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References

What’s a reference?

It’s an excellent question, isn’t it? Glad you agree. So, lemme explain where I’m coming from. What I’m not saying about a reference is that this product is the be-all, end-all of its type or in its class. What I am saying is, rather, that a particular product is familiar and one that I can use as a reliable barometer to judge other products.

My targets for references tend to be high-performers, but I’m under no illusions that they couldn’t be bettered. In some cases, bettered significantly. Just wanted to put that out there.

Some of this stuff is very expensive. I get that. Some of it may be too expensive. I get that too. But this is the stuff I’m most familiar with because, well, this is also my stuff. Yes, I own it all. I think it’s important for a review to own his reference gear.

Note that this is different from my Most Wanted List. There’s stuff on both, to be sure, but if I had the dough, the lists would be closer to “unified”.

Hi-Fi

Loudspeakers

  • TIDAL Audio Piano G2 Diacera SE ($ no idea)
  • Volti Audio Rival (~12k/pair w/ upgrade veneer)
  • DeVore Fidelity Gibbon X ($16k/pair)
  • Living Voice Avatar OBX-RW3 ($13k/pair)
  • Rythmik Audio F12G subwoofers (pair) ($650 each)
  • Quad ESL63 (refurbished)
  • FritzFrequencies Carerra Be ($3k)

Amplifiers/Integrated amplifiers

Preamplifiers

Sources

  • BorderPatrol Analogue DAC Se (~$2k)
  • Bel Canto Design CDT-3 transport ($2k)
  • Bricasti Design M1LE (~$16k)
  • Aurender W20 Computer server/transport
  • UHA Phase 9 reel-to-reel analog tape machine
  • TW Acustic Raven AC-3 turntable, with 10.5 Raven tonearm and Kuzma 4Point tonearm

Power

  • Pi Audio Group Uberbuss
  • Pi Audio Group Digi Uberbuss

Cables

  • Triode Wire Labs Spirit interconnects, American speaker cables, various power cords.

Rack, Isolation, Platforms, &c

Head-Fi

In-Ear

Over-Ear

  • Sennheiser HD-800: best detail retrieval of any high-end audio system, headphone or not.
  • MrSpeakers Alpha Dog: my default recommendation for reference-quality headphones, and one of the best values in audio’s high-end.
  • Focal Spirit Pro closed-back headphones: my new “affordable” reference headphone for real-world use and listening.

DAP

  • Astell & Kern AK240 digital audio player: expensive as all hell, but for “portable audio”, it does it all with no extra amp or DAC required.

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