WiFi issue and we’ll be investigating whether we can avoid using it.
Regards,
Juan Perez
CEO, Digibit

Hello Juan,
I'd be your first customer if you can. And I have to believe that there are others sensitive to the effects of WiFi on their brain and health who'd prefer not to use it for listening to music. Thanks very much for taking my request serious!
Srajan
Dear Mr. Ebaen,
The audio rumour mill has it that Job/Goldmund will be releasing a Job active preamplifier in the next couple of weeks and a monoblock amplifier later this year. Can we expect more excellent coverage of Job products from 6moons?
Best wishes,
Sound Argument

They certainly know how to find me. If they do, I'd be all ears and my pen would be sharp and ready -:)
Srajan
Hello Srajan,
I just needed to take a moment and really praise the efforts at 6moons. Honestly, there is more information and in depth writing about what we love (the music and the music makers) than virtually anywhere else. You’ve done something really remarkable here – and I just wanted to let you know how much it’s appreciated. Things are well for us here. Working a lot with Walter as you may or may not have heard. I’m in a quieter space and finding joy in places where I never expected possible.
Best wishes to you always...
Respectfully and most appreciatively,
Mark Schifter

Thanks, Mark. From the beginning I've focused on content and substance over flash and frill and trusted that the right audience would eventually be able to tell the difference. So far it seems to have worked out as hoped -:)
Srajan
Hi Srajan,
I am considering buying a new preamp. I currently have a Supratek Syrah. I know at one stage you owned the Cabernet. Mick Maloney (Supratek) only makes two preamps now. One is a DHT version of the Cabernet using the 4P1L tube. I like my Supratek Syrah (although the old Mullard NOS 6SN7 tubes are slightly microphonic) and Mick reckons the new Cabernet is the best amp he has ever made, which is one fine endorsement. Unfortunately the 4P1L tube is very microphonic (as are most DHT variants he has used incl 801A). There is a DIY site dedicated to a 4P1L preamp which describes various remedies to tame (or at least reduce) the microphonics but Mick isn’t interested in implementing them. I am extremely sensitive to microphonics and irrespective of the preamp's likely merit, I suspect it would always aggravate me. So I was considering alternatives.

One of them would be the Concert Fidelity LSX1 which I know someone friendly loaned to you (I would purchase it second hand) or a Veloce battery powered preamp but I was also interested in the Backert preamp which I actually stumbled across even  before you started reviewing it. Now given your experience with both the non-DHT Supratek Cabernet and the Concert Fidelity, I was wondering (without wishing to pre-empt your current review) how the Beckert stacks up against those two and whether it would in your opinion better those preamps and hence be a worthwhile (possibly final) purchase. It would be driving the Merrill Audio Veritas Ncore 1200 power amps into KingSound King Electrostatic speakers. I purchased the Merrill amps based on your review of the similar Atsah amps and I also own the Bakoon integrated amp (based on your recommendation) in a second system. So your advice is valued and would be appreciated on the Backert. Many thanks.
Dr. Mike Woolias

Fair questions all but faulty timing, Mike. I just put my 19-page Munich HighEnd 2014 show report to bed which consumed from last Sunday to Wednesday yesterday. I've let the Backert run 24/7 since I got home but without turning the main amp on except briefly to ascertain the Rhythm 1.1 was a-okay (which it was). I have to finish a photo session on the Pathos integrated today which arrived in the meantime, then it's time for the Clones DAC which showed up first. I'll be Backert-ing afterwards and should have a solid opinion in about two weeks. One thing I can already say? With the volume taper as currently set, the Rhythm 1.1 is fatally flawed. Into my 60wpc Crayon Audio amp and the 85dB EnigmAcoustics Mythology M1 monitors with my standard Metrum Hex DAC, I can barely open the volume control before things get too loud. The ramp-up from mute to loud occurs over a few millimetres on the pot's range to make it completely unusable in my context. With your high-gain Ncore you could look into a very similar issue. Of course that can be addressed if they replaced the current pot with one whose taper was shallower; and it's got nothing to do with sonics... but as it stands, it is a very practical consideration.

I'm fully with you on noise. I find it completely unacceptable. On that count this deck is dead quiet as it ought to be. Of course we're not talking DHT either so it's a different game as you're well aware.
Srajan
Hi Srajan,
I just wanted to drop you a note to say how great your coverage of the Munich show was, by far the best I’ve seen.
Best,
Nelson Pass

Thanks. I'm pleased you thought so. I tried to do something a bit different this year. Raw product information can be gleaned from brochures or web pages. Throwing up 100s of photos with nary a credit is for the amateur bloggers. As a supposedly professional journalist, I figured my job ought to instead be to filter through the glut and provide some background and contextual information which one simply cannot get from brochures or web pages. That's why I can't do real-time reportage. It takes me digesting the whole thing first before I can assemble an overall sequence and thematic. Plus, many insights come from after-hour conversations I wouldn't have if I sat in my hotel room writing and uploading. If readers have to wait a few days after the show is over before they get my report, that's the price to pay.
Srajan
Hi Srajan,
Just a quick note to say hello, and to thank you for your entertaining coverage of the Munich Show. It's interesting that you still put the Living Voice speakers at the top of the pile; I also wonder how much it might have to do with the Kondo amps? I recall hearing a complete Kondo Audio Note set up about a decade ago and it was so far ahead of everything else I'd previously experienced it was a little sobering. I think in fact I've subdued the memory to a degree, simply because the Kondo gear really does fall into the 'forever unaffordable' category! The speakers I am sure sound fab but for me at least, it's a shame they have such an eccentric Edwardian/steam punk aesthetic. The Boenickes on the other hand are sublime. Finally I see your Pathos Logos II amp review is forthcoming. I owned an original model for a long time and loved it, so your views will be really interesting.
All the very best,
Bill Armstrong

Absolutely Kevin Scott's showing was a function of a very systemic approach to rely heavily on the Kondo gear, Kondo cabling, battery supply, CD player, DAC and setup. That's the whole point. Individual components can only shine when the supporting cast is perfectly matched. Of course speakers being the physically most imposing kit, it's them which often get all of the attention but stated or not, it's always shared with everything else.
Srajan
Srajan:
I am sure you will be inundated with letters about your recently posted and long awaited comments from Munich. I have to agree wholeheartedly about the cosmetics of the smaller Soundkaos subwoofer as it relates to the W5. I also have to say that my wife will swoon over their looks and I hope in the not too distant future you will be able to hear them for yourself. Also interested whether you had a chance to see and hear Guido Tent's b drive while there. Thanks for your time as always.
Rich

Negatory on Guido's deck. I probably only covered about 1/5th of the event to focus on things I found interesting and learn more about those. I also knew how other publications would cover certain brands I could thus give a miss. The event was so big (plus the mini events at the Marriott and Kempinski) that one guy couldn't possibly cover it all. Unless all one was interested in were quick snap shots without meaningful commentary - but that's not me.

As you know my wife owns a pair of W5. I somewhat doubt I'll get to review Martin's 'matching' sub. It's far more likely I'll do the bigger unit which is styled to accompany the Wave 40 speakers I already own. But the basic tech is the same, only the drivers are smaller. So in a way I will get to hear the combo you're curious about.

Not sure how long awaited my comments on Munich could possibly have been. The show concluded yesterday by which time I had the first five pages up and I just added two today -:)
Srajan
Hi Paul,
First of all many thanks for your hi-end audio web articles. I am looking to optimize my actual audio install (power cables) and am very confused with the amount of brands which sell them. For me the problem is to have the best compromise between performance and price (as probably many users). In order to help me, here is my full install and my musical taste:
Preamp: Ayre Acoustics K5xe
Amp: Ayre Acoustics V5xe
Streamer: Lumin Music A1
Speakers: Focal Electra 1038BEII
Cable XLR: Audience AU24e
Speaker cable: Viard Audio HD20
Power cable: Furutech Fi28 Real Cable Chambord
Power strip: Bada 6600
Music taste: rock, pop, indie, electro

I am hesitating between those power cable brands for a budget of $900 per cable: Audience, Kimber, Nordost, Kharma, Acrolink, Purist Audio, Audioquest and Zu Audio. You may say they all seem good but if is not too dificult or impossible, what would be your top 3 between those cable brands?
Thanks for your help.
Best regards,
CB

Hi CB,
If you're confused about the choices you have between the cable brands you listed, I can list a dozen more without thinking. It looks like you've assembled a very nice coherent system. The only shortcoming I see is a lack of consistence in your cabling. Why not extend consistence to that?  Over the years I have tried more cables than I care to admit but one thing I have learned is that you'll get far better results by sticking with one brand of cabling throughout your system regardless of price. For example, if you like the Audience interconnect, why not go for their Power Chords and perhaps their speaker cables when funds permit?
Regards
Paul
Hallo Srajan,
I am writing you regarding this review. The problem is that the price for which Attilio sold this amp to the reviewer is not the retail price. He sold it to him as a one off for that. Suggested retail price in the EU according to Attilio should be  between €730-750 euro plus shipping which is an additional €50. This review is causing a lot of problems to me right now with the biggest one being a customer who was awaiting this writeup to publish before making up his mind. Now he just said that my prices in the UK are much higher, not equal to the EU as I told him. In fact they are but people believe what they want to believe and what they see. Your webzine has massive exposure as you know and it is not doing me and the rest of Tektron's EU dealers any favour. Please correct it asap if possible and post the note explaining the typo for whatever reason you or writing this gentleman would like to give. I will be deeply appreciative for quick action.
ATB,
Greg Drygala

Hello Greg:
What you seem to be saying is that Attilio as the manufacturer sold a custom amp domestically (Sicily & Italy being one country without customs clearance, different VAT and such) for a different price than it would have been through your shop in the UK. Surely if there are any issues, they must be between you and Attilio. My reader who wrote this report as a pure enthusiast after a personal purchase and without even being formally on my staff—hence the review identifies him as 'writer' rather than 'reviewer' and he has no bio on my site—certainly didn’t make a mistake reporting honestly on his facts. I appreciate your difficulty but these are things you must explain to your customer, not me. Rather than asking me to fix things for you, you should deal with Attilio who seems to have caused this issue in the first place. Can we agree on this being the proper course of action? If so, I’ll be happy to add a manufacturer’s reply in which Attilio can discuss this matter and explain it to our readers.
ATB.
Srajan

Publisher's comment: As it turned out after receiving an email from the manufacturer, our originally listed €600 price was correct - albeit only for Italian customers, not anyone abroad. The review has thus been amended accordingly and Mr. Drygala expressed his satisfaction with the outcome.
Hiya Srajan:
I see you keep busy over at DAR. I've been following your various KIH installments. Good stuff. Really loved the one on active speakers. Your latest one on conspiracy theories coincided with The High Fidelity Report's editorial on the same subject. It made for interesting counterpoints. Though he doesn't seem very active now, Harry Pearson is still listed on their staff. Wasn't HP known as the king of the endless equipment loan? That would strike me as rather more damaging to this entire credibility gap discussion than the occasional industry accommodation purchase.
Henry

Quite so. I think that depicting industry accommodations as inherently 'wrong' is groundless particularly if reviewers use them to build up a decent inventory of work tools. Unlike standard consumers, reviewers are expected to mix, match and compare to best accommodate their incoming loaners. That means owning multiple components in every single component category not really for the purposes of pleasure listening but as tools to do a proper job of it all. It's an expensive enterprise of constantly investing oneself. It's dealer rather than retail pricing which can accelerate this process. Obviously abusing this discount privilege to sell off such stuff for personal gain is completely unethical. But reviewers who don't own most or any of the gear they use for work because it's on loan lose touch with true value and credibility because they're not financially invested in their job.
Srajan
Dear Srajan,
I am quite envious of your access to Qobuz. High-quality streaming music! I've heard that Qobuz might be available in the US by the end of the year. Apart from Qobuz, there is also something in the wings called Wimp, a Danish outfit I believe. I'm not sure when they're planning to start up and whether they will be available in the US. It seems that those of us who live State-side have to depend on European companies to give us high-quality streaming music. Perhaps a statement about the state of things today. I agree with you about the depth of choice available through these streaming services. I regularly listen to Spotify though it is only MP3 quality. I could never hope to buy all the music I listen to and why would I want to anyway. For a monthly fee, I should be able to access the world's great music. A virtual library in fact.
Happy Listening,
Vasant Kaiwar

WImP is already active in five countries so the roll-out is well underway. And yes, it's interesting that on the topic of streaming music, Europe is currently leading the parade. If Apple weren't so asleep behind the wheel of their iTunes store, they could have dominated this segment for years already. But with Qobuz, WimP, Pono and Co. here or in the wings as imminent, perhaps that's still coming. Listening to some Shafqat Ali Khan ghazals as I write this - via Qobuz -:)
Srajan
Hi Srajan,
So I'm in the airport talking to a very pretty lady and a slightly scruffy dude. Jamie and Tony were here for Comiconn and they tell me they are actors in a show called Defiance. I don't watch TV so it means nothing. I say cool, we move on and chat away about nothing. I tell them what I do and they ask to hear my headphones. They appear to enjoy them. We're about to say goodbye when it flashes into my head that the opening image in your review was of Defiance so I show it to them. Hilarity ensues. It's particularly funny to me because I never watch TV. I am amazed my subconscious pulled that out of a hat as I think I had to ask what the image in your review came from.
Cheers,
Dan

That is hilarious. It took me quite a bit of Photoshopping to remove the original headphone in that graphic and get your AlphaDog to fit but I thought it came off okay. Apparently the cast agreed. Way cool!
Srajan
Hi Srajan,
I am a long-time reader of yours and have really appreciated the clear and cogent information you have presented. You have been instructive to me in the research and acquisition of many of the components, cables and accessories I have purchased. I have come to depend on your objectivity and your ear. As a passionate audiophile, I have invested over the years in various formats (CD, SACD etc.). Now we are faced with an even more daunting challenge: choosing the digital streaming format that will carry us into the future. This is a very important question as these high-resolution files are very expensive. It would be incredibly helpful to have your unbiased opinion of where to invest in the next high resolution digital download format (PCM or DSD).  

Other industry experts tend to disagree on this matter: Charles Hanson of Ayre and the management of Linn Audio both strongly promote PCM (while disparaging DSD), Ed Meitner strongly supports DSD. With these experts disagreeing, how is a poor audiophile to choose? I am sure that everyone has an axe to grind depending on their investments in one technology or another, and their relationships with the major chip providers. If this is something that you have already written about I apologize for this request and would be most appreciative of a link. If not, then you would be doing the community a great service, cutting through the marketing nonsense, and providing an objective analysis and recommendation on which format is best.
Thanks for listening.
Tom Lopez

I've written about this in passing, i.e. embedded in various reviews. I think it's a non issue. In a year or two every single DAC sold will be able to play both formats. Ditto for the various software players (JRiver, JPlay, Audirvana, PureMusic, Amarra). In fact most of it is already here. Buy the music you love in whatever format it is available to you. If you've got to choose between two files of the same music in PCM or DSD, it'll depend on your DAC and how it handles either format. DSD-ready DACs which use digital volume control convert DSD to PCM. DACs like the Meitner, Playback Design, Nagra and PS Audio convert all PCM to DSD. Arguably the purest way to do PCM is via R2R ladder DACs - and true one-bit for DSD. That would mean NOS DACs for the former and FPGA-coded for the latter since commercial 1-bit chips no longer exist. But that's still partial theory. In the end and to my ears, the mastering quality of the file is far more important than the format. And from what I've heard so far, hi-rez PCM has the more informative top end and sharper transients, DSD is softer and sweeter. Which is better? I couldn't say at this point.
Srajan
Hello Srajan,
I am one of your readers who has made some big system changes based on your reviews. Your review of the Eximus DP-1 swayed my decision to hear one and then purchase one soon after. The upfront mildly sweet character of this DAC turned out to be a good fit for rest of my system. But of course, upgrade dreams intrude...

I have recently been dwelling on whether a high-quality USB/SPDIF box with built-in isolation between my Macbook Pro and Eximus would be a worthwhile upgrade. While perusing the Audiophilleo and JK Ciunas battery-powered units I came across the Audiobyte Hydra. And then I came across your preview of it. Any thoughts as to whether this would take the sound of the Eximus up a notch or two? The Eximus seems to have taken leave of your recent reviews so not sure if you have listened to these two together. If so, was also wondering about sonic preference for RCA versus AES digital inputs on the Eximus. Thanks very much. Keep up the great reviews. 
Sincerely,
Bryan Kestenbaum

Excellent question and one that'll be answered in the review once the Hydra arrives (it hasn't yet). Re: S/PDIF vs. AES/EBU, the latter is the more robust higher-voltage signal and I tend to prefer it. Of course it also depends on the quality of the cable. A killer S/PDIF cable might well outperform a mediocre AES/EBU. But for my SOtM USB bridge I always run AES/EBU into my Metrum Hex converter (and with a cheap van den Hul cable despite owning Chris Sommovigo's very best Tombo Trøn S/PDIF leash).
Srajan
"If we establish a rough time line, first there were Pioneer and Yamaha and their lot way back when this type of headphone was still called orthodynamic"...

Hmm... Wharfedales circa 1972? (I realise you were still in knickerbockers then.) I hope when you talk to Nigel Rich, you put the question as to why there is no proper $ to £ price match? It really is taking the piss re UK. Already they are pricing it to match Audez'e, of course. You'd expect better from Oppo?
Chris Skelton

I'm not certain we can expect globally set pricing, Chris. And the PM-2 is expected to come in at 40% less by going for less advanced cabling, doing away with the presentation box and incorporating some lesser materials in the construction albeit without affecting the actual motor and diaphragm to presumably make very similar sound.
Srajan
Hello Srajan:
I just saw your reply to Karl-Heinz below. You mention industry-affiliated individuals working as reviewers. If you haven't yet, you should read Chris Sommovigo's editorial on 'Conflicts of interest in the press' [here]. His main point of contention is quite different. He points at the industry accommodation pricing discounts reviewers receive. For that his publication has a policy which disallows its writers to accept any such discounts. How does 6moons handle this?
Prakash

Our own writers work pro bono. They receive no monetary compensation for their time and effort. In turn their occasional reward is purchasing a component at dealer cost. The manufacturers make their usual profit but the reviewer doesn't pay the extra dealer margin since no dealer was involved. Purchase interest however may not be expressed until a review has been published and the piece is due to be returned. In short, our writers can't approach a manufacturer with a purchase request, then offer to review the piece as some form of favour. The sequence must be review, publication, then request to purchase the loaner instead of sending it back. Writers we syndicate via translation obviously are on staff with other publications who have their own policies in this regard.

I just read Chris Sommovigo's piece. As an importer/distributor, are we to think he purchases gear for his catalogue at full retail? Certainly not. He only pays distributor cost which is less than dealer cost (and for good reason since a proper distributor is expected to handle distribution, advertising and warranty repairs for his market). So I'm not sure how this 'no accommodation' rule works for him. And in his VPI Traveler review, Michael Mercer who writes for that site and others outright mentions accommodation pricing as we see in this quote: "...The results in a nutshell: After the first record I wrote Vihn at Gingko Audio and asked what my price would be! Yes, I get industry accommodations. However, I would have paid for it either way."

Regardless, I don't view the occasional dealer-cost acquisition by our reviewers as a problem if handled in the proper sequence. Unlike Sommovigo however I think that folks deriving an income from audio sales & marketing shouldn't formally review. It goes beyond not reviewing their own brands. Say a reviewer was working as a paid consultant for NordOst and even wrote their promotional materials. He shouldn't just not review their cables. He shouldn't review cables, period. If NordOst had a close working relationship with Raidho speakers, should he review their speakers or any speakers for that matter? How about powerline and resonance control products which NordOst make as well? What's really left for that guy to review? It gets murky very quickly. To delve into it all would simply be a multi-layered discussion well beyond answering your email. But I will have something on the general topic for John Darko's website in a week or so. I'd originally written it in January but prior editorials I submitted were already in the pipeline to come first...
Srajan
I am really looking forward to your review of the Puls from Joachim Gerhard. I have been a fan of his since owning his Audio Physic Step SLE speakers. Your comment about Joachim bringing cred to the wideband design is spot on! I have checked out his offerings with Sonics and Canalis but what I have heard has fallen short of the purity of the Step SLE.
Steve Marsh
Hello Srajan:
I just came from ETM for my daily dose of hifi reading when I hit upon Matej Isak's review of the Spanish rack you own. Knowing that you appreciate language, I thought you would not need more than the first paragraph to get my point:

"Cayetano Castellano of Artesania Audio arraigned our exclusive world first review of their all-new four shelf Prestige Suspended Audio Rack system with the special turntable platform. It took quite some R&D to finish the suspended system design of the Artesania Audio Prestige model, as this completely upgraded system evolved from the top-of-the-line Reference model. The trickled down technology of the Reference series incorporates its advantages, yet with the absence of the shelves. All the components are suspended and float in the air, yet still offer the rigidity and stability of the shelf system. The double design structure of the Prestige equipment rack is still the same as with their Reference model. It this in the way each shelve can be used if needed that has changed. Along the dealing with the resonances and micro vibrations, the Artesania Audio Prestige Suspended Audio Rack system also implements the freedom of air circulation. This provides electronics to operate within their desired working temperature to continue in offering stable performance and durability."

I appreciate that the reviewer probably is no native speaker of English. But should not his publisher have corrected his poorly written copy? Such cavalier attitude does little for a professional presentation of our avocation. Nor is it much fun to read when one stumbles over crass grammatical errors or typos in every other sentence.
Karl-Heinz Schönberger

Given your name, I'll assume you're not a native English speaker either? Neither am I. But you and I both are agreed. This isn't one of the finer examples of the craft. Certain sites and publications uphold higher standard than others. I never see this type of thing with Doug Schneider's sites. Nor those of Stereophile. Marc Mickelson at The AudioBeat too does a very good job on this count. Horses for courses. To switch focus, current publishing issues also include writers whose industry affiliations should prevent them from working as reviewers. So standards seem to be sliding. Perhaps soon we'll have google translations of foreign reviews disguised as proper syndications? If nobody complains, it's well possible. Googlized reviews can be hilarious in fact. I've done a few just for my own amusement. Korean to English in particular is absolutely bizarre -:)
Srajan
Hello Srajan,
I hope this note finds you well. Long time reader, first time e-mailer here! I have indeed enjoyed the music and gear reviews from yourself and staff over the years, always a good read! I enjoy reading about the gear you review that typically isn't seen, let alone heard of here in the US, and your photos of said gear are always wonderful insights to the build and design. Coming across the Clones reviews over the course of a year, I have wondered about building a fairly inexpensive system utilizing the AP1 and 55PM's possibly. Of course this could even be less money if the 25 watt integrated would be utilized in place of the trio but am thinking of a setup that could possibly grow with various speakers over the long haul.
 
I have typically come from multi-way, dynamic driven speakers that usually require hefty power requirements(I currently use Shahinian Obelisk 2 with Plinius 8200 integrated-would love to read your thoughts on Shahinians designs someday!). One thing that I find somewhat tiring is that the system(s) that I have or have had, seem to only wake up at higher volume requirements, and lately, this is harder to do as my listening times have changed somewhat to later evenings when others are sleeping. My thought on the above has drifted to the Clones and potentially looking at single-driver speakers that on a similar level/budget would work well together, and deliver the musicality and detail at lower volume levels. One speaker that I recalled in one of 6moons review was the Hoyt-Bedford from Louis Chochos of Omega fame. I am curious as to your thoughts on this potential combination, especially at moderate low level listening. I tend to listen to various types of music, from prog rock to jazz, world music etc. Requirements are not on the bass end, I am happy with around 40 hz, but a realistic midrange and upper end is what I value most.
 
I appreciate any thoughts here! And thank-you again for the time and effort that is constantly put in to your site, and for sharing the music with us! Also, I love the new home you are in now, from the pictures you have posted, it appears to be a wonderful listening space. Best wishes,  
Timothy Frazeur

Hello Tim,
I've not personally heard the Hoyt-Bedford but if its claimed 97dB spec is fact, it should indeed be an early riser. Like you I find that quality very important. Looking at their driver, I see more of a Zu than Lowther-type approach. That leads me to think that your Clones notion is a very good one. That gear is very cannily voiced and quiet. It's got a lot of gain however and one observation I had with the AP1/55PM combo was how early on the dial things got loud. In your case that'd get accelerated even more. That would be my only concern - being left with a pot that goes from zero to screamer over too few clicks to be practical.
Srajan
Greetings Srajan.
I was the guy in CH who wrote last year in June about my good luck in getting Job/Goldmund in GE to agree to let me purchase the 225 (when it was still sold on Amazon). They had to send it all of 125km! In your response at the time you suggested I let you know in due course about my experiences with the amp. Well, nearly a year down the line, here I am … and today the Job’s status/prestige (as well as marketing policy) are a ‘whole nutha thang’. The amp has not been out of my system since I purchased it in June ’13 … which means that a pair of Prima Luna monos as well as a pair of Parasound monos are idly rusting away in their respective corners. Nothing in my aural memory inclines me to put either of these back into play. Together with my ancillary equipment, the sound I have at home is simply wonderful. Nevertheless, I am thinking of pairing the Job with a passive preamp to get any redundant gain from the JC2 active out of the signal path and in that way perhaps experience a degree or more of purity, transparence and drive. A while ago you reviewed two preamps which appear interesting – the Tortuga Audio LDR and the Polish Khozmo (though I did note the exchange (sic) between you and the manufacturer). Simply put – would you have a preference in regard to these two? Would you suggest another passive? Job informs us on their site that a passive is in the offing … but no dates, etc. are provided. I would be grateful for any opinion. Many thanks in advance … and I continue to ‘leaf’ through your site as a much appreciated occasional respite from academic chores.
With every good wish,
E.M. Swiderski

My favorite passive is the Bent Audio Tap-X autoformer passive with full remote control over volume, balance and input switching. But at $2'000 or thereabouts it's probably costlier than you had in mind. I've not heard the Tortuga. That was another contributor on staff. But it's certainly got a very solid following and Glen loved it so that would probably my pick and a financially attractive mate to the Job.
Srajan
Greetings Srajan,   
I've been a long-time lurker on your website and bought a number of pieces of kit based on your reviews and been quite chuffed by the results, thank you (I've got a Onix SP3 on its back right now replacing a 30-ohm power tube resistor as we speak - tube shorted and let the magic blue smoke out of the resistor - a bit of a mess). Below is an exchange I have had with Audioquest regarding their silly-priced Ethernet cables (and after a little looking, Chord is even sillier with an Ethernet cable at 2'000 GPB).

A bit on my background. I build big TCP/IP networks. Think some of your favorite search sites server farms, an Internet backbone that at one time carried 30% of the public internet was my design as well. I also have been involved in the standards and protocol design of the Internet and TCP/IP for well on 20+ years (chairing working groups in the IETF, ITU, etc.). I've been actively involved in some of the protocols that are actually used in transporting audio when streaming. With that background I can safely say that there can be no way an Ethernet cable can effect TCP/IP audio stream. There is no such thing as "soft" packet corruption - either a packet is bit-perfect and therefore handed to the application to process, or it's not and it's dropped. Cables don't effect that. The only way a cable could is if it is miswired, which would lead to massive link failure at speed. 

There is an insane amount of IT-grade (read cost-optimized engineering) on either side of that cable as well. Stuff that may not even meet FCC class B certification requirements. Even if it is a top-end custom streamer, it's still got a Broadcom, Intel or similar chip providing the MAC layer function, and a crappy little transformer terminating the network. Any goodness that the cable is providing (which is useless anyway) just went out the window. The number of impossibilities in the marketing materials are also annoying:

1) Shielding doesn't make a bit of difference in an Ethernet cable. There is nothing to tie the shield to. Unless you are running shielded network jacks (very very uncommon - usually found in hi-EMI factory floor applications for example), there is no termination for a cable shield on either end of the cable. That's why Ethernet cables are twisted pairs. That's how they reject noise.
2) Directionality? TCP/IP is inherently a bi-directional thing. If we are really worried about jitter, then jitter in the back channel is just as damaging as jitter in the forward path (the window won't open until the ACKs make it back).
I get cables - but we need to call BS on what is obviously BS, else the whole industry gets painted with the snake-oil brush, again.
Christopher Liljenstolpe

Greetings,
I have been an audioquest customer in the past as I do believe there is a difference in analogue cable performance. I could even, possibly, agree that SPDIF may benefit as there isn't really a datagram disassembly/reassembly on the ends of a SPDIF link.  But, guys, come on, Ethernet?
1) Jitter is not corruption, it's variability in inter-packet arrival time.
a) Jitter on a cable is infinitesimal on a cable, compared to the processing elements on either end.  We're talking sub micro-second. I know, this is my industry.
b) The full spectrum of the audio signal is encoded in the same packet - there is no "smearing" or other jitter effects between high and low frequency signal - it's all in the same packet.
2) It's Ethernet - if the packet is malformed, it get's retransmitted. That's a huge hit. If cables caused even a 1x10^10 packet errors, everyone would be screaming. $0.85 cat6 patch cables from monoprice have a BER substantially lower than that - it's just not an issue. If it were, IT wouldn't work. A single bit error causes the re-transmission. That's a logged error, not something quietly dropped.
 
This is unmitigated snake oil and simply a bald-faced attempt to separate a fool from his money. The pasting you are getting on tech mailing lists (like CAGeeks - of which many subscribers are audiophiles) is hilarious. We all agree that you have completely lost your mind and, frankly can't be taken seriously again. Good on you if you can get a muppet to buy this cable. Unfortunately, I (and many others who have seen this product), will never darken the threshold of your door again. You may get something from the idiots, but I will never give you another cent of my money - the gall of this is just too much.
Good day to you sir,
Christopher

Hello Christopher ―
Thanks for the email. Would you be interested in a demonstration? If there’s an AudioQuest dealer close to where you live we’d be happy to set up an appointment so that you can hear our Ethernet cables for yourself. Let us know if we can offer the proof in the pudding.
AudioQuest

Ahh no, waste of my time. If you actually understood TCP/IP networking, you would know that there is absolutely no way this has any effect. Even if it did have some effect on the wire, the packet disassembly, reassembly etc. that happens on either end would render it completely useless. It's a packet network. Those packets are either bit-perfect or they are not. The jitter in the wire (there is usually none, even on segments 100s of KMs long) is completely overwhelmed by the jitter and head-of-line blocking in the MAC layer on the NICs on either end. $0.89 Monoprice ethernet cables are used in High Frequency trading where jitter of even 1ms. is worth $Ms. If the packets are bit-perfect, they are accepted, if not they are dropped and it is almost never a "soft" cable failure. The cable is wired correctly or it's not, usually it's a cable break, switch or NIC failure or some other issue. It's a hard fail, not a soft degradation.

On top of that you are going to plug that cable into a $80 Gigabit or 10/100 switch (or even a $5000 one). Guess what, they all use the same chips - Broadcom. And I can guarantee you that there is no "biasing" or "directionality" going on inside that switch. In short, there is no way for it to have an effect. I buy into the cable quality for analogue and maybe unbuffered bitstream (SPDIF and the like).  This is packet networking. It's a different kettle of fish.
Good luck in your fleecing.
Christopher

Hello Christopher,
thanks for your email. I'm always interested when experts in their field talk hard facts. My issue with all of it is very basic. When trusted reviewers with whom I've worked for years to have bidirectional listening confirmations send me a review which describes audible effects for products that either shouldn't work, period; or not how they're described by their maker... I'm publishing the review.

In many ways computer audio is still in its infancy. Software players whose main job seems to be memory management sound different even though experts insist they can't. But their benefits (or simply sonic differences) often seem to vary with OS and other factors which don't seem to be fully understood yet. There was a time not so long ago when S/PDIF cables were simply mono analog wires. Today nearly everyone with ears and a decent system agrees that purpose-designed hi-speed S/PDIF cables are, as you put it, "a different kettle of fish". And prior to that we had a time when it was heretical or foolish to suggest analog cable could sound different. Today USB cables find themselves in this transitional phase.

Is there a chance that looking into the future by 3-5 years, we'll have a different understanding of networked audio streaming than today? And if so, will some of it have come about because some foolish audiophiles kept insisting that things made a difference which the establishment insisted couldn't possibly be? When it comes to hifi apps involving Ethernet, my personal experience/exposure level is still nil. I use bog-standard wires between my router and music computer to purchase music or stream it. I've not felt compelled at all to change anything about it since I suffer no drop-outs or other observable weirdness. But that doesn't prevent me from publishing reviews about the subject by folks who are experimenting with it. Granted, it's a fine line between an open mind, being taken for a dunce and spreading outright mythinformations. This obviously also applies to deciding what to write about and what to publish. And it's pretty much a given that this line gets crossed. It's part of the endless learning curve. But as long as the dialogue remains open and dissenting opinions are published and aired like yours in this case, I don't see any real harm done -:)
Srajan
Dear Webmaster,
I am a passionate music lover and am looking for reviews of some hifi audio equipment - speakers and amplifiers. But I fail to find anything that I am looking for on your website. How does one look for reviews of speakers and amplifiers? Why is 6moons so poorly designed? Could you please improve the layout of 6moons website and make it user friendly? Thanks,
Anurag Moghe

I’m not sure what issues you have. We’ve had this design for more than 12 years and nobody else has your problem. For audioreviews, click on the audioreviews icon on the showcase page (which is the page you automatically get to from the opening screen), then scroll to ‘current’ reviews and click on the icon of any component you want to read up on. Unless there’s something weird with how your web server behaves (try FireFox for Windows or Safari for Mac), it’s so easy that 10s of 1000s of regular readers find what they’re looking for every day…
Srajan

The bigger issue is that there just too many ads so it makes it impossible to go through a review without the ads coming in your way. Could you show the ads away from a review on the sides?  If you still don't see my point then I'll send you a few screen grabs of your website so that you'll exactly know what I mean. One last question. Do hifi manufacturers pay your reviewers for the reviews or are the reviews done completely independently and in an unbiased manner?  Thanks for your response.
Anurag Moghe

The ads are no different from any print magazine – interspersed with content. That’s the going business model. And I know exactly how my website looks on all the going servers since I’ve designed it and do all the HTML processing. No need for screen captures. You’d of course like free content without any ads. Only trust-fund babies can afford to work for free. I can’t. I doubt you could. So ads are what affords you the ability to read our content without paying a dime for it. And the ads are deliberately placed where you can’t overlook them or otherwise they’d not serve their purpose. All of this is so basic, I’m surprised I have to explain it. Ads you can ‘tune out’ are worthless.

Manufacturers never pay for reviews.

It really comes down to this: You can read us the way we are; or not at all. But I won’t be making any changes along the lines you’d seem to prefer. Again, we’ve been online for 12 years. The site works just fine the way it is. If it didn’t, I’d most certainly be making changes since, again, this is my livelihood. But if you dislike it, there are certainly plenty of other sites you might prefer. You’ll simply have a very hard time finding more than one or two without advertising.
Srajan

Srajan,
I thought I'd send you a short e-mail seeking your help. I am looking for speakers for pure music listening for my room of size 19 feet x 13 feet. I hear from people that speakers made by Harbeth, Spendor, ProAc, Neat, PMC are good. So I thought I'll seek your recommendation of the make and model? What type, stand-mounted or floor-stander would you suggest?  Besides this I will appreciate if you could give me an idea about the price point at which a speaker's value to price ratio is optimized. FYI I like listening to jazz, classical, reggae, flamenco, world music, and film music. The reason why I am seeking your help is because (a) I assume that you're a music lover (b) you have been in the hifi audio field for a long time and have noted general character of speaker makers. As you know that some of the speakers (and amplifiers) are just insanely expensive and don't make much sense from a value to price perspective. Thanks a lot for your help.
Best wishes,
Anurag Moghe

Speakers are the most imperfect distortion-prone part of any hifi chain and their interaction with a domestic space is quite unpredictable. In short, it's the perhaps most individual personalized choice to make. It's thus important to expose yourself to a number of designs to get a feel for what you like and learn a bit on the subject. There are so many different types and technologies, it's impossible to come up with anything specific which also is a function of what's available in your market when you're starting out with no clue whatsoever. First you'll have to come up with a comfortable budget. Then listen to a number of speakers in your price range by visiting local dealers (hopefully you'll have a few) preferably bringing some of your own music. Be sure to not play louder than you would at home; and to have the speakers no farther out from the wall than you could accommodate. Preferably the audition room itself mirrors the general size of yours as well.

It'll probably come down to deciding between a stand-mount 2-way and 3-way floorstander. Most people buy too much speaker for their room - what I call the Humvee for grocery shopping syndrome. For $3'000 for example you could get something like a Gallo Strada 2 with TR-3D subwoofer. That's a high-value proposition and one I own and use myself. But again, you first need to educate yourself a bit by exposure so whoever you ask for advice has some data points to go by. So go on a small audition adventure even if it means taking a day or two off and traveling a bit. People shopping for cars test-drive them or even rent them for a day to know what's what. The same holds for hifi, particularly speakers. The brands you list are all British so presumably that's where you live. One of the very best setup men I know there is Kevin Scott of Living Voice and Definitive Audio. He approaches hifi from a systemic view and has a lovely showroom for demonstrations. Perhaps make an appointment and be taken on a fabulous ride by a true expert in his field. That could save a lot of time and dead ends.
Srajan
Srajan,
just read the two new power cord reviews by Marja & Henk over the weekend. Very interesting. So was the LessLoss response. They rather dumped on their Polish competitor and argued that by having zero effect on noise in the RF range, their design sounds better. Comparing the comments of your writers, it's far from clear to me that they actually preferred the LessLoss cord. "No shivers" didn't read like it was any improvement. And comparing $1.50 cords on their amps to two $1'850 each LessLoss was merely subtle? Not very impressive. Plus, for all their expense the LessLoss cords had no shielded plugs? Wow. I'm wondering whether Mr. Motek's reply wasn't just a very slick spin job which you bought into by publishing.
Ron Davis

I remember a saying about giving, a man and some rope. Allowing makers space for a response is a time-honoured tradition. Whether and how they wish to exploit that is up to them. I would certainly agree that talking badly about a competitor is nearly always a questionable tactic. Again, no rope, no spectacle.
Srajan
Dear Srajan,
I loved your Pono feature and couldn't agree more. To me 16/44 or better streaming is the real future. Which brings me to two parallel articles related to the subject. Chris Sommovigo just wrote one called 'The great digital swindle' where he argues strongly against digital files. And your former contributor Michael Lavorgna just stated that he dislikes most streaming services because "they're restrictive and narrow in the music they present to me according to their notion of my taste". I must admit that their arguments quite passed me by. Did you read their editorials? What did you think? Did I overlook something?
Jeffrey Taylor

I just took a look to share your reaction. I couldn't relate to Sommovigo at all. I love the digital files I bought. They're on various hard drives in my home. They get copied to iPods and my Astell&Kern. They travel to the exercise bike, to my wife's studio, to our car for on-the-road fun and to friends when we visit. I can purchase them from the comfort of my home. I can sample them before I buy and access a far greater variety than any music store selling discs could ever carry. Buying from places like BandCamp means the money goes directly to the artists. What's not to like?

I also don't share Michael's sentiments on streaming. Be it Spotify Premium at 320kbps or Qobuz Hifi at full FLAC resolution, I pick what I want to listen to. It's literally no different than reaching for a CD. But there's a huge difference in the depth of choices. And cross-link features where in a streamed compilation album one can directly access all the artists makes discovery of new music child's play. Ditto for 'similar artists' links and such. So I'd have to agree with you, Jeffrey. I couldn't relate to their arguments either. Which probably means I can't see beyond my own blind spots.
Srajan