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High-End Audio / Audiophile Equipment Reviews And Think Pieces

March 2021


Audio Aesthetics Articulating the many aspects of beauty in hi-fi audio. Dr. Jules L. Coleman

Audio Aesthetics
Articulating the many aspects of beauty in hi-fi audio.
Article By Dr. Jules L. Coleman
We audiophiles are a diverse and peculiar lot. So much so that some might think that self-identification is the only thing we share. If there is something distinctive about being an audiophile, what is it? Sometime last year, I found myself contemplating this question when reflecting on the untimely death of Art Dudley. I did not know Art particularly well, but I had a kinship with him dating back to his days at the helm of Listener magazine. No one could read anything Art had a hand in without coming away impressed not just by his love of music but also by the fact that he had given a great deal of thought to what he wanted from an audio system and why. Others on the Listener staff were similarly inclined. For me, this ongoing iterative reflection about the nature and value of audio made Listener the most interesting read in audio when they were in business.
---> Articulating the many aspects of beauty in hi-fi audio.



Things That Audiophiles Do, But Shouldn't

Things That Audiophiles Do, But Shouldn't
Roger Skoff seeks to foil some 'philes' feckless foibles.
Article By Roger Skoff
Many a long year ago, when I was probably about sixteen, my father went over to the home of his friend, Ozzie Palermo, to hear his new Hi-Fi set. (Yeah, Hi-Fi set; that was back when the hot set–up for everybody other than us early Hi-Fi Crazies, was a one-piece "console" radio-phonograph with built-in speakers.) Ozzie had just bought it, and was showing it off to anyone who would listen. (Judging by when this probably happened, it might even have been "a stereo", which, in itself, would have been both an oddity and a bragging-point in those days). After my father got there, listened, and dutifully said "ooh" and "aah" at appropriate intervals, Ozzie apparently asked him something like "Say, isn't your son a Hi-Fi Fan, too?"
---> Things that audiophiles do, but shouldn't.



Music Has A Lot To Say... If you're willing to listen. Article By Mike Perez

Music Has A Lot To Say...
If you're willing to listen.
Review By Mike Perez
What kind of headspace are you in when you are listening to music? Are you working out?
Relaxing in your favorite chair sipping a cocktail? Driving down a lonely road deep in thought? Or getting ready to dance the night away at your favorite club or hangout? Wherever you are, music always has some type of roll to play. As I write this, I have one of my go-to playlists working in the background because the ambient sound always helps me to get words on the page. The reasoning behind this article is that I was stricken with curiosity. I want to know what some of my friends, colleagues, and HiFi Industry Professionals are listening to at the moment.
---> Music Has A Lot To Say...



Delivering A Glorious Musical Experience A love of music and commitment drives everything we do at Impex. Article By Abey Fonn, Founder Of Impex Records

Delivering A Glorious Musical Experience
A love of music and commitment drives everything we do at Impex.
Article By Abey Fonn, Founder Of Impex Records
In the 200 plus titles that Cisco Music and Impex Records released in the last twenty-five years, I can confidently say all but a dozen-plus were cut using original analog master tapes. Sometimes the recordings are not in great condition, where baking the tapes plus lots of TLC cannot make it usable for mastering. Some reels were not returned to the owner after a re-issue production. Many more were lost to high-profile warehouse fires (a tragedy). The scarcity of original sources is becoming more common in the audiophile industry.
---> Learn more about Abey Fonn / Impex Records.



Binaural Beats What are they, and how can they help you to feel good? Article By Becky Pell

Binaural Beats
What are they, and how can they help you to feel good?
Article By Becky Pell
We humans have a range of different brain wave states and speeds, each relating to a different state of consciousness, be it waking, sleeping, or somewhere in between. Binaural beats are a phenomenon whereby we can voluntarily create different brain waves using external sound sources, thereby inducing the associated mental state. First, let's take a look at the different states of consciousness which we most commonly experience.
---> Read Becky Pell's Binaural Beats article.



CH Precision — A Postscript

CH Precision — A Postscript Review
Three months after the dust settled on last issue's marathon project covering CH Precision's all analogue A1.5, P1, L1, X1 amplifier system, some more aspects came to mind.
Review By Martin Colloms
While I was in the thick of considering the CH Precision A1.5, P1, L1 and X1 late last year, such was the complexity and range of settings and modes and connections, and not least power supply options, that a considered overview was somehow just out of reach. Moreover, those continued and complex evaluations were inevitably constrained by particular circumstances in that more extended trial and error methods to establish quality limits could have added value, for example exchanging multiple cables in all positions, signal, and loudspeaker, and also mains connection methods, whether central or extended line. Then there is the matter of optimising the choices and subsequent alignment of anti-vibration frames and optional intermediary supports.
---> CH Precision — A Postscript.



Avantgarde Acoustic Duo XD Hornspeaker Review

Avantgarde Acoustic Duo XD Hornspeaker Review
Blow Up! – With the Duo XD, Avantgarde Acoustic shows what horn technology and a perfectly matched active woofers... are able to do to the sound.
Review By Matthias Böde
Yes, you have read the measurement results from our lab correctly (in case you checked them): For 94 decibels of sound pressure at a distance of one meter, this speaker needs just 0.07 Watts of power. Seven Watts would be somewhat normal, 0.7 Watts already a sensation – but 0.07 Watts reads like a typo. It is completely true though! This is made possible by the large horn at the top end of the Duo XD, coming from the specialist Avantgarde Acoustic, based in a small town in the Odenwald mountain range in southwestern Germany. This horn is connected directly to the amplifier without any intermediate crossover and visually symbolizes the phenomenal efficiency with its huge opening of 67 centimeters.
---> Avantgarde Acoustic Duo XD hornspeaker review.



Gryphon Audio Essence Preamplifier And Essence Stereo Power Amplifier Review

Gryphon Audio Essence Preamplifier
And Essence Stereo Power Amplifier Review
Blown away by an amazing musical performance!
Review By Tom Lyle
The Gryphon Essence preamplifier and Gryphon Stereo power amplifier are gorgeous looking and beautiful sounding Danish high-end audio components. Those who can afford either or both of these components will not only enjoy stellar sound quality but most likely will also be able to enjoy the fact that they are the epitome of audio equipment that has a look and "feel" of luxury goods. Gryphon founder Flemming E. Rasmussen was responsible for the stunningly beautiful exterior of the rather large (and heavy!) Gryphon Essence preamplifier and Stereo Essence power amplifier. Good looks and operational refinement are especially true of the Gryphon Essence preamplifier. Its weighty infrared metal remote was only one indication of this Danish audio manufacturer's recognition of many audiophile's appreciation of the intangibles that are available on many preamps.
---> Gryphon Audio Essence preamplifier & Essence amplifier review.



Aric Audio Unlimited II Vacuum Tube Stereo Preamplifier Review

World Premiere Review!
Aric Audio Unlimited II Vacuum Tube Stereo Preamplifier Review

Igor never sounded so good!
Review By Paul Schumann
Let's face it, the year 2020 with the coronavirus pandemic has sucked. In addition to the tragic loss of life, health, and financial security for many people, most of us have been unable to easily connect with loved ones. Now, what we always considered normal activities have been completely shut down. For the past few years, my dad and I have been season ticket holders for the Austin Symphony Orchestra. That meant, for nine wonderful Saturday evenings a year, we would meet up, have a meal together, then go to the Symphony. It was a great way to reconnect and enjoy our shared passion for music. With the advent of the pandemic, all that was shut down. So instead of that, I have been trying other ways to stay connected with my dad. The Aric Audio Unlimited II Preamplifier has helped me in that effort.
---> Aric Audio Unlimited II vacuum tube stereo preamplifier review.



Canor AI 2.10 Hybrid Stereo Integrated Amplifier Review

North America Premiere Review!
Canor AI 2.10 Hybrid Stereo Integrated Amplifier

Enjoying the smallest details, exactly like you would listening to a very fine performance.
Review By Ron Nagle
Coming from a land way far away let me introduce you to Canor Audio. A 25-year-old audio equipment manufacturer located in Presov, a city in Slovakia. Canor Audio has been manufacturing Hi-end audio components for almost 25 years. The company first started as an audio tube equipment specialist. The prototype of their first serially produced TP101 integrated tube amplifier was shown at an exhibition held in the city of Brno in April 1995. Their current product line is comprised of six products. They make an all-tube Phono amplifier, two CD players, and three power amplifiers. Canor's AI 1.10 power amplifier produces 40 Watt per channel at 4 ohms via vacuum tube and solid-state hybrid amplification.
---> Canor AI 2.10 hybrid stereo integrated amplifier.



SOTA Nova VI Vinyl LP Turntable Review

World Premiere Review!
SOTA Nova VI Vinyl LP Turntable Review
The new Sota sound allows music to become tactile.
Review By Ron Nagle
There was a time when my school shoes wore out; my mom would take them to the shoe repairman. He would fix them like new with Cats-paw rubber heels. At about that same time I remember when our Zenith console television died. My father would go down to the local hardware store to use their tube tester. For three or four dollars he would buy a new vacuum tube. Very soon we would be back to our black and white TV bliss. I guess since then a few things have changed. But let us now carry that forward to the present. Understand that for 20 years I spun vinyl disks on my reliable reference, a Sota Sapphire 2, but alas time takes a toll. So what can you do if you have something you can't part with?
---> SOTA Nova VI vinyl LP turntable review.



iBasso DC03 DAC / Headphone Amplifier Review

Fear and Loathing in America:
How The iBasso DC03 DAC / Headphone Amplifier
Helped Me Process The Capitol Assault

A portable USB DAC that plugs into your smartphone to improve the sound quality of headphone listening on-the-go.
Review By Ian White
Anyone who thought 2021 was going to be so much better than 2020 was not in Washington D.C. on January 6th (2021). Having travelled from New Jersey the day before to spend time with the folks at Linear Tube Audio (you can check out our coverage on Instagram) in Takoma Park, I decided to also pay a visit to my best friend from college who resides in the city. I lived in Washington D.C. for almost 10 years and commuted through Union Station for work for almost two years. For those who don't know the city well – it sits less than two blocks from the U.S. Capitol.
---> iBasso DC03 DAC / headphone amplifier review.



IsoAcoustics GAIA I Speaker Isolators Review

IsoAcoustics GAIA I Speaker Isolators Review
Superb Performance and big time value.
Review By Robert S. Youman
I have a great deal of respect for isolation devices, though certain caveats should always be considered. I have reviewed and/or owned some of the most simple to the most sophisticated. This includes designs from Butcher Block Acoustics, Solidsteel, Adona, Sound Anchors, Silent Running Audio, Harmonic Resolution Systems, Rix Rax, Critical Mass, and Grand Prix. You have heard it before, but virtually all will certainly make a difference — some for the good and some for the not so good. And like all things audio, compatibility can be critical. With this in mind, the IsoAcoustics GAIA I speaker isolators are something very special. There is real science and logic behind the design. The results were immediate and quite easy to identify.
---> IsoAcoustics GAIA I Speaker Isolators review.



Noble Falcon Pro True Wireless IEM Review

Noble Falcon Pro True Wireless IEM Review
One of the best IEMs I have heard under $400.
Review By Gary Alan Barker
In the short four years that I have been writing for Headphone.Guru, I have had opportunity to listen to a host of Bluetooth IEMs, several of which I use on a daily basis for telephone communication, but none that I would deign to use for regular music listening despite the significant improvements that have been made to Bluetooth over the last few years, preferring a wired option generally opting for my Noble Katanas or Zephyrs. This all changed when Jim Moulton offered to send me a pair of the new Noble Falcon Pro True Wireless IEMs, flagship model of the FALCON series, utilizing a hybrid driver configuration featuring a 6mm titanium coated driver for impactful sub-bass and bass, and two Knowles BA drivers for mid and high frequencies.
---> Noble Falcon Pro True Wireless IEM review.



John Tampouratzis wins a Schiit Lyr 3 with Multibit DAC option valued at $699

Music Lovers Win At Enjoy the Music.com!
John Tampouratzis wins a Schiit Lyr 3 with Multibit DAC option!
Review By John Tampouratzis
During December 2020, Enjoy the Music.com and Schiit joined forces to give away a Lyr 3 with Multibit DAC option valued at $699! Here are a few words from John Tampouratzis in Greece, who won this wonderful giveaway! I WON THE PRIZE!!! I'm feeling lucky!!! Since the advent of social media, the world has become smaller, and information, news, and knowledge more immediate. It was on the 4th of January when I received the email that I've won. I looked at the sender and the CC notification....
---> John Tampouratzis wins a Schiit Lyr 3 with Multibit DAC!



Listener The Intro By Art Dudley

The Intro
Editorial By Art Dudley
Apart from reminding Listener's readers how seldom I have been arrested compared to George W. Bush (the score stands at "zero" to "three that we know of"), I vow to keep the following observations as non-political as I can. Today's concern goes to the heart of our hobby. Specifically, what should we, as audiophiles, be doing with our hi-fi gear? Should we use our stereos to lay bare every nuance of sound on our recordings, as faithfully and thoroughly as technology allows? Or should we use them as we would a drug, to achieve a musical bliss-out whenever the fancy strikes us? And: Is it acceptable for us to even think of these as separate goals?
---> The Intro by Art Dudley of Listener magazine.



Grank Ilusion Editorial By Joe Roberts

Grand Illusion
Article By Joe Roberts
From Sound Practices Issue 9, Fall 1995
Way out on the paranoid fringes of contemporary American thought, miles beyond even the craziest audiophiles, there are some scared technology worshippers who believe that an international elite bad guy network of power-hungry conspirators has been conducting massively funded, wildly successful experiments with holographic imaging technology. The claim is that gizmos exist for creating 100% real-looking motion pictures in 3-D space, 4-D if you count time as a D. These infernal devices can materialize illusions that can pass through our senses as reality itself! Yikes! The above-mentioned whistle blowers are trying to warn us that fancy hologram projectors will play a central role in the ultimate power grab in all of human history, planned to go down at the turn of the millennium. Over the generations, many predictions were made about the year 2001...
---> Grand Illusion editorial by Joe Roberts.



Tech Tips And Other Unsolicited Advice  --  VALVE Magazine

Tech Tips And Other Unsolicited Advice
The 75 Minute Restoration
From VALVE Volume 2 Number 7 July 1995
Bill called a couple Saturdays ago to tell me that he had traded a Mac 1700 (a hybrid receiver, with tube tuner and solid-state amp) for a Scott 340 receiver. The person he traded with acknowledged a greater value for the Mac than the Scott and offered to pay a set amount for service by yours truly to balance the deal. Would I be available this weekend to do check it out? I asked Bill if it ran and he said yes. Knowing that the weak point on Scotts was their coupling caps, I suggested he run it for a while, constantly monitoring the output tubes for red plates. He called back a bit later and said that one tube's plate had started to glow red, at which point he turned the 340 off. I said bring it by and I'd get it going.
---> Tech Tips And Other Unsolicited Advice.



VAC Renaissance Preamplifier Mk V With MM/MC Phono Stage Review

World Premiere Review!
VAC Renaissance Preamplifier Mk V With MM/MC Phono Stage
For serious music lovers living at the cutting edge of what is possible.
Review By Ron Nagle
The letters VAC is not an abbreviation for vacuum, although the VAC Renaissance Mk V does have five miniature twin triode vacuum tubes on board. The company banner is actually an acronym for, Valve Amplification Company. This Mk V preamplifier is something entirely new in the VAC lineup for 2017. There is a basic MkV line stage preamplifier without the phono stage that sells for $9990. That configuration uses just two miniature Dual Triode tubes. The Renaissance Preamplifier Mk V, under evaluation here, contains an optional MM/MC (moving magnet and moving coil) phono amplification stage that adds three additional 12AX7 tubes. With the optional phono stage on board, the cost increases to $12,990.
---> VAC Renaissance Preamplifier Mk V with MM/MC phono stage review.



Oracle Delphi MK V Turntable Review

Oracle Delphi MK V Turntable Review
With Van den Hul's Grasshopper MC Phono Cartridge

Fun with analog audio!
Review By Steven R. Rochlin
The Led Zeppelin phrase "Does anyone remember laughter" comes to mind, as have been through what may be the normal evolution within high-end audio. For me, first came the revelation of how great music can sound within the home. Blame it on my dad, as he loved the stuff! This was when your local camera shop had a small audio store in the back. Call it the early 1960s, or so he tells me, and between loving Leica cameras and tube audio dad was a early day photography geek. He also loved music. Fast forward to my personal explorations in my late teens, where mixing and matching brought about gains in my enjoyment of music. Sure there were setbacks, equipment would sometimes break, and my dwindling bank account would suffer accordingly. Discoveries in tweaks, room tuning devices, and help from my local dealer further improved my music reproduction system. Alas, after about a decade came burn out.
---> Oracle Delphi MK V turntable review with Van den Hul's Grasshopper MC Phono cartridge.



Audio Research DAC9 Digital-To-Analog Converter (DAC) Review

Audio Research DAC9 Digital-To-Analog Converter (DAC) Review
An organic sound that draws you into the music.
Review By Tom Lyle
This past summer I was in a showroom auditioning a new line of speakers that included a system that was made up of mostly Audio Research components. Even though I heard four other products from that same line of speakers that day, it was their smallest model that impressed me the most. As it just so happens, this system included the Audio Research DAC9 digital-to-analog converter that is the focus of this review. I heard Audio Research's DAC9 within other systems that day, too, and I was so impressed that the next day I sent a request to obtain a review sample. Those who know me are aware that I'm mostly an analog kind of guy, and to have a music epiphany that included a digital component surprised me.
--> Audio Research DAC9 digital-to-analog converter review.



Audience aR6-T4 Power Conditioner Review

Audience aR6-T4 Power Conditioner Review
With upgraded frontRow powerChords and standard powerChord SE-i.
Review By Dr. Matthew Clott
The opportunity to review new models of familiar equipment is similar to catching up with an old friend. I have enjoyed, owned and respected Audience cables and conditioners since the original Adept Response was released and the "Original" powerChord first hit the proverbial scene. The Au24 power cables were the epitome of neutrality and their speaker wire and interconnects magically conveyed the full auditory picture in an inconceivably thin cable that defied logic and belied current trends of bigger must be better cable etiologies. Even then, the Adept Response conditioner was something special and established itself as a premier product with few equals. Over time, the "Original" powerChord grew into the Au24, which then matured into the Au24s, Au24se, Au24se-i and now the Au24sx series of power cables and audio cables; not to mention their new reference level frontRow series.
---> Audience aR6-T4 power conditioner review.




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