Letters to the editor: Raal, LG, Sony, Soundmagic & more

  • It’s been a bumper month for reader emails — far too many for me to reply to, especially those seeking buying advice (which I am unable to give). What follows is a selection from readers who wish for nothing more than to share their own experiences.

    In the header image, Craig Finn & The Uptown Controllers play the Privatclub, Berlin (October 2019).

    Amine L. writes…

    Hello John,

    Thank you for your content on both your blog and YouTube, I really enjoy it and I am grateful for its quality.

    Like you, I own an LG PH450UG projector fully dedicated to music. Mine is connected to an Apple TV to play Apple music through Airplay on a Sonos Play 5 located on the other side of the room. There is something highly satisfying in using a remote rather than your phone to play your music, and in having the speaker(s) on one side of the room and the display on the other side, no idea why.

    I saw one of your recent videos about how to use an iPad as an audiophile music controller. If you believe it is relevant and interesting for you, I would like to suggest you make a similar video but with an Apple TV (on our common projector for example), with options on how to have quality sound.

    Best wishes to you and your team,


    Martin B. writes…

    Hi John,

    I just read your definition of an audiophile and as I do care about the quality of music playback, I would easily qualify as one. I do care about playback quality and my setup isn’t the cheapest.

    My own definition of an audiophile is someone who constantly tries to tinker with their setup and change components often. My definition of ‘often’ is admittedly arguable, but I have no plans to upgrade or change my setup for the next few years and therefore I don’t really consider myself to be an audiophile. I never visited a show and I avoid going to dealers.

    I sometimes watch your videos when the subject seems interesting, and I do the same with a few other audio related websites. I also follow websites in the same manner on computers, games (even though I buy less than one game per year), cars (ditto), international politics (haven’t actually bought a politician afaik), cooking (I actually buy food very often), etc.

    If anything, I’m probably a primarily a foody, who just loves to absorb information on techy subjects.

    I think that most people have different definitions of what an audiophile is and without settling on a firm definition first, the outcome of polls will vary more often than the Dutch weather.



    Tom L. writes…

    Hi John. I have been following your site for a long long time, and really enjoy your approach. I know that you published a review editorial by Srajan Ebaen on the Raal Requisite SR1a. I have been an audiophile for 30 years, during which time I have migrated from high-end speakers to high-end headphones, including Focal Utopia, AKG K1000 and Stax SR009. The Raal Requisite SR1a blows away everything else I have heard. I just want you to have a chance to hear it if you haven’t already. Here is a thread you might find interesting on the subject.

    Thanks for listening!


    Dave T. writes…

    Hi John,

    As a long-time audiophile with separates in a dedicated listening room and a hardcore vinyl front end, I have been late to discover your superb website. However, I am investigating active speaker systems for a secondary system and found my way to Darko Audio as a result.

    I am one of “those guys” who reads a lot of reviews and partakes in the audio forums. Your reviews are, frankly, heads and tails above the others in terms of professionalism, production quality and content. Most reviewers could do worse than to take a master class from you on writing and diction. I also love that your style is relatable to younger audio enthusiasts, be it because of your music choices, your very cool apartment or the way you approach the reviewing process. Our hobby will benefit greatly from Millennial participation but most audio pundits continue to focus on ponytailed middle-aged men wearing Grateful Dead t-shirts while waxing poetic on the virtues of vintage capacitors and power supplies.

    I will close by saying that your review of the Schiit Freya Plus and your discussion on audio “flavours” and “colours” tipped me over into purchasing this preamp, which I have paired with a Pass Labs XA30.5. Early indications are that this is a very nice pairing.

    Wishing you and your talented production team the very best success. Darko Audio sets the bar high for other review sites and I can only hope that they’ve taken notice and will pick up their games.

    Kind regards,

    Oakville, ON Canada

    Jeff T. writes…

    Thank you for your excellent reviews and perspective on HiFi and music. I love that your mission is to make Hifi more accessible to everyday listeners and your focus on Future-Fi. On your recommendation, I purchased an Allo DigiOne Signature and it has been a great addition to my system.

    I have been looking at a lot of DIYFi from the entry-level like the Allo to complex amplifier projects from Elekit. Have you thought about doing anything on DIY speakers?

    Humble Homemade Hifi has some interesting projects, but most of their loudspeakers are limited runs. Troels Gravesen has a large catalog of speaker designs and is also located in the EU. After your review of the Klipsch Forte III, one of Troels’s designs has gotten my attention:

    Have you given any thought of doing an interview with Troels and an informal “review” of his loudspeakers?

    I look forward to future reviews

    Jeff Trudrung

    Michael M. writes…

    I read through all your comments about the types of questions you don’t like to answer so I should be safe with this one…

    I am about to make the big transition from an analogue cd transport, external DAC, and 2000 CDs to a digital system where I rip my CDs to a storage device (e.g. Naim Uniti Core) and play them through a network streamer (e.g. Lumin U1 mini).

    I own a great preamp/head amp/DAC in the COS H1 and I own a wonderful amplifier (Accuphase P102 50w fully balanced all class A).

    I am overwhelmed by the choices but really don’t understand the key selection criteria for storage devices and streamers. I also don’t know enough about Roon, Tidal, Spotify, MQA, etc to make intelligent choices about the feature set I need.

    Unfortunately, I cannot find a HiFi store which allows me to test different systems with different features.

    It might be useful if you considered writing a primer for people like me who are about to make the leap to streaming audio.




    Ellery W. writes…

    Hello, John.

    I was surprised to see the DAC Index gone from the top navigation bar. I do hope it’s just in the shop for some upgrades and not a permanent deletion?

    I’ve found it an invaluable feature of your work and used it often over the last few years, I think in the spirit in which you intended. That is, as both a rough and relative comparison between products, but also as a literal index of sorts to your oeuvre (albeit partial.)

    A while back when I was curious about where to go when it was time to upgrade from a Bifrost Multibit, the Index was the first place I started. Ditto when I needed a USB filter better than the Jitterbug.

    And tonight, I was hoping for some initial guidance on streamers — I know I’m ready to move past Chromecast Audio + iFi SPDIF, and the older Sony phone + Schiit Eitr (a la your V30 demo,) I’ve been using for years. But I also know that an Innuous is likely out of range. Do I remember how the Allo (approximately) stacks up? I do not. What options should be competing for my attention in that middle ground? Hard to know where to start without the Index.

    So I do hope you see the Index returning to the site at some point. Though obviously you are privy to click stats that I am not, for me, it is a big part of the value I get from your coverage.

    Thanks and all best,

    PS. Speaking of Innuous, that new USB reclocker was easily the most dramatic A/B demo I heard at RMAF. I do recommend checking one out.

    Klaus A. writes…

    Hey John,

    At this point I would like to express a huge thank you for what you do with your work. The special thing about it is that I usually never do that, but in that case, I felt the need. In the beginning, I wondered what I needed to reproduce my music as naturally as possible and searched the internet for experiences, possibilities and answers. I came across your Youtube channel and became curious.

    Since I have only a small budget for my hobby, I have to weigh very carefully what I invest where and what purpose I want to achieve. You have given me a lot of help in the last months. Thanks again! You made my day! 🙂 Should I be able to return the favor in any way, let me know!

    Sorry for my bad language skills, but I hope you can follow my thoughts.

    Sincerely from the Eifel,

    Klaus Dahlke

    PS: You inspired me to test Audirvana, Qobuz, DAC and a headphone amp with a wonderful result for me. Keep up the good work so that many audiophiles can profit from it and have the same experience as me.

    Brent P. writes…

    Hey John,

    Really love your content on YouTube!

    I’ve been using Qobuz Studio for my HiFi audio streaming, until now.

    You may already be aware (unless the release hasn’t hit Germany yet), Amazon’s music service which I think we’ve all given less though to than even YouTube Music, has gotten a big upgrade: a larger HD & Ultra HD library than Qobuz, at only $12.99 after a three month trial – using FLAC, unlike Tidal’s MQA (thank god).

    I’d love to hear your perspective on both the fidelity perspective and also your take on using Amazon for streaming music. Thank you for your time!



    Alan D. writes…

    Hello John,

    I really enjoy this channel. I’m getting closer every week to understanding what I need to do in my own home!

    Keep it coming.



    Greg E. writes…

    Dear John

    I always had room treatment on my list of things to buy to improve my system but it was below several items such as new speakers, new preamp, and even cables. After watching your video I bumped it up my list and purchased several traps. I can’t believe how ignorant I was to the impact my room was having on my music! Huge difference and I’m planning to keep adding more! And compared to what I was considering buying as far as equipment this has had more of an impact than other purchase I’ve ever made in audio. Thank you and keep up the excellent work!


    Jake R. writes…

    Hello John,

    Love your content and hope you are well. Just wanted to share an artist close to my heart that shines with articulate audio systems. Patrick Watson just released a new album today (Wave) and I encourage you to listen on a system that focuses on dynamics and sound stage. Also, Love Songs for Robots will prove a worthwhile listen as well. Keep up the awesome work.


    Robert B. writes…

    What is Sony 360 Reality Audio really? Is it just marketing? Should I be paying attention to it?

    Steve W. writes…


    I may be a slightly older dog but this one has learnt some new tricks thanks to your website!

    Earlier this year I was looking to replace 10year-old well-travelled but damaged Shure earbuds. Based on buyer reviews and not wanting to part with too many pictures of the Queen I bought Soundmagic E80’s on spec. Now, some might sniff at these but for me they are a revelation and made me realise I was so out of touch. Anyway, one thing leads to another, and I land on the Darko website. The enlightenment virus takes hold and I’m learning about DragonFlys for the first time.

    I also quickly realise my understanding wife knows that I don’t really need to splash out on “more hifi?” and that we have other priorities. Sigh.

    Unpacking “more hifi?”, I’m referring to some vintage gear which all still works. A pair of Rogers Studio 1’s, Linn’s Kairn, Kremlin, Karin, Numerik, LK280+Spark, and a Thorens TD160. All good and expensive in their day, but all bought through auctions at prices to match a beer money budget!

    Back to the enlightenment virus, I’m also learning about a “value quotient” and what makes a “tasty pi maker”. The penny drops. I can better my system with a near zero-sum budget and provide decent sounds on my travels.

    To cut a long story short, the old Linn CD/DAC combo and tuner are overshadowed and will soon hit an auction site. The proceeds will more than cover recent acquisitions and a streaming subscription. So, added to the pile of “more hifi?” is an AQ Dragonfly Red, a Wyred Recovery reclocker, an RPi/Volumio streamer, new interconnects and power cables. Does it now add up to hifi? Does it play well? Does the music sound better? If you could see my grin! Who knew that a vintage amp and speakers fed with hi-res streaming could deliver better sounds than when they were new??

    So my understanding wife now asks why I’m selling hifi gear that took so long to find. Sigh. John, thank you for spreading the enlightenment virus! Next stop: Roon. Possibly running on a used Intel NUC i5 which can be had for under £200 sobs and small enough to hide from you know who 🙂

    Written by John

    John currently lives in Berlin where he creates videos and podcasts for Darko.Audio. He has previously contributed to 6moons, TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile.

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

    Follow John on YouTube or Instagram

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