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Letters to the editor: The KIA, Nova Fidelity, Denon

  • We give and you take. That’s the deal of publishing. What the following respondents have in common is that they generously return the favour by offering up their own insight. It’s why their missives are run here (and not solicitations for buying advice). Got a question about what we do at Darko-Audio? Kindly check out our new FAQ before firing off an email.


    Mike D. writes…

    I just wanted to share a few thoughts with you. Having been in the A/V biz for over 40 years (Gad.) I find your reviews to be by far the best currently out there. You mention the differences in sound quality you hear but don’t make it a life or death issue. Your recent NAD M10 review is an excellent example. You pretty well nailed the differences between it and the Naim Uniti Atom. Strangely enough, some of my audio buddies read it as a win for the Naim. Some read it as a win for the NAD. I read it as they’re a little different. Pick your poison. Perfect. You’re willing to do cables and state what you hear, but again, no life or death issues to be found. Informative, Entertaining. Sometimes funny. Pretty much what this dying industry needs.

    As far as your issue with accuracy. Simple enough. The accuracy folks – and I’m probably part of that camp – is looking for a reasonably flat in-room response. No, you can’t know exactly what the engineer heard while recording. You can know if what you’re hearing from the recording is a reasonable facsimile of what’s on the recording [But with so much sitting in between the recording and your ears, how? – Ed]. Simple. Keep up the good work.

    I do think the idea of a consumer type CES without demos would fall on its face. I basically go to shows to hear potential and see the product in person. I can take it from there.

    Steven O. writes…

    I just watched the video you did about “The Know-it-All audiophile”. You absolutely nailed it, as regards to why this industry/hobby is in so much trouble. The art of tolerance and listening has steadily headed towards extinction over the past decade especially and your eloquent insight about this should be a wake-up call to everybody. The Know-it-All plague goes way beyond the Audiophile world, as you allude to. People spew their nonsense universally these days while having no regard for any opinion other than their own. I see this on a daily basis. Thanks for drawing attention to this sad phenomenon.

    Stuart R. writes…

    I enjoy your YouTube channel and the content is always informative, interesting and sometimes slightly quirky!

    I am currently looking to purchase a music server/all in one and I am torn between the NAD M10 and Naim Uniti Atom, however, would you be able to sample/review the Novafidelity X35/X45 [Cocktail Audio rebadge? – Ed] – there doesn’t seem to be many reviews or information about these products but they look interesting with Amp, Streamer, Sabre DAC, CD Player/Ripper hard disk storage etc. + Roon ready, Tidal, Qobuz. they might not quite “fit” as Kallax-Fi but they seem to provide a lot of bang per buck.

    HJR writes…

    Hello – I just want to send a message thanking you for all the great content that you shot. I especially like how transparent you are in how you stated that hi-quality equipment deserves hi-quality production. Your posts are always amazing to both look at and listen to.

    Chris O. writes…

    I wanted to write in briefly with some things on my mind after viewing your recent videos with focus on Future/Kallax-fi, but first a quick thanks for your offerings here. Your voice in this space is appreciated, and the discerning-but-pragmatic angle is something this hobby desperately needs more of. But, on to my point.

    After seeing many of the benefits your recently showcased systems tend to exhibit (decently powerful, compact, multi-input boxes with streaming hooks and room correction software), I had to consider my own system, the beating heart of which is the (audiophile) reviled AV-Receiver. I use one of Denon’s mid-range offerings (an AVR-X300W), and I’ve surrounded it with some excellent gear (KEF LS50’s, a wonderful Usher 6381 floorstander, a Meze Empyrean, and a Mojo/Poly streamer). With this setup I enjoy streaming Roon into airplay or the Mojo, Spotify Connect, the headphone output rivals my Schiit equipment upstairs, and I enjoy the Audyssey room-correction function across all inputs. I can even run the unused surround channels as a secondary amp for more speaker connections, enabling the Usher/KEF split for different types of music, all while also handling a multitude of video inputs in my system.

    I’m certainly not trying to make the point that these boxes are for everyone, but they seem to get lost in the shuffle when discussion about audio comes along, with the main gripe I hear being mixing of audio/video signal paths and poor quality audio. It “splits the baby” with audio and video, and anything not focused solely on audio seemingly drives off die-hards. Unsure of the inferiority claims, I tested this midrange AVR against a very good separates system with the same room/speakers (swapping the AVR for a Parasound JC 2 preamp and an Audio Research VT80 power amplifier). While I certainly noticed the last 5% of sound quality loss when I toggled back to my AVR, the convenience and the multi-factorial uses of the AVR kept me from installing a separate Hi-Fi system.

    I think this is a long explanation to justify the point. Since I’m able to exploit the excellent sound quality across more video inputs than my TV is capable of as well fitting my Roon/Spotify/Vinyl uses, it thus allows me to consolidate *rooms* as well as boxes. I don’t need separate spaces to listen to music critically or watch a film with my wife while enjoying good sound, and it all takes little real estate. To me, that feels as future-fi as many of the audio-only focused products might, and I think AVR’s will keep playing an important but under-sung role here. And while I certainly don’t expect features of these types of products on your channel or site, I simply wanted to write in to note that future-fi can perhaps extend to these classes of components, too.

    Michael enquires…

    For your information, I had already noticed the circumspectly cool audiophile t-shirt (with Japanese under-script) you sported in your Dragonfly Cobalt video, even before you brought it up.

    I bite. Where can I get one?

    [More info on Darko.Audio merch coming soon – Ed]

    John H. Darko

    Written by John H. Darko

    John is the editor of Darko.Audio, from whose ad revenues he derives an income. He is an occasional contributor to 6moons but has previously written pieces for TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile. John used to live in Sydney. Now he lives in Berlin.

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