• by Brian Hunter Fostex has a long history in the audio business. The company was founded in 1973, but its parent company Foster Electric Co., Ltd was formed way back in 1949. The company was originally a mass producer of OEM speaker and transducer products, but broke into pro and hi-fi facing mini monitors in 1978 with the [...]
  • Review: Triode Wire Labs is All American

    April 15, 2017 // 3 Comments

    There is an argument to be made that writing about audiophile cabling is more than a bit like dancing on the “third rail” — even with all the poise in the world, no good can ever come of it. This is, in this reviewer’s opinion, a foolish stance. Understandable, but foolish. The problem appears to [...]
  • The problem with luxury has nothing to do with the expense. It’s us. Our dirty, sad, undeserving selves. Deep down, many of us just don’t believe we deserve nice things. To see them, to hear them, to wade into them, to have them buoy our spirits and carry us away to a place where we are warm, and comforted, and [...]
  • By John Richardson I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and soul searching lately, both regarding my place in this quirky hobby and my written musings on it.  Why do I enjoy coming home from a long day’s work, and after a short break, running up to my listening room and firing up the system?  Why do I look forward to [...]
  • Review: SPL Phonitor X headphone amplifier

    March 17, 2017 // 7 Comments

    I’ve got a somewhat complicated relationship status with headphone listening. It’s something we’re working through, and perhaps I’m being too needy. The thing is I feel that I’m getting shortchanged on the big listening experience I’m used to from my two-channel rig. In an effort to [...]
  • Review: PS Audio LAN Rover

    March 11, 2017 // 6 Comments

    The PS Audio LAN Rover seems like a weird little device. Well, two devices, actually, but the point stands: weird. Not ‘weird’ as in “ha ha, that’s funny” or ‘weird’ as in “it is beyond natural explanation”. It’s one of those things that clearly solves a very [...]
  • by John Richardson It should come as no surprise to anyone who frequents this e-mag that I ended up with yet another pair of speakers from John “Fritz” Heiler, founder of Fritz Speakers. Perhaps I gravitate toward things I think I’ll like, or perhaps they just gravitate toward me. Either way, here we go again. On a [...]
  • How many Simolians do you have to part with these days to get good sound? I mean, really? Is it even possible, or just a frustrating pipe dream? That seems to have been Topic A in 2016, continuing hot on the heels of the previous year and probably going all the way back to Thomas Edison wrapping a sheet of tin foil around [...]
  • Review: Linear Tube Audio MicroZOTL2.0

    February 26, 2017 // 7 Comments

    by John Richardson Linear Tube Audio and David Berning Let’s start this review with a little pop quiz. Question 1: Have you heard of Linear Tube Audio (the company)? No? OK, I didn’t think so. Question 2: Are you familiar with David Berning? You are? No surprise there, as Mr. Berning is one of the best known amplifier [...]
  • Review: Harbeth Super HL5 Plus loudspeaker

    February 25, 2017 // 9 Comments

    There’s this story that I know. It’s about the Earth and how it floats in space on the back of a turtle. I’ve heard this story many times, in many places. Each time, some small detail always seems to change, but in all of them, the Earth never leaves the turtle’s back and the turtle never swims [...]
  • Review: ELAC Uni-Fi UF5 floor standing speakers

    February 19, 2017 // 7 Comments

    by John Richardson ELAC is an audio technology company that has been around quite a long time, having recently celebrated their 90th birthday. The company began in Germany back in the 1920s developing early sonar technology and introduced its first home audio product, a turntable, back in 1948. By 1984, they had gotten [...]
  • Review: Dynamic Sounds Associates Phono II

    February 18, 2017 // 5 Comments

    Being an audiophile is difficult. Being an audiophile into vinyl is more difficult. Being an audiophile who is so into vinyl that you have more than one turntable is bordering on a personality disorder. Having a turntable is often looked upon as a lot of work by those into digital for good reason: One has to consider drive [...]
  • Review: Pass Labs HPA-1 headphone amplifier

    February 5, 2017 // 3 Comments

    by John Grandberg Have you ever waited and waited and waited for something to show up? And then when it does, it actually manages to exceed your admittedly over-inflated expectations? I’m not talking about impatiently sitting by the window watching for the FedEx truck. I mean things that don’t exactly exist [...]
  • By Modest I. Predlozheniye “If you knew you could play your favorite album or the most valuable record in your collection and have it sound more beautiful than you have ever heard before with more fidelity and more realism, would you want to hear it? Of course you would. Now…would you listen to it knowing that the [...]
  • Review: Cayin HA-1A MK2 tube headphone amp

    January 29, 2017 // 5 Comments

    By John Grandberg More audiophiles these days are embracing the pleasures of headphone listening. There’s an ever-growing selection to choose from, but enthusiasts soon learn that a key factor in achieving the ultimate sound quality from their cans rests with the dedicated amplifier they choose. Having spent time with [...]
  • When an amplifier takes two men to move it, you could start to question your choice in amplifiers… but not me. I knew I was on to something truly special. The fact that Audio Note dealer, whiskey confidante, and bon vivant Don Thorne had taken the time (and considerable effort) lugging the behemoth Meishu Silver [...]
  • As audiophiles, we transfix on the transducer. We debate amplifiers; solid state or tube, and yearn for watts of power to provide absolute dynamics. We tweak every element of our audio systems … akin to building a race car to get every ounce of music out of the vinyl grooves or hi-resolution digital files. But if this [...]
  • Review: Zu Audio Druid Mk V Speakers

    December 25, 2016 // 5 Comments

    by John Richardson Zu Audio, a small company based in Ogden, Utah, represents to me the absolute modern American success story. I love everything about it: the quest for audio perfection, the pursuit of a dream of doing something differently, and that their products are produced by caring artisans right here in the good [...]
  • Review: Roon, Tidal and TotalDac – Part One

    December 18, 2016 // 11 Comments

    Can computer streaming turn an analog house into a digital domain?  What does it take to get a vinyl junkie who only listens to LPs to give up his fix, and go cold turkey with digital? Please read on. I’d been realizing more, and more that digital audio was making exponential strides, and was closing the gap on [...]
  • Noble Audio knows upside and down how to make an in-ear monitor look good and sound even better. And with the help of the audiophile retailing entrepreneurs at Massdrop, their new little marvel is available at the lowest price I’ve ever seen a Noble product that wasn’t heavily chewed on by Brian Hunter’s [...]
  • For those of you out there on the Internet reading this who grew up in the ’70s, you might remember a suspense thriller called The China Syndrome. It details how a series of events lead to a climactic conclusion at a nuclear power plant in the United States. The film is driven by the strength of convictions in each [...]
  • By Ken Micallef An infrequent communiqué on the best and worst in new and reissued vinyl titles from around the globe… Lord Classic Lord Classic represent a long lost notion: a New York City band that rocks hard, is mindful of the past, but makes music for the present. I first read of Lord Classic in the comments [...]
  • By Matthew Partrick Since going full-force into Roon 1.2 for the past few months, I’ve had a fantastic experience both in terms of sound quality and the interface. Roon has really knocked it out of the park when it comes to the integration of hi-res NAS files, Tidal, and its ability to deliver lossless sound to [...]
  • There is not much to be said about Nagra Audio that has not been said already. The company goes back six decades, when Stefan Kudelski, a young talented engineer born in Poland but due to the second world war forced to move in Switzerland, after completing his studies in the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in 1948 [...]
  • The Missing Link: the Stereolab Digit 75 SPDIF

    October 8, 2016 // 8 Comments

    By Lee Scoggins There is a huge smile on my face. After several years of rebuilding my system so I can get that elusive musicality and resolution, I have found the final missing piece of the jigsaw puzzle – a digital cable. Yep, this humble piece of wire that connects my beloved Sony SCD-777ES player to the amazing LH [...]
  • By Paul Ashby In 1980 I was working at a Long Beach record store called Music Plus. One day a colleague pulled me aside and flashed a copy of Morton Subotnick’s A Sky Of Cloudless Sulphur / After The Butterfly LP. “That Eno stuff you play all the time — it’s alright, but you need to check this out. [...]
  • Once upon a time, I was young and innocent, brash and bold. I believed in the superiority of digital playback. Cables could have no impact on the sound quality of my system. You could never have too much power. “Once Upon a Time” was actually a fun-to-watch TV show. Ah, me. Such halcyon days. Sadly, time [...]
  • Mini-Review: GamuT Lobster Chair

    October 4, 2016 // 14 Comments

    The GamuT Lobster Chair (chair $4,995, optional matching footstool $2,590) is a billed as “the world’s first audiophile chair.” I will respectfully defer — “firsts” don’t really matter to me as much as “awesomeness”, and this chair is awesome. Michael Vamos tells me [...]
  • Review: KEF R300 Stand-Mount Loudspeakers

    October 2, 2016 // 3 Comments

    KEF. The Final Frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Audiophile. Its 55-year mission: to explore strange new worlds of sound, to bring forth new creations and new possibilities, to boldly go where no ears have gone before. I suppose I really ought to spend some time talking about KEF, the company’s [...]
  • I’ve been spending a lot of time with personal audio systems of late, portable and not-portable alike. Even as I wandered the paths of dynamic and planar, in-ear and over-ear, a bogie remained on the horizon. One that remained staunchly as “outlier”. Then, this past Fall, I explored and secured my first [...]

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