Author Archives: Dave McNair

Acora Acoustics, The Audio Company and Sweet Melissa Records | On The Road

[Editor’s Note: While brainstorming how to best tell the story of our road trip to The Audio Company, Dave and I (Eric Franklin Shook) considered drilling down into the specific sound of each room, but instead [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

Acoustic Signature Typhoon NEO turntable and TA-5000 tonearm | REVIEW

Does anyone really NEED a $34,000 turntable/arm/cartridge setup like the Acoustic Signature Typhoon NEO, TA-5000 and Acoustical Systems Palladium? Well, of course not! Okay, let me qualify and rephrase that. If someone is a serious [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

How Recordings Are Produced, and What It Means to Your Hi-Fi | The Ivory Tower

Reality Is Overrated When It Comes to Recordings In my never-ending mental obsession with the conceptual side of music recording and playback, I started thinking about what makes hi-fi components sound different and what that [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

Audio Hungary Qualiton X200 Integrated | REVIEW

Last year I reviewed the Audio Hungary (website) Qualiton APX-200 power amp (review linked here), which was 100 watts per channel of pure vacuum tube goodness. It was, and still is, a tremendous sounding power [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

Audio by Van Alstine DVA M225 Monoblock Amplifiers | REVIEW

I’m not gonna tease any of the readers by making them wait (or skip to my conclusion), so I’ll say right up front: OH. MY. LAWD.™ I was in audiophile heaven from the minute I [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

Wilson Audio SabrinaX Loudspeakers | REVIEW

Most audiophiles know of the unwavering commitment to accuracy and groundbreaking industrial design baked into the DNA of every Wilson Audio product (website), and the new Wilson Audio SabrinaX loudspeakers are no exception. This was first evident in Dave Wilson’s original assault on the state of the art with his WAMM design circa 1981, and other loudspeaker systems followed over the years. Along with advancements in materials science and simple but visually striking industrial design aesthetics, each loudspeaker system has a unique raison d’etre rather than simply various scaled-down models at different price points. Words and photos by Dave McNair Dave Wilson practically devoted his life to designing a speaker that would precisely reproduce what his ears (and mics) heard on his extraordinary recordings. His recording approach was a simple, purist style used to record musicians playing in natural acoustic spaces. It might seem simple, but there is nothing easy about this kind of approach. So it naturally follows that faithfully reproducing the recording of that event in a home listening room was his ideal. Today, Daryl Wilson and the rest of the great crew at Wilson Audio have maintained those same ideals and goals while simultaneously refining, improving, and [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

Vertere Acoustics Mystic Moving Coil Cartridge and Phono-1 MKII Preamp | REVIEW

In my earlier review, I wrote about the Vertere MG-1/SG-1 turntable/tonearm combination. Here I’m going to pen about a few other offerings from Vetere (website), companion pieces I received with the ‘table and arm–the Vertere Acoustics Mystic moving-coil cartridge ($2,699) and Phono-1 MK II phono preamplifier ($1,395). First off, let me say that both these pieces were excellent performers. I was particularly impressed with the Phono-1, which I consider one of the best deals in high-end audio. The Vertere Acoustics Mystic cartridge was undoubtedly NOT an also-ran. Still, there are some excellent offerings around that price, so while exceptional, I think of cartridges as more system dependent. In other words, a Mystic could easily be the missing link in YOUR search for vinyl Nirvana. Comparison Is The Thief Of Joy That phrase may be true unless you’re an audiophile, and then it’s called The Hobby. I find comparing components is a lot of fun when I don’t have skin in the game. But if you’re a Libra with ADHD (raises hand), making comparisons to decide on a purchase can be a self-imposed torture chamber. Somebody, please tell me what to get! That’s where us reviewers come in – we’ll drive [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

Marten Oscar Trio Loudspeaker | REVIEW

  At Casa de McAudiophile, the impressive hit parade of floor standing speakers continues. This latest installment of chart-topping performers is the seductive sounding and beautiful Marten Oscar Trio from the Sweden (website). The Oscar Trios are not only the first speaker from Marten I’ve had the pleasure to hear; their ceramic composite drivers are also a first in my listening room. I found the sound of these speakers to have a uniquely classy quality: they are precise, clean and fast, but with a richness and ability to portray tonal complexity in recordings that is something more than just accurate. The Marten Oscar Trios bring an inviting quality to the music played through them. That stately and authoritative something puts them in quite a charming spot on my listenability/accuracy matrix. Brothers I seem to be receiving a preponderance of speaker systems from Scandinavian countries, Sweden in particular. Is it possible there is an informal World Class Nordic Speaker Designers club in Gothenburg? I wonder if the Marten team of Leif, Lars, and Jorgen Olofsson ever hang out in a sauna and talk speaker design with Mats Anderson of Qln? Well, even if the two companies don’t share ideas, the friendly [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

Denafrips Pontus II DAC | REVIEW

I’ve been on a hot streak lately with getting components to review that have sounded excellent despite the current difficulties in hearing something beforehand. For a reviewer, it’s one of the many great things about hi-fi shows. So when our fearless PTA leader Scot Hull put out the word amongst the troops for who wanted to take a shot and review an affordably-priced DAC from the Chinese electronics firm Denafrips (website), I thought sure! Why not? And then something strange happened during my time with the most excellent Denafrips Pontus II DAC.  I started listening to a lot of music in digital form, not because I had to turn in a review on the DAC, no. I WANTED to listen to digital. Whuuut?To my way of thinking, DACs are the most stealthy of source components. There are no knobs to turn, no stylus to clean or arm to drop on a record, and a dearth of switches or buttons to press. Certainly no choice of regular bias or chrome tape–remember those? You might get a selection of anti-aliasing filters if you’re lucky. There is not much romance in Ye Olde DACs. They sit there quietly waiting to be asked out [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

Audiovector R 6 Arreté Loudspeaker | REVIEW

“We Come From The Land Of The Ice And Snow…” Denmark may not be Iceland (or wherever Mr. Plant was wailing about in that song) but latitude-wise, it’s good enough for my literary purposes. Seriously, what is going on in those northern European (and Canadian) climes to produce such amazing speakers? With the Audiovector R 6 Arreté (website), these Danish loudspeaker veterans have produced yet another ultra-performer to add to the Legends of Scandinavian Speaker Craft. The Audiovector story begins with figurehead Ole Klifoth, who founded the company in 1979. Ole set out to make the kind of natural-sounding speaker for music lovers that he felt was missing in the marketplace, a speaker that he wanted to listen to. With the debut success of Audiovector’s first model, the Trapez, Ole’s ears and design concepts found an audience and the rest is history. Today, Ole’s son Mads Klifoth is the Audiovector CEO and carries on the tradition (with continued R&D input from the Old Man) while taking Ole’s original design objectives to new heights. As a Dad myself, this story warms my heart. So did listening to the Audiovector R 6 Arreté. Description Unless I am particularly fascinated by some aspect [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile