June 2017 Newsletter

In addition to the products below, which are subject to prior sale and local demo, I will:

1. Illuminate the recent Munich High End Show.

2. Outline the Carlsbad, California reference system’s improvements and cordially invite you to hear the results in Carlsbad.

These discounted products are subject to prior sale:

MBL 9008 mono amplifiers. Serial numbers 43527 and 43627. Comes complete with MBL factory fitted aluminum flight cases and manual. Can be changed to 220v operation. Sell $18,000. List $60,600

Wadax Ultimate Trio DSD DAC and line stage with the new NanoVolt 3.0 phono stage, ZEPTO internal Super Clock and Hermes Server with 2 TB internal SSD (solid state disk) memory Sell $46,800. List $76,130

Dohmann Helix 1 turntable with Schroeder CB tone arm. The “Michael Fremer” review unit. Yes, the same one that was reviewed and deemed the best currently available turntable can be yours. Sell $32,000 List $44,000

David Berning/Hi Fi One 211/845 class A, triode, OTL amplifiers. The actual “Robert Harley” Absolute Sound review pair. Sell $67,950. List $75,500

Hi Fi One Silver AC cord. 6 foot. Sell $800. List $2,000. I will send on demo/approval first. Contact me for details and picture.

Hi Fi One/Nexus AC filter and grounding station. It represents Steve Mc Cormack cost-no-object realization of the ultimate device of its kind. It is passive with no current limiting to 125 amperes and also functions as the single star ground for the entire system. See my website for photo examples under the ‘Demo and Partners’ tab. This is the last ‘beta’ unit. It is electrically identical to the current production models. Sell $16,000. List $20,000

Martin Logan Dynamo subwoofer. Black. Serial number DYTJ0061. This is one of the original 200 wpc 2015 units with the aluminum woofer before it was cheapened ‘as an upgrade’ to todays 700W model with composite woofer. Sell $400 List $699

Carlsbad reference system additions:

Tidal Akira loudspeakers. It demands audition as powered by the Hi Fi One/Berning 60 wpc, OTL 211/845 amps running the 845-tube set. The proprietary to Tidal 5 inch diamond midrange alone plays from 5k to 125k. Imagine a super dynamic electrostatic. Then add the woofer system for fully integrated mid and low bass and you have a good starting point. The speed, coherence, dynamic expression, full range capability and tonal properties of this combination define the uber end of what is possible IMO circa 2017. Please note: I stock the speaker (subject to prior sale) for immediate delivery vs the standard build time of 6 to 9 months.

Lyra Etna SL cartridge. Enough has already been written about this remarkable transducer. Bring your LP’s to experience it in Carlsbad.

Dohmann Helix 1 turntable with Schroeder CB tone arm. See the Fremer review in Stereophile. A seminal design and world-class performer.

Wadax NanoVolt 3.0 phono stage. This is the latest from the fertile mind of Javier Guadalajara of Spain. Fully digital -- it continues to ‘earn its keep’ in the reference system against all competition, at any price.

EnKlein/Hi Fi One AC cord. A joint collaboration with the cable experts, Tom and Dave Kleinbeck. It was developed as the companion AC cordfor the SMc/Hi Fi One Nexus AC filter and grounding station. A single run of this cable on the preamp or powering a distribution device can prove not just instructive, but essential.

Impressions of the 2017 Munich ‘High End’ show. Simply stated, this show is the one to attend if you can only attend one. All other shows (I have attended) world-wide do not directly compete. The venue, the large and often treated rooms, the promoters organization, the advertising of the show, the gratis ground transportation to local hotels, the excellent food/beer and most importantly -- the manufactures, press and reviewers in attendance make this THE show. It continues to be the highlight of my year.

Moreover, I strongly suggest taking advantage of being in the European Union to do some sightseeing and travel. And if you are a ‘car’ guy like me - BMW, Porsche, Audi and Mercedes factories/museum’s are close enough for day trips.

Worth calling out for excellence.

The £450k Living Voice Vox Palladian five-way horn loudspeaker system and Vox Palladian Basso powered, exponentially-horn-loaded subwoofer, driven by Kondo Japan (not UK) M77 preamplifier and a pair of Gakuoh 300B amplifiers are one of the best systems extant for low level expression, dynamics and beauty of tone. The system is very relaxing to listen to and clearly demonstrates what horns done correctly can do.

However, the sound was not as good as in previous years. That honor goes to the top line Living Voice speakers powered by batteries. That system was one of the best sounds I have every heard.

Yes, these are the entry level speakers at £450k!

Best analogue sound.


The Wilson $70k Benesch Resolution, a seven-driver three-way impressed me with amazing 3D midrange, tonal color and vocal timbre when fed by Ypsilon electronics and sourced by a Dohmann Helix 1 turntable + Schroeder CB arm + Lyra Etna SL, the exact analogue set up I use in Carlsbad! Problems in the bass, likely room induced held it back.

Best for the money.

Voxativ $40k Pi 9.87, a three-driver two-way floor stander. One AC-1.6, full- range wooden cone in a folded-horn enclosure coupled with two actively powered woofers in a separate dipole enclosure. The Pi played serious bass combined with a midrange that had no equal in Munich on vocals. For the price, this loudspeaker system is a giant killer. However, it will not win fans for its form-follows-function looks.

Most auspicious debut.

The Tidal Cimara DAC (price TBD). It does not use existing technologies e.g. upsampling, oversampling, clocking or re-clocking. None of this is necessary since it uses an unique FPGA (field programmable gate array) technology remediating the 44.1 KHz signal back to analog in combination with a fully discrete non-oversampling ladder DAC. It sounded amazingly natural and analogue like. Clearly the superior source vs the turntable in the Tidal room

Most anticipated.

The Tidal Assoluta loudspeaker €450k is the ‘big brother’ to the $225k Akira I absolutely love as my Carlsbad reference. As demonstrated in Munich, the Assoluta’s sound-stage dimensions are bigger and more stable on high level inputs; the bass goes lower with greater authority (albeit it was not as controlled as it can/should of been). The dynamic range at both ends of the spectrum are handled with greater ease. Image and tonal density is greater. Tonal colors more vivid and nuanced. Extreme transparency and openness was combined with excellent focus and holographic center-fill.

Bottom-line: the Assoluta is capable of amazing reproduction. Moreover, in its ultimate 4-piece iteration (not shown or demonstrated in Munich) with the addition of two free standing bass towers, it challenges the best horns like the Cessaro and Magico’s when everything is right. And that is a huge ask for the hard to drive horn systems, but relatively easy for the Tidal’s.

Best of Show:

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Ralph Cessaro’s €400k Gamma 2 spherical horn system with F4-18 eighteen-inch field coil woofers driven by Cessaro electronics (built to his specifications by Yplison) sounded near perfect to my ears. The 211 based single ended amplifiers sell for €250k per mono pair.

I am left to wonder what my Berning 211/845 amplifiers could do on these amazing transducers. Back in 2015 I ran the Berning’s on the Avantguard Trios + Bass Horns in Munich. It was an absolute triumph. During one demo, the Trio’s designer exclaimed for all to hear the sound was the best he had ever heard on his speakers and my Berning amps were “the best amplifiers he had ever heard”.

These Cessaro speakers excelled at playing anything. There was nothing to nit pick, just excellence in every parameter. Absolutely superb on his 1981 German LP pressing of Charly Antolini "Crash" direct-to-disc on the Jeton label.

Over the years I have developed a friendship with Ralph borne of showing together in Hong Kong at the Audio Exotics show. He is a real pro.

Professional courtesy:

I will close by thanking Mr. Rumen Artarski of Thrax (Sophia, Bulgaria based) for hosting me, Michael Fremer of Stereophile and Herr Ralph Schröder of tone arm fame to dinner Saturday night in Munich. The restaurant was Tantris.

One of two in Munich that earned 2 Michelin stars. The multi-course tasting menu accompanied by the wine parings left me breathless in the wake of such sustained excellence. The 70s style of the restaurant (see below) is legendary and essentially unchanged since then. Highly recommended.

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