High-End Audio / Audiophile Equipment
Reviews And Think Pieces
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.
The HiFi Summit Q2 2021 By Joe N
the third time within two years, the audio community has an excellent high-quality online streaming show
resource for 2020, 2021, and beyond! The HiFi
Summit, produced by Joe N Tell (Joe Mariano), brings modern features that are expected when showcasing the best in high-fidelity audio and home theater gear. Excellent seminars and group chat are joined by questions from viewers within their Lobby Discussion and YouTube live
stream. When talking about their very first event, Joe
said, "This is the first online trade show and worldwide conference the HiFi industry has ever
seen. Although we created this in response to COVID-19, we believe this is the future of HiFi trade shows. If
there's doubt, consider how crazy online shopping seemed 20 years ago. We've created a trade show that companies deserve and an expo that consumers will love. Get ready for an entertaining, engaging, and educational time. Although we
can't be together in person, we're glad you're here with us."
---> See our The HiFi Summit Q2
2021 show report.
T.H.E Show 2021 Exhibition Room
Celebration, resolution, and re-commitment to champion audiophile and music enthusiast journeys.
Show Report By Emiko, T.H.E. Show's Director Of Marketing And Social Media
I find myself deleting the opening sentence of my piece,
"It's 7am and I'm drinking coffee in a veritable ghost town." No sooner had I settled into my choice table and chair, in the lobby of the Hilton Hotel, Ralph Sorrentino of CH Precision popped up out of thin air. I swear that man is a
wizard! My second sentence was lined up. "A blazer? Can a blazer style with yoga pants? This is the first time I'm faced with wearing
'real clothes' in over 14
months." You see, I am the Director of Marketing for T.H.E. Show and we are (now were) the first show in the US to open after the pandemic shut down and, if I understand correctly, the first audio show in the world to complete its run from start to finish (Guangzhou did launch before us but we understood it, unfortunately, closed after the first day.) On Wednesday, June 10th, after more than a year of sleepless nights, I packed up my suitcase with
— gasp — real pants and shirts, and double gasp — drove down to the hotel where T.H.E. Show 2021 was about to kick
---> T.H.E Show 2021 high-end audio event report.
The Music Industry Just Took A Backwards Step
On Streaming Pricing... In Glorious HD
Editorial By Tim
Founder Of Music Business Worldwide
Amazon's Echo Studio launched in Q4 2019 at a
$199.99 price point in the US. "In
2019, Amazon launched
Amazon Music HD, a high-quality audio streaming offering that is available to
customers at a premium price in the United States. We believe the value
proposition that streaming provides to consumers supports premium product
initiatives." This, from Warner
Music Group's pre-IPO
filing last year, is a key part of the modern music industry's big
sell to investors. Just you wait, it says: streaming is $9.99-a-month today, but
tomorrow, oh man, the possibilities for building on this price-point are
endless. Today (May 17), those possibilities hit the floor with a thud.
A thud captured in stunning HD sound. It was a noise that hurt my ears – and reiterated a
troubling power balance between music rightsholders and Big Tech.
The Music Industry Just Took A Backwards Step On Streaming Pricing... In Glorious HD.
This Is The Best Time To Be A Music Enthusiast
Product development, reviews, and true lossless
hi-resolution on the rise!
Editorial By Steven R. Rochlin
25 years ago when I started Enjoy the Music.com there was very little
info about high-end audio / audiophiles online. Today, that has all changed as
we have thousands of websites from the latest and greatest gear to vintage
audio, DIY, headphones, etc. In addition, we now have more manufacturers than in
the history of our hobby! It is virtually impossible to keep up with it all, let
alone report on every new piece of high-end audio equipment. I'd be slapped
silly by not mentioning that true lossless high-resolution music, without
the 'need' for typical music BUSINESS lossy compressed scams and schemes, is now
mainstream and not limited to only a few niche' streaming music players. Without
a doubt, this is the best time to be a music enthusiast! Way back when in the 1980s and 1990s there were
only a tiny few small digest-sized print publications plus Audio and Stereo
Review (to name a few) here in the States. Europe and other parts of the
globe had their fave publications. It was like we were part of a super-secret
hobby we all love. There was a tribal feeling about it all too!
---> This Is The Best Time To Be A Music Enthusiast.
Do We All
Hear The Same Thing?
Roger Skoff writes about how we listen and what it means.
By Roger Skoff
Many years ago, back in the late 1980s or early 1990s, a
magazine did a demographic study of its readership and found that well over 90% –
including subscribers, newsstand buyers, and pass-along readers –
Shortly after that came out, I and a bunch of other high-end audio reviewers (I
was reviewing for the publication Sounds Like at the time) happened to
get together at the Summer CES in Chicago (yes, they still had two Consumer
Electronic Shows a year, back then) and we got to talking about why that might
be – after all, everybody likes music, both men and women, so why would it be
almost exclusively guys that were interested in high fidelity sound? As it was, two guys in the group from different publications
were licensed PhD psychologists, so we had their professional opinions to
combine with the casual observations of the rest of us in concluding that, even
though experiencing the same music, men and women didn't necessarily hear the
Enjoying The Music: Do We All Hear The Same Thing?
Heavenly Soundworks FIVE17 Loudspeaker Review
Their special features may be just the ones you
Review By Brett Rudolph
odd thing happened over the last year or so from 2020 through mid-2021. We
changed how the world worked in many different ways, and the audio industry was
no exception. All public shows, either public or trade-only, were canceled, put
on hold, or made virtual. Companies could no longer debut their latest
creations, exhibit their upcoming technologies, or garner interest in new ideas
as they had in the past. Yet despite these challenges, the industry continued to
produce new products, create new and improved components and speakers. One of
these new speaker systems was destined to end up in my listening room right at
the end of last year, as luck would have it. My review of the impressive
Heavenly Soundworks FIVE17 loudspeaker is below. Towards the end of last year, the opportunity presented itself
to speak with Jonathan Couch, one of the co-founders of Heavenly Soundworks. We
had a great conversation. The result was the review that follows. It spanned a
few months, substantially longer than usual because the stands were not
available until the middle of March.
Heavenly Soundworks FIVE17 loudspeaker review.
CrystalConnect Monet Network Ethernet
With just a taste of their Diamond network cable as well.
Dr. Matthew Clott
audio reviewer to review a network cable is sort of like asking a car reviewer
to review an alternator belt or a particular gasoline (although gasoline would
likely equate more correctly to power cords in this scenario). I might even
liken speaker cables or interconnects to tires if I continue the analogy; which
have a more direct connection to the signal path, or similarly connect the
engine, chassis, and suspension to the road. Under most circumstances, I humbly
and politely pass when asked to formally review cables. Not because I don't think they make a massive difference in
the system's performance (which they unquestionably do), but because in most
cases cables affect an overall sense of voicing and presentation that is
personal and subtle. And, because people seem to marry themselves to a
particular cable manufacturer who has won their devotion, and I don't feel that
reviews affect a change in the interest the way that reviews of components do.
Also, if I'm being honest, it's sorta painful reviewing cables. I have heard fantastic performances from many cable lines in
my listening room....
CrystalConnect Monet Network Ethernet cable review.
Furutech NCF Clear Line AC Power Line
A skeptic gets his comeuppance.
Review By Paul Schumann
read any of my previous reviews, you know that I'm a bit of a skeptic when it
comes to audio. More than one time I've read about some amazing piece of gear,
rushed down to the high-end audio parlor (remember those?) to take a listen, and
came away disappointed. It's not that it always sounded bad (although, sometimes
it did), it just didn't wow me as I was expecting. Where I especially cast a
wary eye is an accessory item that promises to improve the overall sound of the
system. The Furutech NCF Clear Line is just such a product. So when Steven asked
if anyone wanted to review it, of course, I said yes. Okay, full disclosure here, I have been wanting to review a
power conditioning device for quite a while. One area I have been remiss in the
development of my system is the AC end of things. I've almost bought one a
couple of times, but always backed off. Then during the middle of summer, when
the AC quality goes dramatically down because of all the air conditioners I
start kicking myself. Yet I never seem to pull the trigger on getting one when I
have the chance.
Furutech NCF Clear Line AC Power Line Optimizer review.
North America Premiere Review!
Lindemann Limetree Phono II Review
Small package – Big impression!
Review By Clive Meakins
is very well versed with digital technology and Class D amplifiers. For some
people, they've been "flying under the radar" with their Phono stage. The
Limetree Phono II is the successor to the well-regarded Limetree Phono. Being
very candid; my initial reaction to the suggestion to review the Phono II was, "another
relatively affordable Phono stage – I really hope it stands out from
the crowd". What I will say at this point is that I'm very pleased I accepted
the challenge! A Phono stage can make or break a vinyl-playing system – it
needs to match the deck and cartridge electrically plus be a good match in terms
of character. It's not hard to put together a couple of OpAmps with an RIAA
correction network in between and voila, you have a Phono stage... but that's not
to say it'll be a good one that makes systems shine. I've already hinted that
auditioning the Phono II was a good use of my time so rest assured that if you
are looking for a Phono stage at around €600, finding out more about the Phono
II will be very worthwhile. The Lindemann Limetree range covers the Bridge, Network,
Headphone, and Phono II....
---> Lindemann Limetree Phono II
Pro-Ject Audio CD Box DS2 CD Player Review
The $1000 Pro-Ject CD Box DS2 CD player is very versatile; CD player, transport, and DAC. But does it make sense in 2021? Indeed it does.
Review By Ian White
is a strong degree of irony that vinyl has pushed CDs into the dustbin of
history. Vinyl had a very strong 2020 with consumers purchasing more than 22
million new records in North America alone. Used record sales were even
stronger. There is no question that the CD is on life support in the domestic
market. Digital downloads and streaming have made sure of that. That the final
shovel-full of dirt will be delivered by those of us who love records in the
digital media age was certainly unexpected. All that being said – why are so many companies
manufacturing new CD players? Why would the company that sells the most
audiophile-grade turntables in the world offer multiple CD players and
transports in 2021?
Pro-Ject Audio CD Box DS2 CD player review.
iFi Audio iDSD Diablo DAC / Amplifier Review
The little Devil.
Review By Al Chieng
Established in 2013, iFi
Audio currently has developed and manufactured over 30 products from its headquarters in Southport, UK. Sourcing parts from all over the world its main aim has been to create high quality audio wherever you are. Thus, the iFi
Audio iDSD Diablo would be the quintessential device to deliver on its mission statement. For the more eco friendly consumer iFi has specifically pointed out in their website that they utilized recycled materials in both their packaging and products and no hazardous toxins are within
components. The Diablo sits atop the portable / transportable DAC /
amps (that is a mouthful) categories in the iFi lineup. Why should you care
about the packaging? Well sometimes it is all about the experience. Now I am not
looking for something wrapped in gold leaf and encased in a specially carved
wooden box, but within this price point and standing on the top of lineup you
---> iFi Audio iDSD Diablo
stereo DAC / amplifier review.
Audio-gd AMP NFB-1 Preamplifier
A top-notch headamp that works well with all types of headphones and music.
Review By Gary Alan Barker
Thanks to our friends at Underwood HiFi something very exciting has come to America; the
Audio-gd NFB-1 AMP Headphone Amplifier/Preamp. You can be forgiven for reading that as Audio-god (or gold) because the NFB-1 AMP certainly fits the bill. The NFB-1 AMP is the newest entry into the growing lexicon of Current Mode amplifiers and
Audio-gd has pulled no punches in their zeal to produce what is not only an amazing deal at $799 US but one of the best solid-state amplifiers I have
heard. My tenure with Translinear Amplification (Current Mode) dates back about thirteen years to my time with Halcro. The DM series of megabuck amplifiers
($20,000 to $40,000) were equipped with Current (Mode) Audio Signal Transmission (CAST) inputs and outputs (on the preamp) which offered significant benefits over either standard single-ended or balanced connections.
Audio-gd AMP NFB-1 preamplifier & headphone amplifier review.
The Art Of Listening
The emotional power of sound.
Article By Frederick J. Ampel of
Technology Visions Analytics
Original article was aimed at custom installers, yet this information is also beneficial to audiophiles and videophiles
Listening to and experiencing an audio environment is a unique and intense
multilevel encounter. Stephen Handel, Professor of Psychology at the University of
Tennessee, put it as well as anyone in the preface to his wonderful book: Listening:
An Introduction to the Perception of Auditory Events (MIT Press,
1993, ISBN13: 978-0262081795, $62): "Listening puts me in
the world. Listening gives me a sense of emotion, a sense of movement, and a
sense of being there that is missing when I am [just] looking. I am more
frightened by thunder than by lightning, even though I know that thunder is
harmless and lightning is deadly. I feel far more isolation living with ear
plugs than living with blinders. Listening is centripetal, it pulls you into the
world. Looking is centrifugal, it separates you from the world." Let's understand precisely what Handel is saying: If the audio
system's re-creation capability is working correctly, it can and should pull the
listeners into the presentation with the power to make them believe that they
are "there," wherever there might
---> The Art Of Listening.
Editorial By Art Dudley
Recently I received some new CD re-issues from JVC who have begun applying their very nice XRCD process to the RCA Victor catalog of classical recordings from the 1950s and
1960s. Among this batch was a personal favorite: Fritz Reiner and the Chicago Symphony orchestra performing Beethoven's
Symphony No.7. I enjoy this one the most of all the Sevenths in my collection, and the fact that my copy is a mono LP isn't something I ever gave all that much thought to. In fact, until someone corrected me on the point, I half assumed that LM-1991 might be one of those recordings in the RCA catalog that never came out in stereo in the first place.
(I am not the sort of record collector who concerns himself with such details, although I am often thankful for the knowledge of those who
are.) I also remember thinking that a stereo version of this LP, with that big, gaudy LIVING STEREO banner across the top, must surely suffer by comparison in terms of its cover art, which is
Botticelli's La Primavera, reproduced on a sturdy fold-over sleeve the likes of which I haven't seen on any other record.
---> The Intro by Art Dudley of Listener magazine.
Editorial By Joe Roberts
From Sound Practices
These days there are more audio magazines around than ever before, yet one has to
wonder about the very future of print in an age where more than anybody wants to
know about most topics is accessible for free on the Internet. Paper magazines are
expensive and resource-thirsty to produce and circulate. It costs a few dollars to print
up a magazine and a few more to mail it, then it takes days if not weeks to get where
it's going. The same information minus the paper wrapper can be disseminated
electronically in seconds for almost free. For that reason alone, paper media are more or
less doomed to eventual extinction, sooner or later. It is an old story how economic considerations drove electronics design from the $20
tube to the 20 cent transistor. Well, the same forces are assuredly at work in the
information delivery business. It's still a challenge for a producer to get consumers to pay
for digitally-served information in these early days of the technology but this will
surely change as people get used to the concept of paying for raw info rather than tangible
paper artifacts, buying "ideas" not books. Inevitably, print journalism will have to find
a new home, but in the meantime there's a golden age of audio journalism afoot.
---> Alien Influences
by Joe Roberts.
Few Words About 78 RPM Cartridges And Styli
By Dave Dintenfoss
From VALVE Volume 2 Number 9
While volumes can (and indeed have) been written
on the topic, I'll state the basics. "Size is everything." Yes, in
this case, it is indeed true. For later 78s, say, from the 40s and 50s, you can
get good results with a "standard" 78 RPM stylus (these range from 2.7
to 3.0 mils). Some 78 styli are spherical while others are truncated spherical
or truncated elliptical. Truncated styli are usually the best since, if fitted
properly, they stay off the bottom of the groove and thus reproduce the music
with less noise. But even the spherical (sometimes called "conical")
work pretty well. For most acoustics and very early electrics, useful styli
range from 3.3 mil up to 4.0 mil. For 16-inch transcription discs, 2.5 mil was
standard with alternative standard at 2.0 mil. Stylus sizing isn't an exact
science and you'll need to experiment for best results. Remember, groove depth
and cross-section weren't nearly as consistent in the 78 era as they've been
during the microgroove era. Also, popular 78s were available for years so it's
not unusual to find a 78 reissue from the late 1940s with a groove configuration
common to discs made two decades earlier -- or even a reissue with an early
electrical from the late 1920s with a selection from the 1940s on the flip side!
---> A Few Words About 78 RPM Cartridges And Styli.
PrimaLuna DiaLogue Six Monoblock Power
Worth every penny of their asking price.
Review By Tom Lyle
When I'm shipped a
piece of equipment such as the PrimaLuna DiaLogue Six monoblock I'm reminded
that audiophiles are a lucky bunch to be participating in this "hobby" at
this period of time. No matter what you choose (or do not choose) –
analog or digital, dynamic or electrostatic, tube or solid-state – all
of these contenders have advanced to the point that it is a matter of
listener preference more than anything else. As far as tube amplifier
design goes, auto-biasing that is used in many of the top manufacturers of
these amps (including a more advanced type in the PrimaLuna), baby-sitting
the tubes have become a thing of the past. But this feature would be of
little use without the fact that at the same time the price-to-sound ratio
(or simply, value) is getting so incredulously high that recommending
cost-no-object gear, let alone on-the-high-side of mid-priced gear very
difficult to justify.
PrimaLuna DiaLogue Six monoblock power amplifier review.
Moth Audio si2A3 Vacuum Tube
Integrated Amplifier Review
Like a moth to a flame...
Review By Steven R. Rochlin
How do you make a great product
even better? How do you make it less expensive? How do you offer one of the
most cost-effective ways to reach your audience? If you said "the
internet" than you could very well be right. Moth Audio first grabbed
the eye of the industry at the Hi-Fi
'97 show in San Francisco. In fact i personally
found their gear to be very refreshing as the visual appeal of retro-looking
solid construction was a well needed relief from the usual black or silver
box. Here we have the second generation of this Moth Audio
amplifier now called the si2A3. The si2A3 is a single-ended zero-feedback
"Class A" three watt per channel tube amplifier. This new model is
a good evolution as the customers have asked for more than one input and the
rectifier tube to be more accessible... and Moth delivered this and more!
---> Moth Audio si2A3 vacuum tube integrated
World Premiere Review!
Chisto Easy Groove Solutions
Concentrate, Virgin Concentrate, Extreme,
Enzycaster, Concentrate, Spray & Wipe, Disk Analoguer, and Hi-End Show-Gloss.
Review By Tom Lyle
the last few years, I've been cleaning my records by using a VPI 16.5 wet/vacuum
record cleaner. My record cleaning liquid of choice has been for quite some time
a simple solution of distilled water and a surfactant (the surfactant reduces
the solution's surface tension, making it spread more easily on the surface of
the record). Before the VPI, I used a Nitty Gritty record cleaner, and before
that, an Audio Advisor record cleaner. With those machines I've tried countless
solutions sold by many different companies. None were worthy of a review. A couple of months ago, a variety of record cleaning solutions
arrived at my doorstep made by a brand called Chisto. Chisto also makes products
they call "Digital Care" for CDs and DVDs, solutions to clean the
cabinets of audio/video gear, as well as a product that reduces
static-electricity on one's audio and video components. Chisto is manufactured
in Ukraine. In Russian, "chisto" means "clean."
Chisto Easy Groove Solutions for vinyl LP cleaning.
Synergistic, Bybee, Soundeck And More!
Rick Becker reviews the Synergistic Research Cable Risers, XOT Transducers, HFT Speaker Kits, Plus Bybee Technologies Quantum
Clarifiers. Also included are the Soundeck Damping Feet, Synergistic Research Tranquility Pod, and MiG SX Footers.
Review By Rick Becker
said at the beginning of my previous review, the Synergistic
Research Tweakfest, my original plan was to review a bunch of speaker
mods that would negate the need for a $10,000 to $20,000 speaker upgrade. Surely
a couple of thousand dollars-worth of tweaks could bring my speakers up to
acceptable standards? In light of the crippled economy during the COVID 19
pandemic, what could be a more noble effort — short of making face masks and
providing PPE to hospitals and meat processing plants? Given that I can barely
pour scotch on the rocks, much less come up with a vaccine, the best I can do is
self-isolate and not become part of the problem. So here are some findings that
may lead you to musical bliss in these tough times or at least give you
something to think about until times get better.
Loudspeaker mega-tweakfest featuring Synergistic, Bybee, Soundeck and more!
North America Premiere Review!
Nagra Classic Preamp
For those who have a system that can appreciate its ultra-luculent and musical sound.
Nagra is a
Swiss company that has a well-established reputation as a leading manufacturer
of professional recording equipment. They were founded about 60 years ago, but
it wasn't until 1997 that they also started making high-end audio equipment for
home use. I was already afflicted with the audiophile bug back when Nagra
introduced their first components for the high-end market, and it was then that
I knew that I wanted to own one, or, at the very least hear one. I finally have
a Nagra component in my system, their very attractive looking Class A
vacuum-tube powered Classic Preamp. Of course, this isn't Nagra's first preamp. In fact, they say
that used their previous preamplifier model, the JAZZ, along with Nagra's HD DAC
as a reference to ensure that the newer preamp outperformed the older models.
And so here it is, the latest preamplifier from Nagra.
Nagra Classic Preamp review.
World Premiere Review!
Sound Lab Majestic 545 Full-Range Electrostatic
The quest for realistic sound from a pair of speakers is likely to end
Review By Tom Lyle
The same pair
of Sound Lab loudspeakers have been my reference for about 15 years. The reason
I acquired them is simple: Back in the day, I heard a pair of Sound Lab A-1's in
a friend's large system, and fell in love. To this day, these speakers are the
best I've ever heard of any type, as they produce a sonic hologram of the
recording that I can visualize with my ears. But I didn't immediately go out and
purchase a pair of A-1s. This was not only because they cost much more than I
could afford at the time, nor was it because they weighed nearly 200 pounds. It
was because of their size. The massive Model A-1's are over seven feet tall,
three feet wide, and at their base about two feet deep. Our living room at the time,
which was also our listening room, in no way could accommodate them. Eventually
the planets aligned, and I purchased a pair of Sound Lab speakers. Fortunately
the Sound Lab Majestic 545 electrostatic speakers as reviewed here bring things
down to size nicely.
Sound Lab Majestic 545 electrostatic speaker review.
Audiophile Gift 2020 December
Note: We have magazine issues dating back to 1999.
See our archives section for all reviews.