Four Recent Follow-Up Reviews

Four products were subjected to second opinions in recent issues: Herb Reichert reviewed the Mk.II version of Klipsch's Reference Premiere RP-600M loudspeaker (above left); Ken Micallef wrote about his time with the MoFi Electronics SourcePoint 10 loudspeaker (above right); John Atkinson lived with the CH Precision I1 Universal integrated amplifier (above); and Julie Mullins auditioned Triangle's Antal 40th Anniversary Edition loudspeaker (below).

"For its high level of transparency and vivid timbral colors, the Antal 40s have the spirit of a coral reef," wrote Robert Schryer in his original review, adding that "the Antal's paper midrange is a smashing success, well flanked by the performances of the speaker's high- and low-end drivers." Julie Mullins was equally impressed by this $4700/pair floorstander, concluding that the Antals' best features were presence and purity of tone. "Their timbre is true: I don't recall ever hearing an instrument sound timbrally off . . . Music seemed to emerge unadorned from these Triangle speakers."

In his March 2019 review of the original Klipsch RP-600M standmount, which cost just $549/pair, Herb Reichert used descriptors like "responsive," "boogie," and "high-vitality." He felt that the RP-600M achieved its high PRaT quotient "by slightly emphasizing the leading edges of notes, which in turn emphasized the beat and clarified the melody. The only sonic indications that I was listening through budget speakers were a moderate lack of soundstage width, some softness, and some light graininess and blurry focus in the crossover region." The new version costs $649/pair, and has a redesigned conical-tractrix high-frequency horn that HR felt was smoother and more refined, with less noise in the crossover region. He concluded that the Klipsch RP-600M II is already a classic, commenting that he sees it as today's version of his 1993 Acoustic Research M1 or maybe the Spica TC-50 that was popular in the mid-1980s. "In my system, it sounded exactly as romantic or resolving, as thrilling or dull, as the amp I chose to drive it with."

John Atkinson was impressed by MoFi's Andrew Jones-designed SourcePoint 10 ($3699/pair), summing up his experience of this standmount by writing "when you consider the clean, superbly well-defined low frequencies, the natural-sounding midrange, the high sensitivity, the easy-to-drive impedance, the ability to play loudly without strain, and the affordable price, the SourcePoint 10 gets a thumbs-up from this reviewer." Ken Micallef was floored by the SourcePoint 10's chameleonic ability to sound good, even great, with every amp I connected it . . . I found the 10's extended highs its crowning glory, superb with all the amplifiers I tried, from sweet and lush (Ella) to concise and fiery (Tony Williams)." He concluded that "the midrange was consistently transparent, and with sufficient juice, the low end was consistently deep, tight (to varying degrees), round, and fast."

Jason Victor Serinus reviewed the CH Precision I1 Universal solid state integrated amplifier, which costs $38,000–$53,000, depending on options, in February 2019. The 2023 firmware updated the time-domain-optimized "PEtER" spline-filter algorithms with fixed-point processing, made the D/A module fully MQA-compatible, and enabled the amplifier to support Roon's audio distribution technology (RAAT). JVS's verdict on the original version of the Swiss amplifier was that it was "one of the most complete, most neutral sounding, most carefully conceived components I've reviewed." My auditioning of the updated version echoed JVS's conclusion: "The I1 Universal marries a state-of-the-art, superb-sounding, solid state integrated amplifier with a superb-performing, streaming D/A processor."

rt66indierock's picture

Not much point in MQA compatibility now. If the technologies survive administration, we will go after it the same way we have for the last seven years. With the same results.

John Atkinson's picture
rt66indierock wrote:
Not much point in MQA compatibility now.

I did examine this in my followup on the CH Precision amplifier, linked to in this story. I wrote that the MQA company's South Africa–based main investor was looking for an exit and that the company went into administration in April 2023. This was discussed in Stereophile's June issue, p.13.

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

You will continue to treat MQA as the work of the devil, and we who value and enjoy it will continue to do so.

Indydan's picture

"Enjoy" MQA while you can. It will eventually be scorched from the surface of the earth, as it should be.

Archimago's picture

A one who has been critical of MQA, I don't think there's need to be so dramatic as it being the "work of the devil". It's just bad technology that nobody asked for and deserves to be made obsolete and deprecated by companies that are still using it.

The fact that magazines like Stereophile and TAS, etc. have not acknowledged the obvious short-comings and false claims of MQA over the years is part of what inflames the unhappiness and frustration!

For years, we have known about the fidelity reduction compared to lossless hi-res when using MQA to encode. Yet individuals like yourself and JA have not acknowledged the faults identified, nor the limitations this imposed on hardware manufacturers, nor the hassles this created with users due to the proprietary compression.

Well, it has come to this. The poor technology has resulted in financial losses. The main supporter TIDAL is moving on as it should have years ago.

Hopefully next time, magazines like Stereophile will be more honest with consumers and not let these kinds of conflicts fester when the facts have been obvious for all to see.

mieswall's picture

“Have not aknowledged the faults identified”, says the judge and accuser. The only “proof” of those alleged faults are your own (and those of your buddy golden sound) absolutely faulty and openly dishonest tests, that of course gave you your minute of fame… and buried to death a honest, smart technology. So proud of that you must be!.
But it was exactly you, when you didn’t have a stake in the game, the one who made the proper tests and found that there was virtually no difference between the dxd master file and the mqa version of it, which was closer (almost exact *analog output*) to that master than any other format YOU tested. Which, btw, was the core claim, the “lie” that MQA told.
But then, what can one of the only 80 historic gold medalists of AES (the late, genius Michael Gerzon), or a world-known NASA consultant (Peter Craven), the intelectual fathers of MQA, may know better than you, right?
Dark ages these of the instant hoax kings.

Ortofan's picture

... currently in production DAC that can decode HDCD discs?

Axiom05's picture

Ayre's digital products will decode HDCD

JRT's picture

Berkeley Audio Design Alpha DAC Reference Series 3 is compatible with HDCD, can decode HDCD. For the $28k asking price, perhaps it should also wipe your nose when you sneeze, etc., though it does not seem to include such added functionality.

Alternatively, instead of trying to decode HDCD encoded 16 bit 44.1 kSPS digital audio files/streams using an HDCD compatible external DA converter to expand that to 20 bits of PCM, it may be worthwhile to use an HDCD compatible software product to rip your HDCD to 24 bit 44.1 kSPS PCM (20 bits from the expanded original plus four bits of padding), and encode that to FLAC, once and done. Proper playback of those 24 bit FLAC files would be completely agnostic of the original HDCD encoding, and so may provide better forward compatibility by simply avoiding most of your future efforts in trying to decode HDCD encoded 16 bit 44.1 kSPS digital audio files/streams on future hardware.

Scintilla's picture

and then integrated it into windows media player. Not much demand left for hardware decoders but in any case you rarely gain much with HDCD since most mastering engineers didn't use peak-extend anyway which was it's only non-subjective advance. The other features were a selection between filters optimized for better transient behavior or one for better time behavior and a dynamic lookahead that would automatically adjust the selection. But almost nobody every used it in mastering houses. There was a soft peak-limiting that applied to all incoming signals to the A/D that did help avoid digital overs. By and large the most used feature of the encoding was just a specific set of matched anti-alias (encode) and reconstruction/oversampling DAC-input filter profiles (decode) that were chosen by Pflash and company for subjectively better SQ. Personally, I would forget about HDCD decoding and instead step up to much higher quality modulators in software replay such as HQPlayer. That's where the modern magic is and if you haven't ripped those HDCD's by now, it is probably time...

Ortofan's picture

... that I have, from Reference Recordings and Ivory Classics, $28K for a DAC is impossible for me to justify.

Since I'd prefer a hardware-based decoding solution, I'll keep on the lookout for one of the "vintage/legacy" HDCD-enabled DACs from the likes of Parasound or Theta Digital. At a somewhat higher price point, there would be a few options from Esoteric, Mark Levinson and Krell. Also, Rotel once made several CD players with HDCD decoding.

Kal Rubinson's picture

Jriver playback software will decode HDCD.