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High-End Audio / Audiophile Equipment Reviews And Think Pieces

November 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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Win Synergistic Research ORANGE Fuses

Win Synergistic Research Orange Fuses Contest!

Win Synergistic Research ORANGE Fuses
Five winners will each receive three new Synergistic Research ORANGE fuses valued at $479.85!
Enjoy the Music.com is honored to join with Synergistic Research for our November 2019 contest. The ORANGE Fuse is Synergistic Research's latest and greatest version of their extremely popular UEF Blue Fuse. In fact the Blue fuse earned Enjoy the Music.com's 2018 Great Audiophile Gift recommendation.
---> 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.



RMAF 2019 Show Report (Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2019)

RMAF 2019 Show Report
Rocky Mountain International Audio Fest 2019 Show Report
Featuring a luxury destination at the brand-new Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center, our Rocky Mountain International Audio Fest (RMAF) 2019 show report celebrates our sweet 16 years covering this highly popular high-end audiophile event. Take in the friendly atmosphere at RMAF where all are welcome and questions are encouraged.
---> See our RMAF 2019 show report here.


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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!

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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RMAF Vs. CEDIA And Twice Vs. CE Pro

Senseless Ramblings
RMAF Vs. CEDIA And Twice Vs. CE Pro
And we'll never have a high-end audio organization.
Editorial By Steven R. Rochlin
Since this is a Senseless Rambling article by Yours Truly, loyal readers of mine know what to expect. So grab the popcorn, a fine beverage and listen to some cool n' crazy tunes. Or something more 'age appropriate' as we are discussing the latest generations of music enthusiasts.
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Ear Jewelry For Audiophiles

Ear Jewelry For Audiophiles
Roger Skoff writes about the state of the 'art' in Hi-Fi.
Article By Roger Skoff
Have you seen what some of the latest, ultimate, super-duper High-End turntables look like? To me, they're reminiscent of what the "cities of the future" looked like in those old Buck Rogers or Flash Gordon movie serials of the 1930s and 1940s – great networks of massive gleaming towers, all surrounded and interconnected by loops and swirls of the aerial highways predicted by the people back then to be the roads for the flying cars of the future.
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HIFICRITIC Volume 13 Number 3 July / August / September 2019

Synchronicity And Serendipity
Synchronicity and serendipity took this issue of HIFICRITIC and turned it into a de facto celebration and turned it into a de facto celebration...
Article By Andrew Everard Of HIFICRITIC

There's a lot of received wisdom involved in the world of Hi-Fi: things accepted as being facts just because – well, just because they've always been so, and as a result are beyond challenge. It's a nice, cozy way of thinking, taking in all sorts of myths and legends built up over the years, such as 'source first', 'analogue is always best', and 'the more boxes the better'.
---> Read More


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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 Bart๓k 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".
---> Read More



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.
---> Read More



Mola Mola Makua Preamplifier / DAC / Phono Mated With Kaluge Class D Mono Power Amplifiers Review

Mola Mola Makua Preamplifier / DAC / Phono
Mated With Kaluge Class D Mono Power Amplifiers
Reimagining Net Neutrality
The Mola Mola Kaluga Class D mono power amplifiers and companion Makua preamplifier with onboard DAC and Phono modules.
Review By Maurice Jeffries Of Positive Feedback
Now that GTT Audio & Video head Bill Parish and I are finally back on friendly terms (heck, he even calls me on the phone occasionally to give me a hard time, and to ask when I plan to get around to finishing the reviews I promised to write, if ever), it seemed like the right time to share with the world my thoughts on a wonderful suite of electronics from the cutting edge design team at Mola Mola, the Dutch electronics wizards with the funny sounding name.
---> Read More



Audio Analogue Maestro Anniversary Integrated Amplifier Review

Audio Analogue Maestro Anniversary Int. Amplifier
A sonic wolf in sheep's clothing.
Review By Tom Lyle
When I was asked if I would like to review Audio Analogue's newest integrated amplifier, I exclaimed "Yes!". Why? Because even on paper it seemed as if it was an extremely well-designed integrated amplifier, and also could easily power my reference speakers with a healthy 150 Watts per channel into 8 Ohms, its power doubling each time its impedance load is halved – and besides all this, I love equipment that's made in Italy. Even if some of this gear isn't a perfect match for the system in which it would be auditioned, I never have been disappointed in the sound quality of any of those components.
---> Read More



Kharma Elegance dB7-S Floorstanding Speakers Review

Kharma Elegance dB7-S Floorstanding Speakers
Gorgeous looks... and they look as good as they sound.
Review By Tom Lyle
Let's be clear. Kharma Elegance dB7-Sare not the largest or the most expensive high-end loudspeakers one can buy. They aren't even the largest or most expensive speakers in the line that they are a part of. But they are gorgeous high-end speakers that sound as good as they look, and obviously designed, built, and are intended to be included in the best high-end audio systems that are owned by those that consider themselves to be discriminating audiophiles. One can place them into an existing system, or one can build a fine system around these speakers.
---> Read More



LampizatOr Golden Gate 2 DAC Review

LampizatOr Golden Gate 2 DAC
An accurate and unfettered music source for my system.
Review By Matthew Clott
Vacuum tubes versus solid-state are the Audiophile's version of red versus white wine. Both are lovely and both have die-hard fans and haters alike. I don't buy into either club completely, and I don't want to start the next Vacuum Tube Versus Solid-State war. I have enjoyed and currently own both tube and solid-state gear, and use both for reviews. That said, years ago I developed an aversion to tubes in my DAC's, partly due to experience and partly due to unsubstantiated personal bias (hey, at least I'm honest!).
---> Read More


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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.
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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



LampizatOr Amber III Hi-Res DAC Review

World Premiere Review!
LampizatOr Amber III Hi-Res DAC
Fall in love with your music all over again.
Review By Dave Hanson
It's one thing to create a component that listeners can appreciate. It's quite another to create a component that makes listeners appreciate their music even more. For me, the LampizatOr Amber III digital to analog converter ($2750 on up depending on options) falls into the latter category, quite decisively, in fact. It's a component that reintroduces you to your music, and it produces love at first listen.
---> Read More



Rupert Neve Fidelice Precision DAC Review

World Premiere Review!
Fidelice Precision DAC By Rupert Neve
As the artists intended.
Review By Gary Barker Of Headphone.Guru
Musicians and regular attendees of CanJams will be familiar with the name Rupert Neve. Rupert Neve began designing custom mixing consoles for the music industry back in the 1960s and his current company Rupert Neve Designs continues in that tradition, building custom mixing consoles, microphone preamplifiers, equalizers and accessories for Pro-Audio. Fidelice is a new line of Reference Consumer Audio products created by Rupert Neve Designs with the intent of bringing studio-quality sound to the average music lover, and the Fidelice Precision Digital-to-Analog Converter is their opening salvo.
---> Read More



Quiescent Mains Cable Loom Review

Quiescent Mains Cable Loom
The concept of vibration control in signal-carrying cables is a relatively well understood, but can the same factors affect a system via its mains cable?
Review By Kevin Fiske Of HIFICRITIC
Following my positive reviews in HIFICRITIC of the Quiescent Technologies Peak Speaker Cables (Vol. 12/2) and Peak Interconnect (Vol. 12/3) I was invited by the company to try its more costly Apex Interconnect. However, in my system the Apex sounded too fat in the bass and rather sluggish. I preferred the Peak. Quiescent's Steve Elford suspected my mains loom. Could one of his colleagues bring a selection of Quiescent – formerly Vertex AQ – mains products to try in my system?
---> Read More



Sonus faber Olympica @ World Of McIntosh NYC

Sonus faber Olympica @ World Of McIntosh NYC
A good high-end system is akin to a time machine.
Review By Tom Lyle
Last year I took a tour of World Of McIntosh, a very impressive five-story luxury townhouse in the Soho neighborhood of downtown New York City. World Of McIntosh is an amazing place, packed with working audio systems featuring gear from McIntosh, Sonus faber, Pro-Ject Audio Systems, Audio Research, and more. This luxurious space is used as an event space, for invitation only audio tours, and for anything else one who wants to use a space "where music and design are merged in a way that's striking, memorable, and undeniably enjoyable".
---> Read More


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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.
---> 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



Pass Labs X250.8 Solid-State Stereo Amplifier Review

Pass Labs X250.8 Solid-State Stereo Amplifier
A powerful, detailed and delicate sounding power amplifier.
Review By Anthony Nicosia
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.
---> Read More



World Premiere Review!
Monoprice Monolith Liquid Platinum Headphone Amplifier
Monoprice resurrects a Cavalli Design that captures the imagination.
Review By Dave Hanson
The Monolith Liquid Platinum, like the Liquid Crimson before it, is one of Cavalli's most neutral sounding offerings. I wouldn't call it an "analytical" sound, however. If anything, it is just a little midrange-centric, with the mids taking the front of the stage, the treble and midbass relaxed just a hair behind, and the sub-bass just a bit further back behind that.
---> Read More



Soulution Audio 330 Stereo Integrated Amplifier Review

Soulution Audio 330 Stereo Integrated Amplifier
A wolf in sheep's clothing.
Review By Phil Gold
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?
---> Read More



Merrill Audio Element 118 Solid-State Monoblock Amplifier Review

World Premiere Review!
Merrill Audio Element 118 Monoblock Amplifiers

A transparent, powerful, refined, good looking, but admittedly pricey brute.
Review By Tom Lyle
The Element 118 monoblocks are Merrill Audio's newest products. I read about them long before I received my review samples, so I already knew that they are the most ambitious components that Merrill Audio has ever produced. They are named Element 118 after Oganesson, the newest element in the periodic table. Merrill Audio used this for the name of their amplifier because it "reflects the newest in technologies in the Element 118".
---> Read More


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