Your space to participate, comment & critique

For published correspondence February 2004 thru July 2004, click here.
For published correspondence June 2003 thru February 2004, click here.
For published correspondence June 2002 thru June 2003, click here.

First of all, let me congratulate you on your fine website. There are a few reliable audio publications on-line, but none approaches the finesse of your design. Second, I must tell that I've read several of your reviews (and essays) in GoodSound, SoundStage!, Enjoy The Music, and now 6moons, and I do like your style... Even today I like to read over a review you wrote back in 1999 on the Lyrrs: not because I own a pair, but due to your delightful prose. Those analogies with bullfighting and the fish that was supposed to be dead are so much fun to read (and to the point). A golden ear with a dull pen doesn't grab me. A writer should be aware of his craft. That's why I'll keep visiting 6moons.

N. Vidal, Portugal
From a mooniac hardcore reader of 6moons. I've been enjoying the benefits of EAC for the past year. Your article helped illuminate why it works so well. I've also been combining the EAC with a Yamaha CD burner that uses what they call "Audio Master Quality" which burns longer/larger pits into CDRs. Your article ended up helping understand why this Yamaha feature probably works so well, too. It really does make a great difference in the quality of the recording. So I thought I'd send along this little explanation from the Yamaha web site

Yamaha's Audio Master Quality Recording dramatically reduces jitter. Using this feature, the recorder will write longer pits and lands than when in standard mode. Thanks to a variable linear speed, CD-players will read CDs created with the feature at the same speed even though pits and lands are considerably longer. The difference is not only technical, but audible as well. This unique recording feature succeeds in a way that traditional CD recording methods have always failed. It brings true-to-press quality to newly created CD-R or CD-RW music discs.

Yamaha's Audio Master Quality Recording mode widens pits and lands, significantly reducing jitter during playback. In test after test, listeners proclaim they will never go back to the old way of writing audio CDs again. The results, they say, are astonishing. While the CD player's laser unit reads the data, the photo detector covers a wider area per pit or land. The jitter factor remains under 20ns, or a reduction of up to 30%.

Kevin Teixeira

Hi Kevin,

thank you for your reply on our 6moons article. Every day we learn more about this phenomena called CD. Your pointing to the Yamaha technique is certainly something we are going to look in. Especially the way they handle longer pits in relation to the clock is interesting (longer pits mean greater linear speed to compensate). It also proves that there are more enhancements to be found. For our planned CD-R shoot-out we will look at the Yamaha if possible.

Marja & Henk

I've been listening to some recordings that I was a part of and these little Ohm Micro Walsh speakers are really somethin'! From mutli-track to live single-stereo-mic-to-mini-disc recordings, they have a certain accuracy that I wasn't expecting. They're not "studio monitors" but they bring me back to the actual time that we were laying down the parts - weird!

I'm also impressed with how great older recordings that didn't sound so good in the past sound. That great soundstage just lays it all out without grossly EQ-ing - not "perfect" but better than anything else that I've heard for 3X the price...

Time to keep breaking them in...

Neil Miller

I read your review of the Ensemble Dirondo and HiDac and would like to make a couple of brief comments. First, bravo (part one) for calling it as you heard it. Bravo (part two) for checking in with Jules Coleman to see if you were just off the mark, it's good to check your results especially with a product at the price level of the Ensemble pairing. I've done the same and think it a wise practice.

Second, I can understand your experience of respecting and appreciating the Ensemble pair without falling in love. If there is a balance point in matters of taste or appreciation of art, I found myself similarly poised - that is to say, I also found it on the border of analytical. In my system, I found it controlled and organized. It filed instruments and singers in a way that was a far cry from my Audio Note 3.1x, which I found to be uncontrolled and impressionistic even when not called for. As a counterpoint, the Ensemble was a welcome experience. And, as this is a subjective matter, I have found that live music can be an emotional experience but isn't always, and that was my experience with the Ensemble pair. As a reviewer, I have commenced an inquiry whether emotional involvement is the point, or whether it is the experience of a live event that I'm in pursuit of.

As with ocean tides, my preference in musical reproduction has moved closer to "just the facts" than a romantic impression. That said, I too would have preferred a hair more romance or sweetness, so I cannot and do not fault your conclusion.

I do, however, find the Ensemble pair to be quite removed from the sound of a particular brand of popular electrostatic speakers that present music like an autopsy, i.e. everything is there and in its place and the only thing missing is life!

Finally, I'm not sure if I mentioned it in my review, but my Audio Note is also the most expensive digital piece I've had in my system prior to listening to the Ensemble pair. It may be that I missed part of the landscape of what's possible and what's available, but I so enjoyed my experience that I was and remain willing to bite at the Ensemble apple. And, to my mind rather than from my actual experience, I thought I might find a bit more emotional content with different wiring - rightly or wrongly. Finally, finally, I had an opportunity to listen to the Gryphon Mikado CD player reviewed at It, by comparison to the Ensemble, was far drier, more mechanical, perhaps more detailed but DOA - much like the electrostats mentioned above.

In conclusion, should Urs Wagner sweeten the sound of the Ensemble pairing, it would be welcomed but if he doesn't, I could happily live with the Ensemble pairing as is. And as a context, my system prompted Jim Grudzien whose system is more romantic and relaxed to remark the sound was "sweet." And so this simply reminds me, if no one else, that this is a subjective pursuit with many paths to many places of bliss.

As a reader of audio reviews, thanks for your work - keep it up.

Larry Cox

Hi Srajan,

I read your review of the RA Opus 21 CDP today. As Jules had put it, you hit the nail on the head and heard what I've been hearing for a while. I've had the Opus 21 CDP for a long time now and have used it off and on in a headphone system or systems with speakers. It's one of my favorite components and a real keeper.

Recently, I converted my home office system into a full-blown listening station using a custom SS integrated and JM Reynaud Trente speakers. In this system, I've compared the Opus 21 to digital separates, an Accustic Arts Drive 1 transport (purchased before the price increase and so real value) and Wavelength Audio Cosine DAC, similar in concept to the Zanden DAC. The differences I heard were in ambient retrieval and that "tube" sound of a DAC's analog tube output. Otherwise, the Opus 21 held its own and had slightly better PRaT. It continues to impress me.

I've used the Opus 21 direct and through a preamp and tend to prefer the preamp route due to the increase in body it provides. I've found that using a better power cord really helps the Opus 21; I use a TG Audio 688. I also had a custom DIN-RCA cable made and there is an improvement in running direct rather than using the built-in volume control.

Please, by all means, review the RA integrated if you can. There is nothing out there on it. I'm very curious about it, though I must admit I'm a tube guy. But simple SS designs can be similar.

I must add that I appreciated your review of the Ensemble products. Your words give you credibility. Doubtless the Ensemble will appeal to some listeners' ears, but I appreciate your opinion on how you heard it. As a reader of reviews I think it's important to understand a reviewer's perspective and preferences. This information adds to our understanding of the review.

Dear Mr. Ebaen,

I have very much enjoyed your reviews and am interested in combining two products you have examined: The AKG K1000 headphones and the Audiopax 88 (stereo version.) They would seem quite suited for each other although Audiopax has been unable to confirm how their Stereo 88 will perform into the AKG's 120-ohm load. Have you had a chance to try out the Audiopax Stereo 88 amp driving the AKG K1000? If so, I would very much appreciate your input on their compatibility. I listen mostly to large-scale orchestra, chamber music, jazz and some rock. Mark Mickelson asked for me to contribute a regular column on the UltraAudio website offering perspectives on state of the art SACD playback. I hope to start off with the Meitner DCC2 /CDSD combo. I think the Meitner, AKG 1000, Audiopax Stereo combo might be an excellent tool to show us more about what's hidden in those DSD grooves!

Best wishes,
Kelly Tang. Ph.D
Prof. in Composition & Musicology
TU, Singapore

Dear Kelly,

Congratulations on your UltraAudio! assignment. Truth be told, I had never tried the combination you're inquiring about though I of course own the Model 88 monos and AKG K1000s. I called Eduardo in Brazil and he confirmed both that his Audiopax amps are compatible with the load (he performed tests with a 100-ohm dummy load to be sure) and that the Stereo 88 is 6dB quieter even than the Model 88s which are amazingly quiet on my 103dB-efficient Avantgardes. Seeing that you will be using this proposed combo for critical review purposes plus the fact that I could be sitting on a sleeper combination of massive proportions (something I somehow overlooked ever testing before your e-mail), I tried it on for size this weekend: Accustic Arts Drive-1, Zanden DAC, Bel Canto PRe2, Audiopax monos, 2 x Stealth Audio Indras and a 15' run of Stefan AudioArt K-1000 cable with spade connectors.

In three words? "Holy crap, Batman!" If you're Christian, "Jesus" would be appropriate. Niwaykers would just say "Fuck me" and be done. You get the idea. First off, no noise issues of any sort - dead quiet. Secondly, no gain issues either, of course. The attenuator setting on my PRe2 closely mimicked what I use for the Avantgardes in a free-air far-field posiiton - the 70 to 80 band which tops out at 120 on this preamplifier, getting into the 100 band for classical albums with low median recording levels. Raunchy tracks like "Madre" on Khaled's latest with heavy bass, massed strings and blatty brass in very dense arrangements really showed off what these 'phones can do, with astounding out-of-the-head soundstaging. Brucker's 6th with Inbal and the Frankfurt Radio-Sinfonia was stunning! Oh my - now you've done it. I'll keep this setup for the entire weekend to write some overdue music reviews. I had no idea that these amps would be such ideal candidates. Thank you. Btw, consider the Stefan AudioArt an absolutely mandatory add-on and banish the stock cable to the trash as quickly as possible. You'll thank me. I look forward to your first reviews...

Dear Jeff,

I think sincerity, openness and uniqueness are hard to attain in every aspect of our lives. To achieve this in professional writing should be even harder. In the context of audio journalism, I think that 6moons and its writers are like a fresh spring in the mountains. Moons' approach to world music and audio without any hint of discrimination refreshes our souls. This should be what real and fine 'globalism' is about. Pictorial details given in the nicely shot big pictures (like in your Fi article), beatiful fonts and nice page design makes reading a joy. Think of reading a copy of Absolute Sound circa 1990s. But I would be pleased even more if you gave the album covers a larger size (maybe double space?).

When I read the lines of yours, which are magnificently put -- "Music brings back the joy and wonder of my childhood; the sorrows of the death of friends and family; the sensations of newly found and lost loves; and all those little victories and losses tucked away into the corners of my soul that make up the tapestry of my life's experiences - of who and what I am." -- I thought you had just written it for me and all of a sudden I became very emotional. This brings us to the fact that HiFi is about music. I'm happy to observe that this is not forgotten in your articles.

For the last few weeks, I have been carrying your guitarists' albums list with me to check with the music markets. Until now, I was not able to track down even one of them in Ankara. Finding albums is not easy in my town. Although I do not play guitar, I love guitar albums. One of my favourite guitarist was the late Duane Allman.

Your lines referring to John Knowles' interpretation of "Black is the Color" reminded me of my favourite version by bassist Mark Johnson. His 1986 ECM album "Bass Desires" track 3 gives us one of the most touching versions enriched by Frisell and Scofield solos.

Before I close, I should add that I've been in the audio business professionally since 1994. I used to distribute several audio and music brands in Turkey including Audio Note, Rega and Quad (for the 63 speakers mainly), Water Lily Acoustics, Audioquest Music, Rounder, Alligator and Bis. I was the first person who in 1995 introduced single-ended triode amps to audiophiles in Turkey. Now I have a very small cable firm (SilverFi) in Ankara which manufactures custom-made silver cables. We are a boutique type firm having a rather different approach to cable design. I have already sent some samples to Positive Feedback for a possible review. Max Dudious cited our products in his latest article "A trend?" in Volume 14. Maybe my products have a humble role in that article.

Warm regards,
Sezai Saktanber
To Terry Cain:

I "passed on" your letter on 6moons today (regarding your visit with Nelson Pass) to Joe Cohen of PranaWire as I found some of your comments and descriptors most interesting (due to some cable reactance issues he and I have been discussing). Here is his response. Most interesting indeed. Perhaps you have further information that can be discussed and elaborate on this new design, in light of Joe's comments and Yamamura's history. And perhaps Srajan can make some fodder out of these discussions for another enlightening article for Auroville or the like, especially a continuum between Japanese design philosophy and more modern products such as this new Pass amp. Any takers?

Alan Kafton

Yamamura designed a transconductance amplifer which I used in the pair of Dionisio horns that I owned. The Kleinhorn is a Dionisio with straight sides in sections rather than a continuously expanding curved shape - certainly a lot easier to build but not as elegant. Yamamura's current-mode amplifier had some very wonderful sonic qualities, similar to what I hear in high quality single-ended amps, but it had one serious drawback: It could not see a network or it would catch fire. If you blew a driver -- which I did -- it saw an infinite load and caught fire - which it did in my living room. Yamamura believed protection circuitry compromised the sound. I would rather compromise the sound than my house. [Nelson would agree with you, Joe. I was told that I could try the T-1 on any speaker with a network but that the results would be questionable since the current-source amp looks at networks in an inverse fashion from voltage-source amps, i.e. a capacitor in parallel looks like a coil in series to it. - Ed.]

The equalization built into Nelson's amp is a very good thing and should certainly raise the level of the driver's performance, well documented in the 6moons article. It is interesting how 11 years after we introduced Yamamura's amplifiers and Dionisio horns at the Chicago C.E.S., this line of inquiry is being continued. The US audio world was not remotely ready for anything so outlandish as single driver rear-loaded horns and current-mode amplifiers in 1993.

Joe Cohen

Just last night I saw a documentary on the makings of Kevin Costner's "Open Range" movie with Robert Duvall. In it, Kevin admitted how he knows all aspects of movie making except for scoring and how challenging it was for him to interact with composer/arranger Michael Kamen, expressing what he wanted in an intelligent way about a subject he could relate to emotionally but not technically. When it comes to the "outlandish" areas of HiFi in particular, I feel very much the same. There are countless hobbyists and DIYers who have explored and experimented in these fringes with real first-hand experience. Moi? I'm a babe in the woods with an unwashed behind when it comes to single-driver designs and "classic audio". The challenge then is how to combine my innate curiosity and passion for music/audio in general -- which is the motivating force behind what I do -- with some semblance of intelligence and an educated outlook when tapping into these decidely non-mainstream areas.

Just because I'm a self-published auteur of sorts doesn't mean I know this stuff. On the other hand, I take the written word pretty serious just because people may assume that once it's published, it must have a solid basis in reality. That's indeed what I want and one reason why I'm happy that Nelson's ball came along to run with. He can explain things in layman's terms and has a solid grounding in mainstream commercial audio, ingredients that don't always go hand-in-hand when considering the more esoteric/experimental strains of this hobby.

The long and short of it is that I'm running with this ball and we'll see where it leads. I can certainly use all the help I can get and will appreciate whatever is offered in a spirit of camaraderie and mutual exploration/learning. I don't mind making a fool out of myself as long as there is a chance I can learn that I was a fool when it's all said and done...

Dear Jeff,

"We want more school houses and less jails, more books and less guns, more learning and less vice, more leisure and less greed, more justice and less revenge. We want more opportunities to cultivate our better nature."... It makes you want to devote more of your life to the leisure of enjoying music and less time to the treadmill of greed and achievement...

Your closing remarks (which is very rare in audio journalism, almost absent) on music, politics and the meaning of life impressed me a lot. Bravo. Your style and synthesis on music, gear and life is astonishing. Please keep on writing. Continue bewildering us.

Sezai Saktanber
Ankara Turkey
Hey Srajan,

My visit with Nelson Pass was a blast. Been to the mountain and all that. His generosity and hospitality were humbling. On top of that, he bought the pair of Abbys I was going to send you. I'll get another identical pair going for the review. The First Watt amp is a dream. I heard the "Pirates of the Carribean" soundtrack so palpable on his big horns, I was awestruck. And that with common zipcord speaker wire. He had a low-voltage powered relay to switch instantly between the new amp and an old Aleph so one could hear the difference between voltage-source and current- source based amps. I noted a more liquid and free presentation with better bite on every recording.

We also measured the Abby in quite a few different damping/resistive settings and we'll forward our net findings by the time you get them for review. Gotta say too, I have never heard the Abby sound better. Great combo: Wadia, balanced Pass linestage, First Watt amp, Abby. All the tube holography and tight bass and clarity. Sounded like the very best of tubes with a bit more bass punch.

I think Nelson got a kick out of how loudly the Abbys would play. He jumped up to check the cone travel. They played easily loud enough for realistic classical and pop, the voice coil starting to warm and blur the heavy bass and top end (very loud). His new current-drive amp and compensation circuits (with which I concur) contributed nothing in the form of associated problems as when driven by a conventional voltage-source amp. Using conventional amps with passive circuits contributes sigificantly to nonlinearlities and creates haze and grit even though they do flatten response. Nelson explains it best why this approach works with passive elements in a current domain vs voltage setting and in a non-destructive way. I'm still sorting through my weekend trying to figure it all out. On top of that, I left my notes there - arghhh.

You're in for a treat. We all are. This is actually breakthrough stuff for single-driver fans. By surveying the field and applying vast amounts of techological and creative energy, Nelson jumps far ahead of the imaginary "EQ without consequence" (current-source amp and gentle output impedance EQ) and guilt (what purist has impedance- compensated networks and single drivers and no feedback?).

Nelson probably has a good idea every couple of minutes, a great one once a day. He probably has built 1% of these. Our HiFi world is so lucky!

Terry Cain
Dear Srajan,

I have to first thank you for running, an informative and interesting site for audiophiles and a refreshing alternative to mainstream printed audio magazines. I bought the first pair of Anthony Gallo Nucleus Reference III in Hong Kong based mainly on reviews and in no small part based on your very own detailed review. I would have loved to base it on my own audition but unfortunately, the only pair of Reference III available for audition in Hong Kong was at the distributor's office. The makeshift audition room was far too small. The speakers were less than 4 feet apart and I was sitting about 5 feet away from the speakers. The ampilfier driving them was a low-output tube amp which was terribly under-powered. My wife accomapnied me to the audtion. Even though she is not an audiphile, she remarked that the speakers did not sound good at all.

Anyway, after 2 weeks of run-in, I am truly glad that I bought this pair of speakers. Practically everything that you wrote about this amazing pair of speakers is true. I am sure they absolutely deserve the "exceedingly rare first-ever Lunar Eclipse Award". However, having re-read your review and remarks about blue moons and lunar eclipses, here's what I have found. There are in fact two definitions for a blue moon. According to the more recent definition, a blue moon is the second full moon in a calendar month. An older definition for the blue moon is recorded in early issues of the Maine Farmer's Almanac. According to that definition, the blue moon is the third full moon in a season that has four full moons.

Over the next twenty years, there will be a total of 17 blue moons with an almost equal number of both types of blue moons occurring. No blue moon of any kind will occur in the years 2006, 2011, 2014 and 2017. A blue moon thus is a rare event. Nevertheless, is a lunar eclipse really rarer than a blue moon? A lunar eclipse occurs when the earth's shadow falls on the moon. Lunar eclipses occur on average every 6 months. So a blue moon is actually rarer than a lunar eclipse. Maybe you can consider thinking about switching over the name of the 2 awards.

Thanks again for this wonderful and insightful site.
Best wishes,
Dr. Roland Lim

What can I say except that Dr. Roland's lunacy is deeper than my own? Kidding aside, I clearly stand corrected. Sincere thanks to Dr. Lim for taking the time to 'research' this matter. While we're trying to have a good time here which includes a certain amount of levity and not taking ourselves too seriously, we are committed to getting our facts straight and clearly screwed up in this instance when taken literally. However - the graphic for the Lunar Eclipse Award shows all 6 moons in one line suggesting an event of true rarity. As long as we don't get too technical, it should serve its purpose as intended. Perhaps 'conjunction' would have been an astrologically more correct term?


Thanks for the fantastic bit of history and review of Don's amps. It was great to finally see Don's legendary Watts street shop. I currently work in Western SoHo and have walked by the former site countless times - too bad SETs weren't on my radar back in the day it was up and running. I was the proud owner of one of Don's early 2A3s (non-rounded plate) you show - what a great amp! Sadly I sold it in the never-ending search for the next greatest thing. Now I'm running Welborne Lab DRD 300Bs with the DeVore Gibbon 8s. I'm a low volume listener and very tempted to have Don build me an X to swap in for some late night listening.

Thanks for the great review.
Peter Fontanetta

I thoroughly enjoyed your review of the Fi amps. Having lived in the Northeast when the store was open, I was struck with nostalgia when your review appeared. I currently own the Super X and Avantgardes and I am thrilled with the combo. The 47Labs digital gear helps too! I have tried NOS 45s and I own all of the Sophia mesh tubes including the 300B 2.5s, the Mesh 2As and the Mesh 45s. I think I like the Mesh 45s in the Super X the best of the modern tubes, but the Sovteks are not bad in this amp. Good old NOS RCAs are darn fine also. I think Don Garber has great ears. His gear is intensely musical and he has a flair for industrial design. I would love to own all of his creations. The Super X is amazing for the price. Thanks again for a wonderful, insightful and entirely relevant article.

Kind Regards,
Chris Keating

Just finished reading your article on AudioCubes and the grey area import situation and would like to offer a comment. We have had to live with an authorised importer in my country (New Zealand) offering a product, in this case Grado headphones, at grossly inflated prices for around 3 years and only being forced into some sort of action by a parallel importer offering Grados on a local auction site.

The Grado prices took a very sharp hike here when our dollar fell against the US dollar but despite an NZ 25-cent recovery, the inflated prices never changed and enthusiasts like myself were left looking at around an NZ $800 difference between what our local importer was asking and what we could have landed a set of RS1s here from the US including freight and taxes.Yes, I have paid more on a product through a local dealer to gain warranty and backup service but I also don't like being ripped off and if there is an alternative service being offered, I will certainly investigate it.

Since I live in a small town at the bottom of the world, it's great to finally be able to source some of the great audio gear through people like AudioCubes. While I had lusted after some RS1s to upgrade my SR225s, I have become so disgusted with Grado here that I've gone for another brand, the AT-W1000 thanks in large part to your excellent review on your site. In fact, a friend who was also looking at the RS1s has also gone to the W1000s (now looking at the CEC headphone amp). Thanks again for your review. It was a touch of sanity amongst a lot of garbage at some of the headphone forums. Like you, I fell in love with the ATs on sight and can't wait for them to arrive.

Robin Collins
Hi Jeff,

I really enjoyed your review/history on Fi. I own the Fi X and have been interested in Don's amps since I first read Art Dudley years ago. The history of Fi is really a great story and those images you included are just wonderful. I believe Don's sensibilities as a visual artist really come through in his amps as well as those great ads! And he's such a generous person to boot.

As an fyi, since I've owned the Fi, I've used the 5Y3WGTA JAN PHILIPS and found them at Angela for $6.50 (a very good price!) and they seem to have a good stock (but give me a day or so to order more if you plan to publish this info:-)

Thanks again for the article and I think it's very cool to keep Don in the 'public awareness'.

Michael Lavorgna
Hello Srajan,

It sure is funny how circumstances come into play in your ordinary life processes when you least expect it. I've been visiting your site and reading your reviews, variously, for the last six months or so and, in general, have found them to be a breath of fresh air in the typically stifling atmosphere of audio bs and ramblings that is too often found in most print rags out there today. Sometimes you start to veer off on philosophical tangents that leave me somewhat perplexed but, as a rule, by the time you wind things up, I've managed to figure out where you've been going and it does make sense to me. Maybe I don't have enough exposure to this world music thang and am limited in my purview and ability to relate but, hey, I'm trying. Anyway, on to business.

A couple of days ago, things were slow at work so I jumped on-line at audiogon just to check out some of the auctions and see if there was anything interesting going on. I clicked on the cartridges category and I immediately see an ad for the Cartridgeman out of the UK but placed by a guy from NY who apparently represents Cartridgeman as an intermediary for US audiophiles who need services. I have a Walker TT with an Insider Ref cartridge that's a few years old so I decide to contact the gentleman in NY to inquire about a re-tip because I know the day will soon be coming when it needs to be done.

The price is definitely right compared to sending it back to Clearaudio so I'm certainly glad I made the contact on that level but from that point, fate stepped in and things rapidly took an unexpected turn before I knew what hit me. By the way, the guy in NY is named Bill Feil of Audiofeil Intl. Bill nonchalantly asks me about my system so I tell him - Atma-Sphere M-60s and MP-1, Accustic Arts CD drive, Dodson 217 MK.IId with 218 software upgrade and Avantgarde Duos [cacti], all wired up with prototype Bybee ICs and PCs and Valhalla speaker cable. And then he blindsides me with the big one.

"Alan, what you absolutely have to try that would make your system utterly sing is the new Indra IC by Stealth. Have you heard about them?" Well, needless to say, having read the virtual paeans to this cable as posted on 6moons, I was already jonesing over them but hadn't the slightest notion of actually pursuing them because I sell cars for a living and, dammit, I live in the real world and have no businesss dabbling in extravagances that would bring pause from the sultan of Brunei. But thanks to you and Coleman [whose audio journey of discovery seems in many important and meaningful ways to exactly mirror my own], I wolfed down a coupla Zantacs and stroked the big one - a one meter balanced no less. So now I'm on the list and should expect the blessed event from the audio stork to arrive in about 30 days. I sure hope you guys are right about the audio nirvana that I've signed on for 'cause even with a 30-day trial period, I'm still awful antsy about any IC that costs more than my car is worth.

So that's my story. What started out as an innocent investigation into the cost of a cartridge re-tip during a quiet moment at work ended up in a spur of the moment cable purchase that'll set me back two months pay after taxes. It's all on you and Jules. I'll let you know my assessment after I've installed it.

Alan Trahern

To the Editor:

Some of us in academia see the world in unusual ways. The following was forwarded to me by another professor with too few LPs in his collection. Read on Horatio!

Les Turoczi

Thermodynamics of Hell:
The following is an actual exam question given on a University of Washington chemistry mid-term. The answer by one student was so "profound" that the professor shared it with colleagues, via the Internet, which is, of course, why we have the pleasure of enjoying it as well.

Bonus Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)?
Most of the students wrote proofs of their belief using Boyle's Law (gas cools off when it expands and heats up when it is compressed.) or some variant. One student, however, wrote the following:

"First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing over time. Hence we need to know the rate at which souls are moving into Hell and the rate at which they are leaving. I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore no souls are leaving."

"As for how many souls are entering Hell, let's look at the different religions that exist in the world today. Some of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell. Since there are more than one of these religions and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that most souls go to Hell."

"With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially. Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle's Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, then Hell must expand proportionately as souls are added." This gives two possibilities:

1. If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.
2. If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.

If we accept the postulate given to me by Teresa during my Freshman year, that "it will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you" and take into account the fact that I still have not succeeded in having that event take place, then #2 cannot be true. Thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic and will not freeze."

This student received the only 'A' in the class.
To the Editor:

That music can get you into (inner) space is a widely known fact. Some French -- who else -- audionauts went just a few steps further. Check it out.

Marja & Henk

12 July 2004
The use of Ariane launcher technology has blasted a French loudspeaker firm into a winning position. Haliaetus Technologies won a top prize in a prestigious competition for creative start-ups with an innovative loudspeaker that uses rocket nozzle shapes to reduce sound distortion. Three years ago, Jean-Pierre Morkerken, an acoustic researcher from the French lab 'Laboratoire d'Acoustique Musicale' at the 'University Pierre and Marie Curie' in Paris, got the idea to adapt rocket nozzle profiles to loudspeakers boxes. He tried it out with surprising results. The invention reduced quality losses due to aerodynamical effects, and allowed better sound for a smaller size of speaker.

For the Ariane rocket, the shape of the nozzles is crucial to secure the best gas flow with no turbulences during take off. For speakers, it is essential to make the sound waves propagate with as little turbulence as possible to avoid distortion. The objective of the rocket design engineers is very similar to the one of their acoustic colleagues – to reduce turbulence. "I have two passions: Acoustics and aeronautics. Knowing how rockets and their nozzles are designed to work best and understanding well the tricky elements of loudspeaker's sound reproduction, I just had to add the two!" explains Jean-Pierre Morkerken.

A start-up company was created, Haliaetus Technologies SAS, and following further research and development, the team has now finished industrial prototypes thanks to support from ESA Technology Transfer Programme (TTP), its French TTP-partner Nodal Consultants and the French government's innovation programme. "We are now preparing for a commercial launch of our products on the market in October 2004," adds Raphaël de Thoury, Manager of Haliaetus. "Our initial loudspeakers are designed specially for professional use and studios."

From the Editor:

Meanwhile, Nelson Pass, just for the hell of it and because he can, has been prototyping some single-driver horns affectionately known as Kleinhorns. Seeing that 'klein' is German for small, we're left to wonder what Grosshorns would look like. Gross, unlike the English, is German for 'big'.

Hello Jules,

I agree that the Reimyo CD player is fantastic. One thing though - Audio Logic's newest transformer upgrade has made a nice difference in the last 2 months. The detail is slightly better in the Audio Logic, the transparency is better on the Reimyo I had the opportunity to hear. Jerry is very adamant on using a top transport with a Phillips mechanism to match the DAC.

From both ends on the software, the Accustic Arts and his DAC are magic. Cables are very subjctive. Even with true 75 ohm designs, you may have to try several. DHlabs has a killer one at under $100. If you can believe that, maybe it's not the best but close. Also, Jerry does not advertise every time he finds a way to tweak something.

I like your style. Keep up the good work and lucky you - you get to play with all the big toys...

Best regards,
Paul Letteri

Hello Jules,

You write in your VRS audio review that "the common review practice in Japan (and apparently in Finland as well) is for reviewers to listen as a group in the same listening environment. It's not an option here in the States but I try to replicate it as best I can whenever I can."

You may add the UHF magazine in Canada. Personally, I can't believe the validity of a review unless several people listen to the same reference system in the same environment at the same time. Yes, everyone listens and hears differently (and yes, listening and hearing are two different concepts which my students can write very long papers on). But then there is discussion, debate, opinion, consensus and conclusion that bears reading, comprehesion and evaluation in reference to one's own experiences, critieria, room environment, system and listening preferences. This is more informative than a set of single reviewers with several 'reference' systems are able to provide, due to a wider set of variables that depend on equipment and listening environment

Thank you for your time.


Dear Ihor,

There are advantages both to individual and to group reviews. The advantages of the latter are precisely those that derive from group discussion, debate, the need to defend one's view to others and so on. Personally, I never draw conclusions with confidence until after I have heard what others think I like to listen with others. There are disadvantages of group listening as well. What may begin as a diversity of opinions and points of view may collapse under a strong-willed personality. Group think may replace independent judgment; conformity may be the order of the day. Fewer products can be reviewed and reviews are in general much harder to arrange.

I have sought a compromise. Just like I only discuss philosophical issues that I am trying to address with individuals who have the same kind of analytic training I do and are otherwise committed to clarity and precision, I would not find it helpful to listen to the equipment I am reviewing with individuals who favor inefficient speakers with metal dome tweeters and solid state electronics. I exaggerate of course, but I do prefer to listen with people who are broadly speaking 'on the same page'. There is, even among such a group, plenty of room for meaningful disagreement. Indeed, it is in part because we agree upon so much that our disagreements are likely to be both meaningful and worth pursuing further.

I do think one wants to be careful in claiming that the validity of a review is tied up somehow with consensus or collective evaluations. The validity of the review is connected with the quality and character of the reasons one offers on behalf of one's judgment. Sharing those reasons and defending them in a group situation may increase one's confidence that the reasons one settles on are in fact sound or good ones, but it is their soundness and not one's confidence in their soundness that is at stake.

I hope to take up more of these kinds of issues in further 'think pieces' as soon as I get myself out from under the reviews I am in the throes of preparing now.

Thank you again for your brief but thoughtful comments.


Thought this might tickle your fancy: Technology developed to bring music out of flowers

TOKYO July 16 Kyodo - Telecommunications equipment maker Let's Corp. and satellite radio station Music Bird said Friday they have developed technology for making natural flowers vibrate to create musical sounds. The system, comprising an amplifier, vase and an acrylic resin cylinder, makes flowers' petals and leaves vibrate and transmit sounds just as the paper cones of stereo speakers vibrate, the two said.

Great review on the Eastern Minimax CDP & audio-technica Souvereign ATH W1000 headphones...

Michael Lavorgna
Generic Network Systems

TOKYO (Reuters) - People who like talking to their plants can now enjoy a musical accompaniment, thanks to a Japanese invention that turns petals and leaves into amplifiers.

Called the "Flower Speaker Amplifiers," the gadget made by Let's Corp is hidden in a vase or a potted plant and sends music at just the right frequency to vibrate up the stems and then be converted into audible sound by the plant as a whole. A device such as a CD player or radio can be connected to it.

"Anywhere where you would want music naturally integrated with a natural surrounding," said Hirohiko Okugawa, a manager at Let's, referring to locations for the device, which he expects it to be popular for hotels and hospital lobbies.The inventor of the gadget, Keiji Koga, said: "We are finally able to experience plants and flowers with all five of our natural senses."

The firm expects to begin selling the speakers by mid-August for 5,000 yen ($46) to 50,000 yen depending on the plant's size. And according to Koga, music is also good for the plants, which are invigorated by the constant musical vibes.

Hi Mr. Coleman,

World's best CD player? For whom, celebrities and plastic surgeons? The lunacy of this hobby is amusing. I am going to put my $14k on a used Lexus...ha!



A Ferrari Testa Rossa may be the best car in the world, but not everyone can afford it. That doesn't make it any less good. It also doesn't make owning such a car crazy - at least not for those who value what it can do. It would never enter my mind to buy one, however, even if I could afford to. The Reimyo sits at 14K which is not cheap. But that puts it way below lots of other high end CD playback systems that it is far superior to. From that perspective, it is not only among the best redbook players one can buy, it is a terrific value. When compared to the very good sound one can get from any number of under 10K cd players, it is less obviously a great value. But none of that bears on whether it may well be the best CD player in the world. That it may well be.

BTW, you ought to be able to do better than a used Lexus with 14K:)

Warm regards,

Dear Editor,

Just read Tim's letter. What Tim doesn't understand is that the Reimyo is something you do for yourself, the used Lexus is something you do to impress the neighbors.

John Potis
Dear Mr. Coleman,

Thanks so much for reviewing some Shindo products. I had come across articles in the Nouvelle Revue du Son that mentioned them in the context of exceptional individual installations but never as a separate review. Again thanks, very informative.

My great hope is that you will review the Latour speakers and their resurrection of field coil technology (I seem to remember 6moons mentioning it). By the way, the technology is discussed in the latest HIFI+. This is another opportunity for 6moons to blaze a trail!

An audiophile in Belgium.

Chris Stokes

Dear Chris,

Thanks for your kind letter. Keep an eye on our site for other reviews that may interest you. As for the Latour field coil loudspeakers, I have been in discussions with Jonathan Halpern about just that. There is currently one pair of the legendary Shindo field coil loudspeakers in the United States and I am scheduled in August to have an extensive listening session with them. Jonathan is expecting to have a second pair for his reference system by the fall. If all goes well, I should be able to review the speakers sometime next Spring. In the meanwhile, for those of you like Chris, who are interested in learning more about field coil technology, there is a very good description of it on the Shindo-USA website.

Glad you enjoy the Shindo reviews and our site in general.

Hello Srajan,

I recall reading your article "Pavlov's Puppies" where you mentioned how conditioning & experiences determine choices & reactions to audio equipment - among other things in life. There is, I think, one more element that needs to be added here: That of one's philosophical makeup - or the lack thereof!

Drawing from the realm of audio & music, people who are into, say, single-driver speakers & SETs tend to be people who are, how should I put it, seekers of the truth? They seek simplicity, a removal of extraneous layers to arrive at the core which can lead them in a quest for the gestalt. These are people for whom their entire life is a seeking. This philosophy also starts reflecting in their musical choices which tend to lean towards the 'purer' forms of music.

The same can be extrapolated across various audio leanings. Push/pull tube guys will tend to favor 'this & that', a sense of pragmatism leading them not a quest for the absolute truth but what seems achievable. Solid-state guys would tend to be more literal. The numbers are the justification. 400watts is better than 200 - contentment with surface realities rather than the innateness of things.

All of the above really struck me when you mentioned that you love Dhrupad. It is the purest form of vocal rendition in Indian Classical music. So, in the context of your article, it all seemed to fall into place. Of course, there is an element of exaggeration as there is wont to be in all generalizations but broadly speaking?


That's an interesting point you make. Saiphul. I would definitely have to agree that one's world view is deeply involved in both our perception of reality and the choices we make based on this perception. Of course translating this to audio, just as you say, comes with the danger of exaggeration and the added danger that statements like these (or even mere suggestions thereof) could be misread as value judgments both of particular design philosophies and the people who embrace them. That said, it does very much seem that if you're into the gestalt of the music, SETs and single-driver speakers (despite or perhaps because of their limitations?) can be a very straight path. The only thing I find sad about any such discussions is that many audiophiles never actually try all of these different ways to Rome but comment about them or write them off regardless.

Somebody fond of high-power amp/low-efficiency multi-way speakers might still much prefer them to a micro power triode/Lowther combo (just for argument's sake) but at least then you know from experience if you've actually tried it out first and then wrote it off as not suitable for your personal needs. I feel bloody fortunate that being a reviewer and magazine owner affords me countless opportunities to exploit my innate curiosity about various approaches to 'musical truth'. Plus, the growing team of fellow contributors expands how we can realistically follow up on some of the diversity the market offers and, hopefully, have more and more varied material to read - a li'l something for everyone who logs on in short. At least that's the general aim...

Dear Srajan,

As you recall from our previous communication, I've been working over the past couple of years on a kitchen table company First Watt. I have ended up (at least initially) focusing on drivers characterised by high efficiency and attempting to cover the full audio range. I think that what I've ended up doing is an even better fit for you than what we originally discussed.

At the risk of reiterating what you know, the First Watt concept comes from the Dick Olsher quotation you may remember, "The first watt is the most important watt". I have more recently heard it expressed as "Who cares what an amp sounds like at 300 watts when it sounds like crap at 1 watt?"

The F1 is a 10-watt no-feedback, balanced single-ended Class A current source - the input voltage is translated to output current, not output voltage. As such it ignores the back-EMF of the speaker and the series impedance of all the elements including cable and voice coil. As you may know, cone speakers are acceleration-based and a current source gives the most accurate force/acceleration to the voice coil. In our listening sessions, we are switching back and forth between voltage and current source (levels equalized) and the results are not at all subtle.

I am attaching some curves for the Lowther PMA2s which show the normalized frequency response curves of the speaker, the solid line being the F1 (a current source amplifier) and the dotted line being an Aleph 30 (a voltage source amplifier). These were taken in a 1.5 cubic foot sealed enclosure.

One set of curves (NF) shows the nearfield response, and the other shows far field. The NF response curve have a 1KHz bandwidth and can be trusted up to about 300-400Hz, and the far field FF figure from there to 20KHz. In any case, we are making apples-to-apples comparisons between the Aleph 30 and the F1.

The DX55 curves were taken for a sealed box at .7 cubic feet, and the PM2As were mounted in a 1.5 cubic foot sealede box. Of course the possibilities with tapered pipes and backloaded horns are endless.

After you see these, I won't need to tell you that the results are really interesting and the sound we're getting is a surprising improvement. Of course the bottom and top are boosted in proportion to the impedance curve but it's remarkable that there is no sense of flabbiness or lack of control and the effect tends to be self adjusting - as the driver's acoustic loading is improved, the impedance bump goes down and so does the output of the amp. In our experiments to date, we are seeing good results from all manner of enclosures, although typically sealed boxes lower the excursion below resonance - otherwise we usually put a high-pass filter in front of the amp below resonance.

I am getting very similar results with the Fostex products and to date we have tested just about everything that's available from Fostex, the Lowther DX55s and PM2As, and others like the Pioneer fullrange drivers and Jordans and Mangers plus anything else we get our hands on...

The curves you see were examples of some of the better frequency response curve improvements, but I have found in a number of cases that some variance in the values sound better, depending of course on taste and material. Interestingly, the best measurement values for the Lowther DX55s were also the best-sounding, but this was not necessarily the case elsewhere...

As an added aside, the amps have very high balanced or single-ended input impedances, no thumps to speak of and noise levels as low as 20uV or so (compared with the 200-400uV of an ordinary amp) and will cost about a couple thousand dollars...

Nelson Pass

Hello Srajan,

You guys must spend a lot of time lurking on the Asylum and Audio Circles to have picked up on this amazing little amp [Sonic Impact - Ed.]. For what it's worth, I have a couple of suggestions I hope you will pass on to the reviewer to maximize the quality of sound from this little hummer.

First of all, the cheap volume control is the weakest part of this amp which sounds a lot better if you just crank the thing all the way up and use it as a basic amp with a good preamp. I have had good results using a quality passive preamp (inexpensive custom made by Scott Nixon) and even better results with several tube preamps, especially one without a cathode follower/buffer stage.

While the amp works well on 8 x AA batteries, you can improve the sound by using an inexpensive 12V battery booster as a power supply (I use a $30 one from Target that also happens to be color-coordinated with the amp). Another option is to use a 13.8V/3-5A regulated linear CB radio power supply which will give you an extra watt or two. Tripath's published maximum voltage for this chip is 13.2V but they told me that a tightly regulated 13.8V supply is okay and I have had no problem goosing the amp to that level. Some of the Audio Circle crowd use a $20 Pyramid linear power supply sourced from Parts Express. However, I recommend a higher-quality power supply made by Astron which costs about $10 more. As you can tell, I am a "spare no expense" type of guy. I recommend against using a switching power supply as Tripath chips put out a healthy dose of RF hash which doesn't need to compounded by its power supply.

Keeping with the theme of amazing bargains, I suggest the reviewer try using a Home Depot 14-gauge outdoor extension cord (the orange and black one) for speaker wire (an Audio Critic recommendation from a couple of issues back). Just twist the bare wire tightly and jam it into the cheapo spring connectors (careful or you will snap the plastic levers if you reef down on them too hard). A $4 Radio Shack stereo mini to RCA converter will allow the use of decent interconnects (Nordost Solar Wind in my case).

I use one of my Sonic Impact amps to good effect with my 93dB Loth-X BS-1 speakers. Sonic Impact markets this amp as 15 watts but it only puts out about six watts into 8 ohms so efficient speakers are a must. However, I have also had good results using two of these suckers in a bi-amped configuration to drive my 83.5db LS3/5As. In that set-up, I use the Astron AC power supply to drive the midrange drivers and the battery booster to drive the tweeters, which cuts down the high frequency system noise.

Obviously, you cannot tweak this amp into Bel Canto eVo territory but a little inexpensive DIY setup can produce remarkable results in a small room system. Hell, I enjoy listening to it in my main system but I am not a head banger or a bass freak. For the ultimate low-cost system, just add a Toshiba 1350 or 1360 DVD player for RedBook playback and you've got a very musical, satisfying el cheapo system. By the way, you can get this amp from Target Online for a mere $19.95. Is this a great country or what?

Thanks for reading these ramblings. I appreciate that you are open-minded enough to review something as offbeat as this amp. It has certainly increased my interest in your web 'zine and I predict it will help broaden your readership.

David Dye
Bethesda, MD

Hello David,

Jeff Day is the moonie responsible for landing this catch and I forwarded your loaded-with-tips note to him this morning. Thanks very much. This is exactly the kind of "audiophile community" type exchange I enjoy the most. The hobbyist underground element is what created hands-on excitement in the 'olden' days of HiEnd. Arguably, as the mainstream developed, some of that has receded or, at least, lost visiblity in the mainstream press. We're just as guilty as everyone else for being ignorant about some of the current trends in DIY and thus really appreciate folks like you 'working with us' by providing tips we otherwise might never come across. Thanks for giving us this opportunity!


Hey Srajan,

Nice review on the MiniMax. That little amp has a lot of soul. When are you coming to NY to hear a real sound system?

Robert Lighton

Hello Robert and fellow Niyakwers,

I'll make a trip to the Big Apple in the fall. Besides your Audio Note UK Level-5 rig, I want to hear an all-Shindo setup, Jeffrey Catalano's Horning/Kondo rig, David Karmeli's setup and an all mbl system. All of these are privately owned statement systems and if anyone else in the city extends an invitation, I'll add a course or two to this smorgasboard. The idea is to do an informal report on Xtreme Audio examples in New York. What could be more fun that such a drool trip?

Dear Mr Coleman,

I'm one of your readers who was familiar with your professional work long before coming across your audio reviews on 6moons. So let me say a few words about myself first.

I'm a teacher/researcher in philosophy at the University of Helsinki/Finland. My main fields of study are moral and political philosophy. It is in this capacity that I have come across your work in political and legal philosophy. More importantly, however, for almost a decade now I've been writing as an assistant editor for the only Finnish HiFi magazine called HIFi-lehti. Tube amplification, turntables & necessary accessories, sensitive loudspeakers etc. have been my specialities. Hundreds of loudspeakers (we carry out group tests), amps, digital players and other components. have passed by my ears over the course of many years. I've also worked up numerous show reports, interviews, history surveys, columns and so on.

Had the similarities stopped here, I would not have bothered you with this email - after all, we are not the only philosophers who also happen to be HiFi enthusiasts. But the thing is that for several years now, I have been in the position to cultivate my ears in the harmonic richness of Shindo amplifiers: Giscours, Monbrison, Aurieges & Lafon, Cortese and Montille (not all in my place). And that I consider quite a coincidence, in particular given Shindo's conservative marketing policy.

Anyway, I wanted to congratulate you on the two Shindo reviews. The articles not only share many of my past and present impressions of these superb tube amps, but also well capture the sprit of Shindo. You seem to be, and I certainly am, what the French call "melomane". Melomanie is love of music that approaches excess. A melomane is a person guilty of it and therefore willing to accept technical imperfections in his system provided it means more music. Shindos are, of course, also technically very correct but as you kindly told us, the essence of Shindonism lies elsewhere in their music-making capability beyond the ordinary jargon of conventional HiFi critique.

Apart from Shindos, my current system includes vintage EMT 930 & 928 turntables (a Verdier Platine turntable is coming), Audiomeca CD system, various modified vintage tube amps and as a first priority, speakers that are based on PHY-HP units. These French wide-bandwidth drivers are incredibly musical, honest and rewarding transducers, many of the adjectives you apply to the Shindo Monbrison - immediacy, detail and timing...

Kari Nevalainen

Dear Kari,

Thank you so much for your warm and personal letter. No one can read it without a smile coming over his or her face. You display not only knowledge but a generosity of spirit that is all too rare in our community. For thirty years I have been listening seriously to music playback systems, but it was not until this past year when I was able to listen to Shindo electronics that I realized how doing so could bring personal fulfillment and help one look forward to each day. I approach each listening session now with the same excitement that I have brought to each day of writing in legal and political philosophy. Both for me are as much about gaining self-understanding, learning about oneself and one's place in the world, as anything else. To be good, both must be technically correct but beyond that, they must evince basic human emotions like love and attachment without which they remain mere technical exercises.

Please send me some of both your philosophical and audio work. I look forward to reading both (in English).

And stay tuned. I have ordered the Shindo Catherine preamplifier and am close to ordering the flagship WE 300B Ltd amplifier. If my current experience is any measure, I may never show up at my academic office again (but don't tell the Dean).

Warm regards,


You really ought to try the Sistrum rack. It's less expensive, the science behind it appears more "sound' and the racks are simply amazing. My guess is, it would better any rack you've tried. PF gave it the Brutus Award and Stereo Times gave it the Publisher's Award. I know you don't want to be a me too but it really is amazing what it does to your system. My system has never sounded so musical and detailed and dynamic. Really. I thought I would just pass this along while you were "into" racks -

Happy listening! Love your website and reviews by the way! Keep it up!

Scott Peters


Have been following your reviews for quite some time and enjoy them very much. I felt familiar enough with your standards to send you a note on an excellent "audio happening"... After a lengthy search, it brought together the Krell 400xi integrated amp, ATC SCM35 speakers and the Cary 308 cdp. This combo is melodicious. In particular the synergy between the Krell and the ATCs is outstanding - worth a listen, that's for sure.

Keep up the great work.

Dave Ellington
Hartford, CT
Hi Srajan -

Just thought you would be interested to hear about a call I received yesterday... This fellow called to ask if I had developed any upgrades for the new UDP-1 yet. I explained that, no, I did not - the UDP-1 is so new that I will give it some time before diving in. Out of curiosity, I asked about his system. Turns out that he is running a DNA-500 with a pair of the Gallo Acoustic Reference III speakers, and your site & reviews played an important role in his choices. He has had "many other far more expensive speakers" over the years, but is now extremely happy with this latest arrangement.

Hmmm... I think I am going to have to get my hands on a pair of the Gallos... Thanks again Srajan!

Best regards,
Steve McCormack

Hello Jim,

Great website! I just happened to come across it yesterday when doing a Google search on Vandersteen's 5A. I really am impressed with all the writers at 6moons. I'll pass it on to my friends. What brought back memories was when I came upon your reviews and there in living color was a Sherwood tuner. I grew up in the 60's and 70's and the tuner my dad owned was the same thing. I don't know if it was the same model but it sure looks exactly like it. His was a mono tuner using an Electrovoice speaker.

Back in the early days of FM, my brother and I used to go into the living room after 10pm and listen to the new rock and jazz of the days when you could listen to a whole album uninterupted (at least you could in San Antonio). Well, thanks for the memories and good luck with your website.

(The Woodlands, TX)
Morning Sir John,

First, I must thank you for the extensive quote in your Indra review. I feel quite honored that you would reference my work in your own copy. It's great to have one's highly subjective observations seconded by an esteemed colleague. I tell you, that's what it seems to be about for me these days: I'm endeavoring further and further out into subjectivity in the hopes of extending the high-end discussion, moving it away from the tried and tired clichés.

"The cat's outa the bag" is right. In addition to your Blue Moon Award, I gave the Indra a Most Wanted Component award back at Stereo Times. Now, if only Serguei would get his website updated with some mention of the Indra so the buying public could get on board.

Marshall Nack


That's indeed what it's all about. Reviewers don't work in a vacuum or limbo. With the sheer number of components available, there's no way that any one writer could have the conclusive picture on any one component category - unless one specialized on one to the exclusion of others which is possible but, to me at least, a bit boring. If we thus don't cross-reference and benefit from each other's experiences, we're short-changing our own growing curve and withhold useful information from our readers. So thanks for allowing me to quote from your review. I too enjoy to find my own observations mirrored by other experienced and careful listeners such as yourself. It means that despite the underlying subjectivity of what we do, there's an objective basis for it that can be duplicated. Well, at least sometimes as in this instance. Serguei really is on to something here. Let's hope readers take our comments serious enough to give Indra a try.


Went out and searched all over to find Dave Grusin's One of a Kind and finally found it in Japan! Thank you for the recommendation via your review of Ohm's Tall Micros. I think we have similar musical tastes and would like to recommend the sound track from The Fabulous Baker Boys with music by Mr. Dave Grusin. You may by now already have it but just in case, I think you might find it useful in your reviews.

Many thanks for your continued insights.

Don West
Hi John,

I just finished reading your review of the Art Audio Symphony II. I had to drop you a line. I wanted to let you know how much I enjoy your reviews of audio equipment. We exchanged e-mails a few months back about the Art Audio Carissa. It was because of your review of that amp that I started considering SET amplification for my system. At the time, I was already set on tubes but of the PP variety. I thought, "With his description of the Carissa being as enjoyable with pop and rock as his 500-watt monos, he is either brilliant in describing it that way or he's lost it". Well, not to embarrass you but the description was brilliant. So, I investigated and researched further. I was able to purchase a Carissa. And in the context of my modest system, I'm having a ball. Thank you.

Now I'm on a journey to find a great tube pre for my system. Right now I'm using the pre section of my NAD 320BEE integrated. It has tone controls. And with the bass set to neutral and the treble slightly attenuated (11 o'clock position) the sound is really great. The problem is, if I don't tone down the treble a bit, the sound gets forward, bright and two-dimensional, with less weight and body.

I recently auditioned the Eastern Electric MiniMax in my system. The E.E. sounded better than the NAD with the tone controls defeated, but the presentation was still very bright, forward and fatiguing. Also, the NAD and Carrisa together are whisper quiet through my 98dB efficient Klipsch Forte. With the NOS tubes in the E.E., there was an audible whoosh through the tweeter from about 3' away although this didn't bother me during listening sessions.

My thoughts are that I need a pre that walks on the dark side. I need something that is going to give me big bass through the 12" woofer of my Klipsches, with warm lush mids and sweet highs - a pre that's been voiced from the bottom up. FWIW, I heard detail clearer through the E.E. but not more detail than with my NAD if that makes sense. The Fortes are either very revealing or just bright. But I love 'em. I'm going to check out the deHavilland Verve and the Cary SLP 98. I was wondering if you could share your thoughts. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Robert Harley advises in his book to get to know the reviewers and find the ones you trust and rely on. Well John, you're on my short list. You scored a slam dunk on the Carissa for me. I also wanted to say thank you for all your hard work. I don't take what you do for granted. I realize it takes a great deal of time to do what you do. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Very Best Regards,
Scott McIntosh
Hello Srajan,

I read your Accustics Arts review and saw that you addressed all my questions - guess I should have read that first. BTW, I purchased an Ensemble transport (hence my interest) and my experience upgrading from an older Wadia T20 was exactly the same as yours with the Accustics Arts. It had more resolution and was more natural at the same time, in just the same way you described - a clear improvement.

Paul Bujold

The review was excellent! I have my Third Rethms for over a year now and I agree with your conclusion. Having owned other excellent speakers in the past, like ProAcs and even the Verity Parifal Encores, I believe nothing comes close in terms of dynamics and presentation. Mine are flanked by a Rel Strata Sub.

When listening to symphonic music, I find the speaker lacks weight though. Another speaker I used to own was the Shahinian Acoustics Hawk. These are by far the best speakers for symphonic reproduction, IMO. They are also omni-directional. I sold them when I got into low-powered tube amps. They are the only thing I miss about leaving solid state.

Enter the Duevel. I got to hear these at CES and thought they had one of the best sounds of the show. I plan to read your review of these as well. I'm curious to know your opinion about these speakers and how they compare to the Third Rethms. I 'm looking not to replace the Rethms but find an alternative, purely for the use of symphonic music.

I see you're on the East Coast. Anywhere near Long Island?

Very truly yours,
Jim Dalto

I read with great interest your review on the Accustic Arts CD Transport. I owned one 2 years ago and found, like you did, that it provided great resolution although I must admit after living with it for 6 months, I wondered if it wasn't actually a bit bright sounding - almost fatiguing. Substituting the Audio Note reference transport at roughly the same price point yielded much better results.

Anyway, my main comment isn't the performance of the unit but rather its price. When I bought mine, it retailed at $2950. A few months after I bought mine, the retail had gone up to $3350. Now it apparently is up to $4800?

It would be very interesting to know why it has seen a 60% increase in cost since its introduction here in the States. Common pricing modesl would suggest that it should go down as one-time costs to set up import/support functions amortize. I'm convinced that pricing practices are a significant problem with our odd little industry and I should know: I continue to fight the good fight for better music.

I recently purchased a $12,000 pair of single-driver rear-loaded hornspeakers. Concurrent with that purchase I looked into the complete restoration of an antique Chickering piano and found that completely restored Steinway pianos can be had for $10,000-$20,000. Seems amazing to me that the comparatively simple speakers should cost as much.

Who's getting rich in this industry?

Best Regards,
Rob Phillips
Eden Praire, MN

That's an excellent question. It ain't me, that much I know. That said, importer/distributor margins constitute another middleman markup for which, besides making a necessary profit, these parties are supposed to do advertising, trade shows and servicing for the products they handle. If distributors sell consumer-direct, you eliminate the dealer margin and could end up paying pretty much the same as the retail in the country of origin. Essentially, the distributor makes the usual dealer margin and that's that. But add dealers + distributor/importer and pricing will go up significantly. Is that what happened with the Accustic Arts Drive 1? I'm not sure but suspect so.

Just finished the review on the Eastern Minimax CDP & audio-technica Souvereign ATH W1000 headphones. As always, great job!

I feel that your website is cutting edge and one of my favorite places to visit.

Thank you,
Donald Nunez