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High-End Audio / Audiophile Equipment Reviews And Think Pieces

August 2019


Audiophile Industry News
Industry News: Essential High-End Audio Info
Enjoy the Music.com's audiophile news and information.


Win Meze Audio 99 Classics Walnut Silver Headphones Valued At $309!

Win Meze Audio 99 Classics Walnut Headphones!
Enjoy the Music.com is honored to join with Meze Audio for our August 2019 contest. You could win a pair of 99 Classics Walnut Silver headphones valued at $309! The Meze Audio 99 Classics delivers perfect natural sound even to the pickiest of audio lovers. The walnut wood earcups, soft earpads, and the spring steel headband will make the 99 Classics an heirloom rather than just a pair of headphones. The Meze Audio 99 exudes luxury with walnut wood ear cups and glistening silver highlights.
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Enjoy the Music.com Sponsors RMAF's Industry / Press Party Plus All Seminars

Enjoy the Music.com Sponsors
RMAF's Industry / Press Party Plus All Seminars
Enjoy the Music.com, high-end audio's celebrated online site since 1995 and a leader in providing industry news, gear reviews, and show reports, is pleased to announce that we're sponsoring the 16th annual Rocky Mountain International Audio Fest (RMAF) Thursday night's industry / press party plus all event seminars. For nearly 25 years, Enjoy the Music.com has been a major resource for information about consumer electronics high-end audio industry and high resolution / streaming music on the Internet.
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RMAF 2019 Show Report (Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2019)

RMAF 2019 Show Report
Rocky Mountain International Audio Fest 2019
Featuring a luxury destination at the brand-new Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center, our Rocky Mountain International Audio Fest (RMAF) 2019 show report celebrates our sweet 16 years covering this highly popular high-end audiophile event. Take in the friendly atmosphere at RMAF where all are welcome and questions are encouraged. You will experience in one location many major household audio brands from Klipsch and McIntosh to ultra high-end brands Acora Acoustics, Audio Research, Kimber Kable, Mark Levinson, Nordost, Pro-Ject, VAC and many others.
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Is The Music BUSINESS Working Against Music Lovers

Is The Music BUSINESS Working Against Music Lovers
Do mastering engineers / music suffer at the hands of the lowest common denominator?
Editorial By Steven R. Rochlin
Have been trying my best to stop writing about music and audio gear, yet there's a voice inside of me saying you should, make that must, speak your truth. It's no secret that I read an abundance of industry inside information. This is not just high-end audio, it also pertains to musicians, recording studios, FOH / live performance, and mastering engineers (to name a few). What I find very interesting is that those who dare to speak up have many of the same concerns we audiophiles do!
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Forget The Specs Roger Skoff writes something that could change your mind completely.

Forget The Specs
Roger Skoff writes something that could change your mind completely.
Article By Roger Skoff
Until not very long ago, "spec sheets" were an important part of our audio hobby. You know what I'm talking about – those single-sheet write-ups that showed a picture of a product, gave a description of its features and qualities, and set down in detail such things as frequency response, measured distortion, signal-to-noise ("S/N") ratio, and so on. People used to pick them up at Hi-Fi Shows as reminders about products that had particularly caught their attention, or they would ask for them, supposedly "to show the Little Lady", as "get-out-of-the-store without-buying-anything" passes, when they'd auditioned something at their local HiFi dealer and either didn't want, or weren't yet ready, to buy them.
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Is Mastering An Endangered Audio Job?

Is Mastering An Endangered Audio Job?
Article By Bobby Owsinski
Mastering engineers are some of my favorite people in the music business and many of the best are friends that I speak with frequently. One subject that's been coming up more and more in conversation is how much that business has changed, and that work is getting much harder to find. This is actually no surprise when you think about it. Just about anyone can buy the same software tools that many mastering engineers use, even though the skills to use them may be lacking. Some mastering engineers even have their own branded plug-ins or presets that simulate their hardware and software signal chains, which may help engineers on one hand, but also encourages them to stay DIY and not seek out the services of a pro.
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Hi-Res Audio: A Solution In Search Of A Problem

Hi-Res Audio: A Solution In Search Of A Problem
Article By Shelly Palmer
According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), about 75 percent of the recorded music industry's revenue comes from streaming. Bandwidth keeps getting cheaper and faster. Hardware and software continue to improve at an exponential pace. Surely there is pent-up demand for high resolution audio (Hi-Res Audio). After all, doesn't everyone want the "best sounding" audio? The world of recorded music was irrevocably changed in October 2001 when Apple introduced the iPod. While it is well remembered as a stepping stone to the greatest comeback in American corporate history, the iPod is less well remembered for dealing the final, almost fatal, blow to sonic quality.
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A Tour Of The Famous Capitol Records Studios

A Tour Of The Famous Capitol Records Studios
Article By Bobby Owsinski

Los Angeles is lucky in that there's a number of iconic recording studios that were built decades ago that still exist and thrive today. United Recording (formerly Oceanway), East West (formerly Cello), The Record Plant, and Henson Studios (formerly A&M) are just a few that remain busy serving high-end music clients, movie soundtracks, and just about any other type of recording you can think of. But the one studio that may be the most iconic of all is Capitol Studios, built into the basement of the historic round Capitol Records building in the middle of Hollywood.
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More Good Isn't Necessarily Better Roger Skoff writes about a matter of proportion.

More Good Isn't Necessarily Better
Roger Skoff writes about a matter of proportion.
Article By Roger Skoff

When I was a kid in my 'teens, the JC Whitney catalog was the ultimate wishbook for young men: Whether or not we owned a car (At sixteen, we could get a license, but only a very few of us – usually just rich kids from Encino or thereabouts – actually owned one) we would all pore over the JC Whitney catalog, dreaming of all the things that we could do to our cars (when we actually got one) to make it faster, "cooler", or cheaper to operate.
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McIntosh "...For The Love Of Music..." By Ken Kessler

Ideal Gear For The Monomaniac &
McIntosh And A Tip For The Beatles
From Woodstock to Newport and most points West.
Excerpts from the book McIntosh "...For The Love Of Music..."
Book By Ken Kessler
My grandfather was the radio/TV guy here in my hometown of Coxsackie, N.Y., at Rosa Radio and Television from the late 1940s through the 1960s, retail and repair. He used to occasionally tell me about "Dr. Yarvin," a grumpy, old family doctor here in town that supposedly had the hi-fi system to end all others. My grandfather said, "He always had me special order crazy equipment for him, brands that I never even heard of, like someone could actually hear a difference anyway...".
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Audio Dithering: What You Need To Know

Audio Dithering: What You Need To Know
Article By Mike Levine Of Waves Audio Ltd.
Dither is one of the least understood topics when it comes to mixing and mastering, but it can actually come in handy. We've compiled a one-stop shop for understanding when, why and how to use dither. Dither is one of the least understood words in the music-production lexicon, but it's an essential ingredient when working with digital audio, and one that you really should understand if you're involved in mixing or mastering. So, what is dither?
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Japan's Hidden Listening Bars

Video: Japan's Hidden Listening Bars
Bridge / Resident Advisor x Asahi Super Dry
Located high above Shibuya's world-famous pedestrian crossing and equipped with high-quality Rey Audio speakers, Bridge offers a refuge from Tokyo's bustling streets. It's what the venue's manager, Masaaki Ariizumi, calls a "third place" — somewhere to unwind between home and work. This video is produced by Resident Advisor in partnership with Asahi Super Dry Beer.
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NYC Mixcon 2019 Loudness Wars, AI Music Production, And 360 Sound Video By SonicScoop Live From MixCon

Video: NYC Mixcon 2019
Loudness Wars, AI Music Production, And 360 Sound
Video By SonicScoop Live From MixCon

This episode of the SonicScoop podcast comes to us live from MixCon 2019 in NYC, as Justin Colletti is joined by three brilliant panelists for a look at how music production is changing right now, and where the field is headed next. This video features Jonathan Bailey of iZotope, Alan Silverman of Arf Productions / Mastering, and special audio / 360 sound engineer Marta Gospodarek.
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A Trio Of Tunes From Impex Records And Muxia Music

A Trio Of Tunes From Impex Records And Muxia Music

A Trio Of Tunes From Impex Records & Muxia Music
Sound quality that is second to none.
Review By Tom Lyle
Over the years this classic jazz album Legrand Jazz, arranged by Frenchman Michael Legrand and recorded at Columbia Studios in New York in 1958 has been cited as a classic. The album is a who's who of jazz at the time of the recording, and although the musical arrangements aren't very forward thinking – one might inadvertently toss this record into the Easy Listening section – one close listen will convince any lover of jazz that this is the real deal. There have been many pressings of this album over the years, with the three sessions that are recorded on the original LP rearranged into a different order, pressed with a variety of cover art, and issued on many different labels – 36 different versions of this album (!), not including this album I'm reviewing that's pressed on Impex, are listed in Discogs, issued in every country one could imagine.
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T+A SDV3100HV Streaming DAC And PDT3100HV Disc Drive Review

T+A SDV3100HV Streaming DAC
And PDT3100HV Disc Drive
T+A took a giant step forward with its HV series.
Review By Matthias Böde Of STEREO Magazine
Imagine if you had a free choice on the wheel of fortune. Over and over again. As often as you want! That's how it feels when you press the mighty volume control on T+A's brand new SDV3100HV Streamer-DAC-preamplifier, whereupon it jumps into source selection mode and scrolls through  the numerous options in the turquoise illuminated display kind of like you would on a smartphone.
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PBN Audio M2!5 Loudspeakers Review

PBN Audio M2!5 Loudspeakers
What's old, is new again.
Review By Gregory Petan of Positive Feedback
These days there are a lot of good speakers out there. More than ever, at every price point you can surely find something that fits your needs. As the price rises, the scrutiny and expectations grow, as well they should. At or around the $30,000 mark there have never been so many choices in all manners of design, materials, and technology. At the upper echelon, manufacturers have really pushed the state of the art in terms of secret composite materials for cabinets housing exotic drivers made from carbon fiber, ceramics, and other space age materials.
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Wells Audio Commander Level II Tube Line Stage Review

World Premiere Review!
Wells Audio Commander Level II Tube Line Stage
I found myself often thinking of Van Morrison's "Cleaning Windows".
Review By Dr. Jules L. Coleman
For much of my life I tried my hand at playing guitar – with little, if any, success. Truth be told, early and often friends and family – several of whom are professional musicians – encouraged me to abandon my efforts. Ultimately, fear of being friendless and homeless carried the day, and my nascent, if not burgeoning, career came to a screeching halt. This tragedy, notwithstanding, my love of music has continued to grow unabated. Like the majority of you, I love listening to music, engaging it, getting to know and appreciate it for its artistry as well the narrative content of the music and where present the lyrics.
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Merrill Audio PURE Tape Head Preamp Review

World Premiere Review!
Merrill Audio PURE Tape Head Preamp

Simple to use sweet sounding analog!
Review By Richard Cohn
Have you ever noticed how people's pets tend to look like them and reflect their personalities? Well, I have noticed a similar congruency between audio components and their designers – for good or bad (no names mentioned here are the astringent amps/designers I have come across in my years as an audiophile). Fortunately, the subject of this review, the Merrill Audio PURE Tape Head Preamp (the "Merrill Preamp" or "Pure") for reel-to-reel decks and its creator Merrill Wettasinghe are on the right side of that spectrum.
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Wonderful Wireworld High-End Audio Cables Review

World Premiere Review!
Wonderful Wireworld High-End Audio Cables
Featuring Wireworld Platinum Eclipse 8 Audio Interconnects, Silver Eclipse 8 Speaker Cable, Platinum Electra Power Cords, Silver Electra-7 Power Cords, Platinum Starlight 8 75-Ohm Digital Audio Cable, and Platinum Starlight 7 USB 2.0 Cable.
Review By Tom Lyle

It's no secret that cables are an important part of a high-end system, and therefore which cables one uses deserve serious consideration. As one's system improves, it is very important to make sure that the cables one uses are not only as good as the rest of one's system, but also match the components they are paired with. Still, even though most recognize the importance of cables, many audiophiles still feel as if good cables are "icing on the cake. Those who know me realize that I feel that once a system gets to a certain level, everything makes a difference. And so, cables may be as important as any other component one uses in their system.
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Kanto YU4 Desktop / Bookshelf Powered Loudspeaker Review

Kanto YU4 Powered Desktop Loudspeaker
The little speaker that (really) could.
Review By The Audio File Of Headphone.Guru
The Kanto YU4 is a luscious little remote-controlled two-way powered gem of a loudspeaker at $349 per pair. These diminutive beauties are jam-packed with tech-for-days and built with equal amounts of integrity, pride, and precision. This is a Lifestyle product that can find itself as a killer "small scale" system but can just as easily find itself in an audiophile's second system, be it bedroom or office, or even home cinema. Read on – and YES, I loved it.
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KLH Kendall Floorstanding Loudspeakers Review

KLH Kendall Floorstanding Loudspeakers
Very dynamic while still providing a graceful harmonic decay.
Review By Dean Cacioppo
There are few speaker brands that even non-audiophiles recognize. KLH is one of them. KLH Research and Development was originally founded in 1957 by Henry Kloss, Malcolm Low, and Josef Hoffman. Henry Kloss' reputation in the audio industry goes back to the 1950s and includes audio brands such as Acoustic Research, Advent, Cambridge Soundworks, and, of course, KLH. Today, the KLH brand has been reborn by David Kelley (formally of Klipsch) as KLH Audio, focusing on relatively affordable hi-fi speakers, subwoofers, A/V speakers and headphones.
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M2Tech Nash Phono Preamplifier & Van Der Graaf MkII Power Supply Review

M2Tech Nash Phono Pre & Van Der Graaf MkII Power
Capable of producing both subtle and very dense recordings.
Review By Tom Lyle
M2Tech's Nash phono stage, a component that is part of their Rockstar series, seemed to me to be the not only a perfect match for the Pro-Ject Esprit SB turntable that I set up in my second system not long ago, but also for the moving magnet Ortofon 2M Red phono cartridge that is mounted on the turntable's integral tonearm. This is probably the least expensive cartridge I would ever consider using, and conversely, at about $100 my experience leads me to believe that it is also the most expensive cartridge a non-audiophile might consider purchasing. Thankfully, it has a relatively neutral sound, and its rather open, dynamic sound make it more than "good enough" to use in a high-end system, and especially one that is as good as the system in which I'm auditioning this M2Tech Nash phono stage.
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McIntosh Labs MC312 Power Amplifier Review

McIntosh Labs MC312 Power Amplifier
One of the best amplifiers of 2019!
Review By Andre Marc Of NOVO High-End Magazine
McIntosh Labs is a longstanding entity that defines the term 'legendary' when high-end audio hobbyists discuss companies that helped create the market for top shelf home playback equipment. In fact, McIntosh celebrated its 70th anniversary recently. Clearly, they set standards, and continue to offer new and interesting products to this day. The upstate New York based company has had its trials and tribulations, but it has never been in better standing, and its products continue to be desirable globally. McIntosh is currently owned by McIntosh Group, a company that also own several other highly regarded brands including Audio Research and Sonus Faber.
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Grado Gold2 Turntable Phono Cartridge Review

Grado Gold2 Turntable Phono Cartridge
Old Grado favorite in improved edition!
Review By Danko Suvar, Technical Editor Of hifimedia Magazine

Grado Gold2 is a cartridge with excellent timbral and frequency balance, and well balanced overall, sounds calm and well controlled, but at the same time it follows very well the dynamic and rhythm changes in music material, and all that without adding any (unnecessary) emphasis of high frequency content with the goal of creating more "openness" in sound.
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Cardas Audio Clear Beyond XL Phono Cable Review

Cardas Audio Clear Beyond XL Phono Cable
Special order world premiere!
Review By Robert H. Levi Of Positive Feedback

The story begins with my review of the House of Cardas Clear Beyond Phono Cables back in PF Issue 102, clearly then the best ever from the genius we fondly refer to as George Cardas. They equaled or exceeded the overall performance of anything I have tried at any price, ever. I was content. Next, George Counnas, chief designer of Zesto, takes the Zesto Audio Line to AXPONA 2019 and wires up the works with Cardas, his new reference cable of choice. George Counnas's reference, not George Cardas's reference... follow so far?
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Stack Audio Linn LP12 Turntable Tweaks Review

World Premiere Review!
Stack Audio Linn LP12 Turntable Tweaks
Making the Linn LP12 even more fantastic!
Review By Rick Becker

It's no secret the Linn LP12 is one of the most iconic components in all of high-end audio. It's reasonable to expect there are more than 100,000 sold since introduced in 1972. With its backward compatible upgrade path there is good reason to assume there are still plenty in active use, if not sitting idle in attics all over Great Britain and the USA. While the backward compatibility has led to its continued popularity, it has also left the design vulnerable to aftermarket modifications since such mods would be applicable to virtually any LP12, not just the ones between say 1979 and 1981. So, just as there are legions of people who hot-rod old cars (which were made in even larger numbers), so there is a cult following of the LP12. You're probably one of them if you're reading this now... or about to become one once you've finished reading here.
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Lindemann Audio Limetree Digital Network Player Review

Lindemann Audio Limetree Network DAP / Headamp
Good things do come in small packages.
Review By Rufus Smith

Do good things really come in small packages and at ridiculously low price points? I have always though diminutive audio products always had too many compromises in their design to be used in anything but a portable playback system. I have also found that when a product is designed to a low price point, the sound usually suffers. When Enjoy the Music.com was offered the opportunity to review the Limetree Digital Network player from German audio manufacturer, Lindemann Audiotechnik GmbH I jumped at the opportunity to see if my prejudices held true. In business since 1993, Lindemann has been a leader in digital sound reproduction.
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Sanders Sound Systems Magtech Stereo Amplifier Review

Sanders Sound Systems Magtech Stereo Amplifier
Clear, clean presence that sounds alive and breathing.
Review By Ron Nagle

What follows must be a story of evolution. And in a broad sense It will serve to illustrate some of the technical advances that have been made to bring music into our lives. Driven by our need to experience music we keep technology in a constant state of flux. Ever reaching for an elusive totally immersive experience. Back in May 2008 within the pages of Enjoy the Music.com I wrote about the original Sanders ESL Audio Amplifier. It was made to drive impossible electrostatic speaker impedance variations. And more specifically it was intended to power the designer Roger Sanders own Innersound Electrostatic speakers. At that time, eleven years ago, I owned and enjoyed a pair of Quad 63 Electrostatic speakers mounted on eighteen inch high Gradient woofers. And subsequently I purchased that Sanders ESL amplifier to power my Quad and Gradient speakers.
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Pro Sound Labs' PuroQuiet Active Noise Cancelling Headphones For Kids Review

Pro Sound Labs' PuroQuiet
Active Noise Cancelling Headphones For Kids
One-in-five children have noise-induced hearing loss.
Review By Frank Iacone Of Headphone.Guru
Parents, are you concerned with your children and hearing loss? As a parent who has one special needs daughter and grandchildren, the concern for me is real and as a parent, I was looking for ways to introduce my grandchildren into the world of headphone listening without any danger of hearing loss. Statistically, one-in-five children listening to headphones today are facing noise-induced hearing loss. One option parents have is to work with companies who are inspired by more than money and dedicated to finding a solution to eliminate the problem. Puro is one such company who designs products to prevent hearing loss and offer studio grade quality sound from products aimed at music, movies and playing video games.
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Luxman CL-38uC Preamplifier And MQ-88uC Amplifier Review

Luxman CL-38uC Preamp & MQ-88uC Amplifier
Review By Matthias Böde Of STEREO Magazine
For many hi-fi fans, the new retro looking Luxman tube-duo is guaranteed to be love at first sight. What about first listen? STEREO is testing whether the CL-38uC preamplifier and the MQ-88uC power amplifier will please nostalgic types in particular or whether they can satisfy modern demands just as well. No other Japanese large-scale producer has existed as long as the Luxman Corporation whose origins date back to 1925 and to the launch of broadcasting in the Land of the Rising Sun.
---> Read More


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The EMT927 And EMT930 Turntables Plus a variety of tonearms and other bits. Article By Heiner Jakobi

The EMT 927 And EMT 930 Turntables
Plus a variety of tonearms and other bits.
Article By Heiner Jakobi
Introduced in 1951, the EMT 927 was a massive turntable with an aluminum chassis, measuring 67.5 x 52 x 21.5 cm with a weight of 80 pounds. The platter has a diameter of 44 cm and sits in an amazing precision ball bearing. The bearing shaft is 16.6 cm long and has a diameter of 2 cm! The motor itself is massive. It looks like an industrial motor, 13.5 cm in diameter and 20 cm long! It is a three-phase synchronous type with phase shifter. A precision manufactured three-step pulley is mounted on the motor axis and a precision idler transfers the power from the motor to the inside rim of the platter. The idler wheel can be shifted to the 78, 45, and 33.3 rpm positions for speed change.
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VALVE Magazine

Dinkin' Around: Cables Do Sound Different
Tech tips and other unsolicited advice.
Article By Dan Schmalle
Thought I'd share a new experiment with you here. After being told again and again that interconnect cables do sound different, and admitting to myself that big fat fire hoses connecting amps and preamps do look way cool, I decided to come up with an alternative to the hundreds of dollars per meter tweak bait the dealers carry. The bright side of cleaning up my flooded basement with Eileen's help yesterday was (along with having her support to bolster me through the grossest of the muck) finding a coil of about 30' of RG-8 coax cable that I'd scored from some old ham's collection, sitting high and dry out of the muck.
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Reference 3A Reflector Stand Mounted Monitor Review

Reference 3A Reflector Stand Mounted Monitor
A speaker to live with... for a lifetime.
Review By Tom Lyle
Don't bother skipping to the conclusion of this review, as I'll tell you right now: The Reference 3A Reflector is a great speaker. If one has been searching for a stand-mounted speaker anywhere near its asking price of $12,000, these are the speakers to get. Not only do they do everything that one would expect of for a speaker of its size and price, but much, much more.
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EMM Labs DA2 Digital-To-Analog Converter (DAC) Review

EMM Labs DA2 Digital-To-Analog Converter (DAC)
Producing an extremely clear sonic picture of your music.
Review By Tom Lyle
On Amazon.com one can purchase a digital-to-analog converter (DAC) with three digital inputs and a volume control for $30. Leave out the volume control and limit yourself to only one digital input and you can purchase a DAC for $14. So, why the heck would anyone, even an audiophile, pay more than $2000 for a DAC? And while we're at it, why would an audiophile purchase this EMM Labs DA2 for $25,000? There's really no answer to this other than sound quality...
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McGary Audio SA 1 Stereo Vacuum Tube Amplifier Review

McGary Audio SA 1 Stereo Vacuum Tube Amplifier
In pursuit of the music!
Review By Jeremy R. Kipnis At Kipnis Studios (KSS)
So often, newer components are created in a way that makes it hard to appreciate their true lineage. I mean, when you can witness an entire rack full of equipment shrunk down onto a single microchip, and/or often full sized components reduced to fit inside a shirt pocket, one cannot actually see the individual elements that make up the circuit, anymore; they are so small. And for decades, this trend toward miniaturization has consumed technology efforts, particularly consumer and professional audio and video. Thus, a traditional analog amplifier (tube or solid-state), weighing in at tens of pounds and having a huge physical size accompanying it, is often regarded as antiquated in the presence of smaller, lighter, more modern and often digital-based alternatives. Nothing could be farther from the truth, however.
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Siltech Classic Anniversary Cables Review

Siltech Classic Anniversary Cables
Neutrality is the hallmark of a well-designed product.
Review By Paul Schumann
One of my favorite parts of "The Grinch" is when Mr. Grinch complains about Christmas and all the "noise, noise, noise". We live in a noisy world. Even in the middle of the night I can go out and hear the sound of distant highway traffic. Have you ever tried to listen to music when someone is watching TV in the next room or a noisy dishwasher is going? Impossible!
Our audio systems are noisy too. There are always the obvious demons of 60 Hz hum and high frequency hiss.
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Abyss Diana Planar Magnetic Portable Headphones Review

Abyss Diana Planar Magnetic Portable Headphones
Simply the best portable headphones around!
Review By Peter Pialis Of Headphone.Guru
When I first heard a prototype of the Abyss Diana headphones last October, the final voicing had not been finalized, but what I heard really impressed me! This audition was immediately after hearing one of my very favorite flagship headphones of all time (the Abyss AB1266 Phi) immediately prior to them and as a result, these headphones really got my attention! What I noticed immediately was the outstanding attention to detail in terms of the build quality and included accessories, and as soon as I put them on my head, they seemed as light as a feather and were very comfortable as well.
---> Read More




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