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.



  • TIDAL Audio Piano G2 Diacera SE ($35k/pair)
  • Living Voice Avatar OBX-RW3 ($13k/pair w/ Rosewood finish and external crossovers)




  • Aurender A30 DAC/Network Streamer/Music Server ($18k)
  • BorderPatrol Analogue DAC SE ($2k)
  • Bel Canto Design CDT-3 transport ($2k)
  • TotalDAC D1-Tube-mkII ($10k)
  • Innuos ZENith computer server ($4,250)
  • UHA Phase 9 reel-to-reel analog tape machine (starts at $6k)
  • Kuzma Stabi R turntable, with Kuzma 4Point tonearm and ZYX Ultimate Omega X SB2/Zn cartridge
  • Technics SL-1210GAE and SL-1200G turntables ($4k)


  • Pi Audio Group Uberbuss
  • Pi Audio Group Digi Uberbuss


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

Rack, Isolation, Platforms, &c