Legendary Performance Awards 2020
Enjoy the Music.com celebrates our 25th
Anniversary reviewing high-end audio gear.
Click here to e-mail our staff
Enjoy the Music.com's
Legendary Performance Awards 2020 celebrates the incredible achievements by
high-end audio manufacturers since we've been reviewing gear for over the past two decades. Unlike our annual Blue Note
Awards, Enjoy the Music.com's Legendary Performance Awards is a
once every 25-year event, so you know it is something very special indeed! We
tasked our extensive staff in choosing products they felt earned an
extra-special mention, which in turn shows the greatness of these legendary pieces
of high-end audio equipment. Unlike our annual Blue Note Awards, there were no
time constraints to earn this 'no-holds-barred' award.
While some pieces of gear may have been superseded,
the point is to bring extra attention to the 'theme' of each piece by many
impressive hi-fi manufacturers. Furthermore, some pieces of gear are not only no
longer made, some of the companies may no longer be in business(!). As an
example, an original 47 Labs Gaincard amplifier with a pair of Power Humpty
power supplies may be hard to source, yet there's no doubt it brought about
clones and a plethora of other types of designs that helped change and shape the
audiophile landscape. Odds are some of the picks below may be a bit
controversial, and so I look forward to your thoughts within our Facebook
social media pages.
been carefully chosen after much debate and consideration by our staff of
reviewers. With each passing
year, our industry has experienced great advancements in technology including analog
circuitry, vinyl LP and analog tape playback, digital-to-analog
converters (DACs), headphones, loudspeaker design, plus of course portable media
players, computer software, and streaming media. While there are many great
pieces of high fidelity audio equipment now available within the marketplace, Enjoy
the Music.com's Legendary Performance Awards 2020 brings a special focus to
products that have earned extra special attention.
With that said, our longstanding staff here at Enjoy the
Music.com, with hundreds of years in combined expertise, now presents to you our choices for
Legendary Performance Awards 2020 as seen below.
47 Labs 4706 Gaincard And 4700 Power
Everything you know is wrong... or...
I was fooled by mainstream audio gurus.
Review By Steven R.
Most of us have heard this
before. Class A amplifiers are the best for music reproduction. Or how about
single-ended tubes sound good because of all that second harmonic
distortion. Oh, then there is the one about how speakers must be placed in
cabinets so solid a nuclear warhead can not destroy 'em. Wait, i got another
one. All amplifiers sound the same (said the newsgroup Borgs). Resistance is
futile! Of course the best amplifiers are those newfangled 1.21 jigawatt
high efficiency Class D digital amplifiers, right? Did i forget to mention
that with amplifiers that bigger the better?
---> Read our 47 Labs 4706 Gaincard and 4700 Power Humpty
Analogue Artisan A1 Series Turntable
With Remote Control
VTA/SRA Mongoose Tonearm & Pod
Truly reference sound quality with astonishingly low distortion.
the owner and chief engineer of Analogue Artisan and I have two things in
common. The first is our love of music; the second is that we both believe that
once a high-end audio system gets to a certain level of refinement, everything
contributes to the sound of the system. The problem is that if the manufacturer
of a component believes that everything makes a difference, and designs
equipment with that maxim in mind with no regards for price, things can get a
bit hairy, that is, very expensive. Case in point is the subject of this review,
the A1 series turntable and tonearm set-up (and their A1 isn't even Analogue
Artisan's top-of-the-line model!).
Read our Analogue Artisan A1 Series turntable with remote control VTA/SRA Mongoose Tonearm & Pod
Audience ClairAudient 1+1 V2+ Personal Reference Monitor
Engaging, with faithful timbre, harmonics and dynamically expressive.
Review By Greg Weaver
ClairAudient 1+1, and its newer V2 version, the subject of this work, is an
extraordinarily compact and extremely high-performance mini-monitor. Their
uniquely truncated, multi-faceted, beveled trapezoidal shape, is just 8"
high, 9.75" deep, and a scant 6" wide. Weighing well under eight
pounds apiece, each speaker employ's a pair of Audience A3S active drivers in a
bipolar configuration, one centrally located on both the front and back black
baffles. They further employ a pair of slightly larger passive radiators, with
one centered on each of the beautiful rosewood-grain finished side baffles. The
result is a striking crossoverless point source design that is deceptively
Read our Audience ClairAudient 1+1 V2+ review.
Audience Forte V8 Power And forte f3 Power
Clean power at an affordable price.
Review By Dr. Jules Coleman
is no doubt that the quality of electrical power is a limiting factor in the
performance of an audio system. I learned this lesson the hard way. In the mid
to late 1970s, while living in Milwaukee, I had put together what at the time
was a high-end system featuring an early version of the Magnepan Tympani
loudspeakers, a Connoisseur Turntable with a Formula 4 arm and a Decca Plum
cartridge. Between the TT and speakers, I employed as many different high
powered amplifiers as I could get my hands on. Fortunately, I had a connection
at Koss (a Milwaukee based company) and access to several amplifiers that were
used in-house in the development of their electrostatic speakers.
Read our Audience Forte V8 Power and forte f3 Power Chord review.
audiodharma CABLE COOKER
Every parameter is materially improved by burning in system cables.
Review By Wayne Donnelly
I don't know about other reviewers, but doing audio cable reviews has always ranked somewhere above sucking face with a grizzly bear on my list of things to avoid. When do you know the cables are sounding their best? It's pretty clear (unless you are one of those self-appointed iconoclasts proclaiming "break-in is a myth") that most wires with no playing time tend to sound edgy, dynamically and spatially constricted, and relatively monochromatic. But how much break-in does a loudspeaker cable or interconnect or power cable need? Can you overdo it? Does break-in last?
---> Read our audiodharma CABLE COOKER Pro V2.5
Audio Note UK Ongaku
A very temping aural
Review By Steven R. Rochlin
Ah yes, the legendary Audio Note Ongaku.
Many audiophiles around the world, rightly, consider it one of the 'Holy
Grails' of audio... and for good reason! Here is the legend of
handcraftsmanship, many pounds of hand wound silver transformers and a
generous sprinkling of exotic parts all wrapped into a single chassis.
Adding to the allure is that it is a single-ended triode integrated
amplifier and uses the powerful VT4C/211 output tube. Of course
rectification is also via tube, naturally. Over 15 year ago the Japanese
version by Kondo-san graced my home for years as i was the only reviewer to put his money where his mouth is (was?) concerning the
excellence of this design.
Read our Audio Note UK Ongaku Integrated Amplifier review.
Ayon Audio Triton Integrated Tube Amplifier
The Triton most certainly knows how to sing in my system.
Review By Ron Nagle
at first sight that may be right but what a sight to see. Domes mirrored
with chrome on a satin black base and glass glowing a warm red. Even
sitting idle on a side table I was drawn by the Triton. Insinuated by
sleek lines and shear mass there was a powerful promise and a no nonsense
aura about it. By my measure it was just plain sexy as anything audio
could be. Clearly it was a case of lust, at the very least it would take
another audiophile to understand my reaction. Most certainly it's all
about music but we must ask has Ayon Audio combined the visual and the
aural esthetic into a single harmonious whole?
Read our Ayon Audio Triton int. tube amp review.
Benchmark Media AHB2 Stereo
This little unit will change the way you look
and listen to amplifiers.
Review And Images By Greg Weaver
My first taste of this remarkable new amplifier came earlier this year in April at
Chicago's AXPONA where I discovered it driving a newly redesigned Studio
Electric Pasadena loudspeaker, also bearing the Benchmark trademark. Now called
the SMS1, the Pasadena's crossover had been reworked by Benchmark, upgraded with
very low tolerance components, and the new look, more in line with the look of
the rest of the Benchmark product line up, had been adopted. The subsequent
sound in this room was one of the most musically engaging I encountered at this
year's event, a remarkable result considering its modest overall system price of
just over $7000, sans source.
Read our Benchmark Media AHB2 Stereo Amplifier review.
Bowers & Wilkins'
Nautilus 800 Speaker
An unusually refined and articulate high end, wide bandwidth loudspeaker.
Review By Alvin Gold
The B&W Nautilus 800 has an impressive pedigree, though not one that has always carried a great deal of weight at the high end. Its immediate predecessors are the 801 and the 802, but the 801 is the key model here. Prior to the Nautilus 800, this was the senior model in the range, built around a massive curved ply bass enclosure housing a 15" bass driver, with a surroundless midrange unit in a pod above, and a Nautilus tune metal dome tweeter in top of that, the two smalls units mutually decoupled to reduce intermodulation. The 801 become a mainstay in the studio world where a neutral balance and high SPLs were required.
---> Read our Bowers & Wilkins' Nautilus 800
Bryston 9B SST2
Quite simply in a class by itself.
Review By Brett Rudolph
many amplifier companies that seem to come and go, one of the most notable
and definitely most consistent is Bryston Ltd. The Canadian company has
been designing and producing what has been touted as exceptional audio
equipment for over 35 years. Unfortunately while it's been my privilege
to review a number of companies over the years, Bryston has never been one
of them. Luckily Micah Sheveloff of WIRC Media offered me an
opportunity to finally satisfy my curiosity and review one of their newest
models the 9B SST2 C-Series. Micah and I have worked together
on a number of reviews over the last several years, so when he said you
will not be disappointed; I had high hopes for the arrival of this
particular piece of equipment.
Read our Bryston 9B SST2 C-Series amplifier review.
Coincident Statement Line Stage
Glorious music from this Statement Line Stage.
Review By Rick Becker
Within the first minute
of listening to the Coincident Statement I realized that this is a very
special preamplifier and that I would have to own the review sample. It
took the remaining two months to figure out how to make that happen. My
rig has recently experienced large improvements in transparency and
resolution with the addition of the open baffle Tekton OB4.5 monitors and
S12 subwoofers, both patent pending new technology, as well as the
insertion of the PS Audio Power Port Premier at the outlet of my dedicated
power line. But these merely set the stage for Israel Blume's all out
assault on the state of the art to create the most transparent and purest
line stage available today.
Read our Coincident Statement Line Stage review.
Combak's Reimyo CDP-777 CD Transport / Player
A Worthy $17,000
By Rufus Smith
The Reimyo CDP-777 bills itself as the "Finest Transport/CD Player Ever Invented". Whenever I hear about a product that claims to be the best, my curiosity is piqued. As long as I can remember, I have been impressed with the quality and workmanship that goes into making a world-class product whether it be a motorcar, watch, camera or a piece of audio equipment. Whenever I evaluate such I product, the one question I have is whether or not the manufacturer has achieved their
our Combak's Reimyo CDP-777 CD Transport / Player review.
The Complete Guide to High-End Audio
Fifth Edition By Robert Harley
An excellent reference book for a newbie and seasoned reviewer.
Review By Heather And Steven R. Rochlin
Steven got this very helpful reference book for me, The
Complete Guide to High-End Audio Fifth Edition by Robert Harley, as I
slowly learn some of the ins and outs of high-end audio. I am very content
listening to the awesome systems both within our home and at shows. Other times,
there are great interests in what makes these products excellent, and so I
really want to know about the what, why, and especially how these systems achieve their great sound. I realize there are people out there who actually enjoy
reading technical manuals, such as my husband Steven, yet this is not for me.
The Complete Guide to High-End Audio
is perfect for me as a reference book.
Read our The Complete Guide to High-End Audio review.
Copland CTA 408 Vacuum Tube Stereo Integrated Amplifier
A tube amplifier in disguise.
Dr. Phil Gold
It has been seven
years since I reviewed the Copland CTA 506 Power amp which I liked very much at
the time and is still available today. From my 2012 review of the CTA 506: The Copland CTA 506 combines classic design with the latest
developments in vacuum tubes to create an impressive and attractively priced
power amp that seems equally at home across musical genres. It stands up well
against the other power amps – tube and silicon based – that have been through
my listening room. It doesn't pretend to be the last word in power amps, but it
sits at a sweet spot in the market where you'll need to pay a lot more to eke
out small performance gains in most systems.
Read our Copland CTA 408 tubed int. amp review.
Clark Audio (MrSpeakers) Ether 2 Over-The-Ear Headphones
Evolution of a classic open back planar magnetic headphone.
Review By Scott Lombardo
their humble beginnings of modifying Fostex T50RP headphones, to developing
patented V-Planar technology and eventually creating ground up electrostatic
headphones, MrSpeakers has continued to push the envelope while staying grounded
to their roots. Now with their latest flagship offering, the Ether 2, Dan Clark Audio
(previously named MrSpeakers)
aims to cement their legacy in the world of headphones. Let's take a look and
listen. The Ether 2's lineage becomes even more evident when you hear
them. The Ether series has always had an airy, ethereal quality to them and the
Ether 2 takes those aspects to another level.
Read our Dan Clark Audio Ether 2 headphone review.
Dan D'Agostino Master Audio Systems Momentum Phono Stage Preamplifier
A championship phono stage from living legend Dan D'Agostino.
When I heard
that I would be reviewing the $28,000 Dan D'Agostino Master Audio Momentum phono
preamplifier for this issue of Enjoy the
Music.com, I was a very
happy audiophile — on account of the time I spent with the $50,000
D'Agostino Momentum Lifestyle integrated amplifier that I reviewed
earlier this year. If this phono preamplifier had any of the sonic
characteristics of the MLife, I suspected I was going to hear my records through
a state-of-the-art phono preamp, or at the very least one that was very close to
state-of-the-art. When writing about their MLife integrated amp I declared that
not only have I never heard an integrated sound so marvelous in my system, I
never have heard one sound as marvelous anywhere.
Read our Dan D'Agostino Master Audio Systems Momentum Phono Stage Preamplifier
Dynamic Sounds Associates Pre I Linestage
Articulate, smooth and magically engaging.
I first met Doug Hurlburt, the man behind Dynamic Sounds
Associates, some 20 years ago now; we were members of the same extended southern
Maryland listening group. Doug has designed and built audio equipment for his
own uses since his high school days. On my first visit to his home in (then)
Potomac, MD, I was impressed by his clearly advanced comprehension of
electronics and his passionate love of music. He had recently done an incredible
mod, rebuilding his KEF CS5 loudspeakers, including totally redesigned crossover
Read our Dynamic Sounds Associates Pre I Linestage review.
EAR / Yoshino 868 Tube Preamplifier With
One of the best I have heard!
Review By Ron Nagle
The company that would evolve and come to be known as
EAR/Yoshino was founded by Tim De Paravicini, one of the preeminent audio
designers/engineers of our time. Tim is a legendary designer whose genius has
been put to good use not only in the home audio market, but also within recoding
studios! Tim's designs are not 'fave of the day' items mind you; they easily
withstand the test of time. Just because the 868 preamplifier may be considered old by some,
as it has been in serial manufacture for three years, that most certainly does not
make it obsolete by any measure! A truly great piece of equipment should
last a lifetime.
Read our EAR Yoshino 868 pre / phono review.
ELAC Alchemy DDP-2 DAC / Preamplifier / Streaming End-Point
A benchmark accomplishment!
Review By Greg Weaver
exploring the boundaries of Red Book CD playback from the early to late
nineteen-nineties will no doubt recall California based Audio Alchemy gear with
great fondness; I know I do! Founded on the inspired design and engineering of
one Peter Madnick, Audio Alchemy almost single-handedly set the stage for the
acceptance and ascent of multi-box Compact Disc playback systems. Initially
offering their lineup of very affordable yet remarkably high-performance
outboard DACs, called Digital Decoding Engines, including the DAC-in-the-BOX
($199), the DDEv1.0, ($399), and the fabulous DDE v3.0 ($899)....
Read our ELAC Alchemy DDP-2 DAC / Pre / Streamer review.
Gershman Acoustics Grande Avant Garde Loudspeakers
Love at first sound.
Review By Rick
I first heard the new Gershman Acoustics Grande Avant Garde
loudspeakers at the 2014 New York HiFi
show. I was immediately and immensely
impressed. Yes, I know that we are not supposed to make discriminating judgments
in the variable and often-challenging show environment, yet let's also agree
that such shows have become the major means of marketing for many manufacturers.
And a cornerstone of the publishing schedule and content of review magazines
(this one included) is the show reports. So we have a widely practiced sport of
assessing fine components in that artificial environment.
---> Read our Gershman Acoustics Grande Avant Garde speaker review.
Goal Zero Yeti 400 Lithium Portable Power Station
Battery power comparo with Goal Zero Yeti 400, PS Audio DirectStream Power Plant 20 (P20) and Stromtank S2500.
Review By Tom Lyle
always been a proponent of some sort of power conditioning for one's high-end
audio system. This is because no matter how "good" the power coming from your
wall receptacle might be, unless your locale power company has set up a
transformer in your yard, you are not only sharing power with many others, the
power that you are using has traveled quite a distance before it finally
arrives at your home. During that journey the power picks up all sorts of
electronic detritus, and that electronic debris will affect how your system
sounds. Even if one uses a simple passive power conditioner, one that passively filters the power that comes from the
wall, it is better than nothing....
Read our Goal Zero Yeti 400 Lithium review.
Grand Prix Audio Monaco Equipment Stand
Shedding an entirely new light on how important isolation
Review By Rick Jensen
Over the past several months I have enjoyed telling friends, relatives, and other assorted victims about the "unbelievable" and "dramatic" improvement in my system. When they politely ask me what I've changed, I tell them it's an equipment stand, and then I wait for their eyes to roll. In this case, hearing is believing, though. What you hear from the Grand Prix Audio Monaco stand is nothing - and
everything. I had the opportunity to see and "listen to" the Grand Prix Audio (hereafter, "GPA") stands at the Home Entertainment 2001 show in New York. They were in a pretty serious installation (Nagra electronics and Eggleston speakers), and the first thing one noticed was how great-looking they
---> Read our Grand Prix Audio Monaco
Gryphon Diablo 300 Integrated Amp
& DSD DAC Option
Proven power, magnificent majesty and very versatile too!
Steven R. Rochlin
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? Or would it finally be something of a miss, with
it being ever so close yet not quite. While I very much can take advantage of
the 300 Watts per channel stereo @ 8 Ohms (950 @ 2 Ohms) of the Diablo 300, the
recent announcement of the Diablo 120 stereo integrated amplifier, which as the
name implies produces 120 Watts per channel @ 8 Ohms (440
@ 2 Ohms) is the newborn little sister, have been a better choice?
Read our Gryphon Diablo 300 stereo integrated amplifier with 32-bit/384kHz & DSD DAC
Kharma Ceramique 2.2 Loudspeaker
Highly recommended, if you can handle the price of admission.
Review By Rick Becker
very exciting happens in life when you step out of your league and move up to
the next level. And so it was when Bill Parrish of GTT Audio delivered a pair of
Kharma Ceramique 2.2 loudspeakers to my home, along other associated goodies. I
wish I had been home to watch when he carried each of these 100 lb. piano black
beauties into my listening room. Linda was there to greet him, and I came home
from work shortly thereafter. The price of my system just doubled.
---> Read our Kharma Ceramique 2.2 Loudspeaker
Kronos Sparta 0.5 Turntable And Upgrade To Full Sparta
is where I want my music to be!
We are all doomed
to extinction in our own little way. It's called death. And the specter of death
causes many to seek comfort in the familiar – LPs, old movies and TV re-runs,
for example. But lest I be branded with the moniker of macabre, allow me to
point out that turntables, cartridges and phono stages have made impressive
strides in quality over the past two decades-long since the reported death of
vinyl. The Kronos Sparta 0.5 turntable has the ability to be upgraded to full
Sparta status. Meanwhile digital just can't seem to get the lid of the coffin nailed down. Men
(and women) still seem to paddle.
Read our Kronos Sparta 0.5 turntable and Full Sparta review.
Linear Tube Audio ZOTL10 MK II Vacuum
A paradigm shift in a box.
Review By Paul Schumann
disclosure here, I'm a tube guy. I was raised on Dynaco. I've had the same
JoLida amp for 22 years. Sure I've listened to solid-state amps in my life, even
had some in my home, but I've always gravitated back to those therimonic
devices. Maybe I'm just brainwashed Dynascum. Maybe if I get a chance to hear
one of Nelson Pass's well-received amps or a 47 Lab Gaincard I might change my
mind, but right now that's where I plant my flag. And this brings me to my
review of the Linear Tube Audio ZOTL10 MK II stereo vacuum tube amplifier.
Read our LTA ZOTL10 MK II tube amp review.
McIntosh MC611 Quad Balanced Solid-State Monoblock Amplifier
McIntosh delivers 600 Watts of beauty and transparency.
McIntosh MC611 reviewed here is the same pair of power amplifiers of which Enjoy
the Music.com's Creative Director Steven R. Rochlin wrote a fun-filled
review of McIntosh's MC611 in April. No, the MC611s I'm writing about here aren't the same
review pair as Mr. Rochlin reviewed, because he purchased his sight unseen, and
so they are in his home to stay. The purchase and subsequent review of these
amplifiers was a surprise to me, and since I'd already agreed to review the
same model of McIntosh amplifiers, I resisted, and did not read his review.
Read our McIntosh MC611 monoblock amp 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
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
Read our Manley Labs Absolute headamp review.
Merrill Audio Element 118 Solid-State Monoblock Amplifiers
A transparent, very powerful, refined, good looking, but admittedly pricey brute.
In the past
three years Enjoy the Music.com has reviewed four Merrill Audio
components. In 2015 Ron Nagle reviewed their Jens
phono stage, which won not only a Blue
Note Award 2015, but also an Enjoy The
Award. Plus, that year I reviewed Merrill Audio's
monoblock amplifiers, and later that year the Taranis
stereo power amp. In May of 2017, I reviewed the Merrill Audio
Reference preamplifier, which was awarded a Blue
Note Award 2017. Readers of Enjoy The Music.com might think that Merrill Audio has
given to us some sort of under the table enticement to its writers,
particularly yours truly.
Read our Merrill Audio Element 118 mono amp review.
SWL 9.0SE Preamp
from the Northwest!
Review By Wayne Donnelly
This exciting preamplifier is
the first product to be designed and manufactured from scratch by Dan
Wright, whose ModWright operation has for years been a leading source of
high-quality modifications that turn moderately priced gear — CD players
especially — from mass-market marques such as Sony and Pioneer into
performers that frequently outdo the high-priced spreads, in both sound
quality and especially in price/performance value. This writer has been a ModWright customer for some
Read our ModWright SWL 9.0SE Preamp review.
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.
Read our Nagra Classic Preamp review.
Oracle Audio Delphi MK VI Turntable
A first-class turntable with incredibly advanced power supplies.
My first "real" turntable after years of listening to
crummy mass-market contraptions was an AR ES-1. Mounted on its arm-board was a
Grace tonearm, but I eventually upgraded to a Magnepan model, which as it turned
out was not really an upgrade but merely a move sideways. At the time I was
listening to the AR table in my humble high-end system I was also spending lots
of my audiophile hours with the now legendary Herb Papier, the maker of the
Tri-Planar tonearm. He became, for lack of any other term, my analog and
Read our Oracle Audio Delphi MK VI turntable review.
Pass Labs X250.8
A powerful, detailed and delicate sound from the Pass Labs X250.8 amplifier.
Not too long ago (in a galaxy...), during July 2012 actually,
it was my privilege to review two products from Pass Laboratories. Specifically,
their very impressive XP-10 preamplifier and outstanding XA 60.5 monoblock power
amplifiers. Both were a joy to have in my audio system and were sorely missed when returned
to the factory after my standard two month review period. So when the
opportunity arose for me to borrow their new .8 series amplifier, the X250.8,
there was absolutely no hesitation on my part to jump at the chance to again
audition a Nelson Pass design. So one might ask, what is the deal with the .8
amplifiers and how does it differ from the .5 series?
Read our Pass Labs X250.8 stereo amplifier review.
PBN Audio WAS-2 Loudspeaker
Big room audio nirvana.
Review By Wayene Zufall
reviewer, you get used to things being delivered fairly frequently. However, when a driver is at your door telling you he has two huge crates
to deliver, you know "the loudspeakers" have arrived. Walking out with
the driver, he asked me what was in the crates. I told him they were
loudspeakers. He could not believe loudspeakers that big could really be
used in a home. Despite his disbelief, we moved each of the 520 pound
crates into the garage and I began the process of removing the PBN Audio WAS-2
loudspeakers from their crates.
---> Read our PBN Audio WAS-2 loudspeaker review.
PureAudioProject Trio15 Horn1 Speaker
A trip down the rabbit hole.
Review By Paul L. Schumann
Before you continue reading this, I would recommend you read
Rick Becker's excellent review of the PureAudioProject Trio Horn1's sibling, the
first generation of the Trio15 with TB driver. Rick does an excellent job
of going through the assembly process of these early and more DIY speakers. I
have to honestly say the Trio15 Horns that arrived at my humble abode were the
latest generation, with Aluminum Frame and almost completely assembled. All I
had to do is put in the horns, add capacitors to the crossovers, connect the
drivers and was ready to go. No soldering or woodworking required. If
you've ever put together anything from IKEA, you get the idea.
Read our PureAudioProject Trio15 Horn1 speaker review.
Sennheiser HD800 Headphones With Cardas Audio Cable
Add in the must-have Cardas Audio cable and they're a screaming audio bargain.
Review By Phil Gold
Sennheiser has thrown
down the gauntlet with their new HD800 phones. They are challenging all
comers to the crown of best of breed. And I take it as a personal
challenge too. Can they wean me away from my long term allegiance to rival
AKG? Can they challenge the supremacy of electrostatic phones with their
dynamic design? How do they compare to the superb custom fit canal
earphones from Ultimate Ears (UE-10Pro)? Will people pay well into four
figures for headphones anyway? All this and more in this month's
exciting installment of the headphone challenge.
Read our Sennheiser HD800 headphones with Cardas Audio cable.
Schiit Mani MM / MC Phono Stage
A thrill for any newcomer and satisfy most too.
Review By Rick Becker
word went out on Facebook that my son-in-law Justin wanted a turntable for
Christmas to try out the LP craze. Apparently the fine Sony noise cancelling
headphones I gave him for Christmas last year planted a seed and the seed has
sprouted. The $90 turntable on his list was a turnkey unit with cartridge and
built in phono stage. All he would have to do is connect it to his mid-fi
surround sound receiver. But you and I both know I couldn't let him go down that
dead-end road. He's now 40 and steeped in debt from earning his MBA at
Read our Schiit Mani MM / MC Phono Stage review.
Silver Circle Audio PP1 5.0
Raising the ante by lowering the floor.
Review By Rick Jensen
I will start with the conclusion because it shouldn't
wait. The Silver Circle Audio pure power one 5.0 is a watershed product.
There is life before you use the 5.0 and life after it. After is better. The pure power one 5.0 (PP1 from here on in) is a new
product from Silver Circle Audio, which is based in Houston. Silver Circle
has been making a range of interconnect and speaker cables, as well as
power cords, since 2002. Also in the product line are the "predecessors" of the PP1 5.0, the pure power one and the pure power
Read our Silver Circle Audio PP1 5.0 review.
Sonus Faber Il Cremonese
Sonus Faber's Il Cremonese speakers tell a story, and the more you listen, the more you not only get lost in the music, you appreciate and admire both in the story and the telling of
Review By Jules
If there is
anything obvious about obvious truths, it is their truth. Nothing else about
them need be, and often nothing else is. Moreover, some obvious truths are
obvious only in retrospect. Obvious truths – truisms – can be revealing,
insightful and even important Take what is certainly one of audio's most obvious truisms: an audio system is,
after all, a system! Patently obvious? Yes. Uninteresting or unimportant?
Hardly! In the first place, this truism implies that the sound to which one is
listening is always produced by the system taken as a whole, and not by any of
its particular components.
Read our Sonus Faber Il Cremonese
Sony NW-ZX2 Walkman
Hi-Res Audio sound quality within a seductively-styled portable package.
Plus the Noble Prestige Kaiser 10, JH Audio Roxanne and Ultimate Ears UE18 Pro IEMs.
Review By Steven R. Rochlin
the hottest portable media player (PMP) device announced during CES 2015 was the
Sony NW-ZX2 Walkman. The Sony NW-ZX2 is not for sale anywhere in the world and
so could not purchase a unit. Nor is there a review sample available for Yours
Truly. Those two little details make no difference as loyal readers know that
nothing will stop me if I put my mind to it. This review of the Sony NW-ZX2 is
after about three hours total within the official Sony store in Singapore. It
was their showroom floor demo with many hours of use.
Read our Sony NW-ZX2 Walkman review.
Soulution Audio 330 Stereo
A wolf in sheep's clothing.
Sometimes a review is difficult to write. Not today! This
review writes itself. I'm not quite sure if a twenty-grand amp can be called a
bargain, but I'm going to do it anyway, and I'm going to have to tell you
why. Forget for a moment the looks, the size of the box, the technological
nuggets inside, just listen to the sound, experience this special imaging. If
you were blind testing you'd swear this was a tube amp, so full and alive is
the midrange. But what tube amp has such control in the bass? OK, let's not forget the
Read our Soulution Audio 330 int. amp review.
Sound Lab Majestic 545 Full-Range Electrostatic Loudspeakers
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,
feet wide, and at their base about two feet deep.
Read our Sound Lab Majestic 545 electrostatic speakers review.
Spin-Clean Record Washer
The best sixty bucks a vinyl lover can spend.
Review By Nels Ferre
I reviewed the wonderful Nitty
Gritty 2.5FI-XP record cleaning machine ($899) in the December 2009
edition of Enjoy the Music.com. I loved it, and would have kept it but
both of our cars have required some rather expensive repairs. A
couple of weeks ago I happened to see the Spin-Clean Record Washer System
featured on the daily industry news
portion of Enjoy the Music.com. Saw the price and what the system
comprised of: a bright yellow plastic container that the record is placed within
that holds the cleaning solution, a pair of hard plastic rollers, and a pair of
cleaning pads. The record is placed between the pads and rotated by hand to
clean it, then dried by using the included drying cloths. Sixty bucks? Are you
kidding? It can't be true.
our Spin-Clean Record Washer review.
Synergistic Research PowerCell 8 UEF SE & Atmosphere Level 2/3 Power Cords
Goosebumps with my favorite music!
Review By Rick Becker
what's most important in a system – the front end or the speakers? Where
should you put the most money? These are the kinds of questions that arose for
me when I first became aware of high-end audio. And the answers were as numerous
as the sales people that I spoke with. Without a lot of experience or knowledge,
what seemed like outrageous prices were daunting barriers to investing.
Fortunately, I lived in a town with a few high-end dealers who were sympathetic
to my thirst. A variety of high-end audio shows including Toronto and Montreal opened my mind
to a broad international spectrum of products. Gradually, I learned how to
Read our Synergistic Research PowerCell 8 UEF SE and Atmosphere Level 2/3 Power Cords
VAC Renaissance Preamplifier Mk V With MM/MC Phono Stage
For serious music lovers living at the cutting edge of what is possible.
VAC is not an abbreviation for vacuum, although the VAC Renaissance Mk V does
have five miniature twin triode vacuum tubes on board. The company banner is
actually an acronym for, Valve Amplification
Company. This Mk V preamplifier is something entirely new in the VAC
lineup for 2017. There is a basic MkV line stage preamplifier without the phono
stage that sells for $9990. That configuration uses just two miniature Dual
Triode tubes. The Renaissance Preamplifier Mk V, under evaluation here, contains an
optional MM/MC (moving magnet and moving coil) phono amplification stage that adds three additional 12AX7
Read our VAC Renaissance Preamplifier Mk V with MM/MC Phono Stage
Van den Hul
The Frog MC Phono Cartridge
Smooth and soothing sounds for vinyl
Review By Steven
Over the past five years i
have been fortunate enough to avoid the digital wars. Let the other
guys deal with DVD-Audio, SACD, HD DVD and Blu-ray as I sit back and enjoy my 8000+ and growing vinyl collection. Almost a year ago
review of the Oracle Delphi MK V turntable with Oracle-SME 345
tonearm proved that vinyl indeed has much to offer music lovers worldwide.
While attending the recent Munich
High End show (2007), i was chatting with Aalt Jouk van den Hul (A.J.) at
some press event for another manufacturer. Have known A.J. for well over a
decade, as he attends many shows, and we have sat down and enjoyed some
nice conversations about music, audio equipment... whatever.
---> Read our Van den Hul The Frog MC
phono cartridge review.
YG Acoustics Carmel 2 Loudspeaker
A thorough revision, with many improvements, to its previous design.
There are many schools of thought concerning the best way to
make a loudspeaker. There is no doubt the folks at YG Acoustics with the Carmel 2
floorstanding loudspeaker ($24,300) as reviewed here think differently. Some will point you at electrostatic or planar magnetic
panels, but most designers have chosen the more conventional approach of using
dynamic drivers. Some will insist that all crossovers are evil, and the only
way to avoid this evil is to use a single dynamic driver. A lot of creativity
has been expended in this direction, particularly for those who wish to partner
these speakers with low powered SET amplifiers, since single driver speakers can
be highly efficient.
Read our YG Acoustics Carmel 2 speaker 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
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 this link. Now, the Verité is back in a new incarnation with the
Verité Closed ($2499). The Verité Closed is a somewhat new physical shape among the
ZMF closed backs, moving away from the compound curve design of Atticus and
Eikon in favor of a more rounded cup design.
Read our ZMF Verité closed back headphones review.
Zu Audio Union Loudspeaker
Outstanding transparency and uncompressed dynamics.
Review By Rick Becker
Young riders dressed in dark
clothing dart about the urban industrial landscape on 883's and Forty Eight
Sportsters in a Harley Davidson promotional video. My mind pans left into the Zu
website where black and white photos of young dudes click in and out; segue to a
video of the making of a speaker in their dusty shops. Of course Zu Audio Union
speaker is there and noticed it only cost $3000 for what appeared to be quite an
impressive speaker. Looking back at the pics, at least the guy in the spray
booth wears a mask to protect his lungs. Both Harley and Zu Audio are fiercely
American, one an elderly icon and the other just a teenager.
---> Read our Zu Audio Union