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High-End Audio / Audiophile / Immersivephile Hi-Fi Equipment Reviews And Think Pieces

March 2022


Press Release: Enjoy the Music.com Sponsors Salon Audio Montréal Audiofest 2022 Exhibitor / Press Party

Enjoy the Music.com Sponsors Salon Audio Montréal Audiofest 2022 Exhibitor / Press Party
Enjoy the Music.com, high-end audio's celebrated online site for over 26 years and a leader in providing industry news, hardware reviews, and show reports, is pleased to announce that we're sponsoring Salon Audio Montréal Audiofest 2022 Exhibitor / Press Party. Show exhibitors and members of the press are invited to join us for good friends, delicious drinks, and magical music! The Salon Audio Montréal / Audio Fest 2022 celebrates the impressive 33rd edition of its popular annual meeting from March 25th through 27th at the Bonaventure Hotel. Located in the heart of downtown, the recently renovated hotel will once again be transformed into a multitude of listening rooms to accommodate thousands of music lovers.
---> Enjoy the Music.com Sponsors Salon Audio Montréal Audiofest 2022 Exhibitor / Press Party.



The Absolute Sound Joins Luxury Audio Site Enjoy the Music.com

The Absolute Sound Joins Luxury Audio Site Enjoy the Music.com
Enjoy the Music.com, luxury audio's celebrated online site for over 26 years and a leader in providing daily news, thousands of gear reviews, plus hundreds of show reports, are pleased to announce The Absolute Sound as new partners. With nearly 50 years of expertise, The Absolute Sound is the seventh print magazine to join our website as strategic partners. Furthermore, two vintage and four internet-based high-fidelity audio publications are partners too. In total, an outstanding thirteen publications are now partners as part of Enjoy the Music.com's strategy to promote luxury audio that greatly benefits music lovers globally.
---> The Absolute Sound Joins Luxury Audio Site Enjoy the Music.com.



If You And I Disagree About Audio, Who's Right?

If You And I Disagree About Audio, Who's Right?
Roger Skoff tells you who to believe.
Article By Roger Skoff
I am an audio expert. I've been in and around our hobby for so long that a person born on the day that I became an audiophile could now legally collect Social Security benefits. Since the mid-1950s, when I first got started, I've seen our hobby grow and change – from tubes to transistors and back; from point-to-point wiring to printed circuits, to chips and ICs; from mono to stereo, and on to (a never very popular attempt at) multi-channel; from analog to digital (and back to analog again, at the extreme high end); from horn speakers, to cones, to ribbons, to electrostatics; to any kind or combination of drivers and enclosures you can think of.
---> If You And I Disagree About Audio, Who's Right?



Salon Audio Montréal / Audio Fest 2022 Show Report

Salon Audio Montreal / Audio Fest 2022 Show Report
Luxurious audio gear and more in Canada!
Montreal Audio Fest 2022 Coverage By Rick Becker
The Salon Audio Montréal / Audio Fest 2022 celebrates its impressive 33rd edition of its popular annual meeting. Located in the heart of downtown Quebec, a multitude of listening rooms and thousands of music lovers enjoy nearly 100 exhibitors, who represent more than 300 brands of products from the world of high-fidelity luxury audio.
Salon Audio Montreal / Audio Fest 2022 Show Report.



Florida Audio Expo 2022 Show Report

Florida Audio Expo 2022 Show Report
The Florida Audio Expo (FAE) 2022 took place February 18th through 20th at the newly refurbished Embassy Suites by Hilton Tampa Airport Westshore hotel. Attendee enjoyed the opportunity to experience 12 floors' worth of products from the world's leading audio brands. Live streaming feeds were available for those who could not attend in person, which featured sights and sounds during this event including interviews with industry experts throughout the weekend on the FAE's YouTube channel.
---> Florida Audio Expo 2022 show report.



High-End Audio, Audiophile & Music Industry News

Hi-Fi And Music Industry News
Essential high-end audio news you need to know.
Enjoy the Music.com posts audiophile news virtually every day.



Pass Laboratories XP-22 Line Preamplifier And XP-27 Phono Preamplifier Review

Pass Laboratories XP-22 Line Pre & XP-27 Phono Pre Review
Colossal soundstage and the pinpoint imagining prowess!
Review By Tom Lyle
I began to assemble my first "real" audio system while still in high school. I made it chiefly from DIY components and other "vintage" gear I could scrounge from friends and family. At that time, I don't think I heard anyone use the term "audiophile." All I knew was that I wanted to hear music at home on a better system than the mass-market stuff sold at department stores. This was also about the same time I discovered a high-end audio showroom near my parent's suburban home. Every once in a while, I would quietly enter their store. There was no way I would have been able to sit in the comfy chair in front of one of the active displays and listen to a system. But I did walk among the array of components on display, and when no one was looking, turn the knobs up and down and flip the switches on the front panels of a component or two while it was muted or its power was off.
---> Pass Labs XP-22 Line Pre & XP-27 Phono Pre Review.



Noble Fokus True Wireless In-Ear Monitor (IEM) Review

Noble Fokus TWS In-Ear Monitor (IEM) Review
Last year I gave the Noble Falcon Pro True Wireless IEM a well-deserved Headphone.Guru 2021 Product of the Year Award because it was the most convenient, most comfortable, and best-sounding True Wireless IEM I had been given the opportunity to listen to. Now, Noble has one-upped themselves by offering the Noble FoKus Pro True Wireless IEM, a true audiophile quality multi-driver, hybrid IEM bringing Bluetooth and True Wireless to a whole new level. Designed by the "Wizard" John Moulton (AU.D. CCC-A), one look at the Noble FoKus Pro True Wireless IEM tells you that this is a much more refined, much higher-end product than the Falcon Pro.
---> Noble Fokus True Wireless In-Ear Monitor (IEM) Review.



Best Integrated Amplifiers Below $3000

Best Integrated Amplifiers Below $3000
We've been listening to a lot of integrated amplifiers over the past 12 months, and these four are some of the best below $3000.
Review By Ian White
In our first collaboration video with Tarun, A British Audiophile, we picked our best budget integrated amplifiers priced under $1000. But what if your budget can be stretched a little further? We have listened to a wide range of amplifiers between $1000 and $3000 over the past 12 months and while a number of other integrated amplifiers in this range were very impressive including the Rotel A14MKII and Cambridge Audio CXA61 — we were quite smitten with the following.... The Ragnarok 2 continues Schiit's mission of offering American-made equipment that is both modular, well designed, and affordable.
---> Best Integrated Amplifiers Below $3000.



Ten Misconceptions About Loudspeaker Spikes Clearing up misunderstandings regarding loudspeaker feet.

Ten Misconceptions About Loudspeaker Spikes
Clearing up misunderstandings regarding loudspeaker feet.
Article By Norman Varney
I have been working professionally in both the sound and vibration, and consumer electronics industries for decades. As an acoustical engineer and manufacturer of mechanical vibration isolation products, I feel compelled to address the misconceptions of incorporating spikes (or any rigid materials) with loudspeakers and/or other audio equipment. These misconceptions do not exist in the sound and vibration industries, and are very rare in the pro audio world, however they are very prevalent in the audiophile world. There are many physical, acoustical, and perceptual disciplines involved here- we are only going to address the primary ones, and in only a general way, meaning we won't discuss the secondary or additional attributes that may come into play. There are some key concepts of physics to be applied.
---> Ten Misconceptions About Loudspeaker Spikes.



Ayon Audio CD-35 II CD Player And USA Labs RS9 Music Server Review

Ayon Audio CD-35 II CD Player And USA Labs RS9 Music Server Review
Two very versatile, and impressive, performers.
Review By Bob Grossman
The Ayon Audio CD-35 II as reviewed here, is the latest introduction to a long lineage of CD players that have been well regarded going back to the various models in the 3 and 5 series, along with ideas derived from their special edition CD35HF. But the CD-35 II is more than a CD player – it is also a fully functioning preamplifier and DAC. It is a single-ended triode pure Class A design using a 6H30 and a 5687 tube for each channel, and a GZ30 tube as a rectifier for the power supply. It is also a zero-feedback design. Ayon Audio's CD-35 II built-in DAC can be used to play music files from your computer via the USB connection. The DAC also has a coaxial RCA input for S/PDIF, I2S, BNC, AES/EBU, and three other BNC inputs for DSD. For this review I also evaluated the USA Labs RS9 music server to coordinate streaming of music from Qobuz.
---> Ayon CD-35 II CD Player And USA Labs RS9 Music Server Review.



FiiO E10K-TC And K3 USB DAC Headphone Amplifier Review

World Premiere Review!
FiiO E10K-TC And K3 USB DAC Headphone Amplifier Review

Going back to school.
Review By Paul Schumann
If you have read any of my previous reviews, you know that I am a fan of Classical music. Sure, I listen to rock, pop, and jazz, but classical music is where I will always be grounded. I'm sure it is because I grew up listening to my father's music. While he did listen to a mixture of stuff as I was growing up, it was mostly classical, especially Bach. By the time I reached high school, I found prog-rock, which of course had a heavy classical influence. And while my Dad prefers his baroque music, as I got older, I started leaning towards the romantics. I think it is fair to say that Brahms was my favorite composer through my 20s, 30s, and 40s. But while I still love that music, there are only so many times one can listen to Brahms Violin Concerto or Beethoven's 5th Symphony before they lose their mystery. So, in my 50s, I started branching out in my musical journey with 20th- and 21st-century composers. What made this exploration possible was the internet.
---> FiiO E10K-TC And K3 USB DAC Headphone Amplifier Review.



LessLoss C-Mark Entropic Firewall 640x / Bindbreaker Review

LessLoss C-Mark Entropic Firewall 640x / Bindbreaker Review
Products for pure sound.
Review By Rick Becker
Where do I begin? It's been such a complex and intriguing journey. It started by chance with my rave review of the High Fidelity Cables NPS 1260 3D contact enhancer. A stranger, Jörg Stanislawski from Germany emailed me with nine questions about NPS 1260 which I promptly answered. Jörg says he reads internet magazines because the German print magazines limit themselves only to products that have a distributor in Germany. This cuts out a lot of products from other countries, particularly those who deal factory direct. For Jörg the world is his marketplace. (See Step 1, above.) Before long, I learned all about how the beer industry in Dortmund had shrunk down to two main breweries, and that I should avoid beer made with malt extract, which is from the crap at the bottom of the vat. He also shared how he ordered an amp from Decware here in the USA and was placed #400 in line.
---> LessLoss C-Mark Entropic Firewall 640x / Bindbreaker Review.



VPI Shyla Phono / Turntable Moving Coil Cartridge Review

VPI Shyla Phono / Turntable Moving Coil Cartridge Review
A beautiful namesake and family addition.
Review By Bob Grossman
The Shyla is a recently introduced stereo cartridge designed and branded by VPI. The company is known for their extensive lineup of turntables, arms, and record cleaning machines. VPI is having the Shyla sourced and manufactured by a leading Japanese cartridge manufacturer so it is fully compatible and complimentary to their lineup of equipment. VPI is upfront about having it made to their specs by the highly regarded manufacturer Audio Technica. It is a successful business venture and advantage for VPI to corroborate with this respected manufacturer to modify, adjust, and improve their regular ART 9 product to reflect the musical ideas of VPI designers Harry and Mat Weisfeld. Harry has been the inventive mind in designing and developing VPI turntables and other accessories for over forty years.
---> VPI Shyla Phono / Turntable Moving Coil Cartridge Review.



Mola Mola Makua Line Stage Review

Mola Mola Makua Line Stage Review
A reference level hi-fi component that is a joy to own.
Review By Sam Rosen

On Mola Mola's website if you click on the Makua, the first thing you will notice is "Analog Design for a Digital Age" in bold under a picture of the Makua. It was this statement that first interested me in the Makua, and caused me to reach out to Mola Mola's USA distributor for a review sample. I am what many would describe as "digital audiophile." I grew up in a time where all of the music around me was on shiny discs. I listened to my first album from end to end on an iPod mini in a horrendously lossy format. I skipped buying CDs and went straight to MP3s. I believe that music, and the playback of music, should be convenient and easy. As I began my journey to becoming a more serious audiophile, I found it strange that it seemed like the more money you spent, and the better a component sounded, the worse the user experience would be for that component.
---> Mola Mola Makua Line Stage Review.



Audio Sensibility Statement SE DC Power Cable Review

World Premiere Review!
Audio Sensibility Statement SE DC Power Cable Review

An adventure in DIY land.
Review By Rick Becker
Rich Pinto was almost to Syracuse on his way home with the Treehaus Phantom of Luxury speaker that I had just given a rave review. I wanted them back. After dinner, I fired up my reference rig with my Kharma speakers meticulously reinstalled and it sounded like crap. Could the Kharma be that boxy sounding in comparison with open baffle Phantom of Luxury? Or, wait... could it be.... Rich had picked up on my comment about replacing the captive DC power cord in the separate power supply of my DAC and offered to solder the two small wires for me. With my compromised vision and a soldering gun the size of a vintage electric drill, I was afraid of buggering up something in the tight quarters where the new cord had to be installed. I gladly accepted his offer (which was hardly quid pro quo for writing the review).
---> Audio Sensibility Statement SE DC Power Cable Review.



Ampsandsound Kenzie OG Rev 2 Headamp Review

Ampsandsound Kenzie OG Rev 2 Headamp Review
A new spin on an old friend.
Review By Gary Alan Barker
I have made it no secret that I am a huge tube fan. I have also made no secret of my love of ampsandsound amplifiers. The reason is that Justin Weber is one of the few designers of his generation that gets what tube amps are all about and almost more importantly, knows what music is supposed to sound like. What tubes are all about is musicality, and in this context, musicality means dynamic, open, natural-sounding, clear, resolute, linear, organic sound without the added hard edge produced by solid-state amplification. (I have stressed this often, but what tubes are not about is rolled off highs, anemic bass, and supposed pleasantness of high THD as is the misconception of modern non-audiophile engineers.) So it was with no little excitement that I greeted the news that I would be given the opportunity to review the newest revision of the amp that started it all.
---> Ampsandsound Kenzie OG Rev 2 Headamp Review.



Rotel A12MKII Integrated Amplifier Review

Rotel A12MKII Integrated Amplifier Review
The night the lights went out in Long Branch,
Is the Rotel A12MKII the ideal amplifier to build a $3000 stereo system around with 2 great sources? I would say you're foolish not to try it.
Review By Ian White
Have you ever been listening to your system and the lights go out? It's not a good feeling because there is always the risk that when the power comes back on that something will be amiss. I've used power line conditioners for almost 20 years but our experience with Hurricane Sandy here on the Shore was not a good one. My wife thinks that I missed my calling as a Weather Channel talking head because I'd scare the living crap out of everyone with my forecasts, but I had a bad feeling about Sandy with our home only blocks from the ocean and so many trees surrounding our property. We didn't tell anyone that we were expecting our third child (Jewish custom is to wait three months) at the time so it was on me to get the house ready and get anything of value out the way and on really high shelving in our garage.
---> Rotel A12MKII Integrated Amplifier Review.



Listener Magazine The Intro By Art Dudley

Listener Magazine
The Intro
Editorial By Art Dudley
Volume two of the Monumental five-volume set of Bob Dylan's The Genuine Basement Tapes reaches an emotional climax with a plaintive song called "I'm Not There" — no mean feat after the brilliant "Going to Acapulco" and three takes of "Tears of Rage," one in waltz time. "I'm Not There" has appeared before, on The Great White Wonder and on Volume One of The Newly Discovered Basement Tapes on Surprise Records (the latter credited to Blind Boy Grunt and The Hawks), and while the version on The Genuine Basement Tapes is the best sounding of the bunch, you still wouldn't mistake it for anything other than a bootleg. About a third of the words are unintelligible, and as if that weren't enough of an obstacle, the recording begins in mid-verse, with no clue as to how much had been played before the tape started rolling. No way for technology to fix that, I guess.
---> Listener Magazine The Intro By Art Dudley.



Sound Practices Issue 4, Summer 1993

Fellow Travelers
Editorial By Joe Roberts
In an age when the upward march of progress is taken for granted in most fields, more and more audiophiles a e embracing obsolescent vacuum tube technology. The advance guard even seems to be moving further and further back in time, reviving and reassessing circuits which first came to light in the 1920s! The sonic rationale for keeping the filaments lit is certainly apparent to readers of this publication and discerning audiophiles in general. Although largely abandoned by the "serious" engineering community, vacuum tube technology refuses to die because users still consider it useful and appropriate. For most enthusiasts of other obsolescent technologies, everyday functional utility is of secondary importance. Antique radio collectors treasure old radios precisely because such things are not being made or used anymore.
---> Fellow Travelers By Joe Roberts.



Triode Amplifier Operating Points  --  VALVE Magazine

Triode Amplifier Operating Points
Article By Paul Joppa
How do you choose a good operating point (supply voltage, current, and load impedance) for a vacuum tube? For ordinary tubes, used in an ordinary way, it's simple — you just look it up in your RCA handbook. But suppose you want to use an unusual tube (e.g. the 6CK4 television vertical amplifier)? Or suppose you just want to try breaking the rules? I struggled with this problem recently, and I've concluded that then really is a single "reference" operating point for any given (triode) tube, and that  variations around that point have similar effects for all triodes. I've only studied single-ended Class A triode circuits with zero grid current (actually Class A1), but that covers a lot of audio circuits of interest. Mostly, I've looked for conditions that provide the maximum power output. Even for preamps, I think that's a good tradeoff operating condition.
---> Triode Amplifier Operating Points.



YG Acoustics Hailey 2.2 Floorstanding Loudspeaker Review

YG Acoustics Hailey 2.2 Floorstanding Loudspeaker Review
The middleweight contender....
Review By Phil Gold
Cards on the table. I've owned the YG Carmel and the YG Carmel 2, each of which I've reviewed in these pages in January 2012 and July 2015 respectively. You can read them here and weep. I'm addicted to the ultra-high resolution, low distortion, lightning reflexes, dynamic range and the holographic imaging of the Carmel speakers.  They are not for everyone. Due to the particular way they are constructed from billets of aircraft grade aluminum, they cost a lot of money, and due to their relatively small size, they don't reach down all that deep. The sealed box design does provide a superbly fast accurate bass, but while the quality is high, the quantity is limited.
---> YG Acoustics Hailey 2.2 Floorstanding Loudspeaker Review.



DIY Tube Tweaker Thursday
New York Noise 2002 Audio Design Exhibition
Show Report By Steve R. Rochlin Of Enjoy the Music.com
Welcome to the official virtually live coverage of the nyNOISE Audio Design Exhibition festival and show held in New York City at Arlene Grocery (a NYC rock club). The 2002 show was held on Saturday, June 1 in New York City at Arlene Grocery (a rock club). Hosted by JC Morrison and Blackie Pagano, 2002 marks the fourth consecutive year they have both sponsored this event so others may bask in the glory of DIY audio.
---> New York Noise 2002 Audio Design Exhibition.



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

Audio Research DAC9 Digital-To-Analog Converter 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.
---> Audience aR6-T4 Power Conditioner 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.



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.



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.



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.



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.




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