("Quickies" are my way of catching up with all the smaller projects that are still very essential to a great audio hobby. I hope you find these short, but pithy reviews fun and informative!)
Red Series Headphone Cables from WyWires $299 for first 5 feet with termination.
WyWires sent me a 10 foot length of the RED for my Grado PS 1000s to use as an extension cable so I might move around the room a bit. I gave it the required 100 hours of break-in and then compared it to no extension cable at all. I first plugged the Grados into the E.A.R. HP4 directly, then juxtaposed the RED. Keep in mind that doing this adds two connectors which WyWires picked for minimum sonic impact and maximum beauty.
I heard so little difference on CDs and SACDs that I would call it a draw. I tried to imagine some difference, but I could not. I had a top audio friend over who thought he might have heard a bit less bass with the Red, but then changed his mind. The RED is the very first extension cable in my 50 years of audio to not color the sound of top monitor cans on hi-rez music. I am delighted! Of course, the RED is available with a zillion terminations to fit and replace connectors in many models of top cans. Just go to http://www.wywires.com/headphone-cables and see. I heartily recommend WyWires to you for all your connectivity needs and now for personal listening, too! 100% copper and made in the USA. Way to go, Alex!
Contact Clear System Stein Music
I have always been a big fan of pure alcohol as a cleaner for all contacts, and nothing else. Alcohol can never attract dust in an electrically charged setting. Surprise, the Stein Contact Clear System does not attract anything accept superior sound.
The cleaner cleans beautifully and just disappears after application and a quick removal with a cloth. The Contact Enhancer really enhances... one little drop will do the trick... and also just disappears once the wire or device is plugged in. The benefit is better sound. You instantly hear extended highs, smoother mids, more bass, and just better everything to a degree that just should not be. I do not see any silver flakes or secret sauce in the mix, but there is something in the clear chemical that is here, then gone. I like it! I use it! Go to Stein Music for more information: http://www.steinmusic.de/webshop.
Note that Tweek Geek carries most Stein Music accessories, and can get most others. Enjoy. I am unsure of US pricing, as it is stated in Euros.
Audio Desk Systeme Vinyl Cleaner Ultrasonic $4200
I have had Audio Desk Systeme Vinyl Cleaner now for two months, and enjoy it immensely! My friends are enjoying it, too. No one comes over anymore without LPs to clean. I keep a gallon of the fluid handy to refill as the bubble goes down and records are washed. At 100 LPs I will change the fluid, as specified by the manufacturer. The unit has a smaller footprint than I thought it would have. It is one-quarter the size of my VPI 16.5 unit that I have had for 10 years.
Set up was very easy. No problems. The unit is a bit noisier than I thought it would be, as its blower motor is strong. Works with 12-inch LPs of all thicknesses. The supplied documentation is first-rate. It is not suitable to be in the same room with your system while you are listening, though; it is far too loud for that.
Performance: LPs (new or used) washed with the Audio Desk are substantially quieter and more musically detailed than those same LPs washed in the VPI 16.5 with Record Time enzyme fluid. Everything you have read about this vinyl cleaner is correct. Most highly recommended. End of Story. Go to the manufacturer's Web site for more information: http://www.audiodesksysteme.de/index.php?kat=10_17_15
Cardas Ear Speakers EM 5813 Model 1 $430 Designed by George Cardas
Comfortable, beautiful, and a cut above my Grado 8s in-ear cans, the very cool-looking Cardas EM 5813's are quite the best in-ear monitors that I have heard to date for under $500. I plugged them into all kinds of DAPs and DACs and heard beautiful sounds and excellent definition. My favorite performance attribute is their evenness from top to bottom. They exhibit no lumps or bumps, no peaks or dips. They are almost good enough for monitoring. They are certainly over the top for pleasurable listening and enjoyment.
Plugged into my main system, directly to my EAR HP4, the Cardas Ear Speakers are head-turning. They are worth the price for the mids alone. George knows his stuff and he really made it happen here for the audiophile who wants personal listening! Well done George!
For more about EM5813 go to the Cardas Web site at http://www.cardas.com/ear_speaker.php.