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  • Another Kessler Rant

    This article falls short in several important aspects. Sure the piece succeeds in generating controversy but if you are going to be a good journalist, rather than muck stirrer, provide numbers to back up your claims. Go to manufacturers and show the real costs including R&D involved. It might be educational to all especially when talking about the price of speakers and electronics. There's a lot more to prices and running a company than meets the eye.
    Myles B. Astor, PhD, Administrator
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  • #2
    Another rant that is causing rants in every forum this "piece" has been linked to. It does what this "writer" wanted to do , generate controversy


    Might as well talk about Climate Change or Tiger Woods recent arrest.
    Chris
    ----------------------------------------------------------------
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    Comment


    • Johnny Vinyl
      Johnny Vinyl commented
      Editing a comment
      Climate change? Isn't that a Chinese hoax?

  • #3
    Well, there is some truth in what he said. Many years ago, a wealthy friend invited me and my recording partner to listen to his latest acquisition. He visited the factory of a famous high end brand while touring Switzerland, and bought a preamp that cost him the price of a new car. He proudly announced that they refused to sell him the preamp unless he bought the "matching" cables also, since no other cable is good enough for this preamp. The cost of the 1.5M pair of cables was something like 2000 CHF. When my partner saw the cables, he recognised them as Gotham microphone cables, the same model that we use. We buy it in 100M spools as we run tens of meters per microphone during location recordings. The cost was about US$1.50 per meter. Our friend's cables, of course, had the name of the brand stamped on the jacket. Not surprisingly, he refused to believe it. We took the cable back to our studio, unscrewed the connector, and compared it to our microphone cable. They were of course exactly the same, as the factory was located at close vicinity to the Gotham factory. The brand has since changed the source of their cable, once this became common knowledge amongst the DIY crowd (with yours truly taking some credit).
    Having been reassured by the high end association, I changed all the interconnects of my system to this cable (GAC-3). I used it for about 10 years until I rewired my whole system with solid core 30AWG, teflon coated pure silver wire. This is aerospace grade stuff that I twisted to make balanced interconnects. Even with a triamped system, the whole exercise cost me less than US$200, and the sound improved to a whole different level........

    Comment


    • Letsmakeadeal
      Letsmakeadeal commented
      Editing a comment
      Adrian
      When you made you silver balanced cables, did you use a shield? Do you have any long runs? Please tell us more about their construction & wire source...Thanks

    • adrianwu
      adrianwu commented
      Editing a comment
      The most accessible source for the wire is here: http://www.soniccraft.com/index.php/...96_175_183_225
      I use the thinnest available, which is 30AWG. For interconnect, you can use even thinner wire, since the current is very low.
      I braided 3 wires together like how a girl would braid her hair. I don't use any shield, as it would increase the cable capacitance. Since my whole system is balanced, noise is not a problem, even though I don't use any input transformers. The longest length goes from my tape preamp to my main preamp, which is about 3 meters. You can see the construction here:
      https://www.dropbox.com/s/6i7siue3x5...39.36.jpg?dl=0

      I also made cables for my speakers (treble and mid horns) with 3mm wide pure silver foil. I bought teflon tape and sandwiched the foils side by side in two layers of tape. You can see the construction here:
      https://www.dropbox.com/s/hacdgti1rx..._0082.JPG?dl=0

      With solid core and foil cables, the imaging is more focussed and generally sounds more solid and clear. I am convinced stranded cables lead to smearing, since the junctions between strands have a diode effect, especially if there is oxidation on the surface.

    • Letsmakeadeal
      Letsmakeadeal commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks Adrian

  • #4
    There will always be a "lux good" aspect to hi-fi, just as there is in any number of other consumer goods fields. Separating the good from the bad, the enduring from the flavor of the month, and finding value (even where it costs money) is part of the process of this "hobby" or pursuit. Kessler's been around a long time. He's poking at the audio journalists as much as he is the "high priced" equipment manufacturers, but I don't see any real point to his missive-- it's a hodge podge of the same general complaints that the industry and consumers have been making for years- the hi-end is dying, the market is self-limiting, we shouldn't have million dollar systems. Really? Does that mean those dudes that lay out for the latest [plug in brand of exotic car, wristwatch or other good] should stop buying them or that their manufacturers should fold their tents and make widgets for the masses? Aren't there other things that are more important than tilting at this windmill? (N.B. -everything, and I mean everything has gotten more expensive, from food at the grocery store, to the cost of a cell phone and associated service (you are subsiding the cost by those service contracts) I'm not going to mention things like healthcare). If you want good value, you educate yourself, you buy used or build incrementally, learn some DIY. But, Kessler's indictment of an entire industry is a little unfair. Answers on how to "fix" the problem --to the extent there is one-- isn't apparent in Kessler's piece, but perhaps I missed it given the purple prose.

    Comment


    • Rust
      Rust commented
      Editing a comment
      Cell phone? I had to buy a new cell phone a couple of months ago after the last one died after ten years. Cost 20 bucks. I shudder when I see the smart phone zombies oblivious to any external stimuli.

  • #5
    Never have understood the pricing kerfluffle with regard to Hi-End equipment. Would worry more if there wasn't equipment available in just about every price band that is excellent. At just about any budget level I have heard systems that would satisfy and that could be built on for long term enjoyment. Are the people that complain just upset that they can't afford the "ultimate" systems? Sure there are manufacturers' sell sows ears as silk purses but that occurs in every hobby that I am aware of.
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    • #6
      Originally posted by Bill Hart View Post
      There will always be a "lux good" aspect to hi-fi, just as there is in any number of other consumer goods fields. Separating the good from the bad, the enduring from the flavor of the month, and finding value (even where it costs money) is part of the process of this "hobby" or pursuit. Kessler's been around a long time. He's poking at the audio journalists as much as he is the "high priced" equipment manufacturers, but I don't see any real point to his missive-- it's a hodge podge of the same general complaints that the industry and consumers have been making for years- the hi-end is dying, the market is self-limiting, we shouldn't have million dollar systems. Really? Does that mean those dudes that lay out for the latest [plug in brand of exotic car, wristwatch or other good] should stop buying them or that their manufacturers should fold their tents and make widgets for the masses? Aren't there other things that are more important than tilting at this windmill? (N.B. -everything, and I mean everything has gotten more expensive, from food at the grocery store, to the cost of a cell phone and associated service (you are subsiding the cost by those service contracts) I'm not going to mention things like healthcare). If you want good value, you educate yourself, you buy used or build incrementally, learn some DIY. But, Kessler's indictment of an entire industry is a little unfair. Answers on how to "fix" the problem --to the extent there is one-- isn't in Kessler's piece, but perhaps I missed it given the purple prose.
      I don't disagree with your assessment of Kessler's rant... however, I believe the market for fine watches, automobiles and other good stuff is far deeper than the audiophile equivalents and Kessler's point is that the engineering involved in a McLaren or whatever other luxury good you care to name far exceeds that of most audio type pieces

      If manufacturers continue to extract more money out of less pieces then the whole industry suffers with lack of approach-ability They are selling units in the 1000's of pieces per year if they are lucky not 100,000's... I think the real problem is the hand held devices we all now carry that are so powerful and so cheap that they and the ever declining wealth of the middle class has pushed the desire or need for a real "stereo" out the window for anyone under 40 years of age--- ask anyone who ran a real brick and mortar store in this category how they feel about it.-- Many are running them out of their basement now.

      As far as solutions, I don't think there really are any. We audiophiles are really figuratively using rotary phones and the rest of the world is looking in the rear view mirror. I love the hobby but it is unsustainable except for the very unique customer experience and perceived value of the very high end in probably the Eastern world markets where emerging wealth is looking to compliment the Bentley in the estate's ten car 2 level garage. Too many diversions and too much quality in your iphone to support more than a niche market in 20 years.

      I attended an audiophile club event last week.. probably the most active and sophisticated group in our country and unfortunately they all looked like me.... middle-aged, boomers with some disposable income and from a time where stereo systems were a part of life.

      CES is a good example of where things were and where things are headed. 100's of pounds worth of equipment and dedicated rooms are just not in the future for our younger generation - the average price for house in my market is $1.2M with YOY increases of 25%. Kids who have good jobs live in 400ftsq condos they have no room, desire or cash for the anchors we take pride in- really ! The 50's-70's trifecta of the car the stereo and home ownership are very far from the desires of the millennial generation-- I actually find it incredible of how many well educated young people don't even own cars and don't even find it strange. Stereo's are way down the list.

      The cost of R&D, facilities, people, benefits,materials,shipping, marketing, utilities, etc etc are real .. prices will continue to rise and the share of wallet the big blocks of aluminum we cherish will continue to shrink as their importance to those of us that are left here on this good earth diminishes.

      So I think his article did provoke and stimulate some good reflection on the subject... we're discussing it aren't we?




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      Comment


      • #7
        Originally posted by kcin View Post

        I don't disagree with your assessment of Kessler's rant... however, I believe the market for fine watches, automobiles and other good stuff is far deeper than the audiophile equivalents and Kessler's point is that the engineering involved in a McLaren or whatever other luxury good you care to name far exceeds that of most audio type pieces

        If manufacturers continue to extract more money out of less pieces then the whole industry suffers with lack of approach-ability They are selling units in the 1000's of pieces per year if they are lucky not 100,000's... I think the real problem is the hand held devices we all now carry that are so powerful and so cheap that they and the ever declining wealth of the middle class has pushed the desire or need for a real "stereo" out the window for anyone under 40 years of age--- ask anyone who ran a real brick and mortar store in this category how they feel about it.-- Many are running them out of their basement now.

        As far as solutions, I don't think there really are any. We audiophiles are really figuratively using rotary phones and the rest of the world is looking in the rear view mirror. I love the hobby but it is unsustainable except for the very unique customer experience and perceived value of the very high end in probably the Eastern world markets where emerging wealth is looking to compliment the Bentley in the estate's ten car 2 level garage. Too many diversions and too much quality in your iphone to support more than a niche market in 20 years.

        I attended an audiophile club event last week.. probably the most active and sophisticated group in our country and unfortunately they all looked like me.... middle-aged, boomers with some disposable income and from a time where stereo systems were a part of life.

        CES is a good example of where things were and where things are headed. 100's of pounds worth of equipment and dedicated rooms are just not in the future for our younger generation - the average price for house in my market is $1.2M with YOY increases of 25%. Kids who have good jobs live in 400ftsq condos they have no room, desire or cash for the anchors we take pride in- really ! The 50's-70's trifecta of the car the stereo and home ownership are very far from the desires of the millennial generation-- I actually find it incredible of how many well educated young people don't even own cars and don't even find it strange. Stereo's are way down the list.

        The cost of R&D, facilities, people, benefits,materials,shipping, marketing, utilities, etc etc are real .. prices will continue to rise and the share of wallet the big blocks of aluminum we cherish will continue to shrink as their importance to those of us that are left here on this good earth diminishes.

        So I think his article did provoke and stimulate some good reflection on the subject... we're discussing it aren't we?



        I actually think you did a better job of summarizing the issues in a less breathless way than Kessler. I'm from the same generation you are, and we are experiencing profound changes as science, technology, culture, multinationals and life in general have forced a transition from the 20th Century to something resembling a cross between the Jetsons and Bladerunner. (I'll leave out the Orwellian references). Certain things do lose value as their customer base ages out- for example, brass era and many pre-war cars (with a handful of exceptions that are truly blue chip collectibles) have lost market value because the generation that sought them out has died. The concept of not owning a car is not strange to me (though I love cars and bikes)- why bother with the overhead when you can "Uber" or, if necessary, rent something for a longer trip? The importance of a conventional "stereo" has surely diminished as part of the rite of passage to adulthood, but there are plenty of mobile digital things that fit the young urban lifestyle and conceivably, can be used in the overpriced and badly constructed 400 sq. ft. studio. Some of that stuff isn't cheap either. (I remember when I first moved to NYC and had to come to grips with rental prices, and eventually buying, and hearing stories about the $45/month walk-ups with the tub in the kitchen.
        So, a head of lettuce will eventually cost $95. That will suck. But, I have to believe (and maybe I'm just deluding myself) that there will still be people out there who want tubes, old Quads, or big ticket hi-fi gear. Yes, the market is a niche within a niche, but I also think we color our view of the good old days. How many people could or would have bought your Marantz 7 when it was new? Not many. The market was consoles, portables, radios and once the transistor was generally adopted, receiver bookshelf speaker packages with a ubiquitous changer like a plastic (not classic) Garrard. A few sprung for a Thorens or better, but there weren't that many options in, say, 1972. The advent of the "high-end" as I think of it in commercial terms-- Levinson, ARC, Infinity, Krell, Goldmund and the proliferation of expensive stereo equipment in the '70s was, I think, still a small market. Maybe I'm wrong and we'll be like members of the Stanley Steamer Club. (There is such a group--they took me out for a quick ride in one- I felt like I was riding high on a big tea kettle that might explode at any moment).

        Comment


        • #8
          Originally posted by Bill Hart View Post

          I actually think you did a better job of summarizing the issues in a less breathless way than Kessler. I'm from the same generation you are, and we are experiencing profound changes as science, technology, culture, multinationals and life in general have forced a transition from the 20th Century to something resembling a cross between the Jetsons and Bladerunner. (I'll leave out the Orwellian references). Certain things do lose value as their customer base ages out- for example, brass era and many pre-war cars (with a handful of exceptions that are truly blue chip collectibles) have lost market value because the generation that sought them out has died. The concept of not owning a car is not strange to me (though I love cars and bikes)- why bother with the overhead when you can "Uber" or, if necessary, rent something for a longer trip? The importance of a conventional "stereo" has surely diminished as part of the rite of passage to adulthood, but there are plenty of mobile digital things that fit the young urban lifestyle and conceivably, can be used in the overpriced and badly constructed 400 sq. ft. studio. Some of that stuff isn't cheap either. (I remember when I first moved to NYC and had to come to grips with rental prices, and eventually buying, and hearing stories about the $45/month walk-ups with the tub in the kitchen.
          So, a head of lettuce will eventually cost $95. That will suck. But, I have to believe (and maybe I'm just deluding myself) that there will still be people out there who want tubes, old Quads, or big ticket hi-fi gear. Yes, the market is a niche within a niche, but I also think we color our view of the good old days. How many people could or would have bought your Marantz 7 when it was new? Not many. The market was consoles, portables, radios and once the transistor was generally adopted, receiver bookshelf speaker packages with a ubiquitous changer like a plastic (not classic) Garrard. A few sprung for a Thorens or better, but there weren't that many options in, say, 1972. The advent of the "high-end" as I think of it in commercial terms-- Levinson, ARC, Infinity, Krell, Goldmund and the proliferation of expensive stereo equipment in the '70s was, I think, still a small market. Maybe I'm wrong and we'll be like members of the Stanley Steamer Club. (There is such a group--they took me out for a quick ride in one- I felt like I was riding high on a big tea kettle that might explode at any moment).
          Look at the incredible options that were available in 1957:
          Micro Seiki SX-8000 table with flywheel, SME 3012R arm, SME 312S arm, Lyra Etna SL and Dynavector XV-1S cartridges, ARC Ref 3 phono stage, Otari MX-55 tape deck, Ampex 350 repros, Roon Nucleus Plus server, PS Audio DSJ DAC, ARC Ref 6 pre, ARC Ref 75 amp, JBL 4345 speakers, and Def Tech Ref subs.

          Comment


          • #9
            Originally posted by mep View Post

            Look at the incredible options that were available in 1957:
            Fair enough. I guess my point was that the "mass market" that evolved from the early radio shop/tube era wasn't expensive or, once the transistor took over, particularly good (how many solid state devices from the '60s really hold up today?- probably very few). So, when I got into it, in the late '60s and early '70s, those old McI, Eico, H.H. Scott, Fischer, etc were already rather long in the tooth. And with the exception of ARC (and C-J), very few tube amp-preamp offerings. The renaissance seemed to occur during the early Absolute Sound era, and much of it was rarified stuff, both in terms of price and availability. It wasn't mass market. Granted today's prices for the top tier are astronomic compared to 1972, but I think there was the same gap between the "common man" stereo and the uber stuff.

            Comment


            • #10
              Originally posted by Bill Hart View Post

              I actually think you did a better job of summarizing the issues in a less breathless way than Kessler. I'm from the same generation you are, and we are experiencing profound changes as science, technology, culture, multinationals and life in general have forced a transition from the 20th Century to something resembling a cross between the Jetsons and Bladerunner. (I'll leave out the Orwellian references). Certain things do lose value as their customer base ages out- for example, brass era and many pre-war cars (with a handful of exceptions that are truly blue chip collectibles) have lost market value because the generation that sought them out has died. The concept of not owning a car is not strange to me (though I love cars and bikes)- why bother with the overhead when you can "Uber" or, if necessary, rent something for a longer trip? The importance of a conventional "stereo" has surely diminished as part of the rite of passage to adulthood, but there are plenty of mobile digital things that fit the young urban lifestyle and conceivably, can be used in the overpriced and badly constructed 400 sq. ft. studio. Some of that stuff isn't cheap either. (I remember when I first moved to NYC and had to come to grips with rental prices, and eventually buying, and hearing stories about the $45/month walk-ups with the tub in the kitchen.
              So, a head of lettuce will eventually cost $95. That will suck. But, I have to believe (and maybe I'm just deluding myself) that there will still be people out there who want tubes, old Quads, or big ticket hi-fi gear. Yes, the market is a niche within a niche, but I also think we color our view of the good old days. How many people could or would have bought your Marantz 7 when it was new? Not many. The market was consoles, portables, radios and once the transistor was generally adopted, receiver bookshelf speaker packages with a ubiquitous changer like a plastic (not classic) Garrard. A few sprung for a Thorens or better, but there weren't that many options in, say, 1972. The advent of the "high-end" as I think of it in commercial terms-- Levinson, ARC, Infinity, Krell, Goldmund and the proliferation of expensive stereo equipment in the '70s was, I think, still a small market. Maybe I'm wrong and we'll be like members of the Stanley Steamer Club. (There is such a group--they took me out for a quick ride in one- I felt like I was riding high on a big tea kettle that might explode at any moment).
              I agree with you on all topics expect, the collector car market, which is currently pretty steady this year and has been increasing from Jan 2010. We attend to many shows and auctions across the US where the places are packed and the cars are selling for unreal values. Everything from old trucks, 60-70's muscle cars (which I restore and collect) to exotics. HI-fi is might be dying, but the collector car markets when it relates to collectables is steady as long as people want to trade and sell classic cars of all types. .
              Chris
              ----------------------------------------------------------------
              Kef 201/2, Pass xa30.5, W4S STP-SE, Manley Chinook, VPI Classic, Dynavector DV20x2L, ExaSound e32, Acoustic Zen cables. (Office): Vincent SP331 Mkll, Quicksilver Pre, Lumin D1, (Ken Lau Signiture Edition PSU), Bryston BCD-1, Vapor Audio Breeze, WooAudio W6se,Questyle Audio CMA800R LCD-3,HD800s, HD600, Mr Speaker Ether C Flow,

              Comment


              • #11
                Originally posted by cpp View Post

                I agree with you on all topics expect, the collector car market, which is currently pretty steady this year and has been increasing from Jan 2010. We attend to many shows and auctions across the US where the places are packed and the cars are selling for unreal values. Everything from old trucks, 60-70's muscle cars (which I restore and collect) to exotics. HI-fi is might be dying, but the collector car markets when it relates to collectables is steady as long as people want to trade and sell classic cars of all types. .
                What about pre-war and brass era, which was what I referred to (leaving aside blue chips like Bugatti, some of the French cars from the '30s, etc.)

                Comment


                • #12
                  Originally posted by Bill Hart View Post

                  What about pre-war and brass era, which was what I referred to (leaving aside blue chips like Bugatti, some of the French cars from the '30s, etc.)
                  Last year; 1930 Duesenberg Model J Dual Cowl Phaeton ($880,000)

                  1963 Jaguar E-Type Lightweight selling for $7,370,000,

                  1925 Bugatti Type 35 Grand Prix Roadster ($3.3 million), a 1965 Ferrari 500 Superfast Series I Coupe ($2.915 million) and a 1932 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Grand Sport Roadster ($1.595 million).

                  1939 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster ($6.6 million), a 1969 Ferrari 365 GTS Spider ($3,602,500) and a 1995 Ferrari F50 Coupe ($3.135)

                  And this is from just one collector. If you keep up with the sales its amazing whats selling. I'm just interested in 60-70's cars. A person would go nuts unless you had a huge bank roll to collector all cars. Ya got to draw the line somewhere.
                  Chris
                  ----------------------------------------------------------------
                  Kef 201/2, Pass xa30.5, W4S STP-SE, Manley Chinook, VPI Classic, Dynavector DV20x2L, ExaSound e32, Acoustic Zen cables. (Office): Vincent SP331 Mkll, Quicksilver Pre, Lumin D1, (Ken Lau Signiture Edition PSU), Bryston BCD-1, Vapor Audio Breeze, WooAudio W6se,Questyle Audio CMA800R LCD-3,HD800s, HD600, Mr Speaker Ether C Flow,

                  Comment


                  • #13
                    Originally posted by cpp View Post

                    Last year; 1930 Duesenberg Model J Dual Cowl Phaeton ($880,000)

                    1963 Jaguar E-Type Lightweight selling for $7,370,000,

                    1925 Bugatti Type 35 Grand Prix Roadster ($3.3 million), a 1965 Ferrari 500 Superfast Series I Coupe ($2.915 million) and a 1932 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Grand Sport Roadster ($1.595 million).

                    1939 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster ($6.6 million), a 1969 Ferrari 365 GTS Spider ($3,602,500) and a 1995 Ferrari F50 Coupe ($3.135)

                    And this is from just one collector. If you keep up with the sales its amazing whats selling. I'm just interested in 60-70's cars. A person would go nuts unless you had a huge bank roll to collector all cars. Ya got to draw the line somewhere.
                    I guess we are speaking at cross-purposes. the Bugatti and the Benz are blue chip, as is the Alfa (if it wasn't a bitsa). The Ferraris and the E type are not from the period I am talking about. The Dusey is-

                    Comment


                    • #14
                      my $0.02

                      1. Scale/Markets. The sub-segment of the industry we live in is very small and it doesn't (not saying that it cannot) scale. Other sub-segments - headphones (Beats), wireless lower cost products (Sonos) - do scale and that makes them attractive to investors or acquirers. The manufacturers of "hi-end" "hi-fi" products will build limited edition statement pieces and then 'trickle down' the technology to lower priced (often still unreasonable to many) offerings that give a taste of their highest priced offering.

                      My experience across a number of non-audio industries is that when there are few customers/buyers (Railroads, for example, where I have experience), prices are generally higher - you don't get economies of production - labor, materials, etc.. - and often much more expensive because there are fewer buyers.

                      2. Wealth - be it the recent sale of the Jean-Michel Basquiat or the collectable (limited quality) automobiles (www.fantasyjunction.com) (Bruce calls it "fantasy" for a reason), the very wealthy aren't impacted appreciably by significant (to the rest of us) outlays as it has no real impact on their lives or net worth (what's $3M for a car or over $100M for a piece of art? when you have $50M-$500M-$ 5B). If so inclined, there are people who could buy every Ferrari on the planet and not blink an eye. The idea of "value" may not apply at all. I suspect that there are few/no buyers of the new Wilson (or fill in the blank) speaker who are concerned with the price (even at 2x current price). But this market is very limited as are the products (scarcity).

                      Comment


                      • #15
                        Originally posted by Bill Hart View Post

                        I guess we are speaking at cross-purposes. the Bugatti and the Benz are blue chip, as is the Alfa (if it wasn't a bitsa). The Ferraris and the E type are not from the period I am talking about. The Dusey is-
                        There are so many sells going on, Like I noted, I'm not interested in the awesome cars of the 30's, 40's due to the issues with parts, manuals, and qualified techs that can rebuild and restore these cars to original condition.. I'm sure you can find some data online from these auction dealers on 30's year cars that sold .
                        Bonhams, Goody & Company, RM Sotheby's, Russo and Steele and Silver Auctions.

                        An example : http://www.rmsothebys.com/results/re...&category=Cars
                        Last edited by cpp; 06-03-2017, 06:15 PM.
                        Chris
                        ----------------------------------------------------------------
                        Kef 201/2, Pass xa30.5, W4S STP-SE, Manley Chinook, VPI Classic, Dynavector DV20x2L, ExaSound e32, Acoustic Zen cables. (Office): Vincent SP331 Mkll, Quicksilver Pre, Lumin D1, (Ken Lau Signiture Edition PSU), Bryston BCD-1, Vapor Audio Breeze, WooAudio W6se,Questyle Audio CMA800R LCD-3,HD800s, HD600, Mr Speaker Ether C Flow,

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