Tag Archives: part-time audiophile

Mola Mola Makua Preamplifier | REVIEW

The Mola Mola Makua (website), much like the Tambaqui (review) before it, was a device utterly unknown to me before this review. Naming gear after exotic fish isn’t a new concept–I own a pair of Manley Snappers after all–but the gear from Mola Mola is decidedly different than Manley, which prides itself on its “Tubes Rule” motto. By contrast, Mola Mola has Bruno Putzeys and his heritage, an eye towards futuristic functionality and ultra high-end sonic pedigree. I have to back up a bit here though and mention Bill Parish of GTT Audio and Video, who generously lent me the Tambaqui and Makua for review. I spoke extensively with him on a Skype call during the review period and got a lot of insight into the company and creation of these products. One particular quote regarding the tuning of the products struck me: Bill mentioned that Bruno tuned the Mola Mola units in Bill’s room and tweaked them until they sounded equal to gear costing tens of thousands of dollars more. “Sometimes the part Bruno was convinced was going to be the best part wasn’t. And we tweaked and tuned them until we found the best part.” Words and photos [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

Volti Audio Razz Loudspeakers, Part Two | REVIEW

When PTA Editor-in-Chief Marc Phillips asked me to co-review the Volti Audio Razz loudspeakers, of course I said I was interested. This would be my first official review for Part-Time Audiophile, and I’d be fulfilling an aspect of the hobby I’ve fantasized about since reading Audio and other review magazines while I was in college. Excited, I looked up the Volti Audio website and read up on the Razz. My excitement turned into consternation as I read the description. You see, I’ve had bad experiences with high-efficiency horns in the past. In my experience they are shouty, bright, uneven and can drill right into my ears. I can count on one hand how many horn-based systems I’ve heard that I considered listenable. And I can use just one or two fingers to indicate how many horn systems I’ve actually liked. But I decided to keep a firmly open mind. Marc was very favorable towards the Volti Audio Razz in his review, giving it his Editor’s Choice Award. Besides, I heard the Avantgarde Acoustics room at AXPONA a few years ago and their products were definitely one of those “fingers” I just mentioned. In other words, I knew a horn-based system [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

LFD NCSE Mk. 3 Integrated Amplifier | REVIEW

The LFD NCSE Mk. 3 integrated amplifier (website) has no remote control. Nor does it have XLR inputs or outputs, a home theater bypass switch, 12V trigger operation, a built-in DAC, a wide range of connectivity options nor any of the standard features we usually find in a modern integrated that costs $7,350. I’ve reviewed plenty of integrated amplifiers that cost far less than that, and they have features such as inboard phono stages and headphone amplifiers and more. Heck, the LFD NCSE doesn’t even have a grounding lug on the back panel for the phono stage. In nearly every way, the LFD is a classic Brit-Fi integrated from twenty or thirty years ago: 70 watts per channel, about the size and weight of your average one-chassis preamp, a simple black box. (Or in this case, dark gray.) Three knobs on front—volume, selector, tape monitoring. A simple toggle switch serves as the power button and there’s only one very small LED on the faceplate that tells you the NCSE is on. I was raised on simple British integrated amplifiers like this–the British Fidelity A1 and Synthesis, Naim NAIT 2, Rega Brio3 and, most notably, the LFD Mistral. The Mistral was [...]

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

Gary Morrison of Plinius and Pureaudio, RIP | Announcements

The first time I met Gary Morrison in person, for our Down Under Audio exhibits at the 2016 Newport Show, I quickly learned he had a fondness for well-timed flatulence. He was a master at delivering the final product, punctual and almost shocking in its sheer visceral impact, and when he did it he would look deep into your eyes to see if you’d respond in any perceivable way. He was sizing you up, figuring out what kind of person you were. Once, in a crowded room on set-up day, he presented a real champion, one that made us all look at each other in confusion because, as an old friend of mine used to say, it must have rippled the sand dunes in Arabia. “It’s okay everyone,” he said in his soft, measured New Zealand accent. “I’m a vegetarian.” Why am I starting off this tribute with such a horrible story about my friend Gary Morrison, founder of Plinius and then Pureaudio, a genius when it comes to pure Class A amplification? It’s partly Irish wake mentality, telling a horrible story about a recently passed friend to help the healing process and all those messy feelings. I’m not going [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

Volti Audio Razz Loudspeakers, Part One | REVIEW

A funny thing happened on the way to finding the perfect 2-way bookshelf monitor. When I first had the opportunity to review the new Volti Audio Razz (announcement, website), I imagined this 3-way floorstanding horn loudspeaker would act as sort of the sherbet between the courses, and chance to re-calibrate my ears before the next tiny yet precious speaker arrived. I knew I was going to like the Volti Audio Razz, the new entry-level speaker in the line—right underneath the $8,900 to $20,000 Rival/Rival SE family and the massive flagship Vittora, which starts just under $30K per pair. I always go out of my way to visit the Volti Audio and BorderPatrol rooms at high-end audio shows because I’m going to hear a HUGE, ballsy and dynamic presentation that’s just so…well, FUN. Have fun! That’s the de facto slogan for Volti. It’s not some catchphrase that some advertising executive pitched to Greg Roberts, designer and owner of Volti Audio—poor Greg didn’t have to pay five figures per word for that one. (Or maybe he did, I don’t know. I’m wingin’ it here.) Nope, Greg Roberts’ designs are all about excitement, tapping your foot, bobbing your head up and down to [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

Core Power Technologies A/V Diamond Valiant, Defiant and Linx Cables | REVIEW

Who is Core Power Technologies (website), anyway? For that matter, who is Living Sounds Audio (LSA) and the LSA Group? A couple of years ago, I’d never heard of any of them. Now, I’m slowly noticing the surreptitious movements of this enigmatic collective as it moves to take over the industry, and mostly because of Part-Time Audiophile reviews I’ve already read.. In the last year or so, we’ve reviewed a handful of products from them: John Richardson reviewed the LSA 20 Statement loudspeakers back in June, and Brian Hunter also reviewed the LSA HP-2 Ultra headphones last November. Recently, I took on the LSA T3 turntable and unipivot arm combination because I recognized the original design from my good friends at Margules Audio in Mexico. Now, I have a box full of cables from Core Power Technologies. And I’m a little confused. Who are these people? Where did they come from? Here’s a name that’s very familiar to me: Underwood Hi-Fi. Just when I thought the LSA Empire was ready to seize control of the world, I got some of the back story and now I feel slightly less paranoid than usual. Underwood Hi-Fi is one of those high-end dealers [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

Rotel A14 Integrated Amplifier | REVIEW

  Why in the world would I want to review the Rotel A14 (website), an integrated amplifier with DAC and phono stage and headphone amplifier all sorts of features for just $1500? What is this, 1985? Am I still in college looking for an optimal amplification match for my Snell Type Js? Look over there, on the racks and around the listening room. I’ve got $10K worth of Rowland over here, and $25K worth of prime Pureaudio amplification over there. I should be set, ready to go, ready to review turntables or speaker cables or something else other than amplification. But when I got the chance to review the Rotel A14, I jumped at the chance. Again, why? Because I love doing reviews on gear from companies I know well, the brands that convinced me to fall head over heels with this hobby so many years ago. If you haven’t noticed, I love telling those stories. I love talking about my hi-fi history. Some guy in an elevator in 1992 who turns out to be Jeff Joseph and 28 years later I finally get to review his speakers. Meeting Colleen Cardas for the first time at CES—I remember meeting her, [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

The Music List: Is It Really Necessary? | The Vinyl Anachronist

A few weeks ago, I found myself editing an equipment review and I got to that section. You know the section, the one where the reviewer gathers up copious notes on the music used during the review and condenses it into a survey of sorts. I call it the Music List. In this particular case, the Music List went on and on and eventually became the largest section in the review. I asked myself an important question—do we really need all this? Is it necessary to discuss the fabled drum solo by Steve Gadd on “Aja” as extra punchy on a particular pair of speakers? Or how easily we can hear Yoko’s back-up vocals on “Obla-di, Obla-da” through the latest DAC? Maybe. I published a review not too long ago, and I didn’t mention any particular pieces of music in the “listening” section—on purpose. Within a few hours of publication, we received a comment on the website: “What music did you listen to? How are we supposed to put your review in context?” And I came to the realization that we all expect reviewers to go on and on about the records they listened to, a linguistic touchstone for the [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile

Vimberg Amea Loudspeakers | REVIEW

The Vimberg Amea (website) loudspeaker is a two-way, stand-mounted loudspeaker. I’m bringing this up first for a very good reason. When I first arrived at the front door of the Part-Time Audiophile headquarters more than two years ago, Scot Hull asked me what I wanted to review. The first thing out of my mouth was “world-class two-way monitors,” or something like that. If you know me, you know I love the little two-ways, especially when they don’t sound like two-way stand-mounted monitors because someone put some serious effort into the design. As a result, I’ve reviewed all sorts of wonderful two-way monitors that strive for state-of-the-art performance. They don’t reach down to 20 Hz (or even 45 or 50 sometimes), but they do such a great job at everything else, and I can think of about four or five of these li’l loudspeakers that I could buy and enjoy for the rest of my life without clamoring for something that goes a little deeper in the bass. I’ve even said as much in a couple of recent reviews. I did not expect the Vimberg Amea. (No one does, I’ve heard.) I knew it was going to be special—I’ve heard Tidal [...]

Original Resource is Part-Time Audiophile