Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

  • SoundStage! InSight - Audio Research Reference 160M Amplifier (February 2019)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Livio Cucuzza on Audio Research's Industrial Design (November 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Audio Research Past, Present, and Future (October 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - KEF's New R Series for 2018 (September 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Simaudio Moon 390 Digital/Analog Preamplifier and Streamer (September 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - EISA 2018-2019 Awards Introduction (August 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Simaudio's $118,888 Moon 888 Mono Amplifiers (June 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Totem's Tribe Tower (May 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Amphion's Three Newest Argon Loudspeakers (April 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Making the Hegel Mohican CD Player (March 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Estelon Lynx Wireless Intelligent Loudspeaker (March 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh's Five New Solid-State Integrated Amplifiers (January 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Amphion's Krypton Loudspeaker (January 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Anthem STR Preamplifier and Power Amplifier (December 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - McIntosh Laboratory MA252 Integrated Amplifier (November 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Hegel H90 and H190 Integrated Amplifiers (October 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - How Hegel's SoundEngine Works (October 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight  - Estelon History and YB and Extreme Loudspeakers (September 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - What Makes Hegel Different? (August 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Estelon Extreme Legacy Edition Loudspeaker (July 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Amphion Overview and Technologies (July 2017)
  • SoundStage! Insight - Totem Acoustic Signature One Loudspeaker (June 2017)
  • SoundStage! Encore - The Cowboy Junkies'
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- Anthem's STR Integrated Amplifier (May 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- Paradigm's Perforated Phase Alignment (PPA) Lenses (March 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Paradigm's Persona 9H Loudspeaker (March 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Contrasts: Dynaudio's Contour and Focus XD Speaker Lines (February 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - New Technologies in MartinLogan's Masterpiece Series
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Dynaudio/Volkswagen Car Audio (December 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Gryphon Philosophy and the Kodo and Mojo S Speakers (January 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- What's a Tonmeister? (November 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - AxiomAir N3 Wireless Speaker System (December 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Bang & Olufsen BeoLab 90 (November 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Gryphon Diablo 120 Integrated Amplifier (October 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Dynaudio History and Driver Technology (October 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - The Story How Gryphon Began (September 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Devialet History, ADH Technology, and Expert 1000 Pro (September 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Devialet's Phantom Loudspeakers (August 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh Home Theater and Streaming Audio (July 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - McIntosh MC275 Stereo Amplifier (June 2016)

To Hans Wetzel,

That was a nice piece you wrote on the relative affordability of great headphones and matching USB amplification. I concur. However, I just can't get as excited about head-fi as many do, even though I want to. To me, I've discovered that live and recorded music is just as much about the visceral experience of the sound waves hitting the skin as it is about them hitting the eardrum. Without the subtle feel of the plucked guitar string or the not-so-subtle thump of the drum, headphones seem never to be loud enough for me . . . and that's very, very bad. I do head-fi in a pinch or when travelling, but my preferred listening method at home has become nearfield monitors on my desk, which to me offers the best of both worlds. This arrangement provides much of the intimacy and detail of headphones but with the physical impact of a conventional stereo. Oh, and the price is very much in the portable audio realm. Now, if only I could take them on the airplane!

Brad Potthoff
United States

I know what you mean, Brad. I agree that headphones, no matter how good they are, simply can't recreate the experience of musical reproduction in quite the same fashion as a proper stereo system. But I was, and continue to be, deeply impressed by just how far you can hear into a recording with a few-hundred-dollar pair of headphones.

Regarding your desktop monitors, I'm going to be exploring that in depth for the first time in the very near future. I've invested in my first adult desk, which should not only be large enough to accommodate my work laptop and external monitor, but also my personal laptop, NuForce's DDA-100, and a pair of monitors like Amphion's Ion+. That should make quite the formidable desktop system, and I'm eager to hear how well that combination works over the long term. I suspect that it will offer much of the same experience as a regular stereo system, and at a great discount in price, too. Will it offer the same “physical impact,” as you say, of my reference KEF R900 loudspeakers? I admit, I'm a bit dubious on that front. But I think it's a very interesting middle ground between the traditional stereo and this headphone culture we find ourselves in. Don't be surprised if I start writing about my experience with it in the future. . . . Hans Wetzel