09 February, 2018

In the Eyes of Others

Editor's Note: In the Eyes of Others and Eye to Eye with Others
Letter from NYC (75) 2018 (1)

Regular readers know I try to thoroughly research the topic/stuff I am writing about, but what they probably don't know is that, for gears that don't have so much coverage (which is a lot of what I write about), even after I have finished the topic at hand, I often continue to re-google/research the topic, to see what others after me have thought. There can be unexpected consequences; several scenarios...

Voice in the Wilderness  Often, with something uncommon, I am bemused when the only significant thing I turn up is my own writing. Make no mistake, I'd rather there be other contributions. Different Opinions Occasionally, I come across an honest view that is different from mine. I welcome that and usually read it the more carefully. The world is big enough to harbor different opinions. Critiquing the Reviewer All reviewers get critiqued, even bashed, and this so-called reviewer, more a user/blogger in perpetual motion and revision, is no exception.

In this article I'll tell you of some reactions to what I have published, and my own reactions to their reactions.

Mofi StudioPhono
Part I of my StudioPhono Review was published on Sept 6, 2017, followed by Part II on Oct 27, 2017. At the time of writing, there was nothing on the internet that approaches a decent review. There still isn't, but recently I discovered a stevehoffman forum thread, where some user opinions were published. In late Jan, 2018, someone asked whether there is a photo of the innards, which led to another posting a picture from my article, with the comment: "...Source is this.(my Part I) An amateur review with comparisons to the Schiit Mani...". Another chimed in: "...No personal offense to whomever wrote that review but it uses a whole lotta words to basically say nothing...". Reading that, I was not offended but did comb through the thread and failed to find anything that was more insightful. Fortunately, another (more careful) reader posted (as if for me): "...Did you look through all the parts? Agreed about all the system descriptions and such, it's a little to follow if you are just interested in the Mofi review, but did try it in a variety of settings and does finish up with a conclusion section for all the pieces tested..."

In reality, I think my comparing the StudioPhono in different systems with esoteric components whose costs are not commensurate with the StudioPhono means nothing to most people who are looking for a quick opinion, usually people who are on a budget. Here is the problem: when something is truly good, you should try to have it compete in a different class to see how much potential there is, not to be satisfied just because it can trounce a few similarly priced competitors. Stereophile writers, like Herb Reichert (sometimes Art Dudley and even Michael Fremer), do that regularly, and that is commendable for a trade magazine. Perhaps people just want a quick opinion - a short proclamation that it is good or bad, great or simply competent. But I don't believe it is that simple.

Capsular reviews don't usually yield a good sense of the gear. System matching and synergy comprise half the battle, which is why I always list my equipment and change things here and there to try to achieve the optimum. An experienced reader shall be able to tell from my equipment list whether he and I are on the same wavelength and if there is any need to read on. For myself, there are a lot of articles I don't bother to read in the trade magazines because the associated equipment lists tell me I have nothing in common with the writers.

And then on the net and various forums there is a prevailing sentiment that all trade magazines are compromised and the writers not as trustworthy as user opinions in forums. To me, this is a ludicrous, even dangerous position. Every publication, hard copy trade or internet, has its own bias - there is no exception. The trade magazines do have good editing, which cannot be said of the nearly free-for-all free speech on the net, where the signal/noise ratio is low and where there are as many angry people as helpful ones. I could go on and on, but I'll stop here.

Belden 9497
Basically I have owned this topic. For the longest time, googling yields nothing but myself. Imagine my surprise when I came across this Aug, 2017 review from 6moons (here). The writer is Michele Surdi, a fellow Tannoy (Canterbury, no less, though his is SE and mine HE) and Klipsch man, who concluded he preferred his van den Hul Skyline to 9497. I don't have a problem with that, and can perhaps even understand that. I find him entertaining and unfailingly polite, which seems to be the case with most continental European reviewers (a breed I am usually sympathetic with; witness enjoythemusic).

The Tannoy Canterbury is actually more malleable than many think. It can work with flea powered SET amps, but neither does it blink an eye with high powered amps (as per my experience with the marvelous 100 wpc EAR 509), which can make the sound "snap into focus", even excitingly "hifi". We take different paths. As with my preference for horns, I believe the low powered path is more rewarding. Commensurate with this belief, I also think the goal with the Canterbury is different from most other hifi speakers - one wants power (why else the volume and 15" woofers), but that which is in tandem with grace and subtle virtues rather than visceral "hifi" ones. The article mentioned Jeff Day, who has published lots of articles on the Canterbury, but I find today's Jeff Day more than a little too complicated and too into esoterica, which is not my path. That said, although Michele Surdi may have different preferences than I, we likely have more in common, and I'd love to connect with him. So, Mr. Surdi, if you are reading, could you please email me (email address in sidebar)? I'd love to talk to you!

I want to answer one of his questions: "...though for reasons unexplained, the good doctor seems to dislike 6moons...". Indeed, I have voiced my ambivalence towards 6moons in the past, and Michele Surdi seems to be a careful reader! Well, I don't want to offend, but since this came up, I'll try to answer it. I believe: 1) 6moons is an unusual creature, one which has morphed from a useful alternative web magazine to a full-flight commercial enterprise. Every page, including, God forbid, the front page, now has by far more unwanted ads than words, and this is far more annoying than trade magazines; 2) unlike trade magazines, it reviews too much stuff that can only be termed DIY, and promotes far too many guru's, people and their products; 3) it heavily promotes expensive accessories and tweaks (especially Srajan Ebaen), which is against my beliefs; 4) it has too many contributors of unknown sympathy/affiliation - I know at least one who is intimately connected with the companies he writes about; thankfully he doesn't write anymore; 5) publisher Srajan Ebaen - although he dabbles in SETs and horns, his approach and ways are alien to me; even his speaker placement in various rooms look wrong to me. Enough said. In the end, I think 6moons has become far too complicated, and commercial, for its own good.


  1. I agree about Srajan Ebaen's writing style. I'm not a fan of his flowery new age infused prose (no surprise considering his background) either but I agree with him on one point - once you hear a properly designed and implemented ultra high speed, wide bandwidth DC coupled solid state amplifiers (CH Precision, Soulution, Goldmund, Crayon, Bakoon, etc), it will make tube amps sound "broken", sluggish & lifeless in comparison. I know this is heresy to say on a blog that glorifies SET & horn speakers but this is just my two cents.

    1. Thx for the input. I don't mind your comment. Indeed I myself can like these ultra-high bandwidth amps and have always admired Soulution in show condition (where usually Goldmund and CH don't do as well, but that could be human factors due to different dealership). I'd actually include Spectral, long one of the pioneers.

      Actually these amps can do very well by horns, but as one who cannot do without a tube PREAMP, I am reluctant due to the extra risk of DC amplification. Protection is a real concern - witness Spectral users using cables with resistor blocks.

      Once upon a time, I tried a Goldmund Job DAC with a Linn setup. It was great sounding but the unit was faulty and passed DC and fried my tweeters. This kind of scenario almost never happens with tubes.

  2. I really enjoy your bolog and reviews, thanks alots for the leg works. As far as Jeff Day, I really enjoy his esoterica, LOL, which is cool to try new things that are cheap and make actual sonic improvements. Also, I would like your opinions on Duelund tin copper and new production WE tin copper wires as speaker cable. So far the Duelund wire has been awesome in my system.

    Mcintosh D150 (not the best I know)
    DeHavilland UV3 with Mundorf silver gold oil caps
    McIntosh MC30
    Tannoy Turnberry

    I will upgrade the DAC and Turnberry down the road

    Best regards

    Griffin from Seattle Area

    1. Thx for the input. The MC30 is a real gem - never let them go!

      A friend is trying out the Duelund and "WE" cables, and in due time I will get to evaluate them. However, I am not particularly eager as I am comfortable with the cables that I have now. Also, with the ultra sensitive horns that we use, frequently our observations are not necessarily applicable to less sensitive systems.

      Yes, in due time get a 15" woofer, and your life will never be the same! :-)

  3. BTW, I can send you my Duelund 16GA tin copper wire for evaluation. I just tinned the ends and use them bare.


    1. Thx for the offer, but I have too many things to do, so I will pass for now. Thx again for the input.