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Positive Feedback ISSUE 21
september/october 2005


Our readers respond…we respond right back!

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Hello Roger,
I enjoyed your article detailing your experiences with Rives Audio and room acoustics. The only thing that I could possibly argue with is the term with which you head the article and mention in your last paragraph - "The Final Frontier". Why oh why should room acoustics be consigned to the bottom of the priority list? The improvements that even rudimentary care to room acoustics can make often dwarf the differences many speaker cables, interconnects or power cables costing far more bring to your listening experience. Heck, the careful placement of bookcases and some homemade top corner and bass traps in my room made improvements that I doubt even very expensive components could have wrought. I honestly believe that a lot of the "audiophile" tendency of consistently changing gear is a futile attempt to overcome bad room acoustics.

All I would like is for room acoustics to be pushed up from "the final frontier" to something that needs attending too after the first system has been assembled. Thanks again for highlighting this important area.



Hello Craig,

Glad you liked the article. I agree whole-heartedly with you that room acoustics are of primary importance. Your listening room does more to determine the sound than any other component. Yet, for the reasons I stated in my article, as well as others, most audiophiles put room acoustics at the bottom of their priorities. That is not the way it should be, but that is the way it is.

Enjoy the Music

Roger Gordon

I have read with interest your recent reviews on a range of phono stages. I am looking at the Manley Steelhead and E.A.R. 324. I will be able to listen to the Steelhead first, but not the E.A.R.. I would appreciate your views on the merits and downsides of each phono stage.

Don't worry, this won't sway my final opinion; it is just that not many have heard both in their homes.

I also have quite a bit of experience with the pass Xono and Aesthetix Rhea.

Shane Ryan

Hello Shane...

Yes, it is true that I have heard both the Steelhead and the E.A.R. 324. Without worrying about swaying your final opinion ...which is of no interest to me...I would say that the Steelhead has more user configurable controls, a helpful variable gain, and clearly more input/output options than the 324. Being a tubed unit, there is also the possibility of doing some tube rolling, which good audio friends assure me can noticeably improve the Manley over its standard tube set. (Since I didn't have an opportunity to try this, I can't comment personally on that topic.)

In my experience, the EAR 324 is quieter than the stock Steelhead, providing a finely detailed sonic presentation of an LP. I would also give a slight nod to the 324 for dynamic range. Both units do well with soundstaging, though I think the 324's imaging may be somewhat more precise.

Ultimately, I purchased the E.A.R. 324 as my general purpose phono amp. It's an exceptional component; Tim de Paravicini is an audio master.

Your mileage may vary, of course.

All the best to you in your audio journey...


Thanks David
Relative to each other which phono stage is more warmer or forgiving in the upper mids and treble. That will give me a another reference point when I listen to the steelhead.

Interesting that the ear is slighty more dynamic - I assume that is single ended like in your review?

And or course the E.A.R. is cheaper than the steelhead :)



The Steelhead with the stock tube load was somewhat warmer than the E.A.R. 324 in my estimation, Shane. All of my review notes were based on single-ended listening, yes.

And yes, the E.A.R. 324 is less expensive...though you have to remember that it doesn't have the remarkable flexibility that the Manley Steelhead has.



Dear Max,
Loved your review of the Palladiums. It cleared up what has been, unbeknownst to me, a misunderstanding of the meaning of the term "monologist" which I had always fancied to be one half of a biologist. I am in your debt.

Alan Trahern

Hi Alan Trahern

I have been thinking about your answer to your riddle since puberty. "Is a monologist half a biologist?" A biologist is an creature first described in a Limerick collected by that off-beat specialist, Gershon Legman. I'm not sure I remember the whole thing accurately, but here goes:

An inventor from randy Racine Fabricated a fucking machine, Concave or convex It would do either sex, And at the bottom was a bottle for cream. Sounds like one of the up to date, battery operated (less distortion) sex toys that are just now the rage. So a monologist might be a machine specialized to do either of the two best known sexes, while a biologist would be polymorphically perverse?


Thanks for your coverage of the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, nice pictures and commentary.

I did notice that some products I was interested-in were not covered. They may well have been in the rooms that you say that you did not hear or see because they were too crowded.

I suggest that if you can't get into a room because it was crowded, that you should mention the names of the products in that room. The fact that it was so crowded should mean something to you and we readers—that people thought this was a great sounding room! So they should at least get an honourable mention to reflect their popularity so they don't get left out of your report altogether!

Just a suggestion....

Kevin Wilson


Thanks for the comments. While I would love to see all the rooms—it simply is not going to happen. Some rooms are too crowded to get into, some are playing music that does not draw you in (it actually repels you), and some rooms are simply missed due to other factors—like time. Can't get to them all!

As David suggests below, why they are so crowded has many possibilities, though I would like to add that they could be popular for reasons other than sound. Like a novel product, a pretty girl, freebies, controversial ideas, a room with a view, etc. And while a few of these MAY warrant a report, we are not always able to do so as outlined above and below.

Sorry we missed those that interested you, but perhaps you will be able attend in the future!

Dave Clark

Hello Kevin...

You make a valid point, but there's another side to it. The presence of a crowd alone does not necessarily indicate that a room has some sort of superiority.

The room could be a smaller room (there were some of those); some audiophiles hunt in packs, and crowd a room with the arrival of a group; some rooms had novel items (e.g., the ELP Laser Turntable) that attracted attention without necessarily sounding very good ...and there were some good sounding rooms. So crowds do not necessarily equate to popularity ...sometimes its just the flow of the people, curiosity, or some novelty in play.

If you're having trouble getting into a room ...and there were over 100 of them generally go on to the next one. Maybe you make it back to that room; maybe you don't.

Finally, I would observe that a crowded room is not the best way to evaluate potentially good sound. Too many people in a room alter the room acoustics dramatically; even allowing for show conditions, it makes appraisal of fine audio reproduction tough.

I prefer to comment on what I heard at a show, not where the crowds were; many of our writers feel the same way. And since crowds at a particular room do not necessarily mean anything at all, I don't bother reporting it.

Glad to hear that you are enjoying the PFO coverage of the RMAF, though...its a great event.

All the best,


Hi, David
I've been corresponding with a gentleman named Jack Seaton, who posts frequently on Audio Asylum and Audiogon. He's apparently a HUGE fan of Paul and Brian Weitzel's Tube Research Labs, and he mentioned a new solid-state stereo amp they have out called the ST-225. It costs $5,500, and he claims that he liked it better than the DarTZeel NHB-108, which I have and I think you either have or had. I'm trying to figure out if he heard both amps in the same system—obviously a major factor in deciding what component sounds best. In addition, have you had a chance to hear the ST-225? Jack apparently sold $70,000 worth of TRL tube gear to get the 225--a pretty bold statement, in my opinion!

Finally, have you heard any of the digital modifications that TRL does? Jack has a TRL-modified Marantz SA-14 that he says is the best sound he's ever heard (including, from what he implied, the EMM DAC6/CDSD). And the mod only cost $550! If you could get back to me as soon as possible, I'd GREATLY appreciate it. If this stuff is the real deal, I might be interested in taking a look. Thanks very much!

Andrew Claps

Sorry for the delay in responding; I just got back from the 2005 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest (quite the good time, by the way report will follow).

I have also been impressed with the work of Paul and Brian Weitzel over the years; they both love music, and have produced some very fine products over the years.

As to the ST-225: Paul has mentioned this amplifier to me on several occasions, but I've never heard it...either here in my listening room, or anywhere else. I therefore cannot comment on it in comparison with anything, obviously. The darTZeel NHB-108 is a very special amplifier; I have heard it in both unbalanced and balanced modes, and think it to be a truly remarkable 100 WPC design. That commentary really is forthcoming ...really!

Ditto on my (overdue) profile of the sound of the TRL-modified Sony 595 SACD player. That will be brief, but to the point; stay tuned.

Wish I could be of more help right now, Andrew, but frankly, even if Paul sent the ST-225 my way, my review queue is full until the first quarter of 2006....

All the best,


Thank you very much for taking the time to reply, Dave. I realize that you must be extraordinarily busy, so I appreciate your taking time to write. I own a biamped pair of the DarTZeels, and they are truly stunning. Probably the best overall amplifier I've heard personally—and I've heard a few over the years, both in my room and at shows. They mate perfectly with my VR-9s. I'm looking forward to your review! Take good care, and continue the great writing. PFO is one of the shining lights of high-end-audio journalism.


Andrew Claps

Mr. Robinson,
Thanks for the insightful reviews on the Top Music SACDs. However, the company is from Hong Kong, not Japan. You can see their contact information here....

The disc themselves are made by Sony in Japan though.


Danny Tse

Hello Danny...

Thanks for the clarification, though I must say that when I refer to "Japanese SACDs" or "JSACDs" in my work, I *am* referring to the fact that they were pressed in Japan. There is a level of production and meticulous mastering values in JSACDs that is often (though not always) superior to American and some European SACD production. (For example, LP collectors often refer to a "Japanse pressing" with a given LP, regardless of the country of origin of the company submitting the project.)

The Top Music SACDs represent a very fine accomplishment; I am most pleased to recognize the merit of their work here in the pages of PFO.

All the best,


My advice on the Sony SCD CE 595 SACD/CD player is "buy it before you can't."

I got mine online from Circuit City for $138 US, and have been enjoying it daily. It doesn't quite have the drive of my previous CD player, a NAD 502 which served me well for 12 years, but it has a more refined high end than the NAD. Someone will probably come out with a cheap mod in the power supply to give it more drive, but until they do, who cares?

Good Listening,

Al Norberg

Thanks for sending along your comments, Al. It might interest you to know that Tube Research Labs is doing truly superior mods to the Sony 595 SACD player; for details, see Paul Weitzel and company are brilliant; you won't go wrong with their designs.

I don't know if Allen Wright of Vacuum State Electronics is doing the 595; I don't remember seeing it listed on their mod sheets over at Email VSE with any questions you have. I haven't yet heard Allen's Level 5 mods on the Sony players...reportedly, these are exceptional.

All the best,


Dear Mr. Dave Clark,
Thank you very much for sending us this wonderful and in-depth review by Positive Feedback Online (see The article is full of passion and whole-hearted dedication in the appreciation of audio equipment. This aspect is similar to what one can find in our Kondo San, who sculpts his products. Emotional responses in music are always the idea behind our product.

Reviewers like Mr. Marshall Nack are really precious nowadays in Audio Magazines. Other reviewers list tons of figures, distortion, and measurements like a computer analysis, and therefore really don't understand our product.

Thank you again for the article.


K C Yau

Great online magazine! Very happy to see it out there as I have always enjoyed this hobby.

As a former shop owner from the wonderful audio days of the 1970s, tuners have always been something I have been interested in comparing.

My question: Has the reviewer compared the Onkyo T9090II with the listed group? I seem to remember quite a positive reaction to this item when it was released. No big deal--just interested in his opinion.

FYI, I sold several Sequerra tuners back then. They usually broke fairly soon after the sale, but the company would fix them--v-e-r-y slowly. It was one or two of the 'scope modes that malfunctioned, not the tuner circuitry, by the way.

Other things I sold that broke quickly: Nakamichi Cassette decks and electronics. These typically broke after more than 10 uses, and the repairs did not last long either, but when they ran well they were almost as good as the Lincoln Mayorga Missing Linc direct discs we had back then.

Thanks for keeping audio alive in these days of little or no music.

Richard Oppenheimer
Boca Raton, FL

Hello Richard...
Thanks for the memories! (Where's Bob Hope when we need him?) I remember drooling over the Marantz tuner back when (and the MacIntosh gear, too), but I was but a poor college student at the time and couldn't even conceive of paying that much money for a component. Nevertheless, I dreamed...

With respect for your question (interested readers can reference the original article in PFO Issue 20,, I can't say whether or not Bob Levi has heard the Onkyo T9090II, and would have to refer your question to him. Bob, you there?

I've owned a Nakamichi Dragon as my reference cassette deck for a number of years; haven't had a problem with it yet. Great sound, all right...the Dragon is the best that I ever heard for cassettes (that dubious format reel is SO much better!)

Fine audio is alive and kickin' here at PFO, and in certain other places on the planet; Srajan Ebaen's is another fine publication worth following. Glad to hear that you're enjoying PFO ...drop by any time.

All the best,


I read the Clark Johnsen's article on CD-R copies sounding superior to the original CD and I concur. And I have experienced a similar example. My friend George Bischoff (ex of Melos & Pipedreams) has produced some CD-Rs that when used to copy a CD using a computer sound significantly better than the original. The copy is purely a copy with no data manipulation. The original is downloaded to the hard drive and the CD-R is then burned (George uses NERO).

I was with him when he showed this to the Merlin room at New York. And I have been at other demos with the New Jersey Hi-Fi Club, etc. Everyone heard the differences within seconds and the sonics were better in almost every way: better dynamics, bass, high end, definition, depth. If anyone is interested he can be contacted at 877-272-1567 (908-314-0042 for fax). And he will can give a reason that he believes explains the phenomenon. George does not do the copying. He supplies blank CD-Rs and you make your own copy.

Allen Edelstein

Hello Allen...

Thanks for your corroborating comments. I myself have heard the improvements that my Senior Assistant Editor Rick Gardner gets with the CD-Rs that he burns. The result is clearly audible to me: smoother, less edgy sound, with tonalities that are less infected with PCM digititis, and somewhat improved sound-staging and imaging. For Redbook PCM, the results are a definite step forward, one that makes Redbook CDs less obnoxious to my ears.

I should say that I do not agree with Clark Johnsen that they are at the same level as DSD/SACD properly done, however. This format remains my reference for the possibilities of digital.

All the best,


I haven't compared them with SACDs either so I can't comment on them. But my friend, Murray Zeligman, who I know you know, has and he says they are a huge improvement, but still not an SACD. I trust Murray and his ability to hear very highly (he designed and helped build my speakers) so I'm sure he's correct.

Interestingly Murray was the impetus for George developing his particular CD-R. Murray told him about copying originals to black CD-Rs. George agreed in the improvement and decided to more investigation which took over ay ear, I believe. Murray does think that the Bischoff CD-R is a real improvement over the original black ones.

I obviously do not have SACDs or I'd know more about their performance. But since I trust Murray's ear I'm sure that is the way to go. I recall when he first heard SACD and called me and said he had to get a machine. Murray is slow to impress so I knew something was going on. He had done some live recording years ago and his comment to me on SACD was that it didn't sound like a CD or an LP but that it was the closest thing he had ever heard to the master tapes he had made. And I recall reading that same comment from a few respected recording engineers over the years. So, since I needed to be careful with my money I was only waiting for the format to seem commercially stable (fears of beta, etc.) and now it seems that may never occur. How sad; I hope I am wrong.

By the way I could give you George's reason for the sonic improvement, but I'm not sure I should. It's straight forward and, for me, bothersome, but it's George's idea. He's a straight forward, no-nonsense guy, not a hand waver. You might find it interesting to contact him. And I believe he has other stuff in the works.


These are helpful additional observations, Allen; thanks for sending them along.

Murray the Z is indeed an audio acquaintance of mine (though we haven't communicated for some years now), and has well-tuned sensibilities. I would agree with his assessment of SACD; my comment in Positive Feedback all the way back in 1999 was "...mic feeds and master tapes for the masses!", a stance that I have not retreated from or change one iota since then. Instead, my lengthy experience with the format indicates that it is the first true advance in fine audio since open reel tape.

The future of the format is in limbo with the major labels, who act like enterprises that don't understand what they have. They remind me of Lincoln's comment about one of his Civil War generals ...perhaps Burnside, perhaps McClellan ...along the lines of "he acts like a duck hit in the head with a board."


I'm thankful for the smaller classical, jazz, reissue, and indie labels who show the sensibility and the discrimination to do the right thing with SACD. Until or unless the majors figure out which way the bubbles go, this is what we have right now.

Regarding George's explanation: I'm not sure that anyone knows the real reason for this phenomenon; most of the proffered hypotheses are unsupported and thus unauthoritative. If he wants to comment here at PFO, he's welcome to drop me an email or an article to stir the pot with.

All the best,


Dear Sirs,
Thank you so much for your good words and encouragement. Besides my purely selfish drive to make the most intimate connection to music for my own personal enjoyment, I feel very rewarded that my efforts are appreciated by other music loving audiophiles who also seek the greatest possible transparency to the original performance. I don't consider the RealityCheckCD™ processing a tweak because it's universal in that it works on all playback systems regardless of their inherent quality. Most tweaks tend to be system or power line dependent. A great CD playback unit can only reproduce a poor sounding CD a bit better but it's garbage in garbage out. By the way the CD-R copy of the RealityCheckCD™ copy was better because its as if you used a better original disc to make a copy so that's the kind of result one would logically expect. Synchromonic™ means that the fundament of a note or sound are better synchronized with its harmonics i.e. the harmonics neither lead nor lag the fundamental and thus all the harmonics are synchronized with themselves. By the way, the duplicator's software is actually call firmware. The firmware is easily user upgradeable so obsolescence isn't an issue.

Syncromonic™—the "har" is assumed. As the inventor of Finyl the Digital Solution™, a recommended Stereophile accessory and winner of a Golden Triangle award, MicroMat Blue™ and MicroMat Gold™ CD dampers I'm somewhat more connected to the audio industry. I've have a degree in mathematics and a software engineering certificate from San Diego State University so I do have a computer connection. Because CD-R's pits are concave to the player's laser beam it's like getting an edge treatment to an original stamped disc that has its stamped pits convex side read by the player's laser that scatters the laser beam to the inner and outer rims of the CD, that then reflects a portion of the laser beam back to the laser pickup that may confuse the player's ability to correctly read the CD. I was a member of the AES and chairman of the San Diego Audio Society for twelve years.

I'm not dead set against computer duplicating of CDs because one should remain open-eared but until now I haven't had good luck with that or heard any computer-duplicated CDs that sound as good to me as the RealityCheckCDs™. By the way RealityCheckCD™ is one word.

Best regards,


Dear Sirs,
On a recent reply to a reader you mentioned "Jim Aud's Purist Audio system conditioning disc." I haven't heard of this disk prior to reading your reply. Could you please elaborate on what is and what it does?

Thank you,

Eitan Waks

Hello Eitan...

The Purist Audio system conditioning disc is a CD designed by Jim Aud of Purist Audio ( to provide a system break-in signal for your playback chain, SACD or CD player to your speakers. It can save you significant amounts of time in breaking in or enhancing your system.

For more on this product, check and click on the "system enhancer" link. The product is carried by Elusive Disc; you can find it there at

All the best,


Hi David,
Thank you for your prompt reply. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your magazine and have learned a lot from it. Being a student I can't afford most of the products that you review therefore, I have begun building my own amplifier. I am attempting to build both a tube amplifier and a solid-state amplifier. Do you have any recommendations or advice regarding DIY amplifiers? Generally, if the builder is skillful enough technically, how do DIY amplifiers compare with their commercial counterparts? I understand that this question is very individualistic however, I would like to hear your opinion.

I'm in the final stages of building my own two-way speakers using Morel's best drivers. I'm very anxious to hear how it all turns out.

Keep up the great work,

Eitan Waks

Hello Eitan...

Glad to hear that you enjoy PFO! DIY is a wise alternative for many audiophiles, and has the advantage of teaching the technically-inclined 'phile some fundamentals about the gizzards of their components. It also allows you to experiment with differing parts and pieces, and personally listen to the results.

This is extremely important, as the soul of true fine audio is to be found in the artisanal, and not in the industrial. Fine audio is an art from, and is not to be found in mass production. It never will be. This is true of all domains of human endeavor, since art is the realm of "quality" in the sense that Robert Pirsig defined it, and is centered on the heart and the hands of the maker.

Industrialization is centered on efficiency of process and the profitability of production, and cares nothing of art if it does not contribute to these attributes.

So, press on!

BTW: I have forwarded your questions about DIY to four of our senior editorial group ...Jennifer Crock, Lynn Olson, Scott Dorsey and Kevin that they can respond if they like. I am also cc:'ing Rick Gardner and Tom Davis, so that they can leap in if so moved. It's an important area of discussion.

Should they do so, I'll publish the results in our "Reverberations" section.

All the best,


Hi David,
Thank you for your prompt reply. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your magazine and have learned a lot from it. Being a student I can't afford most of the products that you review therefore, I have begun building my own amplifier. I am attempting to build both a tube amplifier and a solid-state amplifier. Do you have any recommendations or advice regarding DIY amplifiers? Generally, if the builder is skillful enough technically, how do DIY amplifiers compare with their commercial counterparts? I understand that this question is very individualistic however, I would like to hear your opinion.

I'm in the final stages of building my own two-way speakers using Morel's best drivers. I'm very anxious to hear how it all turns out.

Keep up the great work,

Eitan Waks

Hello Eitan,

I'll give the best answer I can based on my personal experience in speaker design (going back to 1975 at Audionics) and amp design (going back to 1995 working for myself).

For solid-state, you're going to need some knowledge of feedback theory, especially stability criteria with reactive loads, and also paying attention to Otala's criteria for avoiding slew-rate distortion (available in late-Seventies copies of the Audio Engineering Society Journal). If using bipolar drivers or output devices, you also have to be aware of the shape of load-line (paying attention to reactive loads at HF) and if it intercepts the secondary-breakdown of the device—failure to observe this limitation will result in sudden and immediate failure of the entire output section of the amplifier.

So designing transistor amps is not an undertaking for novices in electronics, unless you stick to kits and rigorously follow the instructions, especially with regard to layout and heat-sink requirements.

Tube amps, especially those without feedback, are much more forgiving, since it takes quite a long time for tubes to fail from overload—and you can usually see it coming in the form of a red-hot plate, unlike a transistor, which fails instantly and with no visible warning.

You have several choices: the conservative approach is to start with a kit that is inexpensive and known to work, like the bottlehead kits. They have a forum where they even discuss things like good solder technique and how to lay out the circuit. Don't expect a polite reception if you're building non-bottlehead products, though—these forums are only for the bottlehead product group. I am persona non grata with the bottlehead people, so don't mention my name when and if you arrive there. Personal feelings aside, the bottlehead kits are the modern equivalent of the old Heathkits, with the bonus of an internet support forum.

Another approach, the one I took, is find a tube-amp mentor in your area. This worked for me, when I struck out on my own and design the Amity amplifier from scratch. Having a friend who worked at Tektronix made all the difference in building the amplifiers and getting them running. Since I don't recommend designing from scratch for most people, restoring a classic amp from the Fifties with a local mentor is a great way to get into tube amps, and for not much money, either. There are still lots of ugly-looking Eicos around, and if you're lucky, you'll find a Scott or Fisher amp with functioning transformers.

The big no-no with vintage gear is the first-time power-up; if you just plug it in and turn it on, you can easily destroy the hard-to-replace power transformer when the dried-out electrolytic capacitors short out. Your mentor will have a gizmo called a Variac (variable-voltage power transformer) and a way to monitor total current draw (even something as crude as a light bulb in series with the power line works).

If the mentor doesn't have these essentials, look elsewhere, since they can't even bring up their own amps safely—these two items are must-haves for *any* amp, transistor or tube. Whenever dealing with an old amp with an unknown history, or a new amp that's never been brought up before, you always bring up the AC voltage *slowly* and monitor the current at the same time.

Even the best professional designers typically have a 50% "oopsie" rate on first turn-on—with just a few volts kicking around, you can shut down quickly with no harm done, and fix the problem and easily. Much harder to diagnose when the whole amp is a smoking mess, which is what happens when an amp with a defective part or circuit error (or both) is turned on at full line voltage. There's enough fireworks in even a small power amp to cause a real risk of fire, or even explosion of the power-supply caps. That's what Variacs are for—safety, not just for the amp, but you as well!

So—to summarize—the best approach is to find a mentor in your area. They'll teach you good solder technique, good layout, and last but not least, how to respect high voltage when working with these things. Ham radio enthusiasts who have built or restored old gear (boat-anchors as they call them) are an excellent resource almost anywhere in the country.

Lynn Olson
Nutshell High Fidelity:


My first suggestion for anybody interested in DIY stuff would be to investigate kits.

For example, Vellemann Electronics has some excellent tube power amp kits which are pretty easy to assemble and have very good output transformers, for sonics that are a lot better than you'd ever expect for the price. I think if you talk to most of the electronics guys in my generation, we all got started building Heathkits, and I still think that is an excellent way to begin.

Scott Dorsey

Dear Sirs,
I must agree with Karl Lozier's excellent review of the Gen 6.1's I have been the ecstatic owner of a pair of these for over two years now. One thing that a review cannot begin to tell is how they break in, about a year and a half after I started using mine they seemed to open up and become more dynamic.

Imagine one evening listening to your favorite album and you suddenly realize that it has never sounded more alive. The realization hit me like an epiphany, I am not sure if they suddenly changed or if I just hadn't noticed it before, the last previous upgrade had been a Musical Fidelity 3.2cr integrated amp over ten months earlier so it can only be attributed to the extended break in.

I listen to Classic Rock, Jazz, Dixieland, Country, Blue Grass and some classical at reasonable levels so now I crank up the music with the sub amp off when I am away and I still hear improvement in low level articulation and especially in the dynamic range (aliveness, speed) I am at a loss to fully express what this is like but suffice to say I continue to be happier daily with my system.

Joe Hilker

Hello Joe...

Thanks for taking the time to respond to Karl's review. The phenomenon of speaker break-in (or, for that matter, of any component break-in) is a remarkable one, but one that is known to anyone who has spent a lot of time with fine audio. I've experienced that moment of realization a number of times: with speakers, SACD players, cables, interconnects, preamps and amps. That moment of epiphany always comes to me as a grand surprise...that "Aha!" of recognition.

You can't predict it, but you know it when you hear it.

I once had a non-audiophile friend listening to some classical music with me. I had run Jim Aud's Purist Audio system conditioning disc earlier in the week, and was running out the system. In the middle of listening to a recording, the tonality and presentation suddenly dropped into place... bloomed... became alive ...right in the middle of the movement we were listening to.

He immediately turned to me, surprised, and said, "What happened?! Is that the 'break-in' that you've told me about? Because I just heard everything change."


Glad to hear that you're enjoying your audio voyage, and that PFO has been a part of the ride for you, Joe. That's why we do it.

All the best,