Editor: Dreams really do come true!
I think reviews of essentially unaffordable gear is a service and a pleasure. I have little sympathy when a reader writes in to complain about too many reviews of $10,000 amplifiers, and not enough for normal-real-world $1000 amps. What's so real-world about $1000 amps! We read Stereophile for pleasure, like a Sunday Travel Section with an article about the glories of Nepal. We don't have to go to Nepal in order for the article, and the entire Travel Section, to have been a pleasure, and useful information.
It is with great pleasure that I read Stephen Mejias's adventures in audio. For years, for decades, the quality end of the audio press spectrum has exhibited a certain price snobbery. As a generalization, previous reviewers of gear in this price range, have been semi-aghast that music actually comes out of inexpensive equipment ... it shouldn't have, so this whatever-it-is must be the rare and highly recommendable exception. Bullocks!
There once was a truly exceptional $175 integrated amplifier. The NAD 3020 was the perfect embodiment of the other definition of "high-end"equipment bought by a dealer, and then by a consumer, based on its cost-effect and emotionally effective sound quality on its merit. The NAD 3020 had no sex appeal, was unheard of at the time, and was better than some $4000 in "respected" separates. Nobody bought it for the "wrong" reasons.
In more recent years, one wonders who would notice a great component like the 3020? It's a delight to have Stephen taking for granted that affordable and entry-level components can do the job, that they can turn us on ... and that the differences between them are worth writing about, worth knowing about! I'm of course especially pleased that Stephen's adventures have included cable, have included my cable . . . leading to my only legitimate reason for writing, to fix a little detail:
Over all that fine German food we shared that night in Munich, I didn't "admit" that the gold plating on my RCA plugs is "pure eye-candy." I declared this to one and all. I use gold on under-$100 AudioQuest cables because the tiny amount of gold-flash costs much less than what it would cost to lose sales without it. There is essentially no audio damage done by the additional thin gold layer, though no good is done either. The gold can't do its supposed job of preventing corrosion, because the gold is over essentially corrosion-proof nickel plating (as compared to my speaker connections which use direct-gold plating).
When the plug and materials allow, and the budget allows, I use direct-silver plating. Once a cable costs about $100, not only can I afford the higher cost of a thick silver plating directly over the brass or copper part, but that customers will notice that if my less expensive cables use gold, then maybe there's some reason for that looks-like-nickel finish on the higher models.
I'm looking forward to further travel time in Stephen's world ... or maybe I should write, reading about more of Stephen's adventures in my world. William Low, CEO/Designer AudioQuest