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Audio Ramblings and the Matrix Cables from Black Cat Cable

By | April 22nd, 2019|Categories: Positive Feedback|Tags: , , , |

All components in BOLD are loaned; all components in standard face are owned by me.


Vandersteen Quatro Wood Carbon.


PS Audio BHK 250 amplifier, PS Audio BHK Signature preamplifier. Heed Thesis phono stage.


Digital: PS Audio DirectStream DAC and DirectStream Memory Player.

Analog: Fern & Roby Montrose Turntable and Soundsmith Zephyr MIMC Cartridge.

Computer Based System

Integrita C4 NAS from Certon, AURALiC Aries G2 and Mini (Lightening DS), Antipodes CX (Roon), Sonore ultraDigital and ultraRendu, AQVOX Switch, SBooster power supply (Netgear WiFi extender).… Read the full article

Well Pleased AV, Rethm, Qualiton, Aqua, Innuos, GigaWatt, Swisscables, SGR Hifi Racks | AXPONA 2019

By | April 19th, 2019|Categories: Part-Time Audiofile|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |


AXPONA 2019 Show Coverage brought to you by the LSA Group

CHICAGO (PTA) — Mark Sossa of Well Pleased Audio Vida once again demonstrated a stellar stable of components and show-stopping sound. Rethm loudspeakers continue to dominate my personal point-source category, Qualiton, Aqua, and Innuos make quick work of the hi-res streaming, while GigaWatt, Swisscables, and SGR Hifi Racks do more than support the system.


The big story is Jacob George’s new Rethm Maarga v2 loudspeaker. The updated Maarga now has a more advanced and in simple terms longer re-routed horn loaded labyrinth.… Read the full article

JA's Best Sound at AXPONA: MBL N31 DAC, N15 Monoblocks, 101E Mk.2 Speakers, WireWorld Cables

By | April 17th, 2019|Categories: Stereophile|

The last room I visited at the 2019 AXPONA was the best-sounding: MBL’s big room on the Renaissance Hotel’s 15th floor. The system comprised the Noble Line N31 CD player/DAC ($15,400) that I reviewed in February 2018, the N11 preamplifier ($14,600), four N15 monoblock amplifiers ($35,600/pair) and the omnidirectional 101E Mk.2 loudspeakers ($70,500/pair), all hooked up with WireWorld Eclipse Series 8 cables. (The N31 is being updated to act as a Roon endpoint, so I hope to be writing a followup.)

As luck would have it, Jürgen Reis’s laptop crashed as I walked into the room, but once he had rebooted it and got the music playing—”Fit Song” from Japanese DJ Cornelius, which has superbly live sounding drum samples—I was blown away not only by the dynamics and the full-range sound but also by the enormous yet stable soundstage.… Read the full article

TAD Evolution E1TX-K Loudspeakers, Wolf Audio Alpha 3 Server, Audience SX Cables

By | April 16th, 2019|Categories: Stereophile|

My personal selection for Stereophile‘s 2018 Product of the Year was the super-resolving, highly-involving TAD Micro Evolution One loudspeaker ($12,495). I heard it first at a MoFi demonstration at an audio show. Wherein I repeated the words “wow” and “my god” over and over. Think goosebumps and awe. But I never thought, or imagined, how much more fleshed out and expansive the ME1s could sound with another octave of energy at the bottom. This year, in the second Tenacious Audio room, the $27,995/pair TAD Evolution E1TX-K loudspeakers produced a much larger and more forceful energy field—with an enhanced octave to octave tonal balance.… Read the full article

Gershman Grande Avant Garde Loudspeakers, VAC Master Preamp, Nordost Cables

By | April 16th, 2019|Categories: Stereophile|

Exposed drivers distract me from the sound and the illusion. With those grilles in place,

That is the first time I’ve ever seen a reviewer express the same sentiment I share regarding speaker drivers and grills!

When the drivers are exposed – and quite a few speakers feature particularly gauche-looking arrays of drivers! – the visual cue always makes me conscious of the fact of where the sound is actually coming from. A drum cymbal shimmer will “come from the tweeter” – hey isn’t that a great tweeter!??… Read the full article

Voxativ Absolut Hagen System, Synergistic Research Cables

By | April 15th, 2019|Categories: Stereophile|

Voxativ’s deceptively simple-looking Absolut Hagen System ($7900 with Voxativ speaker cables), which consists of a Voxativ Absolut Box 30Wpc class-AB integrated amp, complete with custom DAC with DSP, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth aptX, and a pair of Voxativ Hagen single-driver loudspeakers, took advantage of a Samsung S10 Android phone to stream music wirelessly from Qobuz via aptX Bluetooth. The Absolut Hagen System, which used optional Synergistic Research cabling in the demo, can stream files up to 24/192. Thanks to built-in DSP, it is claimed to descend flat to 45Hz.… Read the full article

Alta Celesta , Audio by Van Alstine, Anticables

By | April 15th, 2019|Categories: Stereophile|

Alta Audio was showing off their Celesta FRM-2 stand-mounted speakers ($15,000/pair) at AXPONA, driving these two-ways with AVA SET monoblock amplifiers ($5000/pair), which use two of Frank Van Alstine’s single-ended MOSFET amplifiers in push-pull to obtain 600Wpc into 8 ohms. The source was Frank’s laptop feeding data via a 25′ USB cable (!!!) to his Mk.5 DAC and FET/Valve CFR tube preamp. Cabling was all by a brand new to me, Anticables.

I listened to recordings of Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” and Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik: while the sound was surprisingly full-range for a speaker with a 6″ woofer—Alta’s Mike Levy promotes his proprietary XTL bass tuning system as being responsible for what I heard—it was also somewhat mellow.… Read the full article

Nagra HD Preamp, Organic Reference Cables, Kharma Elegance S7 Loudspeakers

By | April 14th, 2019|Categories: Stereophile|

What a difference a change of venue and cabling makes. In the Nagra room at CES, the sound was silvery, glistening, open, and mesmerizing. Here, with smaller Kharma Elegance S7 loudspeakers ($18,000) and mid-priced copper-based Organic Reference cabling that uses a fiber dielectric, the sound was more toned down but no less compelling.

Listening solely to LP, we began with Reference Recordings’ issue of the Chicago Pro Musica performing Stravinsky’s L’Histoire du Soldat. Contrasting colors were satisfying, and the soundstaging impressive indeed.… Read the full article

Vivid Kaya K90 Loudspeaker, Rowland 625 S2 Amplifier, Grand Prix Monaco Supports, Cardas Cables

By | April 14th, 2019|Categories: Stereophile|

An usually synergistic equipment match ruled the 16th floor room sponsored jointly by Jeff Rowland Design Group, Cardas Audio, Grand Prix Audio, and Vivid Audio. Frankly, I don’t think I’ve ever heard Jeff Rowland’s equipment produce such mellow and beautiful sound.

This time, it wasn’t Rowland’s integrated, but instead the Jeff Rowland Model 625 S2 Stereo Amplifier ($15,900), Corus Stereo Preamplifier ($14,900), PSU Power Storage Unit ($8200), Aeric DAC ($9800), and Conductor Phono Preamplifier. It was also my first listen—a very happy one, I might add—to Vivid’s unusually shaped Kaya K90 Loudspeakers ($26,000/pair).… Read the full article

EgglestonWorks Nico Evo Loudspeakers, Primare I35 Prisma Amp, Audience Ohno II Cables

By | April 14th, 2019|Categories: Stereophile|

I admit up front I’ve been behind the curve in understanding/appreciating the EgglestonWorks house sound. I’m a slow learner, but whenever I finally get something—I’ve got it. Today, in the room sponsored by retailer Tenacious Sound (with stores in Syracuse, NY, Augusta, GA, Jacksonville, FL, and, soon, Louisville, KY), during the world premiere of EgglestonWorks’ very beautiful Nico Evo standmounted speakers, I realized why so many people love this brand: They are super well-crafted, and they seem to do everything very well.

Read the full article