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Herb Reichert Posted: May 26, 2016 0 comments
This is a true story about a surprising 1W integrated amplifier—a push-pull, class-A, output-transformerless tube amp—that drove my DeVore Fidelity Orangutan O/93 speakers to 90dB average levels with grace, spiderweb detail, liquidity, and—unbelievably—a small degree of bass slam.
Herb Reichert Posted: Apr 28, 2016 15 comments
This is a story about vulgar words and what is likely one of the most innovative and exciting, yet self-consciously idiosyncratic, audio components of the 21st century: Schiit Audio's Ragnarok integrated amplifier ($1699).

I never use vulgar words—at least not in public. I rarely use the word shit as an adjective, a verb, or a noun. Therefore, when I first heard of an audio company founded by legendary audio engineer Mike Moffat (formally of Theta) and award-winning science-fiction author and audio polymath Jason Stoddard—a company named Schiit—I could permit myself to pronounce its name only as Shite. I thought it made me sound British instead of rude.

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Herb Reichert Posted: Apr 20, 2016 5 comments
Brian Walsh and Essential Audio of Barrington, IL put on a highly enjoyable demonstration. There was something eccentric but wonderful happening with each song. The equipment mix was eccentric and wonderful, too: What is not to like about the Kuzma Stabi S turntable ($2156 and perhaps the best bargain in contemporary hifi), the Kuzma Stogi Ref 313 CE VTA tonearm ($4640), and Kuzma CAR-30 moving-coil cartridge. The digital source components were equally impressive: Aurender N100H music player/streamer ($2699), and the Resonessence Labs Veritas DAC which was premiering at Axpona ($2850).
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Herb Reichert Posted: Apr 19, 2016 1 comments
If you don't like digital it just means you've never heard it through a good DAC like the pin-you-to-the-seat with inner detail and palpable presence Bricasti Design M1 SE ($10,000). Bricasti's Brian Zolner has a way with amps too. I have only heard them with Tidal speakers but his $30,000/pair M28 mono amplifiers appear to be equally extraordinary.
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Herb Reichert Posted: Apr 19, 2016 0 comments
Audio shows are tribal gatherings and, when they are going strong, they can become musical hoedowns. At every one of these tribal gatherings you can find Peter McGrath and Wilson Audio Specialties making the biggest campfire and singing the best songs. Why? Because they can. Decades of experience have made Wilson demos the Big Event—and this year's version, presented by dealer Paragon Sight and Sound, may have been the best ever. They introduced the new Wilson Alexx speaker($109,000/pair). Was it amazing? Of course it was. It was powered by a range of Doshi Audio tube electronics which appeared to do their jobs on some newer, higher level than I am used to.
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Herb Reichert Posted: Apr 18, 2016 1 comments
I was talking to a couple of oldster audiophiles standing outside the glass-walled Woo Audio room. They were raving about some Von Schweikert Audio speakers when I interrupted them to ask, "Have you heard the Abyss headphones?" They laughed and smirked…
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Herb Reichert Posted: Apr 17, 2016 0 comments
I always laugh at Andrew Jones's demonstrations, because every time he plays some bass-slamming blockbuster, the curtains behind the speakers start flapping in the breeze from the force and velocity of the speaker's rear port.
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Herb Reichert Posted: Apr 17, 2016 5 comments
Because the energy is so strong, I always feel drawn to these rooms, and once there, I lose time, spend money, and feel young again…
Herb Reichert Posted: Mar 31, 2016 3 comments
The first I heard about Elac's new Debut line of speakers was from two 12-year-olds at T.H.E. Show Newport Beach 2015. "Elac's room is making the best sound at the show," they said.

Elac? I thought. I have an Elac Miracord 40A turntable. Hmmmm...

So I walked to Elac's room and listened to the Debut B5 bookshelf speakers ($229.99/pair). I was impressed—but maybe not as impressed as everyone else in the room seemed to be. In the halls, people were raving: "Did you hear Andrew Jones's new speaker?" Show bloggers went crazy. People kept asking me, "Herb—what'd you think of the Elacs?" My polite response was always, "I'm glad I'm not in the business of making $1000/pair speakers."

Herb Reichert Posted: Mar 29, 2016 11 comments
"Hail, Neophyte!"

That's what members of the Smoky Basement Secret Audio Society would exclaim in unison at the end of each ceremony admitting a new devotee. It was called the Smoky Basement Society not because everyone smoked (though they did), but because its members believed that whenever an audio designer finally got a design dialed in just right, he or she had metaphorically "let the smoke out." They exclaimed, "Hail, Neophyte!" because they believed that the most important aspect of being an audio engineer was to have a fully open "beginner's mind." In Zen practice, this is called Shoshin, or beginner's heart.

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