Audiav Zirconia - Nice Rack!
Supra Sword Speaker Cable (and Ply/Dual Wire) Review
Dussun T2i USB DAC/Integrated Amp Review
Aperion Audio Intimus 6T – DB Hybrid XD 5.1 System Review
Analysis Omega Speaker Review by Robert Learner
Peach Tree Decco Review by Robert Learner
Peachtree Decco hybrid integrated amp/DAC
Manufacturer: Peachtree Audio
Country of origin: Designed in the USA, made in China
Guru QM10 Speakers Review by Robert Learner
The Joy of Used by Robert Learner
The awful truth is that most new audio equipment is worth half of what you paid for it the moment you power it up. This isn’t the 10 percent a year depreciation of your car; it’s freefall.
Why an immediate fifty percent drop in value of a newly bought component? There’s just not a ton of demand out there for mid-to-high end stuff, and many owners are serial equipment floppers. Furthermore, audio equipment is largely solid-state so there’s little physical wear, and most of the good stuff is somewhat to ridiculously overbuilt. Yet further, unlike the rapidly changing videoscape, audio technology is relatively mature and slow to improve. Low demand, high reliability and lack of obsolescence yields a glut of good used equipment and great opportunity for the savvy music lover on a budget.
Keep reading for full article...
Robert Learner HE2007 Show Report
The Stereophile home entertainment show in New York is a five floor buffet of audio and video gear for equipment geeks to gorge on. What I found most notable about this year’s iteration was the emphasis on two channel music playback – home theater multi-channel setups were relatively rare. Perhaps it was the small rooms most setups resided in, or that HT is ceded to CES and CEDIA – this is a Stereophile show after all – but the lack of plasma screens and action movies was striking...
Robert Learner Reviews: Cathedral Sound Panels
I don’t doubt that cables sound different, but unlike speakers, for example, I’ve heard little correlation between performance and price. More to the point, I think they are a generally poor value proposition -- very often large cash outlays for differences (better or worse) that you have to spend a day listening for.
In contrast, strategic acoustic room treatment can be immediately heard, and yields almost unquestionable improvement. Things like bass traps in corners, absorbative panels behind the speakers and on the side walls at the point of first reflection can clean up the sound in a relatively dramatic way. I’ve made effective, good-looking absorbative panels for less than thirty bucks a pop; prefinished panels with an array of color choices are available for under a hundred dollars. Although, this being a territory mined by high-end audio, you can easily spend much more.
More to the point -- before you tweak with cables, brass spikes, wood blocks, carbon fiber cones, brass footers, 99.9999% pure rubber alloy cable risers, double-helical wound inverse-square pole-aligned (North and South) power cords, critically-tuned, Akashi-Kaikyo-inspired algorythmically correct suspension racks, and finally, cryogenically-frozen then double-baked Heimholtz-modeled acoustaresonators; it might be worth addressing the room the stuff sits in. It seemed important to the guys who designed Carnegie Hall anyway...
Review: Role Audio Sampan FTL
At the start of my monitor quest, I assumed I wanted all the qualities of my VMPS RM40 behemoths, things such as extreme transparency, unlimited dynamics, the ability to really energize the air with sound -- but in a smaller package (see my bio for elaboration of my tastes). Well, I still do. However, the 22K Magico notwithstanding, there are tradeoffs to going small. After listening to a ton of monitors over the last year, what’s been reinforced is what I knew at that seminal moment I became an audiophile, this over twenty years ago -- the bottom line is engagement. Like the first minute of a first date, you know it immediately...
Robert Learner and the New Review
I am pleased to welcome Robert Learner to the SonicFlare posse. A few months back we began swapping emails and chatting about everything right and wrong with the hi-fi biz. The biggest problem is, of course, the barriers that keep anyone but the hard core audiophiles from taking part in this industry. Secondly, many traditional reviews leave much to be desired for audiophiles looking to build a system.
As regular readers know, I'm a big believer in the holistic system approach. Review systems and synergy, not just individual components. For people trying to get into the industry, a complete system is a much easier purchase than spending 5 years digging through the muck to find a system that works.
For audiophiles, there is no absolute sound, but a variety of different tastes. Dynamic drivers, Lowthers, eletrostats, horns, SETs, SS, etc. Audiophiles know roughly what they like and the most helpful reviews are those that speak directly to their taste, not just "the best of the best of the best."
Robert and I began working on a plan for a new kind of review that would hopefully be very helpful to both audiophiles and normies alike. Robert would look at a number of different monitors in a quest to put together a killer budget system. No dedicated listening room, this is all about the real world with real prices and real wives and girlfriends who won't put up with black refrigerators in the den.
Out of this little experiment, Robert would be able to give the sonic qualities of one speaker versus another. This isn't about finding the greatest speaker ever, but discovering different tastes. Qualities can, I believe, be written about meaningfully. Which qualities are most important is all up to you and your musical tastes.
For those new to hi-fi, Robert's final system will be a no-brainer purchase. Just like the Neat/Exposure system, you can finally buy a complete rig knowing it'll rock your world.
First up: the Zu Tones!
The Monitor Quest: Zu Tone
First up in the Monitor Quest: the Zu Tones.
Read more about Robert Learner's Monitor Quest for all the dirt on this little adventure. Also, check out Robert's bio for more on his personal sonic taste and various love affairs with audio equipment through the years.
Robert Learner's Monitor Quest
From A to Zu, Robert Learner puts his ears on some of the hottest monitors in a quest to build a killer budget system. No absolute sound here, this is all about taste. Keep reading for the system and the players.
Robert Learner Bio
I got into sound quality as I got into the the Chicago blues club scene. I wanted that live sound at home, and twenty-five or so pairs of speakers, and thousands of watts and dollars later, I’m still pursuing it. Live is my reference and the first-date dealmaker or breaker when I hear a system. Organic flow, transparency, dynamic ease -- does the music get my blood pumping? I trust my involvement or lack thereof. At its best, home replay gives a taste and feel being there, or of being directly wired into the mixing board.
I’m a film director and cinematographer by trade, and in the course of my work I’ve spent a lot of time in mixing studios. I’m partial to the sound often heard there -- forward, direct, transparent, focused. Although there are exceptions (Vandersteens, for ex.), most speakers described as ‘laid back’ simply sound slow to me. Contrary to laid back, such speakers make me tense, like I’m waiting on them. My main system is nothing if not fast-sounding. Once my foot is tapping, I can begin to focus on qualities like soundstaging.
The above is meant to serve as a brief on my tastes and biases -- these should be known when reading my reviews. For those willing to continue on from this quick drink to something more substantial, please read on...