What I Want For Christmas

Aside from world peace, a cure for all the major human diseases, good health for my loved ones, a visit from the Lotto Fairy, and all that happy horseshit, I have no idea what I want for Christmas. It’s been a pretty good year, overall, and I’m actually happy with how it sorted itself out. I mean, if you’re reading this post, the Earth did not end in a fiery earthquake of death and mayhem, despite predictions to the contrary. That’s something, right?

But merely surviving is hardly any fun at all, now is it?

So, what’s on my wish list ….

1. Listening room #2. This is total decadence, but I’m eying a second space in the house as a place to set up another “listening room”. I’ve got my wife talked into it, too. I just need to move a billiards table and two couches and get the electrician in. And probably an engineer — that post in the middle of the room has really got to go. All that out of the way, and this would be sweet. The space is a bit wider (16″), but just as tall and deep — because it’s the other half of the basement. How I’m suddenly able to expand my space from man-alcove to man-cave has more to do with keeping my shit out of the living room, I’m guessing, but I’ll take what I can get.

2. VPI Traveler. $1,299 for the table and tonearm — I just need to pick out a color. Oh, and a phono preamp. Yeah, one of them. Anyway, this is a mother of a table — the gents over at VPI outdid themselves here — and at this price point, I’m all over it. Bring it on! Yeaaah!

3. Pass Labs XP-30 ($16,500) I’m in dire need of a reference preamp. Passives are working pretty well for now, as I have a sweet pair from Wyred4Sound and Luminous Audio, but an active preamp (with or without tubes) would be spectacular.

4. An Oppo BDP-105 ($1,200). I’ve been meaning to get one of these — together with the VPI Traveler, I think this would be a spectacular front-end to a moderately priced system.

5. CAPS Music Server (~$1,200). This is one of those things that’s been sitting in the background for awhile now. Since that Mojo Music Server came through, I’ve been wondering about upgrading my MacBook (which my wife wants to claim in a big, ugly, way).

And that’s about it — aside from about 500 more LPs and a couple of LP bins to store them in. Ahem.

I’ve got a couple of things on the way that will be pretty fun, too. A new tube amp. And perhaps most unbelievably, a huge new pair of loudspeakers — I can’t believe they’re actually on the way (hee hee)!

I hope you all manage to chill out this holiday season and get some eggnog on. Or whatever. Me, I’ll be listening and writing — I’ve got some new stuff coming out, looking at Volti, Sonus Veritas, Clearwave and more. It’s gonna be fun.

So, here’s to hoping the earth doesn’t decide to shake the human race off like water from the hose. Cheers!

About Scot Hull 1063 Articles
Scot started all this back in 2009. He is currently the Publisher here at PTA, the Publisher at The Occasional Magazine, and the Executive Producer at The Occasional Podcast. There are way too many words about him over on the Contributors page.


  1. It’s all about the crickets ! I ordered the Chris Jones Roadhouses and Automobiles CD which shipped from Austria and arrived just before Xmas. Listened to that track about 10X , first I heard the chirping at the end then beginning then all the way through, had my wife listen as well became an event……Great fidelity on that CD played through my NAD 545/165/272 Usher 718 diamond tiny dancers. PTA thanks for a great year and introduction of a refreshing writing style and best in class show coverage. Those crickets are cool. Happy New Year !

  2. Both the CAPS servers and the Sonore servers use the same SoTM card. The real difference is Windows 8 and your choice of music player (Foobar, JRiver, cPlay, or JPlay) vs. VortexBox Linux and MPD. The one advantage to Windows is compatibility. It works with pretty much everything, though JPlay’s hibernate mode does not. VortexBox works with all XMOS and M2Tech based asynchronous solutions, but I don’t think it supports the ones that use ASIO drivers like Auralic DACs. Sonore has a compatibility list on their site.

    The one test that I would really like to see someone do is the SoTM card vs. the iFI iUSB. The SoTM card is $350 plus the cost of a suitable battery or linear PS if you want to get the best performance out of it, so a total of $700+. The iUSB is $199, and it’s ready to go out of the box.

  3. What type of treatments are you using? If you’re going to be setting up a new space, you might want to ask Santa for some corner traps, skyline diffusors, etc.

    I would suggest considering an Origin Live Aurora MKII in place of the VPI. I know a guy who was treated horribly by VPI customer service, basically they told him that he should go buy a Technics because he was too stupid to use a belt drive table, never mind the fact that the motors they sent him for his TNT kept breaking. His experience and their attitude has really soured me on VPI.

    For your preamp, consider Constellation Audio’s Virgo in addition to the Pass.

    You might also want to consider opting for a Sonore server instead of the CAPS. The CAPS server is a Windows computer and you need a monitor and a mouse and keyboard to set it up. You CAN run it headless with a combination of remote login and things like JRemote, but the Sonore server is designed to be an audio component straight out of the box. No keyboard, no monitor. Just rip your CDs or copy them over the network and control everything with your phone or tablet.

    Sonore also offers a matching linear PS for the computer and supply for the SoTM card, which the CAPS doesn’t have. You’d have to get in touch with somebody like RWA or Paul Hynes to make you a power supply for it.

    • I’m really torn about this and I’ve been sitting on the fence for just about a year now because I can’t figure out the best direction to go. I’m told that the SoTM cards are the secret sauce, and that if I really want a server that can (can, not will) make a big difference, I’d need to look at these cards. Everything else comes down to ease of use — again, so I’m told. Oh, that and a good PSU. Can’t forget that.

  4. Hi Scott,
    We met at CAF this summer.
    What you want for Christmas is enough Stillpoint Ultra 5’s to put under everything. i have six i am using under the Maggie 3.7’s and you will not believe what they do for the sound. All Good. You have not heard your system until you have some of these. See you at CAF next summer.

    • I have carpet, which means that Stillpoints tends to not be all that effective. On wood, they’re the bees knees, but on Berber, my results were mixed. Symposium Rollerblocks worked in either situation, FWIW. But the biggest lift of all was the Mye Stand. Huge strides forward ….

      Nice to meet you — see at the next show!

  5. The day’s not over…yet.

    Okay , but in actuality a more precise calendar has been discovered (in October or November of this year) that suggests that the earth will not end for a few more millennium. PtA, you suck! Really….

  6. Sounds like a nice wish list! Curious about those big old honking spkrs & tube amp! …and yeah! …so much for the Aztecian prediction!? …but then, the days not over! Yikes!! Peace.

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