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High-End Audio / Audiophile Equipment Reviews And Think Pieces

December 2019


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



Great Audiophile Holiday Gift 2019 Special Holiday Edition By Enjoy the Music.com

Special Holiday Edition!
Great Audiophile Gift Ideas 2019
50 great gifts for music lovers!
Welcome to Enjoy the Music.com's 14th annual Great Audiophile Gift recommendations! We all love gifts, yet getting that something special for an audiophile can be quite a challenge. Enjoy the Music.com's annual Great Audiophile Gift wish list brings you 50 web pages filled with some truly spectacular ideas for music lovers. Prices start at around $10 and reach to a still reasonable $500 or so. Sure we snuck a few $$$ bits, yet still under $800. Be sure to visit this page as we have a free gift especially for you!
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Enjoy the Music.com High-End Audio Contests

Win Sony's MDR-Z7 Hi-Res Audio Headphones

Win Sony's MDR-Z7 Hi-Res Audio Headphones
Win a pair of Sony MDR-Z7 headphones valued at $480!
Enjoy the Music.com is honored to join with leading international consumer electronics company Sony for our December 2019 contest. Sony's MDR-Z7 headphones ($480) delivers music to your ears as the artist intended with Hi-Res Audio clarity. Take your music collection to another level with Sony's custom 2.76" HD driver units that seamlessly power through your music, keeping every note precise even at higher volume levels. Sony's special drivers create a plane wave effect in the earcups that seeks to prevent reflection delays and minimizes sound loss.
---> Learn more plus enter our contest.



New York Audio Show 2019 Report NYAS 2019 Show Report

New York Audio Show 2019 Report
NYAS 2019 Show Report By Enjoy the Music.com
Held at the Park Lane Hotel in Manhattan from November 8th through 10th, the New York Audio Show 2019 features the latest in high-end audio technology. This ranges from loudspeakers created to perfection, headphones with excellent fit and sound for you, to Hi-Res Audio digital sound for your home or on the go. Also featured were many state-of-the-art turntables for your beloved vinyl LP collection.
---> See our New York Audio Show 2019 report here.



Capital Audiofest (CAF) 2019 Show Report

Capital Audiofest (CAF) 2019 Show Report
CAF 2019 Show Report By Enjoy the Music.com
Capital Audiofest (CAF), launched in 2010 as a very casual show, has evolved into a well-organized and well-attended event. CAF is recognized as a fun, friendly and family-oriented show where you often see parents with children strolling from room to room listening to music, auditioning gear, and browsing the multiple bins of vinyl records, CDs and accessories.
---> See our Capital Audiofest 2019 show report here.



Toronto Audiofest 2019 Show Report

Toronto Audiofest 2019 Show Report
Toronto Audiofest 2019 Show Report By Rick Becker
Enjoy the Music.com's Toronto Audiofest 2019 show report features Canada's luxury high-technology home audio showcase. The Toronto Audiofest is Ontario's new and acclaimed consumer electronics (CE) exhibition.
---> See our Toronto Audiofest 2019 show report here.



Stan Considers Microphony And Electronic Component Quality

Stan Considers Microphony And Electronic Component Quality
Article By Stan Curtis Of HIFICRITIC
We largely take it for granted that each generation of amplifiers will be audibly superior to those that came before even when occasionally they aren't. From my viewpoint as an erstwhile designer I do sometimes find myself doubting some of the claims when I can't find the evidence to substantiate a claimed improvement whilst applauding the efforts of designers who have spotted and solved a problem we old codgers missed or chose to ignore.
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A Look Back At 2019

A Look Back At 2019
As we plan for our 25th anniversary in 2020.
Editorial By Steven R. Rochlin
Virtual everyone within the high-end audio community agrees that 2019 was a banner year for our industry! There were a record number of well-attended events all around the world... for starters. Manufacturers are holding a record number of smaller events at their dealers' locations as well.
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Audiophiles Are Easy!

Audiophiles Are Easy!
Roger Skoff writes about gifts for the coming holidays.
Article By Roger Skoff
Do you have a lot of people on your Holiday Gift List? Do you want a suggestion for getting them all something that will always be appreciated? Try music. I know; that's what I said in my last article, but in that one I was mostly suggesting introducing "newbies" to our hobby and saying that giving them music to play or the equipment to play it on would be a great way to both "hook" them...
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CAF, NYAS, Social Media Fun And Frolicking

CAF, NYAS, Social Media Fun And Frolicking
Shows and industry comradery as we prepare for the holidays.
Editorial By Steven R. Rochlin
This weekend's Capital Audiofest (CAF) 2019 is shaping up to be truly epic! Normally editorial are about whatever is within this issue, yet let's forget all that and go right to the fun of shows. Why? Because there is sooo much fun to be had while enjoying the music! During CAF our god friends over at Part-Time Audiophile posted on Facebook that they're having a get-together for those under 40 hosted by the fabulous photojournalist Eric Franklin Shook.
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Ho, Ho, Ho, The Time Is Hear! By Roger Skoff

Ho, Ho, Ho, The Time Is Hear!
Roger Skoff writes about the coming Holiday Season
Article By Roger Skoff
The kids have come and gone, the pumpkin's been carved or eaten, and now it's time to start thinking about turkeys, family get-togethers, and the December holidays to come. For me, the holiday season mean two major things: presents and MUSIC! Starting right after Thanksgiving (only a few weeks from now), holiday music is going to be everywhere — on the radio, as background to every television program, in the elevators, and in the shopping malls, and on most of our turntables, CD players, and streaming services.
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Allnic H-7000 Vacuum Tube Phono Stereo Preamplifier Review

Allnic H-7000 Vacuum Tube Phono Preamplifier
Bringing you closer to the musical performance.
Review By Tom Lyle
I've been lucky enough to be able to review a variety of excellent preamplifiers during the last few years, from the more affordable to the quite extravagant. As with the Allnic H-7000 vacuum tube phono preamplifier, as reviewed here, I'm hoping that these different types of phono preamplifiers that I've reviewed might help some audiophiles make a decision as to which phono preamp might be best for their system's analog set-up.
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EMM Labs DV2 Integrated Digital-To-Analog Converter Review

EMM Labs DV2 Integrated DAC
A truly magical musical machine!
Review By Phil Gold
It's many years since I've owned a standalone DAC. When your CD Player is from EMM Labs it not only contains a world class DAC, but that DAC keeps improving sonically with regular free firmware updates. On top of that, EMM Labs has updated the XDS1 CD Player to V2 and now V3 with new physical components for a reasonable update charge. Without doubt today's XDS1 V3 shows remarkable improvements over the initial model I first reviewed in 2010.
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dCS Bartok DAC / HeadAmp For Headphones And Stereo Systems Review

dCS Bartok DAC / HeadAmp
For Headphones And Stereo Systems
Allowing you to hear music your way, plus make it fresh and exciting!
Review By Frank Iacone Of Headphone.Guru
The dCS Bartók network DAC with headphone amp brings the rarified air of true "State-of-the-Art" to personal audio.
Digital audio started in the early 1980s when Sony and Philips introduced the world's first CD players. The marketing campaigns describe the sound of CD recordings as being perfect and the end-all for music delivery with its compact size. Sony marketed it as " perfect sound forever".
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Art Audio Quartet Vacuum Tube Monoblock Amplifiers Review

World Premiere Review!
Art Audio Quartet Tube Monoblock Amplifiers

3D sound staging and sense of scale that will capture your heart!
Review By Dr. Michael Bump
The Quartet mono blocks are among a varied line-up of top-shelf SET and Push-Pull amplifiers designed by master artisan-engineer, Tom Willis. Well-respected as one of the top valve designers in the UK, Tom established Art Audio in 1988. Along with a team of like-minded craftsmen, including long time friend, Chris Lucas, the company moved forward with the singular vision of maximizing the inherent musical qualities of traditional tube designs.
---> Read More



Kimber Kable Carbon 8 Interconnects, Carbon 18 XL Speaker Cables, Ascent Power Cables, And Select Copper USB Cable Review

Kimber Kable Carbon 8 Interconnects, Carbon 18 XL Speaker Cables, Ascent Power Cables, And Select Copper USB Cable
Mega-transparent, plus satisfying every other trait one would expect.
Review By Tom Lyle
I've often said that the best way to test audio cable is to rewire one's entire system with that brand or model. This way one will be able to hear the difference in sound quality with any influence from other types of cable, and truly hear its affects. Kimber Kable (not a typo, Kimber likes to replace the "C" in cable with a "K") is one of the only brands of cable that I have found where I could replace once interconnect in my system, and hear a very distinct improvement of the sound of my system due to this one cable change.
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Q Acoustics Concept 300 Standmount Speaker Review

Q Acoustics Concept 300 Standmount Speaker
A life of harmony.
Review By Michael Lang Of STEREO Magazine
Standmount speakers often lose a lot of their sound potential because they are placed in cabinets or on shelves. Q Acoustics' Concept 300 won't let that happen. Strictly speaking, the Q Acoustics Concept 300 is not a British speaker at all, because its creative father is Karl-Heinz Fink, one of the world's most respected and busy loudspeaker developers – who lives and works in Essen, Germany.
---> Read More



CH Precision Ethernet Streaming HD Board Review

CH Precision Ethernet Streaming HD Board
Review By Marshall Nack Of Positive Feedback
It's winter time. Want to know the best tweak for the season? Humidity. Get a humidifier and maintain about 35% RH at the equipment rack. Not only does it make you feel better, it will make the equipment perform better. Sound travels through air: consider it the final wire in your system.
About a year ago, CH Precision sent around an email introducing Ralph Sorrentino, their new Brand Ambassador for America.
---> Read More



icOn4 AVC (Autoformer) Passive Preamplifier Review

icOn4 AVC (Autoformer) Passive Preamplifier
Life-Changer Audio icOn4 passive preamplifier.
Review By Martin Colloms of HIFICRITIC
Andrew Harrison recently reviewed two passive preamplifier/control units, namely the earlier series Life-Changer Audio icOn2 earlier this year (HIFICRITIC Vol 13 No1) and also the Bespoke Audio Company Pre-amplifier in (Vol 13 No2). Now a new and even more interesting version of the icOn series from that irrepressible designer and manufacturer Pál Nagy.
---> Read More



Audeze LCDi3 Portable In-Ear Headphones Review

Audeze LCDi3 Portable In-Ear Headphones
Incredible portable audio any way you want it!
Review By Peter Pialis Of Headphone.Guru
I absolutely loved the iSine20 when I reviewed them a few years ago. I found them to really shake things up in the portable market space with their full-sized headphone sound and transparency. Well, never to rest on their laurels, Audeze has just released their follow up; the LCDi3.
---> Read More



Raven Audio Osprey MK3 Tube Integrated Amplifier Review

World Premiere Review!
Raven Audio Osprey MK3 Tube Integrated Amplifier
Fanatic attention to every detail.
Review By Ron Nagle
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pounded, weak and weary, with a tap, tap, tapping on a darkened Qwerty. Now with many a quaint and curious tome proffered, still, I must type evermore. The Raven Audio people are a Texas based company. Raven's products are made in the town of Onalaska, Texas. They are a manufacturer sharing some manufacturing facilities with the aerospace industry. And the aerospace people manufacture some things that are classified as, "only on a need to know basis."
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Metronome Le Dac Digital-To-Analog Converter Review

Metronome Le Dac Digital-To-Analog Converter...
...and the Technicolor Dream.
Review By Paul Schumann
Those of you who have read some of my previous reviews know that I am in some ways a throwback, sticking with my compact discs while some audiophiles have moved to uncompressed digital files and others have embraced the vinyl side. I have a lot of CD's, and by god, I'm going to still listen to them. A few years ago I purchased the iFi Audio iDSD, and that opened up my world on how far digital has come in the last decade.
---> Read More



SVS Pinnacle 3.5-Way Floorstanding Speakers Review

SVS Pinnacle 3.5-Way Floorstanding Speakers
These speakers can rock, plus produce excellent macro and micro dynamics too!
Review By Dr. Matthew Clott
SVS came on the scene several years ago and impressed everyone with their range of high performance subwoofers. They established themselves as a high value to performance product and sold primarily dealer direct. Their subwoofers come in multiple sizes, multiple price points and in both sealed and ported versions to seamlessly mesh with home audio and home theater systems. With their success, speaker production was an obvious progression and they introduced a 5.1 HT system, bookshelf speakers, dedicated surround speakers and floorstanders.
---> Read More



ZMF Verité Closed Back Over Ear Headphones Review

ZMF Verité Closed Back Over Ear Headphones
ZMF's closed-back flagship is the perfect blend of fun and precision.
Review By Dave Hanson
Last year, the ZMF Verité took the flagship headphone landscape by storm. It was the first headphone to bring beryllium-coated drivers to the 300-Ohm format. The result was a punchy, precise and musically intoxicating combination which garnered a 2019 Enjoy the Music.com Blue Note Award. Also, you can read my World Premiere Review of ZMF's Vérité open back headphones at...
---> Read More



Monitor Audio Platinum PL 100 II Standmount Speaker Review

Monitor Audio Platinum PL 100 II Standmount Speaker
Heart of platinum.
Review By Michael Lang Of STEREO Magazine
Recently we tested the Gold 200 from Monitor Audio. But we wanted more than gold – and ordered the Platinum PL 100 II standmount speaker from the Brit's top series. This compact two-way speaker from England deserves a price for its meticulous attention to detail that we haven't seen anything like in a long time. The Platinum 100 is manufactured neatly and lovingly right down to the last screw.
---> Read More



Cardas Clear Loudspeaker Cables Review

Clearly Cardas
A loudspeaker designer's entanglement in Cardas Clear loudspeaker cables.
Review By Michael Zisserson Of Positive Feedback
Cables are a source of much contention in our epic. So much so that some publications seem afraid to discuss them anymore. YouTubers will show you a coat hanger that somehow out-performs, or at least equals, Monster Cable. Devout subscribers to the esoteric could chew an ear for hours, pontificating that cables are all that matters in an audio system.
Yet like loudspeaker design or any other specialization in audio, cable design is a science in and of itself, which takes years of dedication to master.
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Manley Labs Absolute Headphone Amplifier / Preamplifier Review

Manley Labs Absolute Headphone Amplifier / Preamplifier
Rare Form: Manley creates a Masterpiece that looks and sounds like nothing else!
Review By Dave Hanson
I had the pleasure of meeting Manley Labs VP of Engineering and Design, Zia Faruqi, in the CanJam exhibit at Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2018. While I was more than familiar with the Manley name, this was the first time I had seen them in the personal audio section of the show, so naturally I was quite curious about their debuting flagship headphone amplifier, the Manley Labs Absolute Headphone Amplifier ($4500). Zia was very generous with his time, and walked me through the devastating and inspiring story behind the amplifier's creation.
---> Read More



MagneQuest: The Core Issues: Choosing A Power Transformer

The Core Issues: Choosing A Power Transformer
Article By Michael S. LaFevre Of MagneQuest Transformer Company
From Sound Practices Issue 1, Summer 1992
The Core Issues examines the function, construction, design, and operation of magnetics for audio applications. This series will combine practical advice in the form of useful "rules of thumb" with enough pure theory to give us some concept of how these magnificent devices work. This column is not an academic engineering tutorial but rather a guide to becoming an informed consumer.
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My Own Triode Input MK III  --  Dyna MKIII

My Own Triode Input MK III
Dan remakes a Dyna MKIII to 'juice his lizard'.
By Dan Schmalle From VALVE Issue 9, September 1994
A remarkably bad graphic representation of a very pretty amp. Squint to see the Tung-Sol 6550's, new tube arrangement, Vitamin Q caps, new bias pot location, and cool paint job. Some of you may remember that I was so enamored of the Mklll's I modified for Chris that I wangled a pair for myself. As I recall I bought a Fisher 20A, swapped that and some other stuff for a MkIV, and then swapped the MklV and a pair of Ampex monoblocks for the Mklll's. Then I swapped a Philco Model 60 cathedral radio for a quad of Tung Sol 6550 tubes.
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Wells Audio Milo Headphone Amplifier Review

World Premiere Review!
Wells Audio Milo Headphone Amplifier
Mixing up a mean synergy sauce.
Review By Dave Hanson
Before I reviewed the JPS Labs Abyss AB-1266 ($5,495) earlier this year, designer Joe Skubinski arranged for me to borrow the massive Wells Audio Headtrip amplifier ($6999) to drive his power-hungry headphones during the evaluation. After a short introductory phone call with Jeff Wells, the Headtrip arrived promptly at my doorstep and I was immediately taken by the sound. It seemed that no matter what headphone I plugged into the massive Wells amplifier, they would absolutely light up and sound better than I ever thought they could.
---> Read More



Rogue Audio RP-7 Tube Preamplifier Review

World Premiere Review!
Rogue Audio RP-7 Tube Preamplifier
A very flexible and fantastic high-end vacuum tube preamplifier.
Review By Tom Lyle
It was about a decade ago when I last reviewed a component manufactured by Rogue Audio. I distinctly remember my time spent with that preamp because I was very impressed with its sound quality. But when I un-boxed their new RP-7 preamplifier it looked as if it was made by a different company.  As good as their older component looked, the Rogue Audio RP-7 seemed as if its fit and finish was light years better than the older unit.
---> Read More



PureAudioProject Trio15 Horn1 Open Baffle Design Speaker Review

PureAudioProject Trio15 Horn1 Open Baffle Design Speaker
A trip down the rabbit hole.
Review By Paul L. Schumann
First of all, let me be totally upfront with you my dear readers, this is the first review I've written in a long time, so if I come off as an old curmudgeon, I apologize. In the business of high-end audio, the one constant is change. So when Steven asked me to review the Trio15 Horns, I knew I'd be in for a challenge. After so long, could I still use the reviewer part of my brain?
---> Read More



ZMF Vérité (Verite) Over Ear Headphone Review

World Premiere Review!
ZMF Vérité Over Ear Open Back Headphone Review

Technically Glorious!
ZMF's new flagship combines stunning resolution with uncompromising musicality.
Review By Dave Hanson
Since the release of the Focal Utopia back in 2016, the personal audio community has more than a passing curiosity about Beryllium drivers. Brands like Periodic Audio and Campfire Audio have dipped their toes into the fray and experimented with it in some excellent sub $1000 releases (the $299 Periodic Be and the $799 Campfire Cascade), to name a couple, but no one has really launched another ultra-endgame flagship with a different take on what beryllium drivers can do. That all changes with the release of the ZMF Vérité over ear open back headphones.
---> Read More



Mark Levinson No. 523 Preamplifier, Phonostage And Headphone Amplifier Review

World Premiere Review!
Mark Levinson No 523 Preamplifier, Phonostage And Headphone Amplifier
The No 523 is truly first-class linestage, excellent phono stage and impressive head amp.
Review By Tom Lyle
Mark Levinson hardly needs an introduction. I don't mean the man Mark Levinson, the audiophile and engineer who started building and selling audio components in 1972, back when the term "high-end audio" had hardly entered the lexicon. I mean the company Mark Levinson, which came into being in 1980 when Mark Levinson, the man, sold his company. Even though the company was no longer owned by the Mr. Mark Levinson, the Mark Levinson brand did, and still has, a reputation for designing and selling very high-quality components.
---> Read More



FiiO FH5 In-Ear Monitor Review

FiiO FH5 In-Ear Monitor Review
An Exit From The Entry Level:
FiiO's FH5 is a high-end IEM through and through.
Review By Dave Hanson
The FiiO brand is really synonymous with high bang-for-buck value in the personal audio world. For many people, FiiO is a launching pad – the first "audiophile" amp or DAC they ever own. For me personally, it was the FiiO E6 – just a tiny little pocket amp that was supposed be an improvement relative to my phone's headphone jack. Viola, my first dedicated headphone amp!
---> Read More



Gryphon Diablo 300 Integrated Amp With 32-bit/384kHz & DSD DAC Option Review

Gryphon Diablo 300 Integrated Amp
With 32-bit/384kHz & DSD DAC Option
Proven power, magnificent majesty and very versatile too!
Review By Steven R. Rochlin
Am no stranger to Gryphon Audio as have reviewed their impressive offerings over the years and always came away impressed. This includes a complete system review with their Atilla integrated amplifier, Scorpio CD player and Mojo speakers plus another review of their incredibly impressive Hi-Res Audio Kalliope DAC. Would the Gryphon Audio Diablo 300 integrated amplifier, as reviewed here, be within the same league of excellence?
---> Read More



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